Posted in Mermaid Saga

Mermaid Saga Part 7: Dream’s End by Rumiko Takahashi

Mermaid Saga Part 7: Dream's End by Rumiko Takahashi
Mermaid Saga Part 7: Dream’s End by Rumiko Takahashi

Title: Mermaid Saga Part 7 – Dream’s End

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Initial Thoughts

It’s a good thing I chose this chapter for July because I’ve been incredibly backlogged the last couple of weeks ever since I got sick around Independence Day.

Dream’s End is another oddity in the series because it provides more world building, even though it’s the shortest story at only 22 pages not counting the splash title page. It’s the only time the series explores the concept of the Lost Souls beyond their typical usage as a plot device and warning against consuming mermaid’s flesh. It also has a bit of a “Beauty and the Beast” vibe.

 

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Other Comics

Confessions of a Teenage Vampire: The Turning by West and Ellis

Confessions of a Teenage Vampire: The Turning by West and Ellis
Confessions of a Teenage Vampire: The Turning by West and Ellis

Title: Confessions of a Teenage Vampire #1 – The Turning

Writer: Terry West

Penciller: Steve Ellis

Inkers: Rich Perrota and Ravil Lopez

Letterer: Fred Van Lente

Colorist: Michelle Wulf and Ryan Dunlavey

Summary: I used to be a pretty average teenager. True, I didn’t have tons of friends, and I liked studying history, but I was basically not very unusual.

But that all changed when I met Phillip Lemachard. You see, Phillip is not like the rest of the kids in my high school. He’s not like anyone I know, in fact. When Phillip tells stories about history, it sounds as if he was really there. And he has this skin condition that keeps him indoors during daylight.

Now I’m beginning to change, too. And these changes are, well, really unusual.

Initial Thoughts

Here’s a special little treat from a story I haven’t read since middle school. This is the first of a two-part, stillborn series of YA horror graphic novels published by Scholastic in the late 90s. It definitely shows in both the setting (the characters mention “Surfing the net”) and the artwork (it’s got that high-waisted, long thigh Rob Liefeld/Art Adams look to it).

I thought it’d be fun to pull up this old jewel for Comic Con month, and I’m planning on reviewing the second book in October for Halloweenus.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Batman

Batman: The Book of Shadows by Mills, Gallagher, and Mighten

Batman: The Book of Shadows by Mills, Gallagher, and Mighten
Batman: The Book of Shadows by Mills, Gallagher, and Mighten

Title: Batman – The Book of Shadows

Writers: Pat Mills and Debbie Gallagher

Penciller: Duke Mighten

Inker: Bill Oakley

Colorist: Digital Chameleon

Summary: “…One must choose that victim who contains the greatest and purest force.

The Holy Fool.

The Hanged Man.

The King of the Lonely.

The Batman.

Thus shall the demon Archon arise and bathe the Earth in blood.”

— The Book of Shadows

Initial Thoughts

Back in the 1990s, one of the semi-big things in the comics industry were prestige format one shot stories. They were bound with glossy covers like trade paperbacks, but small enough to be individual issues. Their placement in the continuity of ongoing comics was debatable at best, since they were so rarely every mentioned in the main titles published by DC and Marvel. What was great about them is they were often self-contained stories which featured original antagonists and supporting casts beyond the main characters, but like I said the characters would hardly ever appear in the regular comics if they were lucky.

I own, well, I wouldn’t say a HUGE number of Batman prestige format books, but the entirety of my Batman collection of trade paperback issues and similarly printed stories takes up most of one shelf in my collection. “Batman: The Book of Shadows” was a story I stumbled into blindly, having never heard of it before my purchase and the action taken solely because the title intrigued me. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything else written by Pat Mills and Debbie Gallagher, but from what I’ve determined the two are frequently published under 2000 A.D.. Likewise, I’ve only fond Duke Mighten’s artwork in an early 90s Marvel series called “Wild Thing.” “Book of Shadows” is a pleasant, creepy little story using tarot card themes and a group of monstrous villains whose designs are reminiscent of the Xenomorphs from the “Alien” franchise.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Fear Street

Fear Street Super Chiller #12: High Tide by R.L. Stine

Fear Street Super Chiller 12 High Tide by R L Stine
Fear Street Super Chiller 12 High Tide by R L Stine

Title: Fear Street Super Chiller #12 – High Tide, a.k.a. “Wave Race: Blood Storm”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: A lifeguard’s job can be murder…

Summary: Blood on the water…

Adam Malfitano still has nightmares about the night his girlfriend, Mitzi, died. He sees the blood. He sees her in the water. He is a lifeguard, and he can’t save her. He wakes up screaming.

