Work, photography and dance have been occupying a ton of my creative energies. Time to go back to my roots. That’s right. Writing grammatically incorrect sentences for the web.
You’re probably wondering why you are seeing my thoughts about comics again. Thanks to our unseasonably warm Sprinter [or is it Wring?], I’ve made it a point to dig through my ever growing backlog of comics, finding a park bench, and burying myself within pages of strange tales. I mean, it’s either that or writing about video games -- and I’m not in a rush to receive the poorly spelled death threats via tweet and e-mail. Let us frolic!
The Unexpected is a collection of tales dealing in survival horror, dark fantasy and “canine intrigue.” Yup, there’s even a short story about living in a world where dogs overthrow humans.
Small confession: When I was a kid, I would wait until my mom fell asleep to sneak into the living room and watch Tales From The Crypt. Not the one later ones that were on the Sci-Fi channel, but the ones on HBO. Otherwise known as: the show my mom hated, on the channel I couldn’t watch.
I was such a big fan of these whimsically dark tales that had twists within twists, even when I knew full-well of their hokey nature. I kept watching the Creepshows, the Crypts and the latter Twilight Zones and Outer Limits.
I became more interested in horror and mystery serials when I was young. It was only fitting, considering my fascination with art and mediums that were once deemed, “the ruiners of our childrens’ minds.” I guess it’s also fitting I occasionally write about the culture of videogames. Who knows, maybe in twenty years I’ll be writing about the subtle genius in Dub-Step music. It’s unfortunate that, that “noise” is ruining our youth.
But that’s not why we are here today, we are here to revel in the collected stories of Vertigo’s The Unexpected. Stories involving characters and societies with grand flaws that, if left unchecked, result in a bloody outcome.
I’m still not sure if these collected works are an homage to the Tales Of The Unexpected series which was corrupting our youth in the mid-50s. I’d like to think that it is, just so I can follow this string of weirdo-people dedicating portions of their lives to this often forgotten side of pulp comics.
Almost startling to see how well this one-shot pulls off conveying such a wide array of somber stories. One page you’re reading about the superstitions that existed post-Mexican-American war. A later page, you’re reading about a light-hearted viewpoint on how an independent woman finds a mate, though she is a zombie. [And yes, the “zombie-angle” is kinda old hat in this generation of nerd being chic, but The Unexpected sort of revels in it. It doesn’t care if you thought it was cool before it was cool.]
None of these are spoilers by the way, the little I’ve divulged are the initial hooks for the reader to raise an eyebrow. Much like the serials and televised horror series of yesteryear, it’s all about the setting building to a twist. Within the nine collected stories, I can say all of some worth, some more than others.
If I have a complaint it would be how the stories are collected. I honestly think the first book having the titular, “The Unexpected” title cheapens the look of the rest of the tales. It almost feels like the comics were laid upon each other in no particular order, then manufactured and printed for our consumption. Couple that with titles being inconsistently revealed either early, or by a story’s end. It will either add quirk to the collection as a whole or seem like an accident.
I like accidents.
If anything, I’m glad this exists. I’m ecstatic that I get to have that feeling I once had when I was a kid watching and reading stuff my mom disapproved of. More importantly, I’m glad the stories are genuinely good and creepy. The Unexpected reaches past liking it for nostalgia’s sake, it’s surprisingly adept and haunting. Seek it out.