In the Pines: 5 Murder Ballads (Fantagraphics) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, March 5th, 2024  

In the Pines: 5 Murder Ballads


May 31, 2017 Issue #60 - Father John Misty Bookmark and Share

Erik Kriek’s adaptation of five murder ballads, In the Pines is the rare graphic novel that comes with its own implied soundtrack. Offering illustrated takes on “Pretty Polly” (which has been recorded by the likes of Ralph Stanley, The Byrds, and Bela Fleck), “The Long Black Veil” (The Chieftains, Johnny Cash), “Where the Wild Roses Grow” (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with Kylie Minogue), “Caleb Meyer” (Gillian Welch), and “Taneytown” (Steve Earle), the book highlights five gruesome and sinister tales from American folkloric tradition. Though every chapter addresses similar themes of greed, vengeance, unrequitedor illicitlove, and of course murder in Kriek’s dark, shadowy (and entirely well-chosen) aesthetic, the Dutch cartoonist assigns all a unique color palate, endowing each tale with a creative visual differentiator. With relatively straightforward storytelling and simple, yet effective reveals that often render the murderer the most sympathetic character, Kriek’s chapters are perfect realizations of these ballads. A quick but lingering read, In the Pines deserves to be appreciated with its source music echoing hauntingly in the background. (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10


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