Review: “Old School Monsters” by Ashcan Comics Pub. (Festival of Dread special)
There’s perhaps nothing more synonymous with Halloween than the collection of creatures known as the “Universal Classic Monsters”. Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon – each of these horrors have been recreated and re-imagined across several different mediums over the years. In March 2019, independent comic book publisher Ashcan Comics Pub. gave a handful of creators the chance to make their mark on these characters, resulting in the 32-page, ashcan-sized anthology: Old School Monsters.
Despite being published by Ashcan Comics, Old School Monsters isn’t actually a comic book, it’s an illustrated short story anthology featuring the full menagerie of “Universal Monsters,” but also including a couple of others – a gargoyle and zombies. Each three-page story is introduced with an illustrated title page and features the work of a different creative team. Readers of The Splintering will recognize the names of several creators, including Cal Jameson (Shinobi Sasquatch), Michael Derrick (The Abductables), and Joey Tremblay (Legends of the Lone Wolf).
As an anthology, your enjoyment of Old School Monsters will vary from story to story. Some of the stories feature more canonical interpretations of the characters, while others take far more liberties with the source material. For example, the Wolfman short story, The Fur Cure, takes a decidedly more science-fiction-inspired angle on the character, while the Dracula tale, Love Thy Enemy, serves as an epilogue of sorts to the classic version of the legendary vampire. As such, the reader is required to have a rudimentary understanding of each character to fully understand some of the stories, but you certainly don’t have to be a deep lore expert.
For what it’s worth, my own personal favorite story was The Creature written by Michael Derrick, and my favorite title page illustration was The Mummy by Ryan Cairns (see the banner image above).
Despite being based on classic horror stories, Old School Monsters is not overly macabre or grotesque. Ashcan Comics themselves rated the book T+ (Teen) on the cover, and that seems like an appropriate rating.
I can certainly recommend Old School Monsters to anyone who is a fan of these classic horror characters. The short length of each story makes it very easy to pick up and read when you only have a few minutes, so if you are a bathroom reader or like to have some pocket reading on the go, Old School Monsters is a good option. However, if you are a comic book fan hoping that a product published by Ashcan Comics would feature comic-style sequential art and storytelling, you will absolutely be disappointed to find that Old School Monsters is in fact a short story compilation… in disguise (sort of).
At the time of this writing, there doesn’t seem to be any way to get your hands on a physical copy of Old School Monsters (that’s a damn shame, too, because the paper stock is particularly high-quality). However, if you still want to give Old School Monsters a read, you’re in luck! The book is available in its entirety on the Ashcan Comics website, so you can read it at your leisure in digital form. And who knows? Poke around the site and see if you find anything else that tickles your fancy.
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