Monday, September 17, 2012

COMICS BULLETIN:Review: Flesh and Blood Book 2!

Review: Flesh and Blood Book Two

A comic review article by: Jason Sacks
The second issue of Monsterverse's "monster rally" is an awesomely fun, intensely exciting treat for all fans of the classic monsters. 
This 80-page story moves at near breakneck speed with operatic intensity as it chronicles the intense battles between Dracula, Baron Frankenstein, Carmilla, a werewolf and the inevitable Abraham Van Helsing in decaying Gothic castles, treacherous mountain passes and terrifying darkness.

Flesh and Blood Book Two is a grand and thrilling tribute to the classic Hammer horror films of the '60s and '70s, chronicling the exciting crossover adventure that that much-renowned studio never produced. But of course, Hammer's budgets would have forbidden the production of a film this large in scope and adventure, full of terrifying monsters and outrageous special effects. From the opening scenes, which feature gravediggers and lycanthropy, through to the ending and its unexpected sexual liaison and talk of time travel, this story is a thrill-ride of unpredictable characters, thrilling adventures and wonderful settings.

This story starts fast and never lets go. The evil creatures in this book all have their own agendas and of course will kill, maim and destroy everything in front of them in an effort to achieve their goals. There is no compromise in any of these formidable foes, so the battles between them all become overwhelming, intense struggles between intensely evil beings. Can even a good person triumph over evil without sacrificing his very soul? If you know these stories, you know the answer to that question.

Neal Vokes draws the hell out of these pages, using a style that places large characters front and center in the panels and de-emphasizes the backgrounds and the spaces that the characters live in. This emphasizes the evil creatures that we all want to read about, and subtly tamps up the intensity of the battles. The grand personalities of these characters lead to grand battles. That's a point that's emphasized by Vokes's smart panel layouts in this book.

There are also two text pieces and two backup stories included in this book. The most intriguing of the bonus features, for me, is "Operation Satan" with writing by Tinnell and art by '70s Marvel artist Bob Hall. Hall's art reminds me in many places of the work of the great John Buscema, and the presentation of the story in black and white and the storyline of an exorcism make this short reminiscent of the best of the '70s Marvel monster mags. It's too short at five pages – I really want to read more of this story.
As usual, the folks at Monsterverse have produced a monster book that will excite anyone who loves classic horror. And even for people who only sort of like that stuff, the energy of this title might just move you into the group of people who love this stuff.

Jason Sacks is Publisher of Comics Bulletin. Follow him at @jasonsacks, email him at or friend him on Facebook.

FLESH & BLOOD - the reviews keep on coming!

  Jason Henderson, Writer Guy! 

 ("Alex Van Helsing" and "Sword of Dracula" author)

 Flesh and Blood Book 2 from Robert Tinnell and Neil Vokes

I just finished reading Book 2 of Flesh and Blood from Monsterverse comics and it's fantastic (although for mature readers only!)
What have we here, if you haven't heard of it? Flesh and Blood is a "monster mash" comics series that seems to literally take place in the Hammerscape, that weird universe reflected in British horror films of the late fifties through the seventies (but you know that, right?) But these comics really do seem to inhabit Hammer acreage, stitched together with cords from vampire and horror literature.
The story features:

  • Baron Frankenstein-- the Peter Cushing version from Curse of Frankenstein, etc.
  • Carmilla and Laura of the Karnstein Cycle
  • A young Van Helsing who does not resemble Peter Cushing, or else that would get confusing
  • Dracula
  • Flying vampires a la Van Helsing, the movie
-- in a timeline that carefully tries to stitch all of these characters together. If you were to ask me, how long before Dracula does Carmilla take place, I'd say, oh, anywhere from thirty to fifty years. And could you use the characters in both stories together? Yes. Does the timeline matter? Yes, but most storytellers wouldn't care. Writer Robert Tinnell cares: we get a young Van Helsing in the Carmilla period and an older Van Helsing in the Dracula period. I mean: wow.
Lurid, violent, crazily action-packed and literate about every piece of vampire and monster lore, this series is just maddeningly cool. Well done!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

FLESH & BLOOD #1 review!

Monsterverse, 2011
$14.99 US
Trade Paperback. 104 pgs.
ISBN: 978-0983640509
Written by Robert Tinnell. Illustrated by Neil Vokes.
Cover by Dan Bereton.

