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The Saga of the Bloody Benders (Treasury of Victorian Murder)

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  414 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
In his next volume, Geary takes us out to the wild west and the just opened up prairies of Kansas. Out on a deserted stretch of road linking newly forming towns, a mysterious family stakes a claim and builds an inn for weary visitors. Soon, reports multiply of disappearances around that area. Generally, those who disappear have plenty of cash on them. A delicious tale of a ...more
Hardcover, 76 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by NBM Publishing (first published May 7th 2007)
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193rd out of 329 books — 279 voters
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best historical true crime books
83rd out of 124 books — 120 voters


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Community Reviews

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Jan Philipzig
A Different Kind of Western

Having published no less than eight graphic novels on various murder cases of the Victorian era, Rick Geary is not your typical American cartoonist. The Saga of the Bloody Benders, the final volume of the series, depicts the arrival of a murderous German immigrant family in rural Kansas shortly after the Civil War.

Geary makes no attempt whatsoever to analyze his characters' actions and worldviews from a contemporary perspective, but instead tells the story in a way tha
...more
Sam Quixote
Mar 22, 2015 Sam Quixote rated it really liked it
The “bloody” Benders were a small German immigrant family who settled in late 19th century Kansas, opened a grocery store/inn and began murdering rich lodgers and stashing the bodies across the prairie and in a ditch beneath the house.

The ringleader appeared to be the young woman, Kate, who believed she could speak to spirits and who would find out about the visitors who showed up at their inn. If they had money she would position them in the seat where their backs would be to a screen where on
...more
Sesana
Apr 16, 2014 Sesana rated it really liked it
I've read a few of Geary's true crime comics. I'm always impressed by his research, his ability to select interesting cases, and how little he sensationalizes the stories. Let's face it, they don't need it. The Benders' story is fascinating and mysterious, and it made for a riveting read. Geary's art won't be to everyone's taste, but even if you don't like it you probably won't be able to help being impressed by some of his compositions. I don't think I'd read every one of his books, but he has ...more
Taylor
Recently, I was chatting with my friends about how I am fascinated by serial killers, in large part because I grew up in the shadow of the Green River Killer. He was at large for a huge chunk of my youth, and left a lot of his victims around Auburn and Kent, which are not very far away from the home where I grew up, plus he met a lot of his victims near the airport, which is five to ten minutes from all three houses I lived in during my childhood. It wasn't that I was especially concerned about ...more
Melissa
Aspects of the work that appeal to teens:
I think that most teens go through the phase when they like the gruesome, the gross, the scary, and the disturbing. In my experience, this seems to vary from about age eight to fourteen. This book definitely fits into that category.

Are the character's believable? Why or why not?
What’s interesting is that if this hadn’t happened, it wouldn’t really be believable. But since it is fact, it seems all the more intriguing.
Geary does a nice job of making his m
...more
Ann
Jan 28, 2013 Ann rated it liked it
For all the particulars, I defer to Melissa's excellent VOYA review (below). I've loved Rick Geary's Treasury of Victorian Murder series since I read the Lizzie Borden title years ago. Geary is a highly proficient and entertaining writer and illustrator, and he does his homework; he's both pathologist and historian. He satisfies my gruesome curiosity about the underside of American history. The full-page illustration with a 'guest' sitting at the Benders' table taking tea, pleasantly distracted ...more
Kari Ramirez
Jan 31, 2014 Kari Ramirez rated it it was ok
This review is for 4 of Rick Geary's Victorian Murder Books: The Borden Tragedy, The Case of Madeleine Smith, The Beast of Chicago, and The Saga of the Bloody Benders.

Dry, fact-based accounts of some of the more notorious murderers in history. They read almost like textbooks. There is no creative license taken in any of these. While interesting, some get downright boring. The Bloody Benders was spent going on a history lesson of Kansas and of the guesstimations of where the Benders might have re
...more
Allie
Yowza this one was so weird! I got a taste of this in The Best American Comics 2008, and I finally got to read it in A Treasury of Victorian Murder Compendium II! The Bloody Benders were a family of serial killers living in southern Kansas in the early 1870s. They opened up a store and then just killed a bunch of people! They were set up along a major route and would just kill people as they were traveling along! For YEARS!