Even worse, he has begun to see Mitzi while he is awake. He knows it is impossible… but she looks so real. He can see her face decaying. What does she want from him? Why won’t she leave him alone? He tried to save her – doesn’t she know that?

Initial Thoughts

IT’S SUMMERTIME AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS GONNA HEAD DOWN TO THE BEACH GONNA DO SOME BEACHY THIIIIIIIIII-

Gaaah!

I, I’m so sorry for that.

Anyway, for the first day of summer I proposed doing a recap for one of the summertime Fear Street novels. I picked “High Tide” because I’ve re-read this one a few more times than the other Super Chiller books, but apparently my memory was shoddy because WOW. The narration is shared by two characters in this book and one of them is about as frustrating as Darryl Hoode from the “Fear Hall” books. Had I remembered him I would’ve suggested something else, but I’d already re-read the book for the recap. And I’ll be honest, the big fight scene at the end is fucking ridiculous and amazing.

And as a special note, for the first time ever I will be using the phrase “The Muffin Man,” a time-honored Point Horror tradition, to refer to a character in an incredibly frustrating segment since they’re never referred to by name.

[Wing: Happy summer! Happy birthday, Sister Canary! Happy Needlessly Dramatic Cliffhanger Chapter Endings. (I assume, I haven’t read it yet at this point.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Goosebumps

Goosebumps Series 2000 #15: Scream School by R.L. Stine

Goosebumps Series 2000 Scream School by R L Stine
Goosebumps Series 2000 Scream School by R L Stine

Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #15 – Scream School, a.k.a. “BEST DAD EVER.”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus (US Version), ???? (French Version)

Tagline: Student body stalker…

Summary:

The two figures floated up from the pile of dusty costumes.

One was a man, the other a woman. Their faces were ghoulish. Skin pulled so tight Jake could see the bones underneath. Eyes yellow, sunken back in their sockets. Their lips cracked and purple.

“Now we can make our movie,” the woman said, floating closer to Jake, arms outstretched, side by side with the man. “The most horrifying movie ever made.”

Initial Thoughts

If there’s one thing “Goosebumps” is known for, it’s questionable parenting. You’ve got stupid parents, oblivious parents, cruel parents, abusive parents, and even evil parents. It’s pretty much a given the mom or dad in any of the books will have no idea what their child is going through and prove to be pretty unhelpful. For example, there’s:

  • Michael Webster’s parents, gleefully unaware of what a horrible little bitch Michael’s sister, Tara, is and constantly punishing Michael for whatever Tara does.
  • Mrs. Ross, Evan Ross’s mother who is constantly unloading Evan onto relatives who are clearly unfit to take care of him and hate his guts, and is even making HIM pay for summer camp.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Sanders, who legitimately cannot tell that their children Crystal and Cole are transforming into chickens when it is painfully obvious Crystal’s lips have hardened and turned into a break.
  • Julie Martin’s mom, who assumes Julie is writing a short story as Julie tells her about the evil camera which has mutilated and injured several of her friends, even after Julie’s brother “Mysteriously” grows yellow fuzz and two fucking antennae like a goddamn bee.

But one of the worst parents, at least I think he’s one of the worst, is one of the main characters in “Scream School,” which is why I decided to review it for Father’s Day as an extra Goosebumps recap. So join me in wishing Emory Banyon would die in a fire.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Graveyard School

Graveyard School #8: Let’s Scare the Teacher to Death! by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #8: Let's Scare the Teacher to Death! by Tom B. Stone
Graveyard School #8: Let’s Scare the Teacher to Death! by Tom B. Stone

Title: Graveyard School #8 – “Let’s Scare the Teacher to Death!” a.k.a. “Teaching Ms. Cheevy”

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. “D.E. Athkins”

Cover Artist: Barry Jackon (US Cover), ???? (Russian Cover), ???? (UK Cover)

UK Tagline: It’s Miss-terious!!

Summary: But We Were Only Joking!

Mrs. Cheevy, the new math teacher at Graveyard School, is totally paranoid! She’s always looking over her shoulder, her voice continually quavers during math lessons, and she jumps when anyone asks a question. This makes her the perfect target for class clown Bentley Jeste, and soon all the kids get in on the act. Math has never been more hilarious, until one day a practical joker goes too far. Could Mrs. Cheevy’s second-period class have scared her to death?

Initial Thoughts

The proportions on the US cover have always bothered me, because how much space is there between the desk and the chalkboard?

