Thursday, November 1, 2007

Comics From the Crypt: Terrifying Tales to Thrill Your Halloween

By Chris Buchner

Halloween may be over, but that doesn’t mean it has to end until next year. I love Halloween, it’s my most favored of holidays. Where else can you dress up and be anyone you want, not to mention get oodles of candy for free? Then there’s the whole supernatural angle, ghosts, goblins, demons, witches…all sorts of creatures in the night that make it unlike any other day of the year. If I had my way, Halloween would be more than just one piddly day. Fortunately, there’s a smattering of comics out there that will allow anyone to keep Halloween alive in the months preceding the next official occurrence of this unique holiday. Forget the scary movie marathon; next Halloween make it a scary COMIC marathon!


Wildstorm, a DC imprint, has acquired the license to several of the most well-known names in horror: dream murderer Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street series, machete wielding Jason Voorhies from the Friday the 13th series and the chainsaw cannibal Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. Before Wildstorm, each had enjoyed a variety of comics by different publishers. Freddy goes as far back as 1989 with Marvel, before being picked up by Innovation in 1991 and those tales later reprinted in the UK by Trident. Jason started a bit lat in 1993 when he was licensed out by New Line to Topps Comics, who published an adaptation of the film Jason Goes to Hell and a crossover with Leatherface. Leatherface began in 1991 at Northstar Comics with a loose adaptation of Texas Chainsaw Massacre III before heading over to Topps for his crossover with Jason. In 2005, Avatar Press resurrected all three of these characters with a couple mini-series and specials each (it should be noted, though, the Texas books from here on out were based on the 2003 remake rather than the original), before ultimately losing the licenses.

Originally at Wildstorm, each character had their own on-going and specials, but Wildstorm decided to condense the books into a series of minis and specials, and brings two of them together in the new series New Line Cinema’s House of Horrors by Christos Gage, Peter Milligan, Stefano Rafaelle and Tom Feister. Each issue will feature two stories with each character, starting off with Freddy and Leatherface. In the meantime, Jason teams up with a young boy at Camp Crystal Lake as he’s picked on by fellow campers and on the run for his life in Friday the 13th: How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Jason Aaron and Adam Archer.

And, in case that wasn’t enough Freddy or Jason for you, there’s a mini-series coming based on the proposed follow-up to 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason movie, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash by Wildstorm and Dynamite Entertainment. The series will pit the two villains, unwittingly bonded at the end of the film, against anti-hero Ashley J. Williams as they hunt for the Necronomicon, an evil book, for different reasons(see the Army of Darkness paragraph in THE DEAD LIVE! section of this article for further details).

Meanwhile, over at Devil’s Due, another horror staple finds a new life and a thirst for vengeance. Chucky stars the evil Good Guy Doll inhabited by serial killer Charles Lee Ray in a direct sequel to the Child’s Play movie franchise. The mini-series follows Chucky as he goes after Jade, Jessie and Detective Preston from The Bride of Chucky looking for a little payback from their burying him alive.

Although nothing recent has been published, indestructible masked psycho Michael Meyers from the Halloween series has also enjoyed his time in the comic pages, most recently in a special comic included with the 2006 DVD release of Halloween: 25 Years of Terror called Halloween: Autopsis. Created by documentary writer/producer/director Stefan Hutchinson, it centers on a photojournalist on a search for Meyers in 1993 by following Sam Loomis. This comic leads into a spin-off novella about Loomis available for download soon from Before, though, Halloween was published through Chaos Comics in 2000. It was followed-up by two sequels, until 2003 when an independently published book was sold at the Halloween Returns to Haddonfield 25th Anniversary Convention in California.

Some other horror films have received the comic treatment as well. The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning is a graphic novel released by Fox Atomic Comics by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray that serves as a prequel to both Wes Craven’s original movie and the Fox Atomic sequel in 2006. It tells how the once-good people of the area were transformed into hideous monsters by US. Government atomic testing in the area. Also produced by Fox Atomic Comics is 28 Days Later: The Aftermath by Steve Niles, Dennis Calero, Diego Olmos and Nat Jones. It features four stories that bridge the gap between the first movie and it’s sequel, exploring everything from the creation of the Rage Virus, survival in an infected city, and how things were restored to order.


Psycho killers not enough for ya? Well, there’s a smattering of the undead for you to put your hands on!

The Walking Dead by Image Comics is created and written by Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore, whose art chores were replaced by Charlie Adlard since issue 7. The ongoing book follows the adventures of a group of people trying to survive in a world overrun by zombies. Although heavily influenced by the films of George Romero, the goal of the series it have no definitive end to the story, instead showing the progression of the world and characters as they deal with the zombie infestation.

Avatar Press has their own zombie epic in the works, with the launch of The Plague of the Living Dead. Like most zombie epics, a mysterious bug goes around reanimating the recently deceased who seek to feast on the living. By John Russo and Dheeraj Verma, the series picks up from the special released before it and brings the gore in full-colored glory.

Looking for something a bit more unconventional? Marvel’s got your answer with the darkly comedic Marvel Zombies 2. A sequel to last year’s off-beat hit Marvel Zombies which spun-off from an arc in Ultimate Fantastic Four, the book features a return to the alternate universe where Marvel’s heroes have been infected by a virus and turned into flesh-eating monsters. But, this time, the zombies are the ones possessing the power cosmic after feasting on Galactus and on their way back to Earth after eating every other creature in the universe to feast on the few remaining humans. Robert Kirkman heads up this book as well, with art by Sean Phillips and painted covers parodying other Marvel covers by Arthur Suydam. The exploits of the zombies can also be seen in recent issues of Black Panther and Marvel Zombies: Dead Days.

