Do you like indie horror comics? Do you yearn for the horror comics of yore that were narrated by a spooky host? Well, do I have a comic book for you!
Insane Tales from the Dead Issue 2 October 2014
Hosted by the Grim Faced Pale One (aka Death or the Grim Reaper), this trade paperback comic is a Halloween special dedicated to all that spooky and bizarre shit in the world. Written by heavy metal artists and horror comic aficionados, the passion the writers and artists bring to the project is very clear from page one, and that I really appreciate.
The Best Story of the bunch are “Who Gives a Nut?” which was about a ghost squirrel. Yup, that’s right. A ghost, that’s a squirrel. It’s cute and twisted. Just the way I like it.
The most coherent and full of adult potty humor was “Tales From the Cesspool: Shitwrecked.”
It’s gross, but if you like that sort of thing, you’ll find it hilarious. Basically everyone ends up pooping and flushing the toilets at the same time all around the world, and something horrible happens. It’s funny.
“Sub Alien” is about psychic grey aliens that play rock music. not sure why but they wanted to make the best heavy metal in the universe, so they did. the art is easy to follow, however the story was a bit incoherent at times. It definitely could’ve used more revision before being illustrated. But hey, it’s an indie comic, so the standards are much different from what mainstream comic book companies are putting out now.
“Call of the Wolf” is about a dork named Billy and his hot girlfriend on Halloween. They argue about him going to a horror convention and he leaves in a huff. She stays home to read Insane Tales from the Dead (naturally) and he is attacked and devoured by werewolf biker gang.
It feels like it wants to be a “Tales from the Crypt” pastiches, but…something is missing.
I probably would’ve enjoyed “Call of the Wolf” more if the main character, Billy, wasn’t such an asshole. He’s a total jerk to his girlfriend and drives off in a huff, for no good reason whatsoever. The concept for the piece was solid enough, but I think that if he was a scaredy cat that believes in urban legends, and was paranoid to the point where he called 911 so much that they knew him by name and didn’t take him seriously anymore (like the fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf) , when he is attacked by biker werewolves, no one believes him and he’s left to die, it probably would have more of an emotional impact on the reader.
Fortunately, the art flow in “Call of the Wolf” is easy to follow. There’s only one panel where the werewolf biker is carrying away the corpse of the main character. At first glance, it’s hard to figure out what you are looking at. I think in this particular instance having a colored panel (even grey, black and red) would’ve helped make it easier to see what was going on.
“Torture” is just about torture porn. There’s no reason for the person who is torturing a man (whom for some reason remains conscious long after someone would’ve passed out from the pain) other than the Grim Reaper (the comic host/narrator) is telling the killer to do it.
Perhaps if we saw the killer’s victim’s thoughts and knew why he was being tortured, it would’ve been a decent story. Did he have it coming? Was it revenge? Was the killer sick and demented? We don’t know.
I will say this: the art is that one is very well done, probably the best in the book.
The cheese grater to the chest was especially gruesome and brought to mind a meat grinder.
“Tales from the Crypt” comics had a clear-cut set of writing guidelines. The Contes Cruel–all torture, murder, theft, etc. had to be done to those who had it coming. They’re grotesque morality plays. Tales of sadism, but with a purpose. Every character had a reason for doing what they did, and in regards to ITFRD, it is sorely lacking.
Overall most of the artwork is on the amateur side of the indie comics scale–the art-flow was hard to discern at times, probably because the frames were too close together and odd-shaped, and everything was black and white (sometimes color really makes shapes pop where they wouldn’t in gray-scale). Also some of the art styles haven’t been developed to the point of being professional, and that’s OK. Everyone starts somewhere, and I know I wouldn’t be able to draw half as good as that.
“Insane Tales from the Dead” is a small indie comic with a lot of heart. It might be black and rotten, but the passion the artist and authors have is very apparent. Any lover of horror art or Halloween for that matter will enjoy reading it.
The good news: There’s definite room for improvement. A clear vision for the series with writing guidelines would serve in their favor–as would a final proofreader to catch grammar errors prior to printing. The story ideas are there, they just need more development before going to the art board.
I’ll give these guys props for putting their work out there and for their passion for horror comics. Given time, practice and experience, these artists and authors will make something wonderfully horrific indeed.