Monday, November 25, 2019


What has gone before:

This is second in a series of columns reviewing the special comics given out by comics retailers for Halloween Comicfest.

Halloween ComicFest...the comic book industry’s premiere fall event – a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away specially published comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops. HCF is the perfect event to experience comic shops as destinations for Halloween and horror-themed comic books, collectibles and other merchandise! In other words, Halloween ComicFest is the Spooky Free Comic Book Day!

These Halloween Comicfest comics were sent to me by my dear friends at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. When I write about these comic books, I look at three areas.

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want and be able to buy more of the same?

I score FCBD offerings on a scale of zero to ten. Each category is worth three points with the tenth point coming from my interest in seeing more of what’s ever in the book.

Let’s get started...

The Loud House Halloween Special [Papercutz/Nickelodeon] is another 16-page digest comic. Based on the cartoon series, it presents a done-on-one 12-page story written by Sammie Crowley with artist Ari Castleton and colorist Gabrielle Dolbey.

QUALITY: “Candy Hunting at Huntington Manor” is a pleasant enough tale, but suffers from a chaotic plot structure. This ties directly into our next category.

ACCESSIBILITY: I know the lead character of The Loud House in the kid in the middle, the only male sibling among the family’s dozen children. That information is not made clear in the story. It isn’t made clear anywhere else in the issue. That lack of clarity extends to the male sibling’s friends. If you don’t watch the cartoon, if you haven’t read previous comics, you won’t know what’s going on in this story.

SALESMANSHIP: The inside back cover lists nine Loud Family graphic albums. If this story tickled your fancy, you’ll be able to acquire more Loud Family comics.

SCORE: Four points out of a possible ten points.


Pokemon Adventures [Viz] is a 16-page digest comic. I’m reviewing  all the digest Halloween ComicFest giveaways first because I’m kind of retentive that way. It’s got a 12-page excerpt from a Pokemon Adventures series which seems based on an animated version of the franchise. The black-and-white story is by Hidenori Kusaka with art by Mato.

QUALITY: Don Thompson used to say “If you like this sort of thing, you’ll like this.” I’m stealing my dearly missed friend’s line for this review. Pokemon and most battle-based manga bore the snot out of me. I think Pokemon fans will enjoy this and the manga a whole lot more than I do.

ACCESSIBILITY: I know who two of the story’s characters and one of the creatures are. That’s because I’ve read random issues of these comics and watched an episode here and there. This giveaway doesn’t give me any help.

SALESMANSHIP: The inside front cover directs interested readers to the full graphic album.

SCORE: Four points out of a possible ten points.


Spook House [Albatross Funnybooks] is a 16-page digest comic book with a cover by Eric Powell and three interior stories by William Stout, Powell and artist Gideon Kendall and Powell solo. The very funny tales poke fun at Spider-Man, Stephen King’s IT and the cult classic movie Lost Boys.

QUALITY: Great work from cover to cover. This is my favorite of the Halloween ComicFest comics to date.

ACCESSIBILITY: They are done-in-one stories. If you have even the most basic knowledge of what they spoof, you will have no trouble following and enjoying these tales.

SALESMANSHIP: Terrible. Absolutely no indication of where you can get more material like what’s in this book.

SCORE: Seven points out of a possible ten points.


DC Zoom’s The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid/Black Canary: Ignite is a 32-page digest-size flip book. There’s a 15-page excerpt from the Swamp Kid graphic novel by Kirk Scroggs with a 15-page excerpt of the Black Canary GN by Meg Cabot on the flip side.

QUALITY: The Swamp Kid excerpt is fun and intriguing, especially in the mystery that is its protagonist’s origin. The Black Canary side of the book is readable, but does not shine.

ACCESSIBILITY: Both excerpts are easy to get into and follow. Just don’t try to tie them to the DC Universe continuity, whatever the heck that is these days.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. Besides ads for the full graphic novels of Swamp Kid and Black Canary, there are ads for the Super Sons series by Ridley Pearson and Dear Justice League by Michael Northop with art by Gustavo Duarte.

SCORE: Nine points out of a possible ten points.

Underdog [American Mythology Productions] is a 16-page digest comic book. It features 12 pages of comics and features, mostly starring classic cartoon character Underdog. Since there’s no information as to the origins of these comics and features, I’m going to consider them new material. If they are reprints, they have held up well.

QUALITY: Definitely fun and quite readable. My favorites were “The Rubber Duck” (Underdog versus an old enemy with new rubber powers) and “Shoeshine Shenanigans” (corny but amusing jokes).

ACCESSIBILITY: Very good. You don’t need back story to enjoy these comics and gags.

SALESMANSHIP: Okay. There’s a page advertising Underdog and other titles from this publisher.

SCORE: Eight points out of a possible ten points.


Don’t let the less-than-perfect score fool you. Usagi Yojimbo [IDW] is my favorite of the digest-sized Halloween ComicFest books. The lead story is the 10-page “Zylla” by Stan Sakai. The back-up story is the 2-page “Chibi Trick or Treat” by Daniel Fujii with art by Julie Fujii and Stan Sakai.

QUALITY: Top-notch. The lead story has action, humor and a terrific nod to Godzilla. The back-up story is cute and funny. I loved both of them.

ACCESSIBILITY: Excellent. Everything you need to know to enjoy the stories is in the stories.

SALESMANSHIP: Non-existent. There is not a single house ad in this comic book. Not a single mention of where a newcomer can find more of one of the best comic book series ever. It makes me cry.

SCORE: Seven points out of a possible ten points.

That’s it for the digest-size Halloween ComicFest comics. I’ll be back soon with reviews of the traditional sized issues.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. You'd really think that IDW would be more savvy about self-promotion. A shame that this seems not be the case.