Taffy’s Nightmare Tales is a short horror anthology from the team behind Kitty & Batz and LHV Publishing. The titular Taffy narrates terrifying tales of moral turpitude and torture while happily informing readers of the torments they will suffer if they don’t buy the entire four-issue series. If you have coulrophobia, I strongly warn you away from this particular comic; Taffy’s pointed teeth, prehensile tongue, and increasingly creative threats will have you screaming for the warm embrace of Stephen King’s It. Even if you don’t suffer from clown phobia, Taffy will send chills down your spine. At least, he creeped me out thoroughly.
Unfortunately, the two stories in Taffy, “Blood Asylum” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” didn’t frighten me nearly as much as the eerily kooky narrator. The first follows a butcher masquerading as a surgeon who travels from asylum to asylum using the patients as his personal research subjects. The setting in “Blood Asylum,” an insane asylum still populated with mentally ill patients, definitely had potential, but the bulk of the action was revealed via Taffy’s and Dr. Turnunköff’s narration rather than shown. Instead of feeling engaged in the upcoming violence and illicit research, I felt slightly bored. I hadn’t seen enough to feel invested in either the faux doctor or the young nurse who had become his latest victim. This issue also cuts off right as the story begins to get interesting, which is a good idea when you’re trying to encourage people to buy the next issue, but I found irritating since I wanted to be scared. I almost got the feeling that “Blood Asylum” might work better as a novel or short story than a graphic novel. The explanations would feel less forced, and the wordy descriptions would fit into the work’s feel much better. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” is an extremely short look at a young criminal facing his execution. Does he truly find remorse at the end, or are his tears only for himself?
While I found the stories in Taffy too short for my personal tastes, the artwork was truly amazing. All of the panels were incredibly detailed, and I appreciated the manga-esque style of the female characters’ eyes. Shading and lines were used to great effect, and I could feel which areas of the asylum were supposed to be creepier and less inhabited by the changes in how shadows were used. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” utilized a much heavier inking style, but it worked for David’s self-serving and dark final moments. Both Zergas have strong art skills, and I hope to see them continue to grow their unique styles in the future.
Overall, Taffy’s Nightmare Tales wasn’t quite the freaky Halloween fare I was searching for, but I’m sure it will work for readers who are less picky about exposition. It’s definitely worth checking out for the art work alone.
3 Hidden Scalpels out of 5