Southern Discomfort 

Author Joe R. Lansdale may be a legendary figure among readers of genre fiction and fans of Bruce Campbell movies, but Brookside artist Nathan Fox hadn't heard of him before being asked to illustrate Lansdale's Pigeons From Hell, adapted from the short horror story by Robert E. Howard. "Actually, I'd only known of Howard's stuff from the Conan stories," Fox says. A four-issue blast of postmodern Southern gothic, Pigeons From Hell updates the story of a wicked old house in the Deep South in Lansdale's characteristic dark, satirical mode. Fox's brushwork, at once organic, meticulously constructed and visually discursive, grounds Lansdale's scary script with a strong sense of location derived from a lifetime's experience. "Joe's in Texas, and I grew up in Houston. I'd traveled through similar areas, and used memories of driving through Louisiana, Boy Scout camp trips and creepy old houses," Fox says. "East Texas is scary as hell, supercreepy. There's something wickedly spiritual there, and I don't mean in a godly sense. There's something else that lives out there that freaks me out. There were three scorpions that I swear were trying to kill me in Boy Scout camp. I hosed them down with repellent and finally thought I'd killed them, but then I couldn't find their bodies in the morning."A consummate illustrator with a bold style, Fox is in high demand. His commercial work has appeared in Wired, Heavy Metal and Time. He approaches his art with intensive research; Pigeons From Hell entailed a study of Southern slave plantations and Louisiana swamps. "Through the research, I'd get my head into it, had a lot of swampy dreams. I'm starting to realize that I treat it more as acting than just drawing on a page. That sounds like pompous bullshit, but when I draw a face or a figure, I make the expression or the movements." Fox will sign copies of the new trade-paperback release of Pigeons From Hell from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at Elite Comics (11842 Quivira, Overland Park, 913-345-9910). At 6:30 p.m. on January 30, he'll sign copies at Barnes & Noble's Plaza location (420 West 47th Street, 816-753-1313).
Fri., Jan. 30, 6:30 p.m., 2009

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