This is not one of my favorites in the series, but it’s more that I’m conflicted on how exactly I should be feeling on it. It’s the only book besides the first one that doesn’t have anything supernatural in it, but it’s interesting. It’s a rare event where we get to see things from the “Antagonist’s” point of view and learn their feelings on the situation, yet it’s hard for me to decide if there really IS an antagonist in this book.

Both sides of the conflict give as good as they get, and it’s like the equivalent of going to a race track to watch for car crashes instead of rooting for one particular side. Although, I’ll be real here, had I read this book before “Boo Year’s Eve” and “Escape from Vampire Park” I doubt Jordie Flanders would’ve become one of my faves.

Fair warning Wing, there’s a joke involving a rubber spider.

[Wing: Thanks for the warning!]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Goosebumps

Goosebumps #35: A Shocker on Shock Street by R. L. Stine

Goosebumps 35: Shocker on Shock Street by R L Stine
Goosebumps 35: Shocker on Shock Street by R L Stine

Title: Goosebumps #35 – A Shocker On Shock Street, a.k.a. “Erin and Marty’s Bogus Journey”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Goosebumps Graphix Illustrator: Jamie Tolagson

Tagline: It’s a real dead end.

Summary: Talk About Shock Treatment!

Erin Wright and her best friend, Marty, love horror movies. Especially Shocker on Shock Street movies. All kinds of scary creatures live on Shock Street. The Toadinator. Ape Face. The Mad Mangler.

But when Erin and Marty visit the new Shocker Studio Theme Park, they get the scare of their lives.

First the tram gets stuck in The Cave of the Living Creeps. Then they’re attacked by a group of enormous praying mantises!

Real life is a whole lot scarier than the movies. But Shock Street isn’t really real. Is it?

Initial Thoughts

“Shock Street” has been a personal favorite of mine for the same reason as “One Day At Horrorland,” and it’s the world building. Because the book is built around a fictional horror movie franchise, I’ve repeatedly gone back for re-reads to devour all the information available on the Shock Street films and creatures. You don’t know how delighted I was to learn it was getting a graphic novel adaption, illustrated by comic artist Jamie Tolagson, from Scholastic’s “Goosebumps Graphix” line, which made up for how disappointing the TV show version was. And hey, it meant reference for commissions! I added a couple of scanned pages from the Graphix adaption; sorry about the quality. Again, I was worried about wrecking the spine.

One of my earliest examples of fan fiction, way back in middle school, was my attempt at writing a story about one of the films mentioned in the book. Of course looking back my story was God awful. I still tried to come up with ideas for what the different Shock Street movies were about, which I’ll get into during the final thoughts alongside a small gallery of commissions of Shock Street monsters.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Bailey School Kids

The Bailey School Kids #31: Ghouls Don’t Scoop Ice Cream by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones

The Bailey School Kids #31: Ghouls Don't Scoop Ice Cream by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones
The Bailey School Kids #31: Ghouls Don’t Scoop Ice Cream by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones

Title: The Bailey School Kids #31 – “Ghouls Don’t Scoop Ice Cream,” a.k.a. “Local Children Harass Depressed College Student”

Authors: Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones

Illustrator: John Steven Gurney

Summary: There are some pretty weird grown-ups living in Bailey City. But could the new worker at Burger Doodle with very pale skin and sad eyes really be a ghoul spying for a family of vampires? The Bailey School Kids are going to find out!

“Scout said she works for a family,” Liza said with a gulp. “Maybe it’s a whole family of vampires.”

“Don’t tell me you think a whole batty family is going to swoop into Bailey City as soon as a ghoulish spy finds them a nest?” Eddie said.

“That’s it!” Howie shouted. “Mrs. Jeepers is bringing more vampires to Bailey City.”

Eddie rolled his eyes. “That’s a bunch of bat poop. After all, ghouls don’t scoop ice cream.”

Initial Thoughts

And now we venture into a YA horror series slightly better known than the other non-Goosebumps books I’ve recapped. “The Bailey School Kids” was aimed at a reading group one level below the Goosebumps audience, which makes sense given how incredibly short they are along with the use of illustrations.

The broad premise focuses on a group of four children, sensible Melody, smart Howie, scaredy Liza, and annoying Eddie, as they find themselves surrounded by odd and creepy adults who may or may not be monsters and other sorts of creatures.

Is the albino art teacher with braces actually an alien trying to steal color from the planet Earth?

Is the new lunch lady who looks inexplicably like Bette Midler really Cupid serving up love potions in time for Valentine’s Day?

Is Mr. Jenkins, the virile camp counselor with a love for rare burgers and late night strolls, a werewolf?

The thing is, the kids are never able to prove if these people are monsters, ghosts, aliens, or other types of creatures. But then again, they’re never able to prove they AREN’T.

