Letters: Maurizio Clausi (Arancia Studio)
Welcome back to the wonderful world of Grimm Tales of Terror!! Here, we have this year’s Halloween Special issue. This spectacular release is comprised of three small tales suitable for any Halloween fan.
This is the first story. I already loved it just by the name because I love tattoos. I have 13. So, that caught my devilish heart right away. But this story is about a boy, a little youngster named Dan Ankerman. And poor little Dan gets bullied at school. Not only by the standard bullies that call him names, wait for him after school or take his lunch money but, also by certain teachers…like the gym teacher. All because he can’t make a free throw. (Maybe basketball is not his sport, he’s short, what if he’s more into baseball or soccer?) And because he couldn’t make that basket on Halloween, the whole class had to stay late instead of getting out early to go get their costumes ready for Halloween night.
So, as expected, the bully bunch is waiting for Dan after school to rough him up. He sneaks into a Halloween store to hide out and meets our dear friend “Red”. While calming him down and trying to make him feel better, she gives him three temporary tattoos, all images of Halloween monsters, grotesque ones at that. He immediately gets excited and wants to apply one that moment but, Red advises him to wait. So, he stuffs them in his pocket.
Later, he gets accosted by the bully squad and they end up stealing his classroom Halloween party candy bag from him. But they also steal the tattoos. Then, just as excited as Dan was, the three bullies immediately put the monster tats on themselves. Shortly thereafter, the bullies start to not feel so good. Their stomachs start to hurt and they cry out in agonizing pain. But why? And what happens to little Dan?
Cat and Mouse
In this story, we meet a young man named Charlie while he is hanging out with his friends. They are putzing around a Halloween decoration store when they wander into the “Staff Only” area while looking for decorations for the party they are having that night. That is where Charlie meets Red.
Even though they aren’t supposed to be back there and she tells them so, Charlie can’t help but notice a striking oriental décor screen with an amazing art design on it. He is certain that it is exactly what is needed to add that certain something to the party room to get chicks in the mood for some hot and heavy Halloween hooking up. But Red explains that it is a very special piece and that it is designed to test the virtue and spiritual purity of those chosen. She wonders out loud to him that this piece may not be right for a person such as himself. But he won’t take No for an answer and eventually, he talks her into selling it to him.
Later that night at the party, a girl shows up that Charlie has never seen before. He introduces himself, gives her a drink and, when he feels she loosened up enough, he suggests they go up to his room. There she freely admits that she’s feeling a little loopy. Charlie takes that as his cue to give her another drink. But this time he slips some Rohypnol in it. Once she’s pliable enough to his liking, he goes for his moment and starts to undress her, in preparation to have his way with her. But, as he takes off her dress, he sees she has the same marks from the decorative screen on her back in black, like a tattoo.
Then she starts talking about how he’s the one and she knew it from the start…typical first date stuff that would make any guy freak the hell out and run for the hills.
All Charlie wanted was to get laid on Halloween with a drunk little devil honey. What the hell did he get himself into?
In our final tale we follow a man as he stalks his prey, an unwitting woman who is just going about her day. He narrates about how he has to watch, learn their habits, their quirks, their routines. He follows her into a Halloween costume store. As she is looking for a costume for a party she must go to that night, she meets Red.
After they chat a bit, Red suggests this grotesque mask for the Halloween party. Admitting that she’s “not very Halloween-y” she is repulsed by the mask and politely refuses. Red laughs and then takes her to the sexy nurse costumes. All of this is going on while the stalker waits and watches from a corner doorway of the store.
She leaves. He leaves. Narration continues with a countdown letting us know the time is coming, that that urge to kill is just boiling over. So, what happens to the chick? And the guy? And do we see this sexy nurse’s costume?
As usual, I’m not going to tell you.
I will tell you that I loved, loved, loved this issue. I always like when they do the special issues with multiple stories in them. And the Halloween stories are almost always good. While I didn’t recognize a lot of the names in the credits, they definitely upheld the standard that I have come to expect from Zenescope and Grimm Tales of Terror.
The stories were all very well written and even though they were all written by different people, they still flow through the issue very smoothly and with great ease. They have the perfect balance to them as well. I don’t want to say too much as not to give anything away.
