The Evil Inside #1
Writer: Bart A. Thompson
Illustrators: Paul Schultz,
Jake Sumbing, and
Giovanni P. Timpano
Lettering: Brant W. Fowler
Cover Price $3.50; Available Now
CEO and Editor-In-Chief of Approbation Comics Bart A. Thompson spins three tales from different horror genres in this first issue of short story anthologies. The comic, as stated in the back of the comic, was a test that Thompson put on himself to see if he could tell a full story within the confines of a set page length. He then asked one artist each to pencil the stories. Now, you can’t go around creating horror anthology comic books without having to deal with comparisons to the king of horror anthology, EC Comics and their numerous titles. Thompson’s writing comes off solid here, as he quickly sets up the characters, lets them lead the reader into thinking they know what is going to happen, and then pulls the rug out with an unexpected twist. Even by the time the third story comes around, and you are consciously looking for the hidden twist, Thompson still manages to surprise.
The first story, “Southern Hospitality,” sees two office co-workers taking a business trip through a backwater town. After stopping by the local grocery store for beers, and meeting the quite repulsive inbred owners, the two make their way to a cabin for the night. When a dead bird is thrown through the window, they wonder if maybe the hillbillies have come to say hello.
This is arguably the best story of the three in issue one (Thompson even admits so in the back page) and really does a bang up job setting the tone for the series. The story, and the twist, are clearly influenced by the twisted dark humor and horror of Tales From The Crypt. The artwork here, supplied by Paul Schultz, is also highly reminiscent of the EC Comics style with solid thin black lines used to create most of the work and with a great mind paid to background and shadowing, it greatly compliments Thompson’s story.
Next up is “Word Is Bond.” On a cold winter day, a grumbling young man stops to let a little steam off with a corner Santa collecting for charity. While the Santa tries to give the man a more optimistic view, the man is simply too set on his inability to pick up a hot blonde. After mentioning that he would give his soul for just one night with the blonde walking by, she give him his number. Is it coincidence, or fate at play?
Thompson gives a fair warning to those who don’t believe that words and promises hold weight in this tale that takes influence from Faust and gives a knowing throwaway nod to Bedazzled, in which the devil is disguised as a woman in order to collect souls. This time artist Jake Sumbing takes reign over the pen, and brings more art that, while not quite as solid as Schultz’, still brings to mind the EC Comics style with a realistic approach to the characters, with just a hint of sinisterism crawling around the edges.
The final story is “The Fox In The Henhouse.” An insecure criminal attempts to rob a convenience store, with a seemingly sympathetic cashier trying to get him out of the store as quickly as possible before he calls the cops. When a patrol car pulls into the parking lot, the cashier even offers to cover for the robber, so that he won’t get caught. But when the officer steps into the store, it is actually another robber dressed in a cop’s uniform!
This story was originally written for the Vampires Unlimited (another Approbation Comics title) and ported over to The Evil Inside to bring a little diversity to the book. This is the weakest of the three stories, and while still a good read, lacks the zing the other two stories had. Giovanni P. Timpano provides art here, which appears more influenced by manga you’d find published by Tokyo Pop rather than EC Comics, and is a little jarring after getting settled with the style of the first two stories. And while it doesn’t feel quite right when compared to the previous two stories, it does work with the more comic stylization of the story here.
The Evil Inside is currently planned as a 6-issue mini-series. It is unclear at this time if Thompson intends to write all of the future stories, and who will be providing the artwork. Issue one has set a solid starting point for future issues, and if Thompson can keep the same quality of this issue running throughout the series, this will continue to be a great source for horror-influenced “gotcha!” short stories. Thompson knows exactly who this book is catering too, and the dish he has served up is delicious.
Available at IndyPlanet.