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Tales from the Crypt Interview with Jim Salicrup

Jim Salicrup talks about the return of Tales from the Crypt

Tales from the Crypt Interview

TALES FROM THE CRYPT returns this June from Papercutz. We spoke with the editor of Papercutz, Jim Salicrup, about the book.

TheBigBadWolf: How did Papercutz land the EC Comics title, Tales from the Crypt?

Tales_from_the_CryptJim Salicrup: Well, there's the short version and the long version. The short version is that we were able to obtain the rights from William M. Gaines, Agent, Inc by presenting a proposal which they were wonderful enough to accept.

The long version is that I've been interested in EC Comics since I first read about them in Steranko's History of Comics. At age 14, I was lucky enough to interview Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines for Kids Magazine. Obviously, it had quite an impact on me! I loved everything about EC-- their titles, their publisher, editors, writers, and artists, their realationship with their audience, which they dubbed the "EC Fan-Addicts"-- everything! At 15, I was working at Marvel Comics (Ec Comics was long gone at that point), which I also loved, and years later, the very first comic I edited was Marvel Premiere # 50 featuring Alice Cooper. The cover was clearly a tribute to EC's horror titles, one of the first such homage ever done by Marvel. Of course, at Marvel I got to work with such erstwhile EC artists as Marie Severin, George Roussos, and Al Wiliamson, as well as such EC fans as Archie Goodwin.

After 20 years at Marvel, I moved on to start Topps Comics. Our first title was a beautiful adaptation of Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula, by Roy Thomas, Mike Mignola, and John Nyberg. We also published Dracula: Vlad the Impaler, Dracula Vs. Zorro, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, The Frankenstein/Dracula War, Ray Bradbury's Tales of Terror, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Jason Vs. Leatherface, and Mars Attacks! Not to mention a really cool Lone Ranger and Tonto comic written by Joe R. Lansdale, whick featured Aztec zombies from outer space. We had hoped to publish Tales from the Crypt as well, but at that point we thought it was important to be able to use the Crypt-Keeper from the HBO series. Unfortunately, that proved to be problematic, so we passed.

Now, after starting Papercutz with Terry Nantier, a pioneer in publishing graphic novels in this country and the founder/owner of NBM Publishing, we thought the time was right for the return of Tales from the Crypt-- the original comicbook version. We presented our plans to the William M. Gaines, Agent, Inc. and, since they are so rightfully protective of this particular property, we were thrilled when they granted us the license. This is both a great honor for such a relatively new company such as Papercutz and a great responsibilty.

TheBigBadWolf: Tales from the Crypt is very sacred ground for horror fans. How much pressure do you feel reviving it, knowing that it will be compared to the classic series?

Jim Salicrup: Well, clearly, I love a challenge!

The original comics are true classics, and everyone working on the new Crypt comics has tremendous respect and admiration for that material. But we're not trying to blindly imitate the original series. The original classic comics are once again available in deluxe hardcover volumes published by Russ Cochran and Gemstone-- and are simply incredible. They represent the visions of Gaines, Feldstein, Craig, Kurtzman, Ingels, Davis, Kamen, Wood, Orlando, and all the rest, all working at the top of their game. Our title will Tales_from_the_Cryptfeature different generations of creators, such as Neil Kleid, Rob Vollmar, Stefan Petrucha, Marc Bilgrey, Don McGregor, Kyle Baker, Mr. Exes, Rick Parker, Tim Smith III, and others. They all will be bringing their vision to the unique style of storytelling, which incorporates elements such as the dark humor, shock endings, and a righteous sense of retribution, that makes a true "Tales from the Crypt" story.

Will readers of the original series approve? If they're expecting something that blindly replicates the original series, then probably not. If they're open to new writers and artists, respectful of the original series, and trying to create new stories in the EC tradition, then maybe we have a chance.

TheBigBadWolf: Papercutz is known as a youth friendly publisher, with titles such as The Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew. During its heyday, Tales from the Crypt was very edgy material. Do you plan on keeping it that way, or making the book into a title for kids?

Jim Salicrup: It's funny. For years there's been a movement in this country to convince the public that comics are not just for kids, that well-done comics, with great writing and artwork could also be enjoyed by adults as well. Well, it looks like it worked better than anyone's ever expected, and now it's hard for people to imagine well-written and drawn comics that could be appreciated by kids! So, yes, some of the original Crypt comics contained edgy material, but the primary audience for Tales from the Crypt was kids! Such vocal EC Comics-boosters as John Carpenter, Geoge Lucas, Steven Spielberg, et al, were all kids back in the 50s! So, in a sense, you're asking if we want to change a title that was originally intended for kids into a title for kids.

