Tales from The Crypt: Wickeder
They still publish Mad Magazine, but after the death of William M. Gaines, it just ain’t the same. His spirit lurks to this day and seems to haunt Papercutz, a boutique publisher that writes in the style of his old EC comics and seems to have the rights to some of the old EC titles. (EC means “Educational Comics” for the acronym impaired.) In this ninth foray into the revived Tales from the Crypt series, the publisher has taken a parody angle on the ghoulish. For the buying public’s convenience they’ve put a banner on the front cover reminding you that this is PARODY, lest you are disappointed when you see gags. Our hero, Stinky Dead Kid, is in fact dead, and most of his friends are brain-eating zombies. When his “Death Day” rolls around, he hopes for some cool gifts, but all he gets is dirt. He points out that just because zombies eat brains, doesn’t mean they have any themselves. His one human friend gives him a dead dog, which delights him to the point of asking his Wiccan mother to revive it from the dead. That leads to a chase, cookware buried in his brain, and a happy ending. How better to make fun of the creepy than to laugh at it?
The mixture of blunt puns and subtle social commentary mixed with superb and loving illustration and inking creates a visual style that’s retro classic and still exciting. After we resolve Stinky’s pet issues, we find more stories: a parody of Wicked mixed with Wizard of Oz and Perry Mason, a Sara Palin lookalike blown up on an oil rig, and an upcoming parody of Harry Potter. Just to keep the old Mad image alive, a page of dense text from the publisher magically turns this into a magazine rather than a comic book. That was Gaines’ scheme to keep the comic review board off his butt, and a nice touch for all us old fans. High quality art, silly but engaging tales, and puns galore. This is the modern graphic novel for when you want some cartoonish gore, but you’re not ready for a full zombie apocalypse.