Storm King Does it Again with: Tales For A Halloween Night Vol 8!
I’ve been a fan of horror ever since I first watched Candyman when I was a child. The movie crawled deep inside my brain and affected me for weeks. Since that time I’ve found many different ways to devour horror content, whether it be movies or books, or most recently: graphic novels. The latest is an anthology collection from Storm King Comics called Tales For A Halloween Night Vol 8, so join me on my journey into the horrors of it all.
Let’s Start in Hell
The first story in the collection is called Tartarus, written by the horror master himself, Mr. John Carpenter. It features the brilliant art of Luis Guarangna with an amazing color palette by Sian Mandrake. The story centers around a sanitation worker by the name of Junior who has been contracted by a very wealthy stranger.
When he arrives to do the job he is instructed to follow, he finds himself stuck in is a maze of staircases rising to the sky at every possible angle. When he finally reaches his destination he is led to yet another elevator that only goes down. Junior’s cleanup job will be in the basement, literally as low as you can go. Soon, he finds himself face to face with Hell.
The writing on this is fantastic, it hints to a previous job gone wrong and a story that has yet to be told. The art is fantastic and really made me want to see what else would come to pass. The colors were beautiful and really complimented everything that was going on. This was a fun one that left me wondering, was Junior dead and ready to face his afterlife or was this just going to be the hardest cleanup job of his career? You decide.
Cats Always Know
The Caretaker was written by Alec Worley with the art duties being handled by Tim Foster. It opens on the new caretaker’s first night on the job while he’s trying to figure out who broke into a poor elderly woman’s unit. Nothing was taken, but a vase that was important to her was broken and the caretaker promises to fix everything.
After a ghostly vision in the bottom of the vase (the caretaker attributed it to a flashback from his wilder days), he decides to call it a night. The caretaker believes all the trouble is coming from a group of teens that keep hanging around and that night while he is sleeping the same thing happens to his apartment. It’s overturned with no sign of a break-in. He notices a cat in the courtyard and follows it to the boiler room where the teens confront him while the cat coughs up a toe. The caretaker is driven to madness and it is then revealed that the previous caretaker had murdered the teens and they were just searching for their heads.
The art works perfectly to compliment the story in this short burst of horror brilliance. The way the story slowly unfolded and gave us the tiniest bits of info trickling in was done very well. The poor caretaker wanted nothing more than to do a good job and ended up paying for the sins of the person who previously held the job. Hopefully, the cat and some therapy can help him bounce back but I imagine vengeful ghosts looking for their heads would be hard to get over.
Welcome to Club Vampire
The Night The Lights Went Out In Brooklyn was written by Frank Tieri with art by Cat Staggs and tells the story of a journalist trying to get to the bottom of the Millennium Massacre that took place during a blackout in 1977. The journalist finds himself not welcome at an apartment building until he mentions the massacre and is allowed to come up for an interview by the only person known to survive the event. As the man dives into the story of that night in ‘77 it becomes clear that during the blackout the club became under attack from vampires. Our journalist finds this believable and wonders how he made it out alive. As it turns out, our survivor was bitten and transformed that night.
This story had some amazing artwork and I really enjoyed how the vampire was at times toying with the journalist as he told his story. The twist wasn’t completely a surprise but it was fun to see this take on the old “the calls are coming from inside the house.” When the pizza boy finally did show up, he made the proper choice and got out of there fast.
A Cottage in the Afterlife
Beautiful Beast was written by Elena Carrilo with art by Jaime Carrilo and colors from Michelle Madsen. It tells the tale of what happens when you die.
Our lead is found in the woods by a beast that leads her to a warm and inviting cottage. While investigating the beast’s garden she discovers that the scarecrow is actually the bones of a dead police officer. As she makes her escape time begins to feel funny to her and back in Central Park she discovers the bones of her rotting body. She recalls looking at her phone and feeling a strange sensation in her head, which turns out to be an aneurysm. She decides to return to the cottage and spend her afterlife with the beast.
