Creeping Terror Tales
I originally read these two creepy stories by Sandy Jarrell as a minicomic, but both are now available to read online.
The first, Don’t Play, the Game’s Not Safe, is about a bunch of kids trying to scare each other with trance-like games. This story does a fabulous job of realistically capturing kids playing around with the unknown, imagining grisly fates for each other. The art, pacing, expressions, and shading are all great, and the writer knows just when to stop, neither over- nor under-explaining.
I don’t care much for horror stories, as a rule, but this one I really enjoyed. Although it works as a scary story, there’s also an intelligent perspective behind it of the appeal of such games to kids. Being terrified is fun, until it goes a little too far, beyond what they can control.
Briar Rose, the second story, is a clever twist on the Sleeping Beauty tale. It’s one of those ideas that once you hear it, you think “of course! how obvious!” (although it wasn’t, or you would have thought of it). The atmosphere of the deserted castle is well-framed through well-chosen camera angles, establishing the desolation and emptiness of the space, and the pink tints fit both the fairy tale and other aspects.
Many writers find short stories to be difficult, but Jarrell works well with 5 or 7 page lengths. He tells you what you need to know, establishes the mood, and knows when to quit. I would love to buy more comics from this talented writer/artist.