Creepy #8 is another addition of collected short stories that Dark Horse has been putting out for a little while now, in lieu of old school black and white horror titles and small works. The Creepy series almost always has that feel; a lot of monologue, tons of description and twists that would probably have M. Night taking notes. There isn’t a lot of blood or guts in these stories, something that contemporary horror books seem to be sporting pretty heavily these days, but that doesn’t mean horror titles of this style can’t leave you cringing a little here and there.
This edition still had that vibe, but it was missing the one key element that truly defines these sort of titles: It just wasn’t scary. Between the five short stories in the book, I wasn’t overly impressed with most of their endings or characters.
Jeff Parker and Colleen Coover team up for Nineteen, the issue’s first story. Parker spins a tale about a man that seeks the aid of a succubus to help relieve some dark secrets in his life. However, like all dark tales, he gets a little too much of what he wishes for, and things don’t turn out how he would like them; it’s a fairly cut and dry plot, and a big issue I had with this story. The dialogue and narration were very well done, but I just had a hard time finding anything memorable about the way the plot progressed or ended. On the other side, Coover’s illustrations are gorgeous. They have a very noir-like feel to them and mesh very well with the story. The framing of the panels is also very well done, showcasing Coover’s art with some great closeups during pivotal points in the plot.
Written by Doug Moench and drawn by Kelley Jones, the second book, The Lurking Fate That Came to Lovecraft is a step down from the first portion of the issue and probably one of the least impressive additions to the issue as a whole. Moench’s story is long and confusing, with diction that is overly wordy and lacking in any flavor that could keep one’s attention for too long. Perhaps it’s because I am not a Lovecraft fan to begin with, but it was a task to follow along with the plot and even more of a chore to find it within myself to want to read the next part (it’s a one of two). The art is a bit of a step up from the writing, but really nothing special and not enough to save the work. Jones does a solid job with the shades but the characters just look a bit strange and aren’t easy on the eyes.
Rick Geary handles both the art and the writing for Creepy #8’s third story, The Mausoleum. A strange story about a man that finds love in a funeral home, Geary’s story has a surprise twist at the end (which is expected), but lacks any big thrills or chills that might make this piece memorable. The dialogue and narration are easy and simple enough to follow and enjoy, which is a great reprieve from the issues’ previous story, but all in all it’s still not anything too crazy. I do believe Geary is much more on point with his art. With its lighter feel, it really fits the tone and demeanor of this particular story. All in all, Geary put together a nice piece, but I’m not sure how much water it hold in a collection that’s supposed to be all about horror.
Dan Braun and Kyle Baker put together a two-page section called Loathsome Lore that seems pretty random and out of place. Braun writes up a brief narration of the history of rock music and its association with horror elements and themes. Yeah, like I said, pretty random. I suppose the writing is good but with two pages it’s hard to really look at it at any sort of real depth. The art is what really holds things back though, as it feels like Baker is squeezing far too much in his panels with some of the pictures and trying to get too much detail out of things that probably don’t need it. The result is quite a few portions of the story that come off cluttered or too difficult to really make out. I’m not sure what purpose Loathsome Lore serves here, but I would support the idea of taking it out completely in future instillations.
I will admit the final book, Jennifer, was head and shoulders above the rest. It was very good, so good in fact that it might make up for all the other Creepy stories’ shortcomings. The main character and the antagonist, Jennifer, have this very strange relationship that ultimately reaches a boiling point; a ride that was very fun to follow along with. Hell, the character Jennifer alone is a reason enough to at least flip through the pages; unlike the other stories that reveal and describe their villains by the end the story, we never really get a full grip on what exactly Jennifer is or where she came from, all of which is essential to a good horror villain or monster. Bernie Wrightson did a fantastic job on illustrations; the depiction of Jennifer is really creepy and absolutely gets the job done. Shadows and silhouettes are also used to a high degree to make things even more uneasy, which is a great thing for this title.
To sum it up, Creepy #8 suffered from a few forgettable short stories, but really shined for its final piece, one that is probably good enough to at least check the issue out.