(Monsterverse, July 2013)
Review by Brad Gischia
Publisher/Editor – Kerry Gammill
Writers – Mark Finn, Lowell Isaac, Ed Polgardy,
Michael Leal, Kerry Gammill
Artists – John Lucas, Bill Sienkiewicz, Lowell Isaac,
Rob Brown, Nik Poliwko, Kerry Gammill
*This is not exactly a new book, but also not that old, having come out in July. Here’s to back orders and overstock my friends!
While giving a grumbling congratulation to the Boston Red Sox for their World Series victory, one cannot overlook the importance of a manager. John Farrell took a last place team to first place in the span of a year with very little change in the assembled talent.
To make this a convoluted metaphor, (and believe me, the idea that many comics fans will have no idea what I’m talking about does not pass beneath my radar), Monsterverse comics has an all-star manager of their own in Kerry Gammill.
Mr. Gammill has spent his life in the comics and entertainment industry, always keeping his love of horror at the sidelines even when not working on horror-based books. Bela Lugosi’s Tales From the Grave is just one of the four books currently published by Monsterverse. If the others are as good as this, than Monsterverse can look forward to a long and frightful life.
Tales from the Grave is a great anthology, a group of five horror stories well written and fantastically illustrated. There is no lag time on any of the shorts. The change in look and tone varies enough so that you can see each the individuality of each of the stories, and how they fit together as a whole.
Mr. Gammill could write a primer on the construction of a comic. The placement of the stories works well, each amping up a little more than the last, until by the final page of the last you’re spent. The art style varies as much as the stories do, and that makes the read damn fun.
The gathered talent is amazing. Lowell Isaac, Mark Finn, Ed Polgardy, Michael Leal and Kerry Gammill all write for the book. Type their names into any search engine and you’ll see that despite their accomplishments in the world of comics, they also have a major presence in the entertainment industry outside of comic books. The artists’ list reads like an honor roll list among comic enthusiasts. John Lucas, Bill Sienkiewicz (cover artist for my first trade, The Dark Phoenix Saga) Rob Brown, Kerry Gammill, and Nik Poliwko. Each has a list of credits as long as your browser window from a variety of companies.
I’ve mentioned before how having a famous name in the title of your book creates a burden that the book must then carry. The name of Lugosi is known throughout the world as one of the first family of horror. His Dracula is the mold for all others, no matter which regeneration, which reincarnation of the character we see, it is held to that of Lugosi. Gammill has done the name proud. I see influences in art and writing, from The Goon and Conan to King Kong, Indiana Jones, and MAD magazine. It pulls the best from its artists and writers and provides touchstones for many generations while keeping within the spectrum of the horror ideal, the main banner of Bela Lugosi.
Each of the stories could stand by themselves. Together they are a force to be reckoned with. This is proof that an anthology book can work. The longest story is nine pages, the shortest is only one, and each is intriguing and singular in their love of the horror genre. All are masterfully executed.
As long as Bela Lugosi’s Tales from the Grave continues with its current level of excellence, I will be a reader.
Follow Brad Gischia on Twitter: @comicwasteland