Tales from the Crypt #9: Wickeder
written by David Gerrold, Jim Salicrup and Stefan Petrucha
illustrated by Rick Parker, Stuart Sayger and Richard Hack
It was actually quite a feat for Papercutz to gain the rights to the legendary Tales from the Crypt series. Back in 2007, after more than 50 years, EC Comics’ legendary flagship title was given new life by Papercutz, allowing young and old fans alike to revisit characters from the original series, including the Crypt Keeper, Old Witch, and the Vault Keeper. Each issue features two 20-page “tales of terror” and the latest edition of Papercutz’s “sick, unauthorized, wicked” parodies, Tales from the Crypt #9, features a continuation of their Diary of a Wimpy Kid parody and a parody of Wicked. There’s also a short intermission in between for “Kill, Baby, Kill,” featuring a Sarah Palin–like character.
Growing up, I recall reading Tales from the Crypt comic books, but what really got into my head were the edited, though still scary, syndicated episodes that ran on basic cable. The Crypt Keeper was a gruesome dead guy with a sick sense of humor, and in Papercutz’s version, he’s pretty similar, still playing the small though effective role of host.
Reading the first story, “Dead Dog Dies” (a continuation of the “Diary of a Stinky Dead Kid” parody featured in Tales from the Crypt #8), couldn’t have come at a better time. My nieces were in town and because of them I had just finished reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. Obviously, Papercutz is not the place to look for cutesy, coming-of-age tales and “Dead Dog Dies” is about as far from the original series as you can get. It’s the story of how the “Stinky Dead Kid” celebrates his deathday…you know, because he was viciously murdered and brought back to life by his black-magic-practicing mother. The kid, who’s creepily illustrated, complete with glowing red eyes and gray, rotting skin, is having a pretty bad deathday in the cemetery with the other zombies until his friend Crowley (Rowley) brings him a box of dog bones. What ensues is creepy and weird, but sure to make tweens laugh.
The gist of “Wickeder” is that the once sweet and loveable Dorothy from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz is actually a maniacal, narcissistic monster. In Papercutz’s version, her name is Dotty and we learn that Alfalfa, the Wicked Witch, was actually an incredibly misunderstood animal rights activist that Dotty ruthlessly killed for no good reason.
As is the case with many of Papercutz’s graphic novels, Tales from the Crypt features some very subtle and sly commentary regarding current social issues. All of this may go over the heads of the publisher’s very young audience, but it sure does make reading enjoyable for us adults.