The initial popularity and attention garnered by Flesh and Blood, Book One and its subsequent success constituted one of the “feel-good” stories of 2011 publishing. The advance solicitation through independent comic stores for Flesh and Blood and its promise of an original graphic novel that paid tribute to the classic Hammer horror films was more than enough to grab the attention of fear fans.

Flesh and Blood started the new year out by winning Best Original Horror Graphic Novel of 2011 during the Third Annual Awards at Now in its second printing, Flesh and Blood will also become available in bookstores nationwide via Bookazine, a large book wholesaler to book retailers and libraries. Flesh and Blood, Book Two is expected to be released in May 2012, initially through the same independent comic store outlets that helped spread the word. In the introduction to Book One, Tim Lucas (editor of Video Watchdog) makes repeated reference to the Hammer film legacy. Lucas claims that Flesh and Blood is “nothing less than the epic Hammer horror film that generations of fans have yearned to see” and he calls it “the wish fulfillment of Hammer’s fan base.” It’s a great prelude to the graphic novel itself; but it left this reviewer a little apprehensive—wondering how Flesh and Blood could possibly measure up to those expectations.

Flesh and Blood, Book One does not disappoint. Page after page, panel after panel, the script and art deliver on the promises and praise of the introduction. And it’s only just beginning. After an exhausting and chilling start, there are three more volumes to follow. This is an epic saga, and readers may wonder in delight at what other terrifying treasures are yet to be uncovered. There is a film-like pacing throughout which only enhances the memories of those classic Hammer movies of the 1960s and 1970s. Reading Flesh and Blood is similar to holding the storyboards in your hand for a new Hammer filmic fear fest. Viewing the gorgeous art of Neil Vokes is almost like looking at animation cels. However, they are not simplistic in appearance, and the work is more detailed. These are not cartoon animation cels—more like adult animation cels where the images are more horrifying, bloody, and also erotic. Both Hammer Studio’s bloody tendencies as well as its suggestively sexual open-bodice female characters are represented and recreated here.

Flesh and Blood‘s writer Robert Tinnell humbly appreciates the growing fan reaction as sales continue to climb higher. “I’m a fan myself,” he explains. “I love horror in all its forms. When I began this ‘obsession’ with Flesh and Blood I hoped to craft a horror tale for the ages with literature’s greatest iconic characters like they had never been seen before but also very grounded in the Gothic traditions, atmosphere and exotic places these characters and stories are known for. I wanted an epic sweep to how its story builds across decades and centuries but always tightly centered around the human side to every dark fall from grace or heroic triumph of each of its ensemble of characters. It is quite a challenge to get a proper balance to it all. Fortunately, to push and pull me at times I also have the perfect collaborator in the superb illustrator, Neil Vokes.”

Neil Vokes smiles devilishly when he hears this. “Sometimes it is more like we really are monsters tearing at each other’s throats to get to the end of a scene.” He laughs and explains further: “Bob and I have been working together for several years now on many books (The Black Forest, The Wicked West). We don’t have to be nice to each other all the time because in the end we want the same thing—which is the very best effort towards making a moment pop with the right amount of big grand action or quiet nuanced subtlety. Somehow, we’ve grown to know each other so well that we can ride hell or high water through the wild parts of the creative process and end up with something the fans enjoy. I am astonished at how completely that Flesh and Blood has been embraced by the fans and greatly appreciate their kind acknowledgments in the press and the passion they show for it at signings. It is what keeps me drawing at my desk day in and out, trying to do my best. I know the audience is out there, waiting for the next book . . . and I don’t want to disappoint them.”

Robert Tinnel’s script pays homage to the genre and utilizes characters and situations to the maximum in what Lucas referred to in his introduction as the “epic juncture of Hammer’s great horror franchises in one dramatic, compelling . . . ‘monster rally.’” Classic characters as well as names of places will stir the memories. If you are a fan of Hammer Studios, you’ll also recall the names of characters matching those of actors, directors, and producers in Hammer history. The artwork is incredible and the colors by Matt Webb are vivid. There is much use of red and orange/blue and gray to outstanding effect—warmth and cold, fire and ice, light and dark, passion and frigidity. Some of the images seem as if viewed through eyes glazed over by blood. As drawn by Vokes, Dr. Frankenstein resembles actor Peter Cushing. Dracula looks like actor Christopher Lee. Carmilla reminds of actress Ingrid Pitt. And Horst resembles the actor (Horst Janson) who portrayed Kronos in the classic Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter.

