Sunday, October 02, 2016

Horror Comicbook Cavalcade: Bela Lugosi's Tales From the Grave #1 (2010)

Clearyl a labor of love, Kerry Gammill (as publisher, editor, writer and artist ) is all over
Tales From the Grave from the first pages.
Released by independent publisher Monsterverse, Bela Lugosi's Tales From the Grave #1 is an old school horror anthology of stories in the classic horror comics tradition, presented (primarily) by late horror film icon Bela Lugosi with assists from both his loyal (and intellectually dense) assistant, Hugo, and his sexy Elvira-esque vampire femme fatale, Nosferina.

Issue #1 cover credited
to Basil Gogos.
Worthy of its hefty cover price of $4.99, Tales From the Grave delivers eight stories of varying length, utilizing a wide variety of artistic styles (including one "photo strip" featuring Lugosi and Tor Johnson action figures), as well as a collection of artist renditions of Lugosi as his most famous screen character. Among the artists provindg story and art is veteran comic creator, and Monsterverse publisher and editor-in-chief, Kerry Gammill.

My own appreciation of Gammill's work began, during the hey-day of my Superman collecting, he shared cover pencilling duties on Action Comics with George Perez, eventually taking the role over fully with issue around issue #565. Gammill's efforts produced some beautifully classic cover work vaguely reminiscent of the zany lat e1970's covers and included the "Reign of the Superman" arc featuring the Super-stand-in who would later become the Eradicator.

Gammill's story (the first panel of which is posted above) "Unpleasant Side Effects" is bookended in Saturday Monster Matinee fashion by Lugosi. More playful (and little "gross") than scary, it is an effective and entertaining romance, the quality of which is elevated by Gammill's pencils.

Each subsequent story, such as the Western themed "Eyes of the Prairie" by Derek McCaw and Rafael Navarro, follows a similar structure. Lugosi creeps around the corners teasing the bad things to come and returns at the narrative's conclusion to tie up loose-ends before riding of into the sunset.

What would old fashioned horror be without a little (tame) cheesecake?
It's really only in the latest "edition" of Lost Lugosi's Film Theater (teased above by Nosferina) that our star takes an active role in the story, playing his second most familiar film role, evil scientist (or "white Haitian voodoo master" as in 1932's White Zombie). Of course, it wouldn't be a Lugosi project without at least a mention of Dracula, and this fanboy need is very nicely met by the inclusion of an informative text piece by eminent Lugosi scholar and author Gary D. Rhodes.

A very entertaining piece of horror-comedy-nostalgia comic book creation, Bela Lugosi's Tales From the Grave #1, which was published in October 2012, was followed up five months later with the publication of the equally enjoyable issue 2. Both issues are very likely still available for purchase in your local comic shop and make for fine Halloween reading.

Note: Since the post was originally published in October 11, 2012, four issues of Bela Lugosi's Tales From the Grave have been published. Each consistently entertaining and follows the same corny, scary, goofy and high quality established by the first issue. Issue 2, published in 2013, also features a very cool cover painting by horror effects god Rick baker, re-envisioning Popeye the sailor as something a little more... evil. Seek it out--if you dare!

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