Now, the artwork is also fabulous. Again, even though it’s three different artists and a bunch of different colorists, everything seems to fit together perfectly, which I think is a major feat in itself. Every tale includes vibrant color to amplify the impact from each written word.
I highly recommend that you pick this up. They really gave us a treat for Halloween this year!
Jeff Homan and Benjamin Bartlett
Interior by Aaron Bolduc, Cover Design by Steve Lavigne, Cover Ink by Steve Mardo, Cover Color by Steve Lavigne and Aaron Bolduc
Additional Design, Graphics and Layouts by Jeffrey Homan
Here we are Toking Dead fans! Issue #2! Now, if you remember, when we left Duke, Tobi and Piper in issue #1 things were getting intense. There had been some crazy explosion. Zombies were everywhere. The guys had started to mutate and Tobi and Piper had gotten their groove on, even though Piper doesn’t usually go for guys. Piper had also been bitten on the shoulder during an attempt to flee the area and yet, she’s not showing any symptoms of anything.
And now that we are all caught up…
In this issue, the guys and Piper start to figure out that their crop of cannabis is slowing the zombies down. But they are quickly running out of crop. Tobi and Duke are mutating at a slower, albeit unpleasant, rate and Piper seems to be immune for a reason that I am not going to disclose. The zombies are quickly figuring out that our three heroes are holed up in the wreckage of their dispensary. And our heroes are quickly finding out that they are running out of crop.
What happens when the zombies eat all of the crop outside? Will Duke and Tobi become full on zombies? And what’s the deal with Piper? Why isn’t she turning?
You’ll have to get your own copy to find out the answers to these burning questions.
I love this series. Even though the guys are dealing with some corporate asshat suing them for their creativity and trying to stifle their free enterprise, they are still able to find a way to give us the quality comic book we so desire and deserve as fans.
This time, they were able to get the legendary Bill Diamond on board. Plus, the artwork in this issue by Aaron Bolduc is nothing short of spectacular. The colors are gloomier, with a more sinister feel, sharper line work and a bolder presence in general. This is different from issue one where the art was softer and smoother to the eye. This time, it grabs your eyes and shocks the images into retinas.
Bill Diamond also introduces “the Ziffits” which, if you are at all curious, you can get the issue and find out what they are. Because I’m not going to spoil EVERYTHING in this one for you.
As always, Homan and Bartlett give us a great dialogue to go with the depictions of horror being splashed from page to page. Without the writing of this series, we would never TRULY get a solid feel for these individuals as characters and they ARE individuals, each unique in their own way.
I still maintain this is a badass series that is truly sparking a conversation that is long overdue. And here’s why. It is in this issue that they guys start talking about the medicinal effects of marijuana and how it is going to save not only their lives but many others. The genius is that that information is being put into the context of this zombie apocalypse and they need to figure out how to use the medical marijuana to their advantage and fast if they are going to live to tell the rest of this tale.
Get your copy at their Etsy store: HERE
Visit The Toking Dead at:
Created by Derek Kolstad
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Giovanni Valletta (issues 1-2), Matt Gaudio (issues 3-5)
Letters by Tom Napolitano
Collection Cover by Giovanni Valletta
I initially just grabbed this on a whim without looking through it, thinking it was a John Wick graphic novel. Turns out it’s a trade paper of issues 1-5. Not that that’s a bad thing. I was more or less expecting a graphic novel version of the movie. But this turned out to be different than expected.
First of all, it contains issues 1-5. It’s a gorgeous hardcover that might even be a great collector piece because of the artwork. The artwork truly is fantastic. In the back of the book are all the original covers and alternate covers, each one very well done. However, I think the best usage of color is that which is used to emphasize the violent scenes containing blood, fire, explosions, etc.
Second, still with a basic revenge plot, it seems that this storyline is possibly a prequel to the movie. John Wick is seeking justice for the desecration and destruction of a little village he lived in as a child. Whatever happened to this village caused the deaths of pretty much everyone in the village, including whoever Wick loved or cared about. He even witnessed the destruction first-hand. It is this drive for vengeance that marks his initiation into “The Continental” and the business of such membership.
