Panels From Beyond the Grave #15

THE WILLIES (One-Shot, January 1991)

Remember The Willies? No? It was a kid-friendly anthology horror film starring a young Sean Astin. The storyline prognosticated the chummy, yet visceral stylings of SNICK splash sensation Are You Afraid of the Dark? by having vernal campers tell each other scary stories. Screams of a Winter Night pounded similar pavement, but it was geared towards adults. Now, I haven't seen The Willies. I know, I know...I have an unhealthy hard-on for anthologies, but for whatever reason, I lost interest in this PG-13 "shocker" when I discovered that it wasn't a lean, mean creature feature. Y'know, like The Boogens. Don't tell me you never put a video back on the shelf upon realizing that it wasn't in the same ballpark as The Boogens.

Anyway, this is a comic book column, which means that there is a comic adaptation of The Willies. How the hell did I land this obscure one-shot? Honestly, I'm not sure. I think it was part of an eBay lot that also boasted such titles as Subspecies and Demonic Toys (you know you're a sequestered geek when you own a stack of Full Moon comics). Aside from the publication date, you won't be able to find a shred of information about The Willies within its forlorn pages. No synopsis, no fan mail, no advertisements...hell, the inside of the front cover is blank. Blank! Was this a rough draft? We get sixteen pages of lighthearted genre entertainment. That's it.

Assigning a rating to this comic almost seems unfair. For what it's worth, I enjoyed the narrative itself. The first vignette (for lack of a better, less pretentious word) follows a little boy who is bullied at school. Prior to a pop quiz, he asks for permission to use the restroom. And BOOM! There is a monster sitting on the goddamn toilet. If you were hoping for a meatier exposition, you're in the wrong place. The second vignette involves mutant flies. Oh, that was a spoiler. Trust me, dear reader; it matters none. The artwork is vibrant and expressive, so I can't grouse about the visual palette. The Willies is certainly easy to read, so I can't grumble about convoluted plot threads or declamatory dialogue.

I can bitch about the thin storytelling, though. C'mon, sixteen pages? The actual comic book is too thin. I don't even feel like I read anything. I would compare reading The Willies to eating couscous wrapped in seaweed (yuck). Afterwards, you're still hungry. Having said that, it's worth buying if you happen to stumble upon it at a sensible price (say, under five bucks). In this comic's defense, I do suddenly have an urge to watch The Willies. It has to be more fulfilling than its four-color counterpart. Savage Dragon says, "I laughed, cried, puked and died. But I didn't read this comic book."

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