Strange Detective Tales #1
I’m no fan of zombie comics, but this one caught my attention favorably due to the odd combination of elements in the premise. In 1958 Los Angeles, Igor Vorlic (as in Frankenstein) and Renfield (as in Dracula) are struggling private detectives, serving a community of monsters and zombies hanging around the movie community.
Just as the main characters are best known for supporting bigger stars, they work with those left around the edges of Hollywood. Their client is the ghost of a faded silent star who couldn’t handle the transition to talkies. She runs a boarding house, and she calls Renfield when one of her clients disappears. The missing woman happens to be an old girlfriend of his, in one of those classic complications typical of the detective story.
Artist James Callahan makes the grotesque human, creating feeling in the reader beyond repulsion. That helps in blending the expected crime elements — nightclub bouncers, showgirls, and other assorted lowlifes — with the creepier monsters. It also allows for a funny scene where Igor and Renfield go over what they know about the case while Igor roots around in Renfield’s intestines.
After 36 thick pages of story by Jesse Bausch, we’re only beginning to understand the case, since this is part one of three. There are also lots of extras: Joel Priddy (Pulpatoon Pilgrimage) writes and Shane McDermott draws a backup story, and pinups are provided by Becky Cloonan (Demo), Rob Ullman, and others.