The murder ballad holds a rock-solid position in US roots music and the Great American Songbook for decades. Telling the stories of sometimes true and often not-so-true-crimes and other horrific events, they are raw stories full of unrequited love, betrayal, life, and death. The song form stems from the Anglo-Saxon ballad tradition, where stories were orally passed on to a mostly illiterate population. Dutch cartoonist Erik Kriek was inspired by five old and new murder ballads — including songs by modern masters such as Nick Cave, Steve Earle, and Gillian Welch — and used them as a launching point for five special and ruthless graphic narratives that dig deep into the darkness of Americana, in which guns and religion maintain an uneasy balance.
"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." — Under the Radar
"What music sometimes gets away with can’t hide on the page, and Erik Kriek’s graphic novel, In the Pines: 5 Murder Ballads, won’t let the grisly stay invisible." — The Geeked Gods
"Kriek’s inky drawings fit the dark tone of these harsh tales of homicides, self-defense killings, and unjust executions. His use of borderless panels and a single atmospheric color adds to the stories’ visual distinctiveness. In no cases do Kriek’s variants displace the song, but they possess their own moody emotional power." — Booklist