All of Rick Geary's murder stories really confirm that living now is kin
...more
David

This was one of the first tale of the series "A treasury of victorian murders" which I was not already familliar with. A gruesome but probably not at all uncommon kind of serial killing, the Benders set themselves up in a place, did what they did (and not too badly at that!) and then.... dissapeared.

When you think about it, the era wasn't hard to get away with murder in, but in the case of the Benders there were so many complete blanks in the tale- who they even WERE, for example- and why they d
...more
Dani Peloquin
May 11, 2012 Dani Peloquin rated it it was amazing
I know that I said the Axeman of New Orleans was the best in the series, but I lied! Bloody Benders is by far the best. The illustrations are far more complex and intriguing. The story kept me hooked and strapped to my seat. In all due honesty, I had never heard of the Bloody Benders so some of my excitement could have come from being introduced to the legend. Still, this adaptation of the legend is very intriguing and perfectly fits the mysterious story.

In case you're like me and don't know the
...more
Trevor
Jul 30, 2007 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of comics as literature, true crime enthusiasts
Shelves: comix
Geary’s Treasury of Victorian Murder series never falters, and continues to give readers interesting, well researched, and exquisitely drawn grapic novel experiences. Bloody Benders tells the story of the Bender family, a group of German immigrants who open a sundries business catering to travelers on the Osage Trail in Kansas circa 1870. When it appears that people begin to connect the disappearing travelers with the offbeat family, the Benders are nowhere to be found, their “store” abandoned, ...more
Kate
I had ordered this and The Borden Tragedy for the library, but someone checked out the Borden book before I could get to it... I had never heard of the Benders, but as I read, the story sounded a bit familiar... I will have to go home and check, but I read a book once called Katie by Michael McDowell, which shared these features: a girl named Katie, who claimed to be able to see the future, call up dead spirits, etc., and killing using hammers. It makes me wonder if that book was based on this t ...more
Jon Nakapalau
Aug 25, 2016 Jon Nakapalau rated it it was amazing
The story of a family who builds an inn and kills their guests is truly the stuff of horror novels...but in this case it is true! If you have never read anything by the amazing Rick Geary then let me suggest this as your "gateway" book.
Donna
Jun 05, 2008 Donna rated it really liked it
You may have heard the legend of the Bender family (who live somewhere in the Midwest) luring travelers into their home and them murdering them. This is the true story that spawned the legend. More than a hundred years ago, the Benders settled in rural Kansas and opened a small inn and grocery store. Soon after, people began disappearing. Nearby townsfolk got suspicious when it was discovered that one of the missing men had stayed the night at the Benders, and they were the last people to see hi ...more
HappiMess Media
Apr 19, 2016 HappiMess Media rated it it was amazing
This might be one of my favorite Rick Geary true crime graphic novels. What a doozy of a story this is -- so bloody and over the top that it's hard to believe this happened in the same Little-House-on-the-Prairie-type universe.
Lisa Macklem
Dec 05, 2015 Lisa Macklem rated it really liked it
Interesting semi-historical account of the Bender legend. Liked the juxtaposition of the spare visual style with the gruesome subject matter.
Salamah
Rick Geary did a great job chronicling this horrible, crazy family. Another Rick Geary classic.
Julie
Dec 12, 2014 Julie rated it really liked it
true crime in graphic novel style. This is new to me, but I enjoy it so far
Brendan
Dec 04, 2013 Brendan rated it really liked it
Geary has a precise penciling style that serves his true crime subject very well. He draws expressive faces and tells terrifying tales. This particular volume in his ongoing series details the story of the “Bloody Benders,” a family of murderous homesteaders in Kansas who murdered travelers and stole their goods. Despite being suspected of wrongdoing, the Benders escaped justice for most of their lives. The straightforward style of his art makes the mundane circumstances in which these horrible ...more
Jeff
Nov 11, 2011 Jeff rated it liked it
Only Rick Geary can make serial killing this entertaining! This ninth volume in Geary's highly successful Treasury of Victorian Murder series is as good as the preceding volumes demand, and the murderous Bender family (if that was their real name...) are among the most heinous of the killers that Geary has profiled to date. As always, Geary's singular and beautifully styled pen work is instantly recognizable and truly rewarding, and his ability to render his frightening story with such an even, ...more
Jean
Jun 17, 2008 Jean rated it liked it
