In Review: Grimm Tales of Terror #10

Stories like this are keeping horror comics alive.

The covers: Four different ways to feed your dark fantasies. The first frontpiece is by Jose Luis and Wes Hartman. The nameless female host of this series is dressed out in her Gothic finery in a graveyard, with only a black umbrella to save her from the rays of the full moon. Excellent image that has nothing to do with this issue, save the character, but when the art and colors are this good, who cares! This was the cover I bought. The B is by Luis Guerro and it’s a ghostly white bride in a coffin. This actually has something to do with the story, but doesn’t give any part of the story away. This, too, is Gothic creepy cool. Another EC Comics inspired cover is on the C done by Eric J. and Jeff Balke. This screams the style of Johnny Craig with a skeleton bride trying to grab her husband at the altar as a priest looks on horrified. What a perfect cover! There’s also an exclusive cover for the Motor City Comic Con. It’s limited to 350 covers featuring art by Billy Tucci and colors by Ula Mos. I couldn’t find it online, sadly. Overall grades: A A+, B A, and C A+

The story: I’ve read all the EC horror comics and Pacific’s Twisted Tales when I was in high school. I love creepy comics, but I always go into new ones thinking, ‘Give me something new.’ “The Missing” by Latoya Morgan, with a story by Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco, gave it to me and then had a bigger twist in the end. The book opens close to my house, at the Queen Mary, located in Long Beach, California. A couple is about to sign in to spend the night, since it’s now a hotel, but this series’ red headed host does all that she can to suggest they seek a room elsewhere. The couple rightly become belligerent with the host, so she tells them the tale that should inspire them to leave. Keith and Claudia have just gotten married and the best man is giving his toast. What starts out as an inappropriate story soon changes to one of praise for the bride and then the partying begins. Some time later, someone suggests a game and things go south for one of the newlyweds. I love how this begins with a typical horror trope on Page 8, and goes into the expected arena of poor choices, but on 13 the story takes a turn I’ve never encountered before. I like how Morgan has the storyteller interrupt her own tale before delivering the shocking ending. Granted, I expected something close to this, but then there’s a double payoff, in the seventh panel on 20 and the fourth panel on Page 21. When I finally saw “it” I went back to see if “it” was shown earlier, and it was. I’m clapping for all three contributors, because they had something in front of me the entire time and I missed it until it was too late. Outstanding. Overall grade: A 

The art: I’m also really liking the art on this issue. There’s a nice collection of characters on this book and they’re all dressed in their finery for the wedding. The hostess looks smart in her manager outfit and the one employee on the ship looks fantastically middle aged. With all the characters running around in the tuxedos and dresses it gave a very regal feeling to this horror story, which only increased the terror when things started to happen. Vincenzo Riccardi also does a smart job on his page layout. Take a gander at the first page. There’s a solid shot of the Queen Mary, next to the old dome that used to hold the Spruce Goose, then three panels follow that cover the couple’s journey to the sinister manager. It begins with a front view establishing the characters and the interior, then a close up of the woman, which leads to a back view of the pair. This is similar to a cinematic pan as characters cross in front of a camera. The pair’s intimate moment is interrupted by the creepy reveal of the hostess. This is a flawless introduction. The first dance on Page 4 is solid, only missing the music that’s being played. The top of Page 8 made me think of the film version of The Shining–I just knew this was so wrong. Page 19 is a perfect full page splash, with the pose of the character wonderful. But then the double gut punches on the next two pages make the screams from 19 become jolts of shock. Really, really fun artwork. Overall grade: A

The colors: Also excellent is the work done by Fran Gamboa and J.C. Ruiz. I wish I knew who was responsible for what, so I could compliment each for their contributions, but I can complement them for my being unable to tell their work apart. This shows that both colorists were in sync with each other and the artist and the writer to accomplish this slick transition, wherever it occurred. I like the opening violet clouds against the blue of the ship, and the bronze reflective floor aboard it. The blackened dialogue boxes of the red headed woman make her seem extra sinister. The darkened cabin is great in violet, allowing readers to see what’s going on in the dark. Page 19 also has some sensation dark colors, but clearly shows the graphic surprise. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene setting, dialogue, hostess speak, and key sounds are created by Matt Krotzer. I really like the specific font for the storyteller and how he was able to insert a lot (no seriously, a lot) of dialogue into very tiny panels, but without making the text so small as to be unreadable. This is a skill to look for in a letterer and I’m going to be keeping my eye out for more work by him. Overall grade: A

The final line: Stories like this are keeping horror comics alive. Absolute fun. Overall grade: A

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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