Also, there are two badass female villains in the story. These chicks are powerful, independent and heavy duty killer characters.
I got through this whole book, all five issues, in one sitting, no breaks. The series is very well written and grabs your attention immediately. There’s action, blood and violence on almost every page, making it chocked full of just the kind of bone breaking and blood spilling we love about John Wick. I do think this is a series I am going to prefer reading in trade rather than in single issues so I’m going to get the next trade when I find it. And I think any action fan or fan of fighting and blood will like this series. Because there’s a lot of both. And the fight scenes/panels are very well done. So it’s definitely worth getting and reading.
Written by Joe Brusha
Artwork by Umberto Giampà
Colors by Fran Gamboa w/ J.C. Ruiz
Letters by Fabio Amelia
This time our friends at Grimm Tales of Terror have put together a fantastic tale, weaving together three of the most horrific crimes in history; Jack the Ripper, the Butcher of Kingsbury Run and The Black Dahlia.
Expertly written, these crimes are intertwined, stitched together over time. We all know of Jack the Ripper, the image of a creepy dude in a dark hat and a long black coat slicing up women in White Chapel, London, England. The Butcher of Kingsbury Run was also known as the Cleveland Torso Murderer, a killer who would decapitate his male victims and mutilate and dispose of their remains, leaving the torso usually intact. And finally, the Black Dahlia. The tragic death of Elizabeth Short, an aspiring actress in Hollywood, murdered and mutilated, her body left out in public severed in half, sprawled in a provocative and humiliating position.
All of these crimes remain unsolved to this very day.
So, the author used a little imagination and took it to a whole new level. What if all these crimes were committed by one person?
Now, I know you’re thinking about the fact that Jack the Ripper was killing in the late 1800s and here we are in the year 2019. Nobody lives that long right? So, how in the hell did they pull this off?
I’m not going to tell you. Why would I ruin the issue for you??? It was the last issue in volume four. You really should give it a go. The artwork is amazing. The story is entertaining and actually comes together really nicely. Plus, it’s a great combination of true crime and traditional horror concepts, ya know, the stuff we normally think of when we think of horror. This was definitely a very well sewn together story of fun, horror, true crime creating suspense and thrill with each turn of the page.
Story by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, Brian Studler
Written by Brian Studler
Artwork by Butch Mapa
Colors by Marco Lesko
Letters by Fabio Amelia
This is what happens when you mess with the supernatural and a woman’s trust all at the same time. Here we have two guys, one is married and one hasn’t taken the plunge yet, still single. And these guys are a new dynamic duo.
They have quite the little scam going on. Here’s how it breaks down. Single dude, Phil, picks up random chicks and then takes them as dinner dates to Dave’s house. Dave is married. They all play nice and have dinner as if it is a double date and then, like clockwork, Dave’s wife goes to bed early in the evening. Then, it’s just the three of them, two guys and one girl. And it’s on like Donkey Kong. These guys are living the adult film industry, scene by scene in every fashion, all in the comfort of Dave’s man cave in his garage. And to top it off, Dave filmed everything. And somehow these bozos have never gotten caught.
But karma is always a bitch. Plus, revenge…is always a good motivator. And these guys end up messing around with things they know nothing about. Ouija boards and women. And then their fun little dreamland in the garage becomes a living nightmare.
As always, you can count on the peeps at Zenescope to give you a warped twist on a classic piece of supernatural paraphernalia. I mean, most of us have played with a Ouija board at one time or another in our lives. I did when I was a kid. It was a staple for sleepovers. But, nothing like this ever happened. Then again, I wasn’t a cheating husband with a skeevy friend boning everything that walked through my front door.
Now, that being said, not only did I enjoy the story, playing into the power of the Ouija board, I also liked how the writers twisted and turned the basic tale of scorned lovers and wove it into a paranormal tale of vengeance and punishment.
The artwork is great, as always. I think the artist really went to the edge with some of the panels (frames, whichever you like to call them), really going along with the imagery of the story. But I have to say, in this issue, it’s the story that really takes it away here.
