Trying to get into the Halloween Spirit, I doubled up on horror this week with Dark Horse's throwback comic anthology 'Creepy Comics', a modern series recapturing the spirit of Tales of the Crypt style horror books, with a leaning towards the artistic. The book consists of three stories, hosted by ghoulish host Uncle Creepy. The first is a story about a man with a sadistic hatred of crows on his yard. By far it is the most appropriate for a horror anthology, with a simple almost old-fashioned premise. Unfortunately there's not a whole lot to the story, with very little buildup to the grisly ending, but the art is very attractive, with a rough-hewn ink style that is more precise and detailed than one might notice if reading quickly.
The second story, written and illustrated by Matthew Southworth, tells the story of a courtroom illustrator who is diagnosed with a disease that is slowly turning him blind. It doesn't immediately feel appropriate for a horror anthology, as it's more a quietly paced character study of depression and anxiety, but it's haunted by moments of pretty unnerving surreality that make for a disturbing read. I can't quite say I completely understand the train of thought of the author in the narration, but the idea of using encroaching blindness as a catalyst for dark self-introspection is poetic, and the nightmarish touches can really get under your skin.
Finally there's a trippy story about a recent prison escapee on the run from the warden and his dogs. It's not horror in the traditional sense but is by far the most reminiscent of old pre-code horror comics, with violence, fever-sweat narration, and a fantastical twist of the 'Twilight Zone' variety. Everything about it is wonderfully old-school, from the pulpy script by Bill Parente to the concise and animated lines by Ernie Colon. Between each story is a series of Mad Magazine like cartoons by Peter Bagge, winkingly ghoulish with an underground style.
I have to say the Tales of the Crypt influence in the book seems a bit out-of-place, with the Uncle Creepy zinger following the second story taking me out of the moment a bit, but it's a uniformly fine crafted book with the Dark Horse polish I've come to have a significant admiration for. Talent showcase books can be a mixed bag but this is an example of doing it right.
Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/9/13