When talented artists and writers are on the same creative wavelength, they often become unstoppable in generating fantastic content. I’m referring to teams like Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale, Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples, Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips, et al. These duos bring out the best in each other. When they’re firing on all cylinders, the schism between script and art begins to fade and the fruit of the team’s collaboration turns into something more than just quippy dialogue decorating pretty pictures; it becomes a work of art.

One such team, whose work I have admired for quite some time, has done just that with IDW’s Tales from the Darkside #1. It would be a gross understatement to say that Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez know how to play nice. Their colossal horror, dark fantasy, family drama, Locke & Key proved that these two men know how to work together to create something that will stand the test of time and that the comic fandom collective will reflect upon for years to come. Their collaboration on Tales from the Darkside only furthers this assessment.

The first of four planned issues from IDW is entitled “The Sleepwalker” and it tells the story of a vain, young man named Ziggy, who works as a lifeguard. Things are going swimmingly (pun totally intended) for our protagonist. His nights are filled with booze and parties and his days are filled with looking handsome by a pool until tragedy strikes and Ziggy is thrown into the strange happenstances of a “Darkside Event.” I won’t go into any further details regarding plot (I feel as if I may have said too much already). However, I will say this issue presents a self-contained story, but it’s clearly laying the groundwork for a larger mythology.

Tales from the Darkside

Hill originally intended to reboot the classic anthology TV series, but after failing to find a network to pick it up, he decided to publish the episodes’ scripts and have them adapted into comic books. It’s a brilliant move. I’ve read all of Hill’s novels (the gas station immolation scene in NOS4A2 still gives me chills), his collection of short stories, and his comics, and let me tell you, if that guy writes something, there’s a pretty damn good chance you’re going to want to read it. Tales from the Darkside is no different. Hill knows how to pull at your heartstrings while simultaneously scaring the bejesus out of you. There really isn’t a better writer suited for this sort of material.

Rodriguez’s art shines as well. I’ve seen an evolution of his panel layouts since those early Locke & Key issues, and he keeps getting better and better. He can effortlessly deliver near- psychedelic collages of a character’s story across a slash panel without making it feel cluttered or hard to follow. Rodriguez knows when to rub your nose in the potential terror on the page, but he also knows when to pull you back to safety, which make his artistic rhythms match the story beats of Hill’s script flawlessly.

Tales from the Darkside

The Verdict

If you’re a fan of these two creators, or a fan of horror in general, I would highly recommend Tales from the Darkside #1. From the creepy, clever story Hill has woven to the stellar artwork of Rodriguez, there shouldn’t be anything keeping you from scooping up your copy.

Comic Book Review: Tales from the Darkside #1
Pros
  • Smart, creepy story
  • Interesting details of a larger mythos in the background
  • Gabriel Rodriguez’s fantastic art work
Cons
  • I wanted more of the mythos Hill is working towards
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