In Review: Grimm Tales of Terror #8

A slim story with art that can't compensate.

The covers: A foursome for you to find: one is sexy, one is creepy, and one is classic. The A cover is by Richard Ortiz and Ylenia Di Napoli. It has the enigmatic host of the book sitting on the hood of a classic car. She’s wearing a cloak that’s open wide and matching chaps that buckle around her legs. It’s difficult not to hear Whitesnake’s music while looking at this. The car’s headlights are on and the license plate is a neat touch. It’s not a subtle cover, but it is pretty. The B is by Marat Mychaels and Ross Campbell and it’s the creepy cover. A car is heading down a back road in the desert. A full moon lights the scene, but it’s the driver’s highbeams that notice the ghostly green figure of a girl before it. Nice imagery that represents what the story is about without giving anything away. Eric J. and Alessia Nocera do the C cover and it again looks like a classic EC horror comic. I love the lettering and bright red mast head. The host of this series is too happy as she drives her car forward, unaware there’s something in the back seat. Really good! There is also a London Super Comic Con exclusive cover by Elias Chatzoudis, but I couldn’t find an image of it anywhere online. Overall grades: A A, B B, and C A

The story: “Black Eye” has story credits to Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Steve Yockey, with Yockey getting credit for writing. The issue opens at a truck stop where a trucker is talking to the host of the series. She notices that his rig has a “black eye,” a light out, and their conversation becomes one of double entendre. She tells him “I’ve just heard stories about taking rides from strangers that would make you extra careful…” and the story begins. A thirty-ish man, Dave,  is giving twenty year old  hitchhiker Misty a ride. She’s attractive and he’s interested. This is the oldest setup in the world, but that’s what’s making this series fun. The oldest, time-proven tropes reimagined, and this is an average horror story. Misty is not the most stable of passengers, as shown on Page 6 in the third panel. Things so south quickly in the car and they go downright deadly once out of the vehicle. Pages 16 and 17 are very effective, but the double-paged spread on 18 and 19 didn’t have the payoff I wanted. Much better was the climax of the bookend piece featuring the female host. This was an  adequate story, but not a memorable one. Overall grade: C

The art: The visuals by Eleonora Carlini goes hot and cold. She’s given huge spaces to fill on a very slim story. For example, on the first page she has a full page splash of the truck stop and the two characters, with a small panel insert at the bottom center. The large panel is too distant from the characters to gain any connection with the readers, and the truck in the background makes the pair look as though they’re only three feet tall. The lettering on the sign behind them is not good. The next two pages are better, with the characters revealed and the trucker being very well done. Page 6 is wasted in the third panel–What Misty does not require that big an image. Misty’s face goes through a lot of change throughout, making her look like different women on different pages (Page 6, panel two versus Page 7, panel five versus Page 8, panel four). Dave is much more consistent. Carlini uses shade lines on his face that me thinking I was looking at some early work of Bernie Wrightson. He’s even posed like a Wrightson character: the last panel on 9, the third panel on 11, and the first on 12. If one is going to go for a horror look, Wrightson is one to follow.  The bookend for the hostess is set up well, but she’s really lacking any details in her face–she’s too plastic looking. She doesn’t look as if she should exist in the same world as the men. That’s a good catch all for this issue’s visuals: the men look good, but the women need work. Overall grade: C

The colors: A factor contributing to the plastic look of the women is the coloring by Rosario Costanzo. Take a gander at the insert panel on Page 1. The hostess’s lower face looks like a mannequin’s. Costanzo puts a splotch of white under women’s eyes to designate a distant, low level light source, but it looks as if something needs to be wiped off their faces. Looking at the hostess on 2 and 3, there’s this triangle of light under the hostess’s eye. It’s really obvious on Misty on Page 6. The coloring is not working on her at all on 8. I realize that this book is set at night on a rural road, but Costanzo should have cheated a little and gone with a brighter palette. This book is very dull, washed out, because of the coloring. Overall grades: D

The letters: The work by Micah Myers on this book. is good. His dialogue is easy to read, the font used for the hostess’s speech is great, and the sounds simple, but perfectly in line with the classic horror look. Loved the SMACK on the penultimate page. Overall grade: A

The final line: A slim story with art that can’t compensate. Disappointing. Overall grade: C

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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