Practically everybody has either cheated, been cheated on or knows somebody that has experienced these things. (Hell, maybe all the above huh? Depends on the choices made I guess.) Anyways, it’s almost like back when you were a kid and you found out that your significant other had been messing around with someone else. You were crushed but, at the same time, you were enraged. Anyone who has ever been brought to their knees by the soul crushing pain of betrayal and humiliation has also probably at some point planned the demise of the cause of said pain. I would say this story is the embodiment of one of those fantasies. One of those times where you plot every detail in your mind knowing full well you’d never do such horrible things and yet you somehow get some sort of relief and satisfaction just from imagining the scenario. (Oh puh-lease stop acting like I’m the only one that has plotted against someone at some point in their lives. Admit it. It’s okay. We’re all friends here.)
Anyways, (insert raised eyebrow here), I think this issue was quite entertaining and worth the read.
By Ryan Heshka
This comic book is a fresh reminder that simplicity is very effective. This throwback styled comic uses less dialogue, more direct but minimal storytelling and few colors to bring to life this woeful tale of the age-old triangle. This story involves a beautiful woman, her love for her man and her struggle against the other woman. Plus, ya know, there’s radioactive stuff, foul language, sarcasm, sex and humor.
So, I ask you…what’s not to love????
The first thing I noticed about this comic was the throwback style and I was immediately taken by its cover art. Then, I noticed that this whole thing was done by one guy…mad respect. But, the simplicity…genius!!! Not only does Heshka use the most basic color palette, he also writes the story seemingly using as few lines as possible. These two things coupled together are the core of the throwback feel.
Here we have a beautiful woman, changed forever (along with everything else) by radioactive material into a frog-woman. And she tries with all she has to make her husband happy at home but, soon his eyes wander to the neighbor lady next door. Oh, that ugly situation of a scorned woman that every man dreads! Only now it’s a scorned radioactively altered frog wife. Is that something, well, someone you’d want to have pissed at you? I think not.
So, what’s a frog wife to do? With her broken heart and philandering husband…
Read it and find out.
Purchase at: https://ryanheshkastore.bigcartel.com/product/frog-wife-comic-book
This comic has a quick pace. It’s well written with perfectly placed puns that are absolutely hysterical. Fantastic artwork and adult humor round out the whole issue. It definitely left me wanting more to read, it was that enjoyable. I highly recommend this one, especially for classic comic fans.
Story by Joshua Williamson
Art by Mike Henderson
Colors by Adam Guzowski
Letters & Book Design by John J. Hill
Edited by Rob Levin
Okay, so, yes this series has been out for quite a while and yes, I didn’t know about it until my wonderful guys at my comic book store said, “Hey, this has serial killers, blood and death, do you-?” and I interrupted them and said, “YES!”. And so, here we are…
So far, this story centers around a few things…
Now, Carroll is obsessed with figuring out why all these serial killers keep being born and raised in this particular town. No one can explain it. They are born, they grow up, they leave and move to other states and then become one in a long line of new age Ted Bundys. He wants to figure out why. And he thinks he has. So, he calls his old pal Finch.
Finch is suspended, so Carroll figures he’s got nothing but time, and tells him to get to Buckaroo on the double. But, when Finch gets there, Carroll is missing. He can’t find Eliot anywhere. So, now he starts trying to quietly look around but, that plan is quickly squashed when he runs into Alice.
Alice seems to have gotten into a spot of trouble with two meatheads from the local football team and Finch steps in to help, not that she even needed it. By this time, Sherriff Crane shows up to find Alice bitching about Finch taking away her thunder, two football players groaning and bloody and Finch, well, saying it’s a misunderstanding and that the girl was in trouble.
After the smoke clears, Crane and Finch quickly figure out they are looking for the same person, Eliot Carroll. And they decide there’s only one person to go talk to since Finch is under the impression Carroll figured out the secret to the serial killer town. So, they go see Warren. And when Warren answers the door, the first thing they see is a smile on his face and blood all over his clothes.
So far, I’m loving this series. There’s action and suspense and blood almost everywhere. Warren is a creepy character and every single time his image appears on the page he gives me the willies, so major props to the artists because yeah, he definitely looks like a sicko.