They say it was written by the dark ones; Necronomicon Ex Mortis, roughly translated “Book of the Dead.” Bound in human flesh and inked in blood, it contains bizarre incantations and demon resurrection passages. It was never meant for the world of the living. Sam Raimi (director of the Spider-Man movies) created a cult hit with his Evil Dead Trilogy starring friend Bruce Campbell as the bumbling wise-ass Ashley J. Williams. The third in the series, Army of Darkness, was adapted into comic form containing the original intended ending in 1993 by Dark Horse Comics Over a decade later, Devil’s Due would resurrect the comic adventures of Ash vs. the Necronomicon and its legion of the undead with two mini-series, Ashes 2 Ashes and ShopTill You Drop Dead, before Dynamite Entertainment took over for the on-going. Since then, Ash has been up against fellow cult-classics Reanimator and Darkman (also created by Raimi), variations of the Universal Monsters, and even the Marvel Zombies. The adventures of Ash currently run in Army of Darkness: From the Ashes, and coming soon from Dark Horse a 4-issue mini-series adapting the original Evil Dead movie.

You’ve seen the trailers and the posters, and now IDW Publishing is re-releasing it’s hit mini-series and latest comic-adapted motion picture 30 Days of Night. Created by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, it’s a tale about vampires that appear in a small Alaskan town where the sun sets for 30 days, putting four of it’s residence in a difficult struggle for their own survival, and to save their home. The latest release is a Sourcebook that features government accounts on the incident, but also available are the original mini and it’s sequels: Bloodsucker Tales, Return to Barrow, Dead Space, Spreading the Disease, Eben and Stella, Red Snow, Night Beyond Barrow and two annuals.

Avatar Press brings George Romero’s world back to life (so to speak) with an authorized collection of mini-series and one-shots. Among them are Night of the Living Dead: Back From The Grave, Beginning, Barbara’s Zombie Chronicles, and Just a Girl. All were written by John Russo with full approval from George Romero, as they expand and explain the film he crafted so long ago.


If you like the supernatural you may want to check out Wildstorm’s Supernatural: Origins. Based on the hit CW TV series, it serves as a prequel to show how John Winchester raises his sons Dean and Sam to become the hunters of spirits and demons seen every week on the show. It’s written by series producer Peter Johnson and drawn by Matthew Dow Smith.

Fox Atomic Comics presents a graphic novel that adapts Thomas Ligotti’s book The Nightmare Factory. Adapted by Stuart Moore, Joe Harris, Ben Templesmith, Jim McKeever, Michael Gaydos and Colleen Doran, it tells three of the most terrifying stories from Ligotti’s work involving human sacrifices, horrific dreams, and a strange urban legend that robs artists of their desire to create.

Devil’s Due offers a new take on the slasher genre with Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash. Cassie was picked on as a child which led to her mother brutally murdering every guilty kid in her school and serving them in the school lunch. This prompted Cassie to go out and kill homicidal maniacs, or slashers, with her freakish companion Vlad. The book started as a series of one-shots in 2004 now collected in the trades The First Cut and Death By Sequel, which gave way to a limited-series called Land of Lost Toys, which eventually led to the characters getting their own ongoing book, Hack/Slash: The Series. If that wasn’t enough for you, they also had a cross-over with Chucky in Hack/Slash vs. Chucky.

Somewhere between madness and mayhem lies…Psychosis! Psychosis! is an annual horror anthology publication by Guild Works Productions that explores some of the most terrifying things humans have experienced. The second issue was released just this October and features a variety of talent from different levels of the comic book field, many farmed from the national networking group the Comicbook Artists Guild


Before HBO, there was the original Tales from the Crypt. Published in the 1950s by EC comics, these tales paved the way for every incarnation that would come after. Gemstone Publishing had collected two volumes worth of the original EC Comics run, reprinting 12 issues and 24 stories in total. Also, a new more kid-friendly version of the classic book is currently being produced by Papercutz! under the supervision of industry veteran Jim Salicrup.

Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula was a 70-issue series from the 70s that followed the adventures of a group of vampire hunters who went after Dracula or other menaces, sometimes resulting in Dracula teaming-up to help them. Along with many other classic books, the series was given the Essential treatment in 2004, collecting all 70 issues of the series between four volumes and a few stories from the magazine of the same title. Also, the Frankenstein Monster and Werewolf by Night have also been given Essentials, collecting the various comics in which they appeared in one handy tome. Plus, the four Legion of Monsters one-shots that re-imagine some of Marvel’s supernatural characters have just been released in a new collected edition.

And, last but not least, what’s Halloween without those courageous defenders of humanity against the perils of the supernatural, the Ghostbusters! No Halloween is complete without them, and the same goes for their comics. Although the last newly published book was in 2004 through 88MPH Studios by Andrew Dabb and Steve Kurth, the Ghostbusters have been around for many years, mostly in their cartoon variations. NOW Comics published over 30 issues of The Real Ghostbusters, including an adaptation of the second movie and the Slimer! spin-off.

Of course, boils and ghouls, these are just some of the most recent examples of Halloween-ready comics available on the stands. There are many more spine-tinglers out there to raise your hair and give you goose bumps, both newly deceased and rotten from the grave. So if you’re looking for a scare for your next Halloween, head to your local cemetery and dig up these gruesome creations. But, remember to leave the lights on, kiddies, because you just might find yourself the fright of your afterlife! MWAHAHAHAHA!

1 comment:

Grim Blogger said...

I'm glad to see mention of the Ligotti graphic novel. Also, nice to hear some of the classic Tales of the Crypt are being reprinted. I doubt I've seen the originals from those early pulpish and highly collectible tales.