Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Nick Keller
Artist: Conor Nolan
Colours: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Lettering: John J. Hill
Release Date: 27th June 2018
With a title like Bedtime Games and a cover which brings to mind the old Tales from the Crypt comics, it’s difficult to gauge, initially at least, where this comic is going to go. The blurb tells us that it’s late summer, there are three friends entering senior year, and an evil is about to be released which will prey on their worst nightmares. Suspecting a schlocky B-movie-esque tale, I’m not sure if it was disappointing or refreshing to find this new series to be quite something else entirely. Actually, with hindsight, it’s probably the former.
The art, dripping with the imagined clichés of late summer (tyre swings, dips in the lake, lush greenery) could easily be illustrations taken from a new edition of the Famous Five. That’s not a dig at the ability of Conor Nolan and Kelly Fitzpatrick though, it’s just that the lines and colours are almost paradoxically simple and resplendent in places, detracting from the content and genre.
Then we have the quick shift in the storytelling which begins to highlight the dark tragedy that at least two of the young characters have suffered in their recent past, allowing a gnawing problem to surface. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing here but the characters often come across as too young or even cookie cutter. For kids entering senior year (I’m guessing sixteen or seventeen), having dealt with, or more appropriately dealing with the trauma they have, something doesn’t quite ring true in places and it feels like the book is struggling to decide exactly what it wants to be.
The story premise in and of itself is relatively straightforward. Take three high school kids, give them a bit of tragic background, let them go explore some dark area of local urban legend and release a horror contained therein. When you boil it down to the key points, it sounds like a paint-by-numbers version of a Stephen King novel, and that’s a gross oversimplification. The characters themselves, while a little forced, don’t grate in spite of their familiar concepts, but the build up to the final panel isn’t at all tense and the big twist falls flat, having being dialled in earlier in the issue.
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster