Editors: Chris Fernandez, Chris Sanchez, & Brian Hawkins
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
WHAT IS IT?
An anthology of Grimm’s fairy tale adaptations with a horror twist.
Think Once Upon A Time meets American Horror Story.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Grimm Tales from the Cave takes beloved and lesser-known fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm and updates them for a modern audience. Although it contains 11 comics ranging from 10-20 pages each with contributions from 29 creators, it manages to stay in the spirit of the original stories. Each comic is framed as a cautionary tale, and many stick to the trope of making a deal with a supernatural figure.
However, this collection gives them an update, setting most of these tales in the modern-day and relating them to current trends and events. Unlike the source material, which was meant to teach children lessons, these stories tend to focus on the greed, lust, and cruelty of those in power and show how their faults cause their demise while their victims are framed as virtuous.
Although every story is based on a Grimm’s fairy tale, each one has its own unique voice. Whether it be the military setting of Soldiers of Fortune, the sci-fi-inspired Billie and her friend Death, or the fantasy elements of Weft, the writers do an excellent job of distinguishing each story.
The variety of artistic styles collected constantly keeps the reader interested. The more traditional linework of stories such as Pay the Piper and Mother’s Thorn are executed well and pace the story nicely. Unique styles such as the political cartoon aesthetic of Hello, my Name is… and the web browser-inspired New Nightmares Sold Cheap give a superb collage of the possibilities of comics art.
Coloring is the strongest force that makes each story unique and each matches the tone of their respective stories perfectly. Some entries have a watercolor look, others a modern digital one, and one reminds the reader of the styles of Webtoons.
Justin Birch and Micah Myers do an excellent job of matching the tone of each story and directing the reader’s eye. Of particular note are Birds of a Feather and Little Deaths which both blend nicely into the scenery and make the pace of these stories feel smooth.
The writers do a superb job of having similar themes without feeling repetitive. Each story has a greedy or prideful person receive their comeuppance for their deeds but from a large swath of time periods and relationships.
Every artist displayed a keen eye for contrast between the tame and frightful moments in the story. For example, Mother’s Thorn first shows its monsters as beautiful women who are outlined in color instead of black pencils, living in a colorful forest. At a critical moment, the witches turn sharp and shadowy and reside in a swamp by the end.
The similar style used for the various creatures’ and devils’ dialogue balloons greatly assists in the cohesiveness of this anthology. It makes the overlapping theme of making a deal with the devil feel even more connected.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Content Warning: This collection contains some nudity, references to drug use and sexual assault, and a good amount of violence and gore that could be turn-offs for certain readers.
Some lettering choices were hard to read at times.
Being an anthology, not every story will be stunning. That being said, a few of the stories used horror elements, but felt more like supernatural tales. They were still very enjoyable but could have amped up the fear a bit.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This collection is a breath of fresh air in a comics industry that tends to shy away from anthologies outside of the indie sphere. There’s enough variety to separate each addition, but it maintains unity through each of them quite well. Each story explores the idea of deals made with supernatural forces from a variety of perspectives. While most of the deals end in disaster for the agreeing party, not all of them feel like an evil person getting justice. Some of the most emotional stories included in Grimm Tales from the Cave come from those who make their deals and regret them after realizing what they’ve gained or lost. This makes the stories feel true to the stylistic core of Grimm’s fairy tales while placing them into modern phenomena and culture.
The talent and creativity of the artists within these tales are mind-blowing. Each masterfully places and aligns the key moments from each story in a way that makes sense and enhances the tone of the text. None of these tales felt like a drag to read and can largely be attributed to the panelling and pacing of the art team. On top of this, the variety of styles exposes the reader to the many possibilities of the horror genre. Grimm Tales from the Cave is great for any horror fan and anyone looking for some great adaptations of classic literature.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Grimm Tales of Terror published by Zenescope Entertainment
Fables by Bill Willingham & various artists
Razorblades edited by James Tynion IV & Steve Foxe
If you like the art:
Bunny Mask by Paul Tobin & Andrea Mutti
Godkillers by Mark Sable & Maan House
Shiloh by Kit Trace & Kate Flynn
ABOUT THE CREATORS
All contributors are listed in order of appearance
Shane Connery Volk
Cecilia Lo Valvo
Ho Seng Hui
HOW DO I BUY IT?
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Grimm Tale from the Cave characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright of Mad Cave Studios or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.