PREVIEW: Niles & Ruth's 'Freaks of the Heartland' #2 - Updated

Dark Horse Comics has provided CBR News with a four-page preview of 'Freaks of the Heartland' #2, the story of a family in a small rural town with a terrible secret. Written by Steve Niles with art by Greg Ruth, the book is due in stores March 24th. Back in October CBR News spoke with Niles about the series.

"I actually wrote this, wow, it was actually in 1987. That was when I first started working on it," Niles told CBR News. "I came up with this little comic idea and I remember talking about it with John Bolton and Mike Richardson who said, 'Wow, that's really cool, I really like that story.' I went on to write a little novella that Paul Lee did some illustrations on for a company called Fantaco [in 1993]. They were the same company that did the 'Night of the Living Dead: London' and all that stuff. I put out the little novella and was pretty happy with it, but I always pictured it as a work in progress. Then I wound up writing a spec screenplay, just still trying to figure it out. This story haunts me. I kept working on it and did like two or three different versions.

"When I hooked up with Dark Horse they connected me with Greg Ruth and he just absolutely brought it alive. All of a sudden all these things that I couldn't quite nail down in prose or in the script form, he was doing it in the pictures. Basically, I took the screenplay and adapted it back into a comic script. I kept it really loose. What I really enjoy about it is that there are almost no captions, very few word balloons. It's a very visual story. I keep saying it's a quiet story. I guess that's what I'm really saying. It's not very wordy, it's all told in the pictures."

While this new series is based on the novella, there have been numerous changes to the original story for this new comic.

"The story is completely changed, actually. The characters are developed a lot more. Some of the events that occur are very similar, but I'm almost pulling back on the conclusion of it. One thing I did with the original is it sort of has a 'Twilight Zone' twist ending and that never quiet sat well with me. So, I've removed that, and instead implied a couple of different origins for the creatures in the story.

"This is like the only story where I do that Hollywood thing, ya know, where I say it's this meets this? It works for this. It's 'Slingblade' meets 'Village of the Damned.' It's about a town where monstrous children are born to families and the affect it has on the town. In particular, the relationship between a young boy and one of the monsters who is his brother."

Click the images below to enlarge.

UPDATED 3/5/04 Noon PST - Dark Horse Comics sent along an additional 4 pages of artwork from "Freaks of the Heartland" #2.

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