Written by Chris Burnham, Paul Dini, Stephen Langford | Art by Chris Burnham, John McCrea | Published by Image Comics
Ah, Creepshow. People of a certain age, like me, have fond memories of the 1982 film Creepshow. How couldn’t you, it was a tongue-in-cheek horror film written by Stephen King, directed by George Romero, and inspired by the EC Comics of the 1950s. The film used the typical format of the anthology horror comics, a short prologue followed by different stories. This also led to the more recent TV series Creepshow which, while a little uneven, was fun overall. This title, although called Creepshow, is more the spiritual descendant of those early EC books like Tales From The Crypt but, y’know, licensing agreements and all that. Each issue of Creepshow will feature two stories by different creators, and as we know everyone has at least one good horror story in them, so good times seem to lie ahead.
As this is a first issue, we get the typical bunch of covers, though I like the main Chris Burnham cover just fine. It features Creep himself in a very EC cover image. Perfect start. The first story, ‘Take One,’ is written and drawn by Chris Burnham, and introduced by Creep himself. It’s Halloween, and a Mummy, Marty McFly and a Hot Dog are trick-or-treating. They’ve stopped at the Xander residence, previously home to the now deceased seemingly crazy Mr. Xander, but now supposedly empty. So why is there a very tempting bowl of candy on the porch, with a ‘Take One’ sign (or, more likely, warning)? Phil wants to get out but is forced by the other two to take at least two candy bars. They take the rest. This isn’t going to end well.
Phil decides to eat the evidence to ease his conscience, but it’s all too little, too late. He at least sees what’s coming first and makes a run for it. The other two aren’t so lucky. Chris Burnham then gets to unleash his best EC imitation, as vengeance strikes in very humorous and very gory ways. I won’t give away the ending, but let’s just say Mr. Xander isn’t quite done with this world just yet. At least Phil knew what they were doing was wrong, so he’ll survive. Normally, yes. Creepshow, however, cuts its morality from a different cloth, and the epilogue speech from Creep may surprise you.
Our second tale is ‘Shingo,’ written by comic/ animation royalty Paul Dini, and Stephen Langford, writer from the Creepshow TV show. The art is by veteran John McCrea. Artistically this isn’t at first glance as direct an EC take as Chris Burnham’s, though the script does that heavy lifting here. We begin in a suburban house, where a mum is fretting over getting some last-minute entertainment for her darling daughter. Everywhere is booked up, until the doorbell rings and a card is left on the mat. It’s a flyer for Shingo. Problem solved.
Shingo turns up, an exceptionally large odd-looking costume indeed. No-one’s quite sure if he’s inspired by a film, book, or game but he’s great fun if a little…. exuberant. It’s not long before birthday girl Fiona and her best friend think something’s not quite right here. The number of kids at the party seems to be going down, and what’s this internet search result about a 11th century deathless man-eating monster? After Fiona’s feuding parents are also, er, consumed, Fiona’s had enough (of both the situation and her parents). What’s a party without a pinata? Shingo dutifully falls into her trap. By story’s end we discover that maybe the most obvious monsters aren’t actually the worst ones.
Two solid stories, both of which manage to capture the dark humour and horror that sum up Creepshow and its inspirations. Burnham does it more visually, Dini and Langford with words. There’s always a solid story, but also a form of moral or twist in there, sometimes both, and these stories deliver that nicely. With the names that are lined up to contribute to this title, it looks to be a lot of fun going forward.
As we ease into Autumn, with the night’s drawing in, what could be a more perfect comic to enjoy?