The truth is that any commercial, airing on prime-time TV, for any new horror film, is usually far more intense than anything that appeared in EC's Tales From The Crypt. The HBO series certianly was aimed at an older audience, featuring much more
explicit material than the comics. But most of the original comics would, ironically, pass the Comics Code today.

So, what we are trying to accomplish is to create a Tales from the Crypt that appeals to all-ages. Just like the Simpsons, Spider-Man, Batman, X-Men and other comics either once or still approved by the Code that appeal to all-ages.

It's important to stress, that all Papercutz graphic novels and comics respect the intelligence of all of our readers, and are never written down "for kids."

TheBigBadWolf: Tales from the CryptKeeper was a cartoon that aired in 1993. The episodes of the animated cartoons were significantly toned down from the comics and the live action TV show. Is this comic going to be more like that cartoon, or more violent, like the old comics?

Jim Salicrup: Neither. That show was really built around the appeal of the HBO series' Crypt-Keeper. Which is typical of how silly Staturday morning TV would be at times.

For example, when Mr. T achieved great popularity in Rocky II, a cartoon series was created to cash in on that. Of course, by toning it down, most of what appealed to the kids was gone. Likewise, with the Crypt-Keeper's animated series. Kids love horror stories, and were responding to the HBO series. Kids seldom enjoy a "kiddie" version of anything! So, while our comics will not be as graphic as some of the original stories, or the HBO series, the tone will not be "kiddie."

TheBigBadWolf: Will we see any of the past EC Comics talent do any work in this book?

Jim Salicrup: We're hopeful that will happen, but nothing is scheduled at this point.

TheBigBadWolf: Will there be just one story per issue or multiple stories?

Jim Salicrup: We will be publishing a 48-page comic, that will feature two 20-page stories, plus intro pages. Hey, we can't call it "Tales" from the Crypt if there's just one story now, can we?

Tales_from_the_CryptOne of the changes between the original series and ours is that our stories will be 20-pages long. That's mainly because, we intend to publish bookstore collections of Tales from the Crypt in our digest-sized format in both paperback and hardcover editions. That format is smaller than a standard-sized comic, and would suffer if there were more than three to four panels per page. As it turns out, most modern
comics now average about three to four panels per page. So, what would've been a seven-page story, featuring six or more panels per page, works out much better today as a twenty-page story.

Hey, wanna bet that some critic writes,"The new Crypt takes 20 pages to do what the original did in a mere seven"? But that's okay. We're very understanding that way.

TheBigBadWolf: Besides The Crypt Keeper, will we see the other "GhouLanatics", The Old Witch, and The Vault Keeper?

Jim Salicrup: Not only will all three horror hosts be present in every issue, they will have full-pages to make their painfully pun-laden introductions, complete with Leroy-lettered balloons and captions!

TheBigBadWolf: When is the first issue due out, and what is the price?

Jim Salicrup: The new comic will debut in June and cost $3.95-- only $3.85 more than the original!

TheBigBadWolf: Is this an ongoing or mini series?

Jim Salicrup: An ongoing bi-monthly series in the comicbook version, and a quarterly ongoing series in the collected edition version.

TheBigBadWolf: What would you say to horror comic book fans to entice them to give this book a try?

Jim Salicrup: I'm having a truly terrific time editing this comic, and our artists and writers are enjoying themselves too. Usually that translates to the audience enjoying the comic as well.

It's been too long since there's been a regularly published horror anthology comic, and it's about time the original, the title that started it all-- Tales from the Crypt-- was back; back to scare a whole new generation of fans!

I also would suggest that horror comicbook fans remember how the original Tales from the Crypt series took a little time to evolve. While there were good stories and art early on, it took awhile to build into the horror classic it ultimately became, to become what everyone now remembers as Tales from the Crypt. I see a similar progression happening with our series, as stories seem to get better with each new issue. So, be patient-- as the Crypt-Keeper might say, "Transylvania wasn't built in a day!"

Furthermore, we're more than willing to listen to any and all feedback, which is why I'm thrilled that Tales from the Crypt will have its very own forum right here on! So, speak up, sound off, and say what you will-- no one will be able to say we're not listening!

TheBigBadWolf: Thank you for your time Jim. Best of luck to you!

Talk about the TALES FROM THE CRYPT Interview.

Copyright © by Horror Comic Book News - Comic Monsters All Right Reserved.

Published on: 2007-03-09 (8805 reads)

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