Friday, June 10, 2005

Dark Horse's The Book of the Dead - Clatto Verata N... Necktie... Nickel... It's an "N" word, it's definitely an "N" word!

Today's "You Decide" is the Dark Horse Book of the Dead, which was released about a month ago (this pick courtesy of the Eyeball Kid).

This is the third annual anthology by Dark Horse featuring scary stories, following the Book of Hauntings and Book of Witchcraft.

Most of the same creators return for this installment, with some new additions as well.

Like most anthologies, some of the stories are better than others, but for the most part, this was a strong anthology.

The Hellboy story by Mignola has nice art (well, DUH), but the story seemed a bit too much of a writing exercise than a real story. You know, working in verse for the sake of having a comic where verse is a big part of the story.

The art was quite nice, though.

The Eric Powell story was top notch, as he took an interesting topic and knocked it out of the park. The topic in question is the Wallace expedition, which was about the group that was trying to travel across Antarctica. Who is to really say what they saw on that trip? Well, Powell has an idea or two...hehe.

Good stuff.

The Kelley Jones story marks one of the things that has become SO prevelant in modern horror stories a writer has to REALLY go overboard with it, which is, of course, the "twist."

"WE are the ghosts, not them!"

or "WE are the vampires, not them!"

Stuff like that.

Well, Jones travels the path, but still does it nicely, I thought.

Jamie Rich and Guy Davis have a scary story with great art (DUH), but while it was SCARY, it really didn't interest me all that much. But it WAS scary, which was cool.

Scott Allie and Paul Lee's "The Devil's Footprints" story was very nice, I thought. A father and son have a heart to heart. Yes, the father is a skeleton and the son a magician using a spell to animate the bones, but it is still touching...hehe.

I will cop to the fact that I only skimmed the Robert Howard story (with nice illustrations by cover artist Gary Gianni). I know, I know - I am evil.

David Crouse and Todd Herman give a suitably well illustrated (and creepy) short story of a dog lying in a ditch talking to the reader from beyond the grave. Really creepy stuff, while still giving us a powerful statement about people's character.

I really liked Bob Fingerman and Roger Langridge's story about a fella who gets Death's powers. It was funny and well drawn (DUH), but it was perhaps a bit out of place in this collection.

I really DID like it though.

The last story, though, is the one that almost makes buying the whole project worth it. Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson just wow the reader with their "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie." Thompson won an Eisner for her illustration of these characters (a group of neighberhood dogs) in one of the previous anthologies, and it was well-deserved. She does a great painting job with this story, and Dorkin's characterizations of the dogs are just amazing.

Dorkin's credits mention he has done some cartoon pitches recently. Well, the characters in this story were better than pretty much any cartoon show I can think of, so TV networks would be silly not to say, "Hey, Evan, why not make these characters into a cartoon?"

The story is just so funny, touching, dramatic, action packed, just a few pages...and it is about a bunch of DOGS!

First Morrison and We3, and now this....comics seem to be going to the dogs....and I couldn't be more pleased.

I would definitely recommend this book ($15...hardcover format).

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Blogger Christopher Burton said...

Hey Brian, unless I'm misunderstanding, I believe you're looking for "Klaatu barada nikto." This is what Bruce Campbell said in Army of Darkness to ward off evil. You probably know this, but it originated in The Day the Earth Stood Still although I don't know in what context because I've never seen it. I do know that George Lucas appropriated the words as the names of some of the aliens in Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi.

I will cop to the fact that I only skimmed the Robert Howard story (with nice illustrations by cover artist Gary Gianni). I know, I know - I am evil.

Ssssh. Don't tell Greg Hatcher. ;)

6/11/2005 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Vaklam said...

Powell's always good. I didn't know he was contributing to this collection. I was already going to buy it but this has moved it up to my "get it today" list.

6/11/2005 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

I really ought to buy these, being a Mignola and Powell fanboy. I have read one of the Dorkin/Thompson stories. It was a cheap/free comic I got when I had access to a decent store.

6/11/2005 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Yeah, Christopher, the joke I was trying to go for was that Campbell totally butchered the pronunciation in the movie...hehe.

6/11/2005 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher Burton said...

Where's the darn "embarrassed" emoticon? :) It's been a while since I've seen "AoD," so I didn't remember that part.

6/11/2005 08:57:00 PM  
Anonymous The Eyeball Kid said...

Thanks for giving a good review to my pick! I actually met Evan Dorkin at last weekends MoCCA event, and made sure to tell him how much I enjoyed his dog and cat stories in this and the other collections. He was actually very glad to hear it, apparantly he hasn't gotten a lot of feedback from the fans. I told him how I had recommended the book to my friends because of his contribution, so he gave me a handful of the promo comics brad mentions. They were a reprint of the first story featuring the characters that was a Dark Horse giveaway last halloween. Evan mentioned that there will be at least one more "Dark Horse Book of", this time about Monsters, and that it is coming out next year. He says that after that, he and Jill intend to continue with the characters because they have a lot more stories to tell. He also mentioned the animation project, which is a pilot for Adult Swim, but he says he hasn't even started writing it yet. A nice guy, I was glad to meet him.

6/13/2005 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Karma Farma said...

All Men and women Are
Brothers and Sisters,
And their responsibility is to Each other.
Keep,Up the Good Stuff,
Peace and Love,
The Karma Farma *Copyright1999

6/17/2005 11:12:00 PM  
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