Joe Hill’s Basketful of Heads off to a promising start with first issue
We recently saw the release of Basketful of Heads from the brand-new horror imprint of DC Comics, Hill House Comics. Helmed by Joe Hill, son of legendary scribe Stephen King, Hill House Comics was announced in June of 2019 and boasted a promise of “bone-chilling horror.”
Hill began his work in horror fiction with 2005’s 20th Century Ghosts, a collection of short stories released through PS Publishing. Since then, he has taken horror fiction by storm with novels such as Horns, NOS4A2, and The Fireman. Comics fans out there, however, might be more familiar with Hill’s creator-owned series with artist Gabriel Rodriguez from IDW Publishing, Locke & Key. Locke & Key, commonly recognized as a modern comics masterpiece, ran regularly from 2008 to 2013 and introduced Hill to a brand new audience–one that has clamored for his comics return ever since.
Well that day is here, and we now have Basketful of Heads #1, written by Hill with art by Leomacs and Dave Stewart.
In this first issue, we are introduced to young lovers Liam Ellsworth and June Branch in the town of Brody Island, Maine. The summer of 1983 is coming to a close and Liam Ellsworth is finishing his final shift as an officer for the Brody Island police department when news breaks that four prisoners have escaped custody and are on the run. Liam, being low man on the totem pole, and also more than a tad friendly with his boss Chief Clausen, is put on babysitting duty, being sent to the Chief’s house with his family while the search continues.
For this first issue, a number of things are done very right. A problem, I feel, a lot of new comics run into is pacing. The comics market is such that less than stellar sales on the first two or three issues can sink a new book before it’s able to find its footing. As a result, we have indie comics coming out, cramming their entire thesis into 20-24 pages at a breakneck pace that can seem a bit disjointed compared to later issues.
Perhaps it’s due to backing by DC Comics, or perhaps it’s just Hill’s writing style, but that is not a problem with Basketful of Heads. From the onset, you can definitely see this is not a title that will be rushed. Hill takes his time, establishing tone and characters, before getting too far ahead of himself or the premise. In addition, we get a few nods to his father’s work in some background art.
Which brings me to my next point. I must admit, I wasn’t too familiar with Leomacs art before this book, but this is an absolutely gorgeous issue. Backed by a superstar colorist like Dave Stewart, Leomacs breathes life into this issue that is sure to be appreciated by layman and pro alike. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the truly masterful cover art by Reiko Murakami.
As an extra treat, each issue of each Hill House comic is going to have a backup story running through. This story, called Sea Dogs, is also penned by Hill, with art by Dan McDaid and John Kalisz. For this one, Hill takes us on a more upfront supernatural story dealing with shapeshifters at sea in 1780. This short 4-page backup, I can already tell, is going to be fun little romp across the line.
Part 2 will be published in the next installment from Hill House Comics, The Dollhouse Family #1, out November 13th, reuniting critically acclaimed creators Mike Carey and Peter Gross.
Basketful of Heads #1 is on sale now!