The Official Website of Author Ashley Cowger
Grimm Tales of Terror
(Volume 2, Issue 4)
By Steve Yockey, et. al.
Reviewed on February 17, 2016
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Even though they're clearly aimed at an audience of over-sexed teenaged boys, I've been reading the Grimm Fairy Tales series for years now. I love them—I can't help it. Zenescope's twisted take on fairy tales is so much fun, as long as you're willing to ignore a little moralizing at the end of each issue. So when I discovered Zenescope's new(ish) Grimm Tales of Terror, I immediately added it to my pull list at Comix Connection in Mechanicsburg.
So far, the series has yet to disappoint. Though these comics adhere to the hypersexual (and arguably sexist, although I'm not really bothered by it, to be honest) imagery of its predecessor, Grimm Fairy Tales, the stories are a nice throwback to the EC horror comics of old.
"Sleepless" (Volume 2, Issue 4) introduces us to a researcher and his two grad assistants from Penn State (Penn State shout out! I teach there! Well, not main campus, but still . . .) who visit a sleep lab to meet with a mysterious sleep researcher, Dr. Prosky. Dr. Prosky, we learn right away, has a history of pushing his experiments too far to see what kind of torture people can sleep through. Combine that premise with the disturbing cover, and I'm hooked by page two.
When our heroes from Penn State arrive, they discover that Dr. Prosky's current experiment on sleep deprivation has resulted in a group of "occupants" going sleepless for quite a while. Cue the crazy. At first, this story is an incredibly fresh take on the zombie genre--my favorite form of horror. The people who have been kept from sleep for so long are seriously deranged and look and behave much like the current incarnation of the zombie. But then it gets even weirder, like seriously weird, like you-have-to-read-it-for-yourself-to-fully-appreciate-the-depths-of-weird-a-story-can-achieve weird. Ultimately, I don't think the twist at the end is necessary. A group of scientists encounter a bunch of lunatics in a closed-off, hard-to-escape-from lab. That's enough. You had me at "What is this on the window? It's smeared over the glass. It looks like . . . dried blood." (To which, by the way, Dr. Prosky's grad assistant replies, "Oh no. I didn't know. I'm going to be in trouble, right?") There's enough awesome happening in this story already; I really didn't need a twist at the end.
Even so, I liked it. So far, I've read every issue of Volume 2 of the series, and this is definitely the best of the bunch. With echoes of Reanimater and a totally new take on the classic zombie profile, "Sleepless" is definitely worth the ten minutes or so it takes to read it. And the art, which I haven't spent fair time on, really, considering how lush and beautiful it is, is enough to check it out alone. If you're able to get your hands on a copy, take a look at the gorgeous two-page spread of zombie-like mayhem after they finally open the locked doors of the "awake cupboard." I also loved the sleepy creepiness of Dr. Prosky's grad assistant. Absolutely stunning.