The whole idea of a bunch of serial killers being from one town is super cool. I am convinced it’s NOT the water and I’m am very curious to see what happens. I have this series in volumes of trade papers, not in individual issues so I might tie a few issues together here and there, I’m not sure yet. There are A LOT of volumes, people. So, this might take a while to cover the whole story.
But, so far, Warren is the star. He’s definitely what you are waiting for on every page turn. So, while we are waiting to find Carroll, who seems like quite a nut by the way, waiting to see if Finch is going to unleash some kind of homicidal rage on someone or something because the look on his face is always like “I’m gonna rip your head off!” or like “FINISH HIM!” from MortalKombat, we get the entertaining antics of an annoying but mouthy teen with anger issues and a serial killer with a sense of humor and a bit of a bite. (See what I did there?) We’ll see what happens in issue two. Well, I already know what happens. But I’ll be letting YOU know soon enough.
Story by Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, Dave Franchini, Brian Studler
Written by Brian Studler
Artwork by Babisu Kourtis
Colors by Fran Gamboa w/ J.C. Ruiz
Letters by Fabio Amelia
This is a story based on Ancient Navajo lore. They have a legend about something called “Skinwalkers”. A skinwalker is an evil witch of sorts. It’s a creature that can shapeshift and take the form of any animal or person it chooses.
This story takes us to the arid state of New Mexico. There have been four murders, the police are calling them incidents, in the span of as many weeks. The first victim has obviously been recovered but they have been unable to identify that person. The second victim was a backpacker, mangled and eviscerated beyond comprehension. The third unlucky person to cross this maniacs path was a local businessman named Thomas Cothran. He was found mutilated in his own backyard. Law enforcement is thinking they have a serial killer in their midst as all as of the victims were mutilated, decapitated or dismembered. So they call in help from the big guys, The FBI (the fibbies).
The local detective assigned to the case is a Navajo man named Roy Jenson. Claire Morse has been loaned out to local police by the FBI to try to track down this horrible killer. Now. Roy is a big believer in the whole Skinwalkers idea but, his boss thinks it’s nothing to pursue and orders him not to babble on about it to the FBI agent.
But, when the two get in the car and they start talking about the case, Roy finds out that Claire is half-Navajo and that she very much DOES believe in the Skinwalker theory. Together, they track back and forth through town and across the desert, looking for clues and information on their murderous suspect.
Will Jenson and Morse find their killer before they can strike again? The only way you’re going to find out is to read it for yourself, because I am not telling you this time.
This is kind of a werewolf story. The Skinwalkers are like shapeshifting werewolves except that they can shift into any person they want, not just the host body they are assigned to, which I think is kind of cool, except that their target has to die in order to be impersonated. That could totally ruin your day.
The artwork and color usage in this issue is fantastic. The two artists (well three actually) really come together to bring the story to life. With these three particularly talented people we get a wonderfully bloody and gore filled issue that just leaves me that sweet little warm and fuzzy feeling most people get from looking at pictures of baby ducks. I also feel like there is a spectacular use of shading and highlighting in this particular issue. Especially in the faces of the characters. It really brings out their unique expressions and emotions, adding yet another layer of the same kind of gut wrenching panache that the writer uses to make your skin crawl.
I found this to be an interesting and entertaining take on the idea of a lycanthrope. It is definitely a more dangerous one compared to the regular old legend of the werewolf. This is a tale that can make you think for a minute. This isn’t that Twilight nonsense. Give it a try. It might be nice to get a new perspective on the subject.
Written by Aleš Kot
Drawn by Danijel Žeželj
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by Aditya Bridikar
Design by Tom Muller
This is a killer and interesting comic. Originally released in January of 2018, it is a hugely politically charged comic series. Civil and political unrest has divided the country many times over. Social injustice reigns supreme and war is among the citizens everywhere. The ignorance of one race being better than any other has risen to power and in a sad and unfortunate turn of darkness, it is White Supremacy at the helm. A war has ensued between the population and the White Supremacist Regime as the people of the land try to reclaim their country, their way of life, their rights and their very souls for survival.