The stark black and white illustrations reinforce the grimness of this graphic novel. The Kansas legend of the Bender family has been researched and brought to life in this grim story. Geary does a good job of presenting all of the possible endings to the story, since no one really knows what happened to the Benders after they disappeared from their southeast Kansas town. But the results of their dastardly deeds are appropriately presented with all their gruesome detail.
Dave
Feb 03, 2010 Dave rated it liked it
Shelves: do-not-own
This is the first Treasury of Victorian Murder book that I've read. I've been interested in the concept and series for a while now and they had this one at my local library. Geary's art is adequate and the story is very matter-of-fact but ultimately it feels like From Hell Lite. That's not necessarily a fault, but when you have meticulously researched (sometimes to a fault) historical graphic novels of that caliber it's hard not to compare it.
Jennifer Daniel
Dec 21, 2010 Jennifer Daniel rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Set in graphic novel form (that I don't usually care for) it was informative and fun to read. This is one sick family from America's frontier history. The only ommision from the facts was the aside that "Pa", Laura Ingles Wilder's father was among one of the vigilante posse that tracked down the Benders when they skipped town. I am waiting for a movie adaptation of this grizzly clan of killers. Done right it could be fab!
Chuck
Sep 12, 2008 Chuck rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, true-crime
I've liked just about everything in Geary's "Treasury of Victorian Murder" series. Unlike his most of his other subjects, I knew nothing about the story of the Benders before reading the book. I think that kept me interested more than I would have been otherwise. There is so little that is really known about the family, that much of the book is devoted to exploring various theories. Still makes for good reading, though.
Jill
Dec 09, 2008 Jill rated it liked it
Graphic novel version of a true crime book. The bloody Benders were an infamous homicidal family of Labette County, Kansas. In 1870, out on a deserted stretch of road linking newly forming towns, a strange family stakes a claim and builds an inn for travellers. Soon, people who travel through this area begin to go missing and eventually it's discovered that the Bender family is responsible for at least 8 murders if not more.
Nfnt-robin
Dec 17, 2007 Nfnt-robin rated it really liked it
Shelves: ggnft
No one does Victorian true crime better than Geary, and he always makes them fascinating by simply relating the facts (no flashy language or super-violent images here, just the growing dread that all is not well.) The only hesitation I have with these books is just who they appeal to. I've never really seen teens take them out, and I don't know how popular they really are in the long run (which is too bad, really.)
Erin
May 15, 2008 Erin rated it really liked it
Yet another great titles in Geary's Victorian Murder series. It's always striking how easy it was to get away with things when there was literally no law enforcement or people living in most of these areas. Definitely disturbing, but intersting. As always Geary's drawings are so precise and readable. If you like true crime than you will love this series.
Jen
The true story of the first "family" of serial killers. A great historical view of the Benders, a Germanic family that settled in the west only to invite people to their doom in their makeshift "inn". While the tale is interesting the mystery of who the Benders were and what happened to them will keep you wondering and begging for more.
Lisa
Jan 25, 2008 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: older teens and up
Shelves: teenfiction
I never would have pegged myself a true-crime fan...but Rick Geary's graphic novel series "A Treasury of Victorian Murders" has changed my mind.

Set in the prairie land of Kansas, the strange Bender family neatly murders numerous travelers passing their grocery and supply store. Lucky for them, they skip town right before discovery.
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8998
RICK GEARY was born in 1946 in Kansas City, Missouri and grew up in Wichita,
Kansas. He graduated from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, where his first cartoons were published in the University Daily Kansan. He worked as staff artist for two weekly papers in Wichita before moving to San Diego in 1975.

He began work in comics in 1977 and was for thirteen years a contributor to the Funny Pages of
...more
More about Rick Geary...

Other Books in the Series

Treasury of Victorian Murder (9 books)
  • The Borden Tragedy: A Memoir of the Infamous Double Murder at Fall River, Mass., 1892 (A Treasury of Victorian Murder)
  • Jack the Ripper: A Journal of the Whitechapel Murders 1888-1889
  • The Fatal Bullet: The Assassination of James A. Garfield
  • The Mystery of Mary Rogers
  • The Beast of Chicago: An Account of the Life and Crimes of Herman W. Mudgett, Known to the World As H.H. Holmes
  • The Murder of Abraham Lincoln
  • The Case of Madeleine Smith (A Treasury Of Victorian Murder)
  • A Treasury of Victorian Murder

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