Tales from the Cryptic Closet

15 contributors

Published by Guerrilla Publishing

68 pages.

Buy it HERE.

"Comics will rot your mind."

Back in the day -even before my time (by a bit) there was an era where comics were extremely polarizing. They picked up a tawdry reputation by the mid to late 1950s as they aligned with the Sci-Fi and Horror trends that movie theaters were leading. This lead to some unsavory nasty and sinister imagery, along with it the public outcry and an effort to get comics cleaned up.

Horror comics never really went away, they got separated for a while from its audience (children) and reunited with a larger audience (adult comic readers) in the 1960s on. That schism between 'family entertainment', mass audience appeal and the more niched down connoisseur reader has been played out in movie theaters, video games, and all sorts of mass media.

Everybody gets in.

It's with this aesthetic that Tales stakes its flagpole. The stories are very short for the most part, and have a set up and conclusion that often times hit on the very same page.

Everybody gets a shot. Some of the stories are quite funny, I laughed out loud at the conclusion of a 'silly animal' style about two dogs who get trapped in a haunted house for the night (they just run through Dracula's cape out the door).

Some stories left me feeling more confused than horrified, like a basement of old video tapes left behind by the former tenant (great set up) but lacking a follow through.

Other stories had a real cool 'sick kid notebook' look like some demented Sophomore in Study Hall would scrawl in their homework book (see below):

It was a fair experiment.

The 'everyone can submit' style going on here certainly is to be praised for its openness. However, a more sure handed editing and higher level of craft from the contributors might have made for a more satisfying read. The quality of Bill Halliar's chapter break soliloquies from the 'Cryptic Closet Keeper' himself have an extremely sure-handed look that at times is at odds with the lesser submitted artwork. Had the stories carried with them a bit more sophistication or polish I would be more inclined to read future issues of this.

Next Tuesday:

The long-awaited Digitopia, from Farhan Qureshi!

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