This story had some of my favorite art from the entire book, and a compelling story. The art really brought the little story to life and I loved the design of the beast. Part fantasy and part the horror of facing one’s mortality, you can’t really ask much more from a short piece that this didn’t provide. It was actually quite beautiful for a horror story.
They Came From the Corn
The One Night Of The Year was written by Kealan Patrick Burke with art by Tom Mandrake and colors from Jack Mandrake. It tells the story of Halloween night for a farmer and his dog named Rufus. Every year three monsters come from the corn to torment the old man, taking the form of his dead wife and his two children. This story even features a cameo from John Carpenter himself, working on a film with the farmer’s grown son. Both children are alive and it seems that the family kind of fell apart after the death of the farmer’s wife and his drinking problem. Every year after the creatures show up to further torment the farmer.
This was a very cool short, the designs on the monsters from the corn were fantastic. I love anytime someone wears a sack for a mask, it’s always creepy and the dead wife sporting a pumpkin head with glowing candlelight coming from the eyes and mouth was a very nice touch. It’s a touching story about a man dealing with the demons of his past while trying his best in his present.
Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street
Sweet Dreams was written by Sean Sobczak with art by Conner Doyle. The story revolves around a couple very much in love who are about to return to Paris for the first time in years. Before they are able to leave, Harold (the husband) is in a horrible accident when he’s hit by a bus and put in a coma. Tilly (the wife) is devastated and doesn’t know what to do. Soon she begins to see Harold in her dreams as he is trying to convince her that he can’t return to his body, that he’s too far gone but they can be together in the dreamland. Is Harold really looking for peace or is something sinister at play?
This visuals matched the writing well, complimenting each other. It wasn’t so much of a horror as it was a sad tale of love and loss and how far someone will go to be with their person. This was my favorite short in this anthology and I personally think it would make a fantastic film. It’s very moving with just the right amount of horror.
Never Look a Cat in the Eye
Purr was written and illustrated by Sara Richard and tells the tale of a man in the 1800s who is visited in the early morning hours by a cute kitten he affectionately names bright eyes. After the man promises the kitten a home and good food to come he is sucked into the eye of the cat. What was once a joyous morning turns into a living nightmare as he discovers the horrors that wait just behind those bright eyes.
This was probably the quickest of the shorts and was carried by visuals alone. There was very little dialogue but it was effective that way. The story has some of the best art in the book as far as having its own style goes and as a quick read, it was a fun and creepy proof of what I’ve said for years: Cats are cute but they are secretly demons sent to take us out.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Gutted was written by Neo Edmund with gorgeous art by Jason Felix. It tells the story of a young lady who had too much to drink at a Halloween party and died in a car accident only to wake up on the table during her autopsy. She flees the scene and runs into other people in a place that’s sort of in-between worlds. A child explains to her what happened and that her heart was going to be used to help her live a very long life. She must have been a donor.
The short starts like many horror shorts of the past, on the table but it quickly takes a left turn into something original. Her spirit not quite passed on gets to meet others who are in transition, and one who clearly is going to get to leave that plain and make it back to the land of the living. I enjoyed that little twist quite a bit.
Cheaters Never Prosper
Proof was written by Amanda Deibert with art by Cat Staggs. For a short piece, it really takes us on a roller coaster of events. It opens with a murder followed by a news report that a serial killer is on the loose. As the story unfolds Chloe (our main character) slowly discovers various clues that she discusses with her best friend that all point to him being a big cheater. Slowly as each clue is found we begin to think that he is the murderer and Chloe is next but hang on… could it really be that simple?
The art really knocked it out of the park and the story had a great twist, making me truly believe it was the awful boyfriend. Of course, some of the details used to convince us made the reveal a little confusing. Still, it was a fun ride.
