In Review: Grimm Tales of Terror #3

A scary story is scuttled by average visuals. This could have been a classic.

The covers: A trio to track down on this appropriately numbered third issue. The A cover is formatted in the same style as an iconic EC horror comic, with the logo done in blood red in the top third of the image, with the illustration in the remaining space. It’s a doozy of an illustration, from Eric J. and Alessia Nocera, showing a skull in a stone enclosure being swarmed by hundreds of beetles. It’s a simple idea for a cover carried out perfectly. The B cover is more intense. Coming from Antonio Bifulco and Wes Hartman, this has an attractive blonde student in bed reading something. Her studies are interrupted by the horde of insects and maggots devouring her bed as they make their way to her. This is the traditional “Girl in Peril” cover that suits this type of story. Nice coloring on this from Hartman with the light sources and their shines excellent. The final cover, the C,  was the one I had to purchase and it’s by Maria Laura Sanapo and Vincius Andrade. This features series’ host Keres in a morgue holding a bone saw over a corpse. She looks sensational. The spatter on her apron is spot on, and the coloring is wonderful. This is worthy of being a print. The image that accompanies this review is much better than the poor copy my scanner made. Overall grades: A A-, B A, and C A+

The story: This is a first me for me in reading a Zenescope book: the story was conceived by Ralph Tedesco and Joe Brusha, as well as Nicole Glade, but it was actually written by Lou Iovino. Usually the person who shares the story credit with Tedesco and Brusha is the writer of the issue, but not this time. I’m a little more intrigued than usual to see what this tale, “Drop Dead, Gorgeous”, is going to be like. It starts unconventionally, with Keres not being written into the opening or closing. She doesn’t appear until Page 7, and it’s only for that one page. The book begins with Bea trying to dislodge something from a corpse’s neck, but just can’t reach it. Her superior at the Nantucket Medical Examiner, Jim, doesn’t have any problem, but Bea has to rush off, having just gotten a call from her roommate that needs to be picked up. Jess is arguing publicly with her boyfriend outside of this frat. The audience watching is laughing uproariously at her complaints until Bea appears to pick up Jess. Once at their room, Bea suggest Jess find a better class of boyfriend on an online dating site. This story starts slowly, with the insect element not introduced until Keres’s appearance, and it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen to someone. But who that someone is and why is not known until one character undergoes and physical and mental change. Page 16 has a nice turning point, and leads to a rapid fire conclusion. The best horror stories in comics are ones that contain a surprise that was in front of the reader the whole time, and I had to go back and re-read this tale to see the clues and, yes, they were there all along. Excellent job by all involved with crafting this tale. Overall grade: A

The art: The illustrations on this book by Cristhian Crizam Zamora start out very strongly but weaken as the story progresses. The first four panels of the book are exceptional, and raised my expectations for what this book would look like. When Jim appears in the bottom panel he doesn’t look as though he’s drawn by the same person: his head is very square and the items in the foreground are very sketchy. The full page splash on 2 is too far away from the characters; it should have been pulled in tighter to them. Things improve on 3 which looks good in every panel. Page 4 is also well drawn, but on 5 Jess’s poses are too rigid. This happens often in the book, characters go from looking natural in their posture to being really awkward or odd. This is most evident looking at Pages 10 and 11. Look at the first panel on 10 — Bea’s hand is unnaturally small and in the middle three panels Jess is very inconsistent in her face. On Page 11 Jess looks amazing, giving some incredible nonverbal responses to what’s transpiring. The two panels that contain the horrific images aren’t strong enough. The first on 20 isn’t clear enough to see, while the shadow at the top of 22 is so dark as to make the missing element not noticeable. The visuals are adequate, but not consistent. Overall grade: C

The colors: The colors on this book also left me many flummoxed. Done by both Fran Gambo and J.C. Ruiz, I wish the credits stated which was responsible for what pages so I could be more specific in my commentary. The first page starts out well, with those first four panels being outstanding. However, a turn of the page will leave readers wondering what’s going on with the characters’ lab coats, especially Jim’s. Things improve through Page 14, but on 15 why did the characters in the foreground suddenly become tan in the bottom panel? They’re not entering a building. The focus should be thrown on Bea, but having them change so radically puts the focus on them. Weird shading then begins to appear on characters’ flesh, such as at top of 18 where Bea looks like a burn victim on her leg. The horror scenes are too darkly colored, making the visual overpowered and unclear to the reader. This is a shame, because the story is good. Overall grade: C-

The letters: Fabio Amelia provides dialogue, yells, signage, sounds, scene settings, Keres speak, texting, and “The End.” Amelia gets to do a wide variety of fonts in this issue and all are well done. I’m grateful that Amelia was allowed to use italics to make the characters’ emphasis stronger. His texting work is also well done, with only the clacking of Jess hitting the keyboard missing. Overall grade: A

The final line: A scary story is scuttled by average visuals. This could have been a classic. Still worth checking out if you like creepy twists. Overall grade: B-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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