Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: 'Tom Sutton's Creepy Things'

Perhaps you know him as Sean Todd, or more fittingly, Dementia or Grisly, but no matter what name he drew under, Tom Sutton was at the forefront of seventies horror comics largely because of his black and white work on Vampirella. Yoe Books/IDW’s new anthology, Tom Sutton’s Creepy Things, mostly focuses on his color work for titles such as Ghostly Haunts, Haunted, Ghost Manor, Midnight Tales, Haunted Love, and yes, Creepy Things (oddly the source of only one story in this collection). As it turns out, Sutton’s work was just as effectively goopy and kooky in color as it was in black and white. His style, which takes Graham Ingels’s signature ooze to nearly abstract levels, always works best when he was rendering ghouls, corpses, and creeps. His humans, particularly the ones he intended to look attractive, are often awkwardly drawn, sometimes distorted. This might not necessarily be a flaw though, as it leaves even his most “normal” panels looking unsettlingly abnormal. And Sutton had little patience for normality. Although he didn’t write everything in Tom Sutton’s Creepy Things, each of its stories reflects his innate weirdness. The book collects a nutso tale about a murderous teddy bear, one written from the grave’s point of view (and featuring some of the finest art in this book), one about the ghost of a hypocritical temperance advocate who finds himself a new drinking buddy, a nonsensical monster rally intent on cramming in references to every classic movie and literary monster you can think of, and a twisted twist on Richard Matheson’s “Twilight Zone” episode, “A World of His Own”. The book gets even weirder when Sutton works outside of the horror genre on the sci-fi fantasy “Lost in Transit”, the prehistoric sci-fi sci-fi fantasy “Goo”, the time-hopping sword-and-sandal fantasy “Journey to Lost Orlaak”, the hilarious fairy tale “The Tower Maiden”, and the adventure yarn “The Kukulkaton”, starring a sleazy, racist proto-Indiana Jones. In the final tale, “Through a Glass Darkly”, Sutton’s psychedelic B&W art and metaphysical, Lovecraftian storytelling are nothing short of sublime. All of this makes for one of Yoe/IDW’s very best anthologies yet.
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