The darkly comedic horror anthology Creepshow celebrates it’s 40th anniversary this year. Heavily homaging the classic EC horror comics of the 1950s, the George A. Romero movie – written by Stephen King – is a fondly remembered, if uneven, collection of five short stories with a clever comic book framing device and plenty of neat stylistic touches that reference the comic book medium.
So it’s very strange that it’s taken so long for Creepshow to move into the realm of comics itself, aside from a direct adaptation of the movie in 1982.
This first issue – ‘presented’ by host The Creep – does a good job of selling the horror of the dark morality tales it tells, but does cross the line into outright tastelessness a little too often.
The first story (named Take One) sees two older teens and a younger kid out on Halloween. A supposedly vacant house – whose owner died in uncertain circumstances – has treats on offer outside, with a sign simply saying ‘Take One’. With no one around, will the kids take more than they should? And if they do, what then?
The art is great for the most part, though disappointingly the actual moment of truth, where one kid takes their share of chocolate, lacks clarity – and lessens the rest of the story. I got to the end of it, genuinely confused by the grim moral message, because I didn’t realise what the kid had or hadn’t taken.
That aside, the dialogue is truly crass and it just felt as if writer/artist Chris Burnham was trying way too hard to lay on justification for the fate of the kids. The gore was surprisingly graphic too; again, it just felt like it crossed a line and didn’t need to be so explicit to get to its sting.
The second story, featuring a child’s party entertainer that turns out to be something far more sinister and deadly, fares a lot better; though again it felt like the gore was a little too much, it feels much more irreverent and comedic, with a less grim climax to boot.
So just like the film it’s based on, Creepshow #1 does a good job of aping the general format of old school horror comics, though it’s uneven and unnecessarily nasty at times. With only two stories compared to the five in the film, it doesn’t feel like it redeems itself enough to be a recommended purchase either.
However, with more issues on the way, hopefully it can settle on a more balanced and less nasty tone going forward.
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