I love anthologies.
Whether it’s a movie, a TV show, or in this week’s case, a comic book, I think the anthology format can be fun and accessible, with the opportunity to display an incredible amount of variation within the different entries. Horror as a genre is particularly suited to the format, and the dozens of anthology TV shows and movies prove it. Conceptually, it makes sense: in movies, each short story can focus on just delivering a few good scares without worrying too much about the details of the plot or the development of the characters. And the movie comparison is apt as Tales Told in Techni-Horror #1 intentionally uses the horror anthology format found in movies, with its summary page echoing a movie theater’s different billboards, each one advertising one of the five frightful tales.
With regards to the setting, Techni-Horror has a lot to offer. Without getting into the specific details so as to avoid spoilers, the different “movie flavors” it uses are solid. Following the movie theater format, each story seems to be themed around a different horror movie staple. As opposed to, say, Trick ‘r Treat, which is a horror anthology movie about different scary events occurring during Halloween, the theming in Techni-Horror is broader, and allows for very distinct elements in each story. This variety is welcome, but the stories may feel more scattered as a result. Classic story elements such as space, nature, bugs, and the deep sea, are featured. The art and colors by Christian Dibari and Simon Gough make the different beasts, demons, and creatures look as menacing and spooky as they should.
There are no connections between the stories; the book is billed as five unrelated horror movies at a theater. A particularly nice touch is that each of the stories begins with a poster, advertising the scares to come. It’s a fairly diverse array of environments to set the stories in, though structurally some of the stories are pretty similar. I think it’s important to note that these stories are, at least for the most part, very heavy on narration. It is an understandable creative choice, considering that a lot of the stories are centred on just one character, and it is also an attempt to insert the narrative weight you need to express the character’s internal struggle, but it is something that could feel like a waste of time for some readers. Kiyarn Taghan’s writing is cheesy and fun in a classic horror movie way, so it wasn’t a problem for me, but I think it’s worth pointing that out.
I enjoyed all the segments, though a couple of them to me felt a bit underdeveloped for all that they were doing. As mentioned earlier, the protagonists generally have to do the heavy lifting with the narration, but they’re all fairly simple tales, running at about five pages each. In one instance, you get a page with twelve narration boxes, but the events are straightforward. This can make it feel like the tales are simultaneously crammed with story, yet sparse in events. It’s a tricky line to walk, and I don’t think Techni-Horror fully nails it right out of the gate. The lettering, also done by Kiyarn Taghan, was serviceable, though there were a couple of moments that stood out in not the best way. In an action scene where a monster is chasing the protagonist, the last thing you want is to get distracted by the strange placement and orientation of the dialogue bubbles, but unfortunately, that’s what happened here. Ultimately, there isn’t a lot of substance to any of the segments, but that doesn’t deprive them of the raw thrill that comes with seeing scary monsters on the page.
Overall, I think the book would’ve been better served by having fewer stories in it, thus making it less reliant on narration boxes that explain to the audience why they should care about the character in question or the events surrounding them. Additionally, I think that with future issues, perhaps less information could be given to the audience. After all, less can be more.
I can’t say that I’d recommend Tales Told in Techni-Horror #1 right now unless you’re a horror anthology fan in general, but it is a title that I can see having a marked improvement over time with ease.