There is a great but short reference article in the back of the book with further information on some of the characters. This is followed by a second story, to be serialized in future volumes. “Operation Satan” is also very short, just three pages to set the stage for a story that is described as a homage to another classic film series—The Quatermass Trilogy. It’s also written by Robert Tinnell with black-and-white art by Bob Hall, tones by Kerry Gammill, and lettering by Rick Lebo.
Plans are for continuing volumes to be released quarterly. Flesh and Blood, Book One begins in the sinister shadows and candlelight glow of Transylvania with Dracula and Baron Frankenstein in the 1880s. Plans are to conclude the epic in Book Four in the garish neon streets and darkened alleys of swinging London in the 1970s with many tragic surprises and shocking twists along the way. This is grand genre storytelling of supernatural terror with the forces of light and darkness battling across time and in the most exotic regions of this earth and perhaps . . . other worlds.
Michael J. Clarke

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


  My next appearance will be at the WV POP CULTURE CON in West Virginia October 6th & 7th - I'll be joined by my friends Robert Tinnell,Jeffrey Vaughn,Bo Hampton & Mark Wheatley - along with other pros like Ron Frenz,Billy Tucci,Dan Nokes...and many more...there will be gaming events and dozens of vendors selling all that cool stuff you know ya can't live without...hope you'll come by and see us!

The program PDF is below:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

FLESH & BLOOD #2 - review on Ain't It Cool News!


Writer: Robert Tinnell
Art: Neil Vokes (with backup stories by Bob Hall and Adrian Salmon)
Publisher: Monsterverse
Reviewer: superhero

FLESH AND BLOOD returns with a follow up issue filled with an absolutely balls to the wall vampire tale filled to the brim with blood, gore, and saucy female vampires! I have to say that I really continue to be impressed with the continuing adventures of young Van Helsing and his cohorts in the war against the undead. Writer Robert Tinnell and artist Neil Vokes are certainly able to amp up the vampire hunting action in this volume of FLESH AND BLOOD. I was really captivated with the first volume of FLESH AND BLOOD, and I didn't think it could get much better, but leave it to the dedicated crew at Monsterverse to prove me wrong.

In the second book of FLESH AND BLOOD the game gets stepped up a bit as we see one crazed vampiress just go medieval on just about anything in her path. The sexual tension gets amped up a bit as well as everyone's favorite re-animator, Victor Frankenstein, manages to conduct a little bit of his own, ahem, research as to whether vamps only really get aroused through the drinking of blood or whether they actually are able to experience pleasure in other ways as well. Let's just say that outside of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, I don't think any of us have really seen Victor get as down and dirty with the "fairer" sex as he does in this book.

Even putting aside this version of Frankenstein's trysts with blood sucking succubi, FLESH AND BLOOD delivers the Hammer horror movie goods. From beginning to end there is everything in this comic that you'd expect from the classic horror tales that were spun out from that magnificent horror movie factory of years past. You want violence? You got it. You want flying naked vampire chicks with wings? You got it. You want heroes with overly wrought emotions trying to sort out the best method of dealing with the madness that surrounds them? You got it. It's all here, and in volume two the scale of craziness has been ratcheted up even more than it was in volume one.

What's also great is how this work manages to be a bridge between what is very much a Van Helsing prequel tale and Bram Stoker's brilliant novel that started it all. It seems to me that future editions of FLESH AND BLOOD will carry on beyond the horror novel that brought Van Helsing into existence and become somewhat of a sequel to not only Dracula, but Frankenstein as well. Thinking about the book in a broader sense, it almost serves as a backstory to how many of those old Hammer horror flicks may have actually tied into one another in some way. While FLESH AND BLOOD VOLUME ONE sees us at the beginning of Van Helsing's career, VOLUME TWO finishes up that tale, takes us into the climax of Dracula and brings us out into the other end, exploring what may have happened to him after he helped destroy the vampire to end all vampires. Altogether, the main story in FLESH AND BLOOD VOLUME TWO ended up being a very fun read indeed for someone like me who's been a fan of the old school Hammer films for a long time.

In my last review for FLESH AND BLOOD, I forgot to mention the backup feature of the book, OPERATION SATAN. That was a big mistake on my part and I have to take the time to apologize to the creators of that tale here. OPERATION SATAN is a great little follow up to the main story in the book and I actually wish that it could be a bit longer. It's a fantastically illustrated piece that I just love. It's moody, it's creepy, and it's weird. It’s everything that you could ever want in a horror story. I would love to see more from this team in the future.

