"Tales from The Dead #1" Comic Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Deaf Mute Press
Written by Chris Forsberg, Jay Franklin, Gary Farmer, and Gordon Hurley
Illustrated by Chris Forsberg, Ike Racho, Eric Shloyda, Mark Lone
2010, 24 pages
Comic released as a limited edition in August 2010
Comics have become a business. Like any business, it needs to make money. As a result, many comics today have lost that spark of excitement that used to fill each panel of every book. It was an awe that filled the reader as they flipped through the pages unlike any other written word. This is still found today but you have to dig for it. It's a pleasure to find it in an independent publisher like Deaf Mute Press. From what I've gathered from the foreward to this first issue of Tales From The Dead, this is a comic written by fans for fans. Basically a bunch of friends got together and really liked Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead. They liked it so much that they wanted to write their own stories. Instead of diving into the dregs of the Internet and writing fan-fiction, they concocted their own stories, all of which had to do with zombies. Four of those stories are collected here. This is an anthology book in the tradition of the old EC comics.
First up is A Safe Family is a Happy Family written by Chris Forsberg and Jay Franklin with art by Forsberg. Set in Oklahoma in the 1930s, a farmer hears on the radio that zombies are attacking residents of the town. The farmer does what he thinks is right and kills his family and then himself. Unfortunately for him, he does it before listening to the entire program. An homage to the old War of the Worlds radio play that Orson Welles put on, this is a quick tale and definitely fun to read, but the art is pretty amateurish. The characters and backgrounds look flat and there's no real flow to the pencils. This is forgivable though because this is a labor of love for these guys.
The art in the next tale is a huge improvement. Tommy Zombie, written by Gary Farmer and drawn by Ike Racho is another brief comic. This one shows a scared man saving a girl from three zombies. After the three members of the undead are put to rest, the girl is terrified to find out that she's been saved by a zombie that can talk. As I mentioned, the artwork here is much better than that in the first story. With a little polish, Racho can definitely go far in the business.
Next up is Zombomb by Gordon Hurley and Eric Shloyda. This is a conspiracy filled story about the army testing a chemical weapon that would turn normal people into zombies. Shloyda's art is somewhere in the middle of the first two. His zombies look good but his backgrounds and some of the minor characters look flat and unemotional.
Lastly we have Black Box by Jay Franklin and Mark Lone on pencils. It seems to tie in to the previous story in that a passenger aboard a commercial aircraft set off a bomb of some kind that turned most of the people into zombies. The pilots are struggling to land the plane and get some escorts from the local Air Force base. They quickly realize that they can't let this plague spread to the ground so they ask the fighter pilots to shoot them down. Lone's art is second only to Racho's in this issue.
Tales from the Dead is definitely a quick read, but a refreshing one. Here you have a collection of stories that were written by people that love zombie comics. They got together and started a publishing company and put out this book. Sure, all of the stories are in black and white and each story is only a few pages, but the fact that I'm able to hold their work in my hands is impressive. Instead of taking the easy route and putting their comics on a blog or fan fiction site, they put in the extra time (and money) and delivered a solid product that's much better on paper than on the monitor. I hope that they're able to continue to publish these stories because if this is any indication, they are fully capable of breathing some new life into the field.
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