Tales to Demolish, Issues 1-3
Sparkplug Comic Books
Memories from my childhood run almost like a TV Guide of sci-fi television programming. Because of this, please trust my estimation that any story from Eric Haven’s Tales to Demolish would substitute nicely for an episode of the Outer Limits.
Science fiction, conspiracy theory and horror provide a thin veil against which Haven shows us our world through new eyes. Occasionally, a third eye is used.
Haven’s best stories are delivered without humor. “The Glacier,” from issue #