In this story, America is in a serious police state. It’s definitely filled with hate and propaganda, decisive divides that are corroding all kinds of relationships and values. I mean, the country is just in shambles. The government, or what’s left of it, is operating with impunity. People must be very careful as to what they do and say.
Danger is all around. There are many underground groups. There are loyalists and radicals, anarchists and detractors. Everybody seems to have been wronged and they all have their own agenda. It’s only a matter of time before things start REALLY heating up. The war is just beginning. It’s only going to get worse before it gets better. That’s the only option now that it’s begun. And for a lot of people, this is personal.
I think this is going to be a fantastic series. I really wish I would have found it when it first came out so I didn’t have to play catch up. This one would have been fun to look forward to each month.
But, it does seem to be very politically charged, like I stated in the beginning. That doesn’t bother me but if there are some super sensitive people out there that are so emotionally attached to their political views that it skews their ability to be entertained then, this comic is not for you.
In addition to great overall content, you’ve got a best-selling author and an award-winning colorist working with a stellar team to create some of the wall depictions and descriptions of what very well could be the near future (if certain people don’t get certain parts of anatomy out of other certain parts of anatomy, that’s all I’ll say, no politics).
Definitely worth the read and there’s even a second round to the series so it doesn’t end with just the twelve issues. You might want to give it a look.
Written by W. Maxwell Prince
Artwork by Martín Morazzo
Colors by Chris O’Halloran
Letters by Good Old Neon
Cover A by Morazzo & O’Halloran
Cover B by Juan Ferreyra
As my faithful readers well know, I have been becoming more and more displeased with this series with every issue that comes out. In a recent review, I posed the theory that the writer might be going through some personal issues. I am now revising that theory on the basis that this issue has provided me more insight. I now have a suspicion this guy has got to be either on some heavy-duty serious pharmaceutical grade LSD type stuff OR he’s going way out of his way to tiptoe around making some sort of political statement and doesn’t want to be razzed for coming right out and saying it, so it does it in an abstract and roundabout way, so he can cover his ass.
So, this issue is a part two to the last issue. To me that means that if you want part one to be completed or make sense you need to read part two. However, part one was all in English. Also, it was definitely NOT a stand-alone comic story. THIS issue, the first seven pages are in Spanish. I have nothing against Spanish or Spanish speaking people. I love foreign languages, I love accents, I’m fascinated by other cultures and traditions. (I’ve always wanted to be multi-lingual. I took French in high school. Little did I know Spanish would have been so much more beneficial, especially in a career.) But, I don’t read or speak Spanish so I felt like I was watching a foreign film with no subtitles.
I bring that up as a complaint ONLY because if you are going to tie two issues together and make it apparent that they are story dependent on each other, you might want to make them both in the same language. Honestly, I could have just as easily purchased a copy in German and been just as successful. (However, had it been in French, I may have had better luck.)
The story…hmmm…did it tie into issue nine? Loosely, I guess. These stories are getting stranger and stranger. This issue would have been okay as a stand-alone. But, like I said, I think this writer is really starting to turn away from the horror aspect and fall into, well, I don’t know what.
This story was about a white guy and a Hispanic girl that fall in love. Now this guy is arguing with another man who I believe to be his brother. Apparently she is already promised to a General or something like that. The brother is telling the guy in love that it’s not going to work out the way he wants it to or thinks it will. Anyways, the two lovebirds make plans to run away to the United States together but, her Aunt rats them out to the General. A fight ensues between the two men for the hand and fate of the girl. Unfortunately, her true love dies in the battle for her freedom. And in all her love stricken grief, she turns to her lover’s brother for comfort, showing up unannounced at his home, saying she had nowhere else to go.
Nice girl, huh? I always thought brothers of boyfriends and former boyfriends were off-limits. Isn’t that like an unspoken rule or something? Or am I being old fashioned here?
Still, I have NO IDEA what this has to do with the nonsense from issue nine and I don’t care enough to go back and try to figure it out. These guys better get back to the Ice Cream Man tricking and killing people or they will have lost a reader for good.
NOTE: Yes, I know these are in Spanish, the writer of the comic intended them to be that way. This was not an image mistake on my part. Thank you.