In Los Angeles there is a monthly gathering of comic book pros, entertainment industry peeps, and comics fans called Comic Book Sunday. It's there that I often run into Sam Park, the co-founder of the Monsterverse line of comic books. Talk to Sam long enough and you begin to feel the great deal of quite justified pride he takes in putting out his companies brand of horror comics. The flagship title Bela Lugosi's Tales from Beyond the Grave, is an anthology series that features some top level talent and picks up where the best of the 70's Warren horror magazines like Creepy and Eerie left off, with a bit of the flavor of the classic E.C. Comics from the 50's and a dose of classic Universal Monsters homage.
But as talented as the contributers to the Monsterverse anthology are, it is a longer form series, Flesh and Blood that has captured accolades from grown up Monster kids gone wild like Tom Savini and Guillermo del Toro. Sam was kind enough to send me a review copy of the 3rd book in the graphic novel series before it hits comic book shops everywhere this Wednesday.
In the 1960's British film company Hammer Films began to re-invent and re-invigorate the classic horor genre Universal had established by adding more gore, more sex, more literate scripts, and high caliber acting talent like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.Flesh and Blood continues in comics the Hammer Films style, with characters from Dracula, Frankenstein, and starting in this graphic novel, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, all interacting in an epic crossover.
Featuring a stunning cover by Dan Brereton who first caught my attention drawing the Nocturnals, inside Flesh and Blood 3 writer Robert Tinnel displays a good ear for period dialogue and keeps the plot moving quickly. Interior artist Neil Vokes employs the stylization of slightly elongating the heads of the characters he draws (kind of an El Greco of the head, if you will), all the while capturing the dress and atmosphere of the period with sharp accuracy.
Though it is the third book in the series, the plot is fairly easy to pick up midstream, and reading it I had to wonder if Mr. Tinnell might not also have been influenced a bit by the Power Records LP and comic book (featuring art by Neil Adams!) A Story of Dracula, The Wolfman, and Frankenstein that I remember fondly from my 70's childhood.
In addition to the 84 pages of Flesh and Blood story, the book features the much shorter next chapters of a couple of other ongoing horror sagas by Mr. Tinnell, Operation Satan, and Baron Frankenstein, that while equally atmospheric, may be a little harder to delve into if you have not been following them already. All this plus a nice historical text piece by Michael H. Price that traces the history of horror in comics and Flesh and Blood's place in that context, a pin-up gallery and a detailed introduction by Mr. Tom Savini, for only $14.99!
It was in said introduction that I learned Mr. Tinnell also appeared as an extra in my favorite film of all time George Romero's Knightriders, and doing a little further research,found he was later responsible for a movie called Kids of the Round Table, the description of which is so in line with my four year old son's tastes it made it made it immediately onto his Christmas list. If you're a comics fan who laments the fact that they just don't make them like Hammer films used to, Flesh and Blood belongs on your list just as quick!
David Blake Lucarelli is an occasional Bleeding Cool contributer. Issue 1of the horror comic he writes The Children's Vampire Hunting Brigade can be bought on Comixology. He will next be appearing at the APE Expo October 12-13th, in San Francisco, Booth #933.