I love the South, and I’m pretty fond of Alabama. For all the things bad about it, I still find some good in it. Maybe its the low-cost of living, or the high rate of diabetes that’s embedded in great food, but whatever it is…I love it. So when I came across a graphic novel(which I also love) that takes place in Alabama, my lil country heart swelled. Southern Bastards takes place in the fictitious town of Craw County, Alabama, and it nails all the stereotypes of our state pretty well. You’ve got football obsession, racism, crime, food, and religion. Maybe it’s because author Jason Aaron, is from Jasper, Alabama and a UAB graduate, so a true resident would know.
Anyways, so we find our hero Earl Tubbs, the son of the former sheriff, who has unwillingly come back home to take care of some family business. Earl runs into Coach Euless Boss-the villain of course-who not only coaches the state championship football team, but is also a crime boss, and runs a town full of corruption, murder, and bribery. We see Earl struggling with the dilemma to mind his damn business and leave town, or stay in a town he hates, to take on Coach Boss, while trying to live up to his daddy’s name.
We see Earl struggle with this when he goes to his father’s grave and agonizes over what he should do, and also when he continuously leaves messages on the voicemail of someone’s phone who we have no idea who it is. Earl just wants the person on the other end to pick up the phone so that he can hear their voice-the reader is left wondering if that someone is purposely ignoring Earl, is it an ex, are they even alive. To see if Earl stays and who is on the other end of that phone you have to read volumes 1&2.
One of my favorite things about Southern Bastards is the imagery that artist Jason Latour has done. It’s so spot on from the small town restaurants, to the antiquated clothing of the redneck characters, to even the mascot affectionately named ‘Sugah Jug.’ You even see images that make up Birmingham, like Vulcan and the McWane Science Center. It all looks and feels so real, so Southern, so home.
Described as a “southern fried crime comic” by the writers, it weaves together, internal conflict, redemption, morality, humanity and justice. Perfectly described as “a love letter/hate rant to the South” by Aaron, resonates with who and what we are. Regular everyday folk with all the things bad in us, you still find some good.