Posted by: Brian Hibbs on June 20, 2007
I’ve just read the worst comic I’ve read so far this year — which is kind of saying a lot.
Well, maybe its not as bad as all of that, maybe my reaction is amplified because the book is trading on a glorious reputation, but I really really hated the new Papercutz version of TALES FROM THE CRYPT #1.
EC has a pretty amazing reputation, the kind of line of comics that was loved fairly universally by almost everyone who has read them, but there’s certainly a lot about them that can’t be replicated today — in particular the narrative style of incredibly text-heavy captions that (mostly) just describe the action going on in the panels is probably not something that a modern, “Bendis-trained” reader is going to stand for.
But the ECs did a lot right that CAN work in today’s world — short short stories, none (?) clocking in at over 8 pages: get in, make your point, have a twist, and then get out.
EC also had some truly astonishing artists working for them: Ingles, Wood, Kurtzman, Elder, Craig, Williamson, and so on and so forth, most of these cats were amazingly talented.
A lot was made of the “twists” of the ECs, and, yes, most of the best stories (though not all!) had a clever twist. But here’s the thing that seems to get missed with both the ECs and the often similar TWILIGHT ZONE: the twist needs to come FROM character and setting and plot, building organically, and ending ironically. So, if for example, you decide to murder the old lighthouse keeper and his wife by throwing them in the ocean, then OF COURSE they’re going to return from their watery grave wrapped together in kelp (*gasp* *choke*) because that follows from the story logic.
THe second story in this new TALES FROM THE CRYPT #1 is kind of the prefect example of how NOT to do it — a toy collector buys a cursed toy, without knowing it, which destroys his other toys. Collector blames his mother, destroys one of her toys (a hummel-style figurine) and she has a heart attack that he didn’t plan or intend, then his cursed toy kills HIM. The end.
That might, maybe, could work as a Twilight Zone story, but not as a TFC/EC one — there’s no ironic punishment, the events don’t connect to one another, and there’s no baser motivation than “I want that toy”.
Now, if the guy had MURDERED his mother in some toy-related fashion, and then she came back in the form of a vengeful toy, that’d be a whole lot closer to an EC story (though even that’s not quite right, is it?)
The first story, about a couple that steals art, kills the painter, then gets attacked by the dead models of the painter is a little closer to it — but there’s like 16 pages of build-up which spins and spins and spins its wheels, all the while COMPLETELY telegraphing its own ending the second you see the art.
And that’s the MAIN problem here — these stories are ENTIRELY too long. 20 pages? Are you mad? That’s not a sustainable length for these kinds of tales. These should be 8 pages, maybe 10 max.
Another issue: the art. It’s pretty bad for a book trading on the legacy of the ECs. The first story, drawn by “Mr. Exes” is sorta charming in a mid-80s B&W bust kind of way, but it is wildly inappropriate for a horror story, while the second story, by “Tim Smith 3” (what, no roman numerals?) is plain plain plain.
One HUGE problem is the coloring — man, I don’t want to be looking at an EC-inspired comic that is bright lime green in places. Yikes.
I don’t know, maybe there’s a huge demand in book stores just for the very TFC name, but I don’t see it — this is going to completely die in the comics market, however, and I can’t really imagine it will make it to issue #4, let alone issue #6.
It’s really really AWFUL.
What did YOU think?