Friday, October 5, 2007


AUTHORS: Marc Bilgrey, Rob Vollmar, Neil Kleid, Don McGregor, & Jim Salicrup
ILLUSTRATOR: Mr. Exes, Tim Smith III, Steve Mannion, Sho Murase, Rick Parker
PUBLISHER: Papercutz
GENRE: Horror

FORMAT: Paperback
PAGES: 112 pages
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-10: 1-59707-082-3
ISBN-13: 978-1-59707-082-9

Papercutz presents five spine-tingling stories to tempt your senses and disrupt your day in the long forgotten TALES FROM THE CRYPT series. Brought back from dead after more than 50 years, the Crypt is full of old time scary and suspenseful vignettes for your frightful pleasure.

TALES FROM THE CRYPT is more about suspense and horror than it is blood and gore. This is not a disgusting display of buckets full of blood and cheap thrills like many of today’s modern horror movies. This series is more in line with the old Tales from the Crypt television show and the Twilight Zone.

Presented as short vignettes, each story has a different writer and illustrator, creating a diverse book of tales. The vocabulary is rich and the jokes are plenty. Dark humor is certainly a driving force, along with the idea of irony and revenge. Together Papercutz has created a perfect series of books for young readers looking for something new and interesting.

I tried two of the stories out on my 7-year-old second grader with no problems or nightmares. We talked about “reality” and discussed how these were just-for-fun stories and nothing more. That satisfied her and she enjoyed hearing about how the zombies came to get the bad people who stole their next door neighbor’s paintings. She also thought it was a kick that a man bought a toy that came to life and destroyed the entire toy collection. Correction: they are not toys and they are not dolls. They are “fully poseable, micro-articulated action figures”. Crack me up. Kids will love the fact that this 30-something man still plays with his “toys” and gets teased about it.

More varied than the writing styles, the only comparison is the fact that all the stories are in full color. Other than that, there is little drawing the tales together in a cohesive way, which is perfectly fine. The ink, color palettes, and panel placement are all very different. Personally, I think that works well for kids, allowing for a wide audience.

AGE RECOMMENDATION My Rating: Ages 10 and older
Publisher’s Rating: Ages 10 and older
All Ages Reads: No rating
Comics in the Classroom: No rating

In the Afterward, Papercutz is clear about the audience of the TALES series stating, “The point here is that the stories that Papercutz will be creating will be aimed at readers age 10 and up. Instead of excessive blood and gore, we’ll be sticking to the TALES FROM THE CRYPT tradition of stories filled with interesting characters, lots of dark humor and of course, the trademarked EC “shock” endings.

So far Papercutz have stuck to their guns, making these books very accessible to a young audience. I think many kids will agree that we need more child-friendly scary stories. It is a good thing, because there is a strong push to up the ante, as it were, and try to create bloodier, hard-boiled, teen- and adult-oriented works. There’s plenty of that to choose from already. Kids deserve their own horror books and I’m glad that Papercutz is there to create them.

It is a horror series, so one must expect horror elements to be present. I saw nothing to be worried about. No cursing, no excessive blood and no nudity. Just good, old fashioned scary stories for young students.

Alliteration, malapropisms, puns, play-on-words and rich vocabulary: all, and more, can be found inside TALES FROM THE CRYPT. From a word study perspective, this book is fantastic, opening the doors for many discussions about language. Some examples include: razzle-dazzle, stabbing red lights scream, cloistered, indomitable personality, hit-and-pun driver, steely-eyed, devilish designer dress domain, boils and ghouls (boys and girls), you dismember my two fiends and me, don’t you?, mortgage, abomination, exquisite, oh sweet plasticky thing of penultimate excellence, and shred-ex (Fed-Ex). Again – crack me up.

Lucy may need to do some splainin’ but the kids will enjoy all of the humor, puns, jokes, play-on-words, pop culture references and the like. It will keep them interested and spark questions. The good teacher always appreciates the inquisitive and curious student.

The publisher also has a “HARDY BOYS” and a “NANCY DREW” line of graphic novels. I do not remember reading THE HARDY BOYS as a kid, but I do remember loving the ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN books, which are very similar. I look forward to the day when the HARDY BOYS and the NANCY DREW graphic titles make their way into the classroom.

Highly Recommended
Get it. Your kids will thank you for it.

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