“TALES OF HOT ROD HORROR #2″ (Comic Review)
Be it possessed autos looking for vengeance or a hitchhiker horror story, cars have long been a safe go to for chilling tales. TALES OF HOT ROD HORROR takes that classic formula and spins it for a new generation of readers, bringing in artists and writers from all over the industry to participate. Taking cues from vintage horror comics, the work is a collection of short tales focusing on cars and the open road masterminded by writer Devon Devereaux. With the first volume having already been out for a couple years, the second one has finally hit shelves thanks to a successful Kickstarter Campaign.
As with most anthologies, the tales of Hot Rod horror stick with either unfortunate coincidences or morality plays. One story focuses on a woman who lives on the eerily labeled Cemetery Road and every year, awaits the arrival of a ghostly visitor. Another finds a vacationing couple take a turn into an abandoned tunnel with strange and dire results. One noticeable thing about the collection is the immediate lack of a host, such as the Crypt Keeper or Cousin Eerie, which lets the stories flow organically. Though few of the tales written were about actual possessed or ghostly cars, they still stayed auto focused, playing with possibilities of evil drivers, haunted roads, and bad drag-racing decisions.
For a work with a large pool of contributors, TALES OF HOT ROD HORROR 2 has its share of ups and downs, especially within the art. Though perhaps not technically the best, one of the better pieces that helps stitch the collection together is Andy Ristaino’s “The Tunnel.” The art reflects someone with an established style that is confident in placing well done shadow and ink work. The hilariously cartoonish art of James Suhr, the writer of “The Strange Case of Hyde and Go Seek,” is also a fantastic example of the book’s diversity of drawing talent. Reflecting back to old Tex Avery cartoons, this short plays off as homage to older car cultures. Unfortunately, there were also some pretty rough spots, most notably, the amateurish attempts of “The Brides of Hell” and “The Brakes.” While both were done by different artists, they came off as poorly planned and stiff figured.
From straight horror to spoofs on the popular Cursed Car, it’s interesting to see the diversity of what can be done with such a small genre. The stories generally outshine the artwork, giving the feel that there were more good ideas than good artists and would read better if it was a short story collection versus a comic anthology. That in mind, the tales that seem to work the best are those both illustrated and written by a single creator. It’s worth the time to read the entire collection, though, especially since it’s an easy introduction to new and unheard-of talents. TALES OF HOT ROD HORROR manages to retain a certain appeal for those interested in exploring a bit of underground horror, but without all the involvement of a full series.
TALES OF HOT ROD HORROR 2 is now available from Cackling Imp Press.