Volume one of this graphic anthology brings to mind the old EC horror comics of the ‘50s — Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, The Haunt ofFear,etc.—with one key difference: all of these “Suspenstories” (as they were called back in the day) are true experiences of the paranormal. Each of these illustrated tales were chosen through listener votes from the popular Anything Ghost podcast. Every week, host Lex Wahl reads accounts of real ghostly encounters submitted by listeners from all across the globe. One of the contributors, Toronto comic artist Shane Kirshenblatt, approached Wahl with the idea of chronicling the five most popular stories in comic book form and recruiting a different artist to bring each one to life. This is a dream project for Kirshenblatt and it shows. His contribution “Tan Stan” is not only the most compelling story in the collection, but his artwork’s heavy lines and dark shading pay great homage to the banned EC Comics tales that have so clearly served as the book’s inspiration. Second to that is “Sentry” by Kent Burles, laid out with anguish and foreboding. It’s evident that all the artists really took great personal care in executing their assignments. Some efforts are more successful than others — stylistically, Andrew Kwan’s use of minimalist facial features just doesn’t belong in a book that is otherwise so realistic and expressive. There is not as much gravitas or poignancy in the way he delivers “Devil’s House” and “Something Came Down from the 26th Floor.” However, he is the greenest of all the contributors and has room to grow in the future. Overall, the work confidently resuscitates and contemporizes a kind of horror — more suspense than slasher — that had largely been lost to comics before Anything Ghost came along. Plus, for you podcast purists, each story has also been reprinted exactly in the way it was read on the show. (Aaron Broverman)
Shane Kirshenblatt, et al, 94 pages, Kirshy Comics, anythingghost.com, $9.99 print edition, $4.99 digital edition, $55 custom sketch edition.