Holidays Are Scary
Red Meat Flag was written by David J Schow with art from Andres Esparza and centers around a detective who is searching for a serial killer who likes to work on the holidays. They dubbed him Mister Tweezers due to the way he managed to never leave any clues at all to his killings. The detective eventually finds himself in the killer’s sites and realizes he was outmatched. The killer kills on.
This is another that would make a really interesting feature film. The insanely smart killer and the determined detective on his way out of the business are prime for an adaptation. The creative way in which each person was killed added to an already visually exciting piece, especially in the horror space. This was noir meets horror in the best of ways. I want more of this.
Horrors of the Past
Hound Out Of Mind was written by Jennie Wood with art from Richard P Clark. The story begins with a loving couple, Holden and Wade, adopting a new puppy. Very quickly Wade begins to have memories of his past causing him to hallucinate and break a bit from reality. His childhood was full of fighting parents and bad times and the puppy is reminding him of that, even seeing the puppy as a demon hell-bent on killing him. Holden tries to reason with him and that sends Wade on a trip down memory lane where he’s forced to battle the demons of his past before he can be ready to live happily ever after.
The star of this one was definitely the art. I feel like if they had more pages then maybe the story wouldn’t have felt a little rushed. Overall, it was a good reminder that now isn’t then and we can live happily even if how we grew up wasn’t the best. We can confront those demons and find peace in the here and now.
Cosmic Horror Time
Dark Sky Park was written by Michael Moreci with art from Scott Hampton. We find our lead, Ted, in search of a mysterious Alex who has information about the disappearance of his father. When he arrives he immediately begins to get bad vibes about the very cult-like nature of the people he has found. Alex confirms that his father was there for two months and then he left, much like Ted would. That night, as Ted tries to escape after rightfully being mega, crept out, they knock him unconscious and tie him to a rock facing the night sky. Soon we learn what happened to Ted’s father and what fate awaits him.
Cosmic horror is something that I’ve only recently started getting into, it isn’t that I didn’t like it before it’s that I was unaware. This is a really good short that takes the stranger in a cult trope and adds in that cosmic element. The art is fantastic and meshes with the writing perfectly. The ending was unexpected.
Following a Feeling
The Gangster’s Grave was written by Duane Swierczynski with art from Heather Vaughan. It centers around the descendant of a murdered police officer coming home after another family tragedy. As a writer, he thinks it would be a good idea to try and crack the 100-year-old case. First, he has to find the grave of the gangster that killed his relative all those years ago in an abandoned and forgotten cemetery so he can make peace with the past.
This was less a horror story and more of a gothic exploration of what one will do for a story. The art and writing were terrific as a very subdued “listen to what I have to say” trip down memory lane with beautiful visuals. I really enjoyed it.
Don’t Mess With The Van Fleet Women
Buried Deep was written by Sandy King with art from Trevor Denham and colors by Ryan Winn. It begins at a funeral and tells the tale of the latest Van Fleet woman moving back into the family home. The home is haunted by the ghosts of all the women who have come before and they all have a confession, their husbands were NOT lost at sea. They were all murdered by their wives. There’s only one more murder to go and that is to get the last standing Van Fleet woman to be single again. Will the ghosts telling their stories be enough to convince her to murder the man who has been trying, for better or worse, to court her?
I can see so many of these as film adaptations, and this is another to add to the list. The suspense could be played out nicely. The fact that it was just a long line of murderous women was a really fun twist. Have to keep that family tradition alive!
This was a fantastic collection of horror shorts and really what could we expect coming from the King and Queen of Horror, John Carpenter and Sandy King. Their stories book-ended an assortment of stories that range from regular serial killers to ghosts to vampires to the past to space, everything that one might find frightening. There’s something in this volume for everyone and I can’t recommend it enough.
Storm King Comics have been doing this for years and if you haven’t browsed their shelves, you really need to get on that. Horror movies are great but there’s just something about holding a scary book and it making you turn the pages when you could very well just set it down. The choice is yours but I for one am looking forward to Vol 9.
For more information on Storm King Comics click here.