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?
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
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.
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
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 feature different generations of creators, such as Neil
Kleid, Rob Vollmar, Stefan Petrucha, Marc Bilgrey, Don McGregor, Kyle
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
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
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
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?
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
TheBigBadWolf: Will we see any
of the past EC Comics talent do any work in this book?
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?
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?
One 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.
The Crypt Keeper, will we see the other "GhouLanatics",
The Old Witch, and The Vault Keeper?
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?
The new comic will debut in June and cost $3.95-- only $3.85 more than
TheBigBadWolf: Is this an ongoing
or mini series?
An ongoing bi-monthly series in the comicbook version, and a quarterly
ongoing series in the collected edition version.
What would you say to horror comic book fans to entice them to give this book
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
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 ComicMonsters.com! 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.