There's also another short at the end of FLESH AND BLOOD that's enjoyable as well. Entitled A TERRY SHARP STORY, it seems to be a tribute to former horror director Terence Sharp. It seems at first glance to be a re-working of the classic Frankenstein story, but may be a tribute to some of Sharp's better-known works, which also happen to be Frankenstein movies. The combination of cartoon style art with bright color combinations make A TERRY SHARP STORY stand out a bit from the first two entries in the book, but that doesn’t keep it from being an effective read. I actually found it to be a neat little chunk of story set towards the end of the book and I really felt that it helped cap the volume off nicely.

FLESH & BLOOD #2 - Review by Decapitated Dan!

Flesh and Blood Book 2 – Review

Posted on September 6, 2012

Issue: Flesh and Blood Book 2
Writer: Robert Tinnell
Artist: Neil Vokes
Publisher: Monsterverse
Pages: 104
Price: $12.99

“Dracula. Baron Frankenstein. Abraham Van Helsing. Carmilla Karnstein. In FLESH AND BLOOD Book One, these icons of Gothic horror battled for supremacy in an edgy re-imagining of vampires, monsters and heroes as sensual as it is dark and terrifying. Now, in Book Two, Van Helsing and the cursed lycanthrope, Horst, are on the vampires’ trail, hoping to not only avenge themselves on the bloodsuckers, but also rescue Frankenstein. The notorious doctor is now a prisoner of the beautiful vampire, Erzebet, who forces him to put his unholy science to work on his most blasphemous experiment yet! From acclaimed writer and artist team Robert Tinnell and Neil Vokes (THE BLACK FOREST, THE WICKED WEST) comes volume two of their horror epic, FLESH AND BLOOD. Cover art by renowned horror illustrator Dan Brereton.”

Dying Breath: 4.5 out of 5

Tinnell and Vokes are back, and they are upping the ante with Flesh and Blood Book 2. Have no fear Hammer Horror fans, this book will take you right where you want to be. But what about those of us who don’t know much about Hammer Horror? Does this book relate to us? Can we enjoy it as well? The simple answer to those questions is a loud and proud “HELL YES!” While I will admit that the story took an odd time leap to the future, it did not take anything away from my overall reading experience. To clarify what I mean by that, at one point the story progresses what I think might be about 25 years. What I loved about Tinnell’s writing, was the fact that he was always pushing things in my face. From the great cast to the intense moments, it was all there.  I can not recall a single dull moment, it was just action, slower action, faster action and then more action. His dialogue comes across to me as very cinematic, which you would already know had you read my review of Riven.  With a story hitting all cylinders you might be wondering if the artwork was able to keep pace. Luckily Neil Vokes was not going to let the readers down. His art on this book is just GORE-Geous. Teamed with the coloring of Matt Webb, my eyes melted out of their sockets page after page. Vokes did an amazing job of being able to visually capture the great pace that was set in the story by Tinnell. Overall I could not be happier with what I just read. This book appeals to certain demographics that you won’t get with all horror comics. It has a great appeal to all horror comic readers, but it also crosses the stream and works for horror movie fans out there. This series is amazing, and I can not wait for more!

Artwork: 4.5 out of 5 • Story: 4.5 out of 5

If you would like to buy or know more about Flesh and Blood Book 1 you can find it at

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review: Flesh and Blood #2!

   "Not only is it a fun comic, Flesh and Blood is also a '70s horror magazine disguised as a graphic novel."

  The website Shock Till You Drop has put up a nice review of Flesh & Blood #2 - check it out!



 Don't forget to come by the show this Sat./Sun. (8th/9th) - it's one of the best and friendliest comic cons ever!

(The cover rough to FLESH & BLOOD #3 and a colored page from the same ish...;o)

  I'll not only have copies of Flesh & Blood 1 & 2 and Bela Lugosi's Tales From The Grave,I'll have the UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN omnibus (with my story STRANGE ENCOUNTERS), Christopher Gullo's wonderful book IN ALL SINCERITY,PETER CUSHING (which I did several interior illustrations for) among other goodies -including many pages from Flesh & Blood and other books- not to mention I'll be doing con sketches all weekend as well...;o)