It’s been a few years since the first volume of John Carpenter’s Tales for a Halloweenight, but with the third volume out now, I thought there’s no better time to review the series from the start than now. I was given the first two volumes as a gift a few years back, and I’m itching to write about these crazy stories. In short: they’re wild.
This collection of horror stories make up an anthology, with each tale written and illustrated by different artists, compiled by the legendary John Carpenter. I consider this, in a way, to be the Tales from the Crypt of graphic novels: each story is introduced and reacted to by “The Groundscreeper,” a crazy, old—you guessed it—groundskeeper for a cemetery. The storytelling is diverse across every tale, and each just as unique as the last.
I think in this first go-round, none of the stories themselves necessarily “wowed” me. It was mostly the artistic styles that roped me in. One of my favorites, “At Sea,” presents a pseudo-cartoonish style, especially in the characters’ facial expressions. Only, this style fades into a dark, shadowed painting of the story. As a group of friends on a boat begin experiencing some strange occurrences and visuals in the night, they soon realize they might not be alone. Layering the writing itself, the art pulls you down into the dark and never lets up. I found that especially effective.
Another notable story is “Notice to Quit,” following a man haunted by a demon driven to bring him to his death. While at times it feels somewhat goofy, this piece’s heavy tone resonates, magnified by the muted colors and “painted” appearance to the drawings. The protagonist’s skewed sense of self reminded me a bit of horror films of the early aughts, similar to characters from movies like Darkness Falls and Final Destination.
The pieces that make up Tales for a Halloweenight pay homage to their horror predecessors, while also providing a fresh take on the genre. There are more than a fair share of horror-themed graphic novels out there, but with Carpenter’s involvement, this series has an extra opportunity for the accessibility that the genre could only benefit from. I’m so excited to delve deeper into this series, and to see what more gory, twisted madness these dark storytellers have in store.
Have you read any of the volumes of this series? What are some of your favorite stories? Let’s discuss!
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