When I got my hands on the first issue of “End Times: New Illustrated Tales of Fear” I was prepared to dismiss it as something not quite ready for prime-time. The cover layout was kind of amateurish, and the art didn’t blow me away. And then there was the liberal use of some “blood-drippy” horror font, which also didn’t bode well. But lest I be accused of being some kind of judgmental cover judge, I decided to dive in.
And still, I wasn’t entirely sold.
The first few pages were all dialog with not much happening. The pencil sketch art didn’t give off the horror vibe that the cover promised, and the style… something about the style reminded me a little of the art you’d find in an old 70s Mad Magazine, only less polished. And yet I soldiered on – because the further I went, the more comfortably nostalgic the whole thing felt. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why at first, but by the time I turned the last page, it hit me: this book was a mash-up of some of my favorite kinds of mags when I was a kid: the old E.C.-style horror, and the trashy underground comics from artists like Robert Crumb.
Just like E.C. Horror comics, End Times is a compilation of multiple creepy tales in a magazine-size format. The stories are essentially contemporized versions of the kind of stuff you’d find in the old classics – which makes the horror tame by today’s standards, but engaging nevertheless.
And like many of the underground comics of yore, the art has a grungy quality, particularly in the way the characters are rendered. Faithful reproduction of anatomy sometimes plays second fiddle to facial expressions and action/reaction. There’s also a certain amount of social commentary, which is another familiar characteristic of underground books. Really, if it weren’t for the lack of sex and gore, End Times would look like a lot like the forbidden comics I hid under my bed when I was 12.
Of course, another big difference is the $5.95 cover price, which at first glance seems kind of pricey for an indie book. But with 5 stories and nearly 50 pages, End Times delivers a decent amount of entertainment for the money.
End Times is published by Horrorgeddon Comics, with the bulk of art and story adaptation provided by Vin Davis. Additional art by Al Crandall. Stories by Jeff Edmond, Charles Anthony, and Vin Davis. You can grab issue #1 at the Horrorgeddon website at http://www.horrorgeddoncomics.com/
Dave_P studied fine arts and film history and is a graphic and web designer, and a diehard movie fan. David has been involved with a variety film festivals including the Cinephile Film Festival, the PRIDE Film festival, and the Manhattan Short Film festival, and is currently the director of the Dark Carnival Film Fest in Bloomington, Indiana. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)