New Reviews of Old Comics
Nothing quite like writing the same review twice, and this is my second go around for Grave Tales #3. The first version no one will ever read because I wound up overwriting it and not saving it properly; totally my lazy fault. So this review probably won’t be nearly as long or witty, because the other one was pretty good and only a magician can re-create magic like that. Anyway, prior to picking up this nice magazine sized comic form a local estate dealer I’d never heard of Hamilton Comics or Grave Tales, but anything with a cover like that has to be worth at least a buck.
“Dog Gone!” by John Cochran (words) and Joe Staton (pictures) tells the story of nebbish Lester Woppler, his canine loving neighbor Mrs. Krimshaw and her two fluffy pooches. Mrs. Krimshaw wants ot be good friends, but Lester hates dogs, especially these dogs. In order to get some peace and quiet Lester feeds one of the ankle biters a poisoned lamb chop; yeah, he’s not a nice person. Well, the jokes on him because a distraught Mrs. Krimshaw invites Lester to the doggie funeral. In true horror comic fashion all is not as it seems. Mrs. Krimshaw knows about the dastardly deed because she herself is a dog disguised as a human! After clueing her neighbor in on this fact she treats her fellow pooches to a midnight snack. You can probably assume the rest. This story was just OK for me. Neither good, nor bad, but I definitely get where they’re trying to revive that old EC vibe. I will say Joe Staton’s artwork among the most enjoyable I’ve ever seen from him.
Steve Skeates wrote “The Vigil” for legendary letterer John Workman to illustrate. This six pager tells the story of a young couple buying a new home on the coast to escape the city life; oh, and the new house if haunted. Legend has it an old sailor lived here with his wife and daughter. One day the sailor went o sea and his daughter took up a space in the house’s tower to keep an eye on the ocean for his return, and nothing could distract her. Her father never returned so the local lore has her still holding a vigil, awaiting his return. The whole story is flashed through the mind of the new female homeowner, while elsewhere her husband is driving the windy, coastal road home. When he drives off a cliff, a zombie sea captain appears on the porch, releasing his daughter’s vigilant spirit, only to have the new homeowner take her place waiting for her husband. This was better than the first story and loved Workman’s art in the story; he does a great job maximizing black and white to very full effect. Bravo!
“Sredni Vashtar” is about a weird little boy, his wicked aunt and his pet ferret. Since he doesn’t have many friends, the boy worships the ferret like a god. The aunt thinks this kid’s very weird behavior and goes out to kill the ferret. Any devotee to horror comics will know this does not end well for the aunt. Better than the first story, but not as good as the second.
Jack C. Harris wrote “Cycle of the Vampire” while John Heebink handled the illustrations for this six page story about vampires and time travel, truly a combo that can’t be beat. An attractive young sculptress is attacked in her studio by a hideous looking vampire. Thankfully she has a friend who invited a time machine (we should all be so lucky) and wants to help her out by sending her back time to before when the vampire attacked. It’s horror comic so of course things don’t wrap up quite so neatly.
Finally we get “Role Model” a story that took two people, Jeff Bailey and Marty Golia to write and only one Joe Station to draw. Essentially this a pretty blatant horror comic send up of the beloved “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip. Yes, there are much worse things out there, and honestly, being a big “Calvin + Hobbes” fan helped me enjoy this story. Also, “Calvin” singing the song “Great big gobs of greasy, grimey gopher guts…” was a treat for me as well.
There isn’t much doubt Hamilton Comics was trying to revive the spirit of EC stories-past and I think they do an admirable job of it with Grave Tales #3. Good enough in fact that I would be thrilled to find any other Hamilton Comics in my travels.