Sullivan’s Sluggers caught a lot of attention earlier this year for smashing through its target on Kickstarter, the idea of a baseball-horror graphic novel obviously capturing people’s imagination. It’s certainly a beautiful-looking project, if predictably throwaway, since it deliberately forms a pastiche of genre staples that are cheerfully exploited.
The titular Sullivan is a down-and-out, washed-up football coach who takes his team to a small town for one last chance at a win. When night-time comes, however, their opponents and the town’s citizens transform into some fairly nasty monsters, and begin to pick the Sluggers off. Venturing to get out of the town, it turns into a bloodbath as they uncover the rather horrible secrets behind these creatures.
The character designs are extraordinarily detailed, and there’s something of classic Seventies movie The Warriors in the flashy look of the players. Sullivan’s Sluggers is part horror, part comedy – much of the story is based around Beano-style visual gags, and it is genuinely funny, if a swift read given how barebones the dialogue is (though it suits the type of story). What surprises is just how disgustingly bloody it is, with intestines making a frequent soggy appearance, if that’s your sort of horror.
It’s just a comfortable homage to a number of film genres – the underdog sports story, the zombie horror film, the buddy comedy. Sullivan’s Sluggers isn’t especially moving or memorable beyond its visual presentation, but the way it refreshes these types of stories makes it worthy of your attention.