The only other reoccurring character is their teacher, Mrs. Jeepers, a redheaded Eastern European woman with a love for polka dots and who might be a vampire. It’s believed she’s capable of surviving in sunlight because her green brooch she wears on her collar has magical powers.

The series is pretty infamous due to the outrageous covers from the original print run and how utterly scandalized and shocked the kids appear in response to whatever new person they’re investigating.

I used to own a fair number of these back in the day, but at some point I ended up giving them away because it was believed I was too old for them (you wouldn’t believe the fit my mom had when I bought one in Barnes & Noble back when I was in middle school). As of right now, counting this book I own three. I remembered this was one of my favorites mainly because of Scout, the depressed ice cream worker who may or may not be a vampire’s ghoul. I bought the book again a couple of months ago specifically for this recap. And I made sure I got the original print because, no offense to the artist of the reissues, you just can’t beat that level of outrage.

[Wing: That cover is adorable. I’ve never read any of these books, so I’m excited to see what this series brings to the table.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Graveyard School

Graveyard School #13: Tales Too Scary to Tell at Camp by Tom B. Stone

Tom B Stone - Graveyard School - Tales Too Scary to Tell at Camp
Tom B Stone – Graveyard School – Tales Too Scary to Tell at Camp

Title: Graveyard School #13 – Tales Too Scary To Tell At Camp, a.k.a. “1001 Graveyard School Nights”

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Cam De Leon (U.S. Cover), ???? (Lithuanian Cover)

Summary: Warning: Don’t Read This Book In Your Bunk!

These thirteen chilling stories will send you screaming for cover. From howling heads to shrieking stalkers to larger-than-life lice – read about the unnatural, the bizarre, and – worst of all – the unexplained.

Stay near the campfire. The scariest creatures of all might be right behind you!

Initial Thoughts

As thanks for putting up with my depression last month, I’ve chosen to do recaps focusing on some of my favorite books which means another short break from the chronological order. I just wish I had some commissions to add to this one.

“Tales Too Scary” is special in the Graveyard School series because it’s the only entry that’s an anthology of stories. Unlike the “Tales To Give You Goosebumps” books, this one has a framing story encompassing the first and last chapters, and a features an eclectic grouping of the GS cast including my favorite, Jordie “The Human Computer” Flanders. The situation’s a cross between “Hansel and Gretel” and “1001 Arabian Nights” which of course captured my interest right away.

One of the stories is interesting because it’s told in three parts by three different storytellers.

You wanna believe I began the draft for this last year after I was officially made a recapper by Wing? I couldn’t wait to share this with all of you.

Also, I simply had to include the Lithuanian adaption’s cover artwork because I can’t tell if it’s horrible or amazing.

As a head’s up Wing, there IS a story with bugs, but it doesn’t include spiders.

[Wing: Thanks for the head’s up. I personally adore the Lithuanian cover, though that doesn’t really answer the whole horrible or amazing question, because either, both, whatever, I would still adore it.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Goosebumps

Goosebumps #10: The Ghost Next Door by R.L. Stine

Goosebumps 10: The Ghost Next Door by R. L. Stine
Goosebumps 10: The Ghost Next Door by R. L. Stine

Title: Goosebumps – The Ghost Next Door

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: There’s a strange new kid on the block…

Summary: “How Come I’ve Never Seen You Before?”

Hannah’s neighborhood has gotten a little-weird. Ever since that new boy moved in next door.

But when did he move in? Wasn’t the house empty when Hannah went to sleep the night before? Why does it still look so deserted?

Shes not getting any answers from her new neighbor. He just keeps disappearing in the oddest ways. And he’s so pale…

Is Hannah being haunted by…

…the ghost next door???

[Wing: Adorable summary.]

Initial Thoughts

Now we’ve reached one of the true classics of the original series, the tenth of the first twenty books back when Stine was still establishing the trends and style of the franchise. For those who’ve read the early books, you know already a number of them had an atmosphere that hasn’t been properly revisited in any of the later works. They seemed to carry with them a sense of real despair and fear before Stine began to realize the books might’ve been too scary for kids. [Wing: Which is a shame. Kids are better at scary things than adults want to give them credit for handling.] I think he’s mentioned if he got the chance he’d rewrite “Welcome to Dead House” to make it funnier. Which I hope he never does.

This one’s got a twist in it most people might already be familiar with considering it was adapted for the trading card series, the TV show, as well as the movie. Well, I’m not spoiling it for new readers just yet, and since I don’t have any commissions related to this one I’m gonna be scanning the three trading cards depicting certain scenes. Luckily they were illustrated by Walter Velez, who provided some of the best artwork for the card series.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW