Three stories… Twenty-one pages… That’s a pretty tough order to pull off in a horror anthology comic. First off, the horror genre isn’t an easy thing to create in the comic format. Many of the factors that build the needed suspense in a movie just aren’t present. A musical score isn’t available to help the audience figure out how to feel at any given time, and the pace is dictated by reading speed instead of the action. For horror comics to work, the creator has to be able to establish all of that, mood & pace, on the page. In most cases that takes time, which equals space on the page. When you’re looking at an anthology, space is like gold.
I have to say that if Tales of Shock & Terror would have benefitted if it had had more time to establish itself. There are some really cool concepts behind the very short stories… a mixed bag of pure shock (Mask, by Justin Bussell), some slasher action (Pig Headed by Chuck Nasy), & classic horror suspense (Weather the Storm by Ron Purtee).
The first two stories dove in and embraced the sprint. Mask was destined to be a gorefest of the highest order that leaned right into its theme… be careful what you wish for. Pig Headed veered off of that path slightly, setting up a rope-a-dope of misdirection before delivering the goods. Of the three, I’d have to say that Weather the Storm, Purtee’s entry, had the most potential, with a great concept built on a theme of isolation & creeping horror.
The art by Dreu Moreland is going to throw some people off. It’s rough around the edges, more than a little chaotic, and reminded me of the old indie ashcan comics that were being passed around comic shops in the 80s. Done in black & white, the whole thing was a throwback and I’m not gonna lie, it made me a little nostalgic. Say what you want, the art doesn’t have to be smooth & polished for it to be effective.
Reading every story, and then reading them again, I kept wishing that the creators & Cutthroat Comics could have given Tales of Shock & Terror a little more room to breath and develope. Coming it at just over 20 pages of actual story total, the final product is a little stunted. Still, this is independent comic creation at its most primal. In a market where there really is something for everyone, this one has an audience out there chomping at the bit to dig into it.
Final Score: 9/13
Now, I have to get cleaned up and ready to head out… I don’t know if you’re aware, but today is Free Comicbook Day, and I’m heading out to Legendary Comics in Racine, WI. I’ve got some boxes in need of comics, and I have it on good authority that Ron Purtee is gonna be there, with some copies of this very book to put out into the world.