AS I WAS enjoying the recently released Mr. Crypt Vol. 1 collection from Alterna Comics, I couldn’t help but think that some parent or caregiver out there is probably having a great time reading these stories with a child. I’m thinking specifically of the kind of adult who approaches story time with a dose of showbiz flair—wide-eyed with enthusiasm, reacting vociferously to every new plot development, wondering aloud what might happen next, leading by example as yet another young reader learns to appreciate the wonder of storytelling.
It’s that kind of book, and you just can’t go wrong with a friendly skeleton.
Mr. Crypt suddenly appears one dark night in 1932, when a bolt of lightning strikes his grave. With no knowledge of who he is or what’s happened to him, he heads into town in search of answers. Needless to say he frightens the locals, so he adopts a disguise and works hard to blend in. This works for a while as our hero manages to find a home, befriend a rat, and even land a job at the local library, but trouble is never far off when you’re a skeleton trying to pass yourself off as a man—even if you are the nicest guy in town.
Mr. Crypt’s attempts at normalcy lead him into one misadventure after another. Not everyone is fooled by his disguise. And over the course of this 3-issue collection he encounters vampires, angry natives, a not-so-friendly skeleton, and torch-bearing villagers—lots and lots of torch-bearing villagers. It’s a recurring theme, one of the many classic monster-movie tropes employed by writer Troy Vevasis and artist Aleksander Jovic, which give the story a fun classic horror feel that’s kid-friendly and sure to appeal to parents raised on Dracula and Frankenstein.
Writing, illustration, and color work here are first-rate, and as a language fan I found the dialogue especially refreshing in its formality, perfect for the story’s period setting. But where Mr. Crypt really stands out for me is in its themes. It’s unabashedly positive and uncynical, even polite, offering important lessons for kids trying to understand the world. People rush to judgement here only to be proven wrong. Our hero is plucky and imperfect, but learning as he goes, making friends along the way, and being the hero whenever it’s necessary.
Mr. Crypt Vol. 1 is a delightful book, and should be a story-time favorite for years to come. No bones about it.
It’s available for digital download at Comixology.
Mr. Crypt Vol. 1
Writer: Troy Vevasis Art: Aleksandar Jovic
Digital Comic; Collected 3-issue series
Color; 81 pages; Age Rating: All Ages