Chadwick Saxelid's Reviews > Showcase Presents: Ghosts, Vol. 1

Showcase Presents by Leo Dorfman
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Sep 17, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: graphic-novel

The only thing that I love more than a good monster story is a good ghost story, and Showcase Presents: Ghosts, Volume 1 has quite a few good ghost stories in it.

Over the years my taste in ghost stories has grown to be a tad old fashioned, though. Today I much prefer stories that place an emphasis on suggestion, atmosphere, and character psychology, rather than on bombastic special effects and over-the-top light shows. I think that Robert Wise's The Haunting and (despite its obvious structural flaws and dramatic shortcomings) Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity both mop the floor with the cinematic funhouse ride that is Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist. (Yes, I am also very well aware of the fact that Tobe Hooper is credited with directing Poltergeist, but it is also very clear that Steven Spielberg had complete control over the film's production, not Hooper.)

While the forty seven tales (18 issues) collected in Ghosts Volume 1 are all over the narrative map, both in terms of story telling quality and ghoulish showmanship, almost each and every yarn could be described as being a "traditional" ghost story, and a satisfying one at that.

Almost every story in the anthology, that is. Every few issues a story pops up that doesn't really belong in an anthology of ghost stories. The earliest, and most blatant, offender appears in the series very first issue. The Tattooed Terror tries to present itself as a tale of otherworldly revenge, but it isn't and it can't. It's really a pulp crime story with a ludicrous twist ending. Terror belongs in a broader focused horror comic series, like House of Secrets, House of Mystery, or The Witching Hour, not in a book devoted to tales of the supernatural. I think that the same thing could be said for the story about the fortune teller (Death's Grinning Face), the story about psychic phenomena (The Dark Dream of Death), the death of Stalin story (To Kill a Tyrant), and a few others.

The only other offender that I think is worth noting, and I admit that this one might be a bit of a semantic stretch, is The Nightmare in the Sandbox, a tale of a demonic voodoo curse. Voodoo Demons aren't ghosts. That being said, I also think that this story is one of my personal favorites. It's dark, nasty, and features a chilling and memorable (if mostly unseen) monster. It also gives issue thirteen a great, eye grabbing cover.

As far as the "real" ghost stories go (I think it needs to be noted that all the stories in the series were presented as being True Tales of the Weird and the Supernatural, rrright) they run the full gamut between good and evil. Some feature death dealing curses (The Bride Wore A Shroud), others life saving wraiths (Phantom of the Iron Horseman), and some are about lonely and lost spirits that are doomed to wander the shadows for all eternity, searching for something that can never be found (Death Held the Lantern High). Some work better than others, of course, and reader satisfaction with the wide variety of offerings will definitely vary. But I do not think that there will be a ghost story addict out there that wouldn't want to have this collection of tales near at hand, for a dark and chill winter night's reading.
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Reading Progress

September 17, 2012 – Shelved
September 21, 2012 – Started Reading
October 15, 2012 –
page 32
6.25%
October 18, 2012 –
page 40
7.81% "Took a break, from writing and household chores, to read another ghost story."
October 31, 2012 –
page 84
16.41% "Took an invigorating break from revising a short story to read some Bronze Age ghost story comic books. Great Halloween fun."
November 3, 2012 –
page 99
19.34%
November 3, 2012 –
page 117
22.85%
November 3, 2012 –
page 147
28.71%
November 4, 2012 –
page 200
39.06%
November 19, 2012 –
page 218
42.58%
November 26, 2012 –
page 249
48.63% "Gobbled some more ghost laden goodies. Great Bronze Era fun."
November 29, 2012 –
page 323
63.09%
November 30, 2012 –
page 419
81.84%
November 30, 2012 – Finished Reading
November 23, 2014 – Shelved as: graphic-novel

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