Tales From the Crypt #2 (NBM/Papercutz)
By Neil Kleid, Steve Mannion, Fred Van Lente, Mr. Exes, Jim Salicrup & Rick Parker
The new Papercutz version of Tales From the Crypt has drawn fire from a few corners, and I don’t think it’s quite fair. The original Tales have become so enshrined in our memories — not to mention in the HBO series — that people forget the original comic was intended for kids, and in fact, many of the stories are relatively tame by today’s standards. The stories in this book are perfectly in line with the old William Gaines/Al Feldstein comics. Kleid and Mannion’s “The Tenant” is a wonderfully spooky tale of a slumlord who gets a taste of his own medicine, and Van Lente and Exes’ “The Garden” is a gruesome little story of someone whose ideas of paradise turn to hell on Earth. If there’s any respect in which the comic is lacking, it’s probably in the artwork, particularly in the second story. It’s not bad art, but Exes’ lines may be a bit too stylized, and the coloring is definitely a bit too bright for a horror comic, even one aimed at kids. Still, this is a fun book, and I think Papercutz is doing an admirable job holding up the EC Comics tradition.
Quick Rating: Good
Title: Body of Work and other stories
Four new creepy crawly, Tales From the Crypt!
Writers: Mark Bilgrey, Rob Vollmar, Neil Kleid, Don McGregor, Jim Salicrup
Art: Mr. Exes, Tim Smith 3, Steve Mannion, Sho Murase, Rick Parker
Colors: Laurie E. Smith, Carlos Jose Guzman
Letters: Ortho the Great, Mark Lerer, Bryan Senka
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Cover Art: Mr. Exes
After long decades with no new comics on the shelves, NBM brought back the legendary Tales From the Crypt series earlier this year as a bi-monthly comic book. Complimenting the comic is this series of quarterly digests. Rather than simply collecting the stories from the comic, though, these digests appear to be a mixture of reprints and new material – of the four stories presented here, three of them were printed in the earlier issues, but the fourth story is new.
The real question, though, is are they any good? Despite its reputation (and the gory, high-cursing-and-sexual-content HBO series of yore), Tales From the Crypt was originally intended for children. Is it creepy? Yes. Is it too creepy for kids? Not for well-rounded ones.
Jim Salicrup and Rick Parker handle the framing sequence, starring our old pal the Crypt-Keeper (in his original incarnation, of course), and they do a solid job. Bad puns and ghoulish art are pretty much all the job requires, after all. The first story is “Body of Work” by Mark Bilgrey and Mr. Exes, and it’s probably the best story in the book. A couple finds out their reclusive neighbor is a famous artist and they hatch a scheme to steal some of his paintings and cash in. As always happens in these stories, their greed proves to be their undoing. “For Serious Collectors Only” is by Rob Vollmar and Tim Smith 3, and it’s a story that geeks can hold near and dear. A bitter action figure enthusiast sees a new figure he simply has to have, by any means necessary. “The Tenant,” by Neil Kleid and Steve Mannion, shows a ruthless landlord getting his just desserts, and the new tale – “Runway Roadkill” by Don McGregor and Sho Murase, details a fashion maven whose thirst for a competitive clothing line leads her to doom.
The stories in the new Tales From the Crypt are as sharp and entertaining as ever. Each story has a classic feel to it, with the bad people getting their comeuppance, and often with a suitably dark and macabre twist.
The real fault with the series lies in the artwork. While none of it is really bad, much of it is too bright for this sort of comics. Vibrant colors and cool computer washes are all well and good, but when you’re trying to establish the tone for a horror comic (even one with so much dark humor) you really need a darker, bleaker palette, or at the very least a heavier inking style.
So in short, the stories are strong, but the art doesn’t quite fit. Still, it’s a fun book and worth getting, especially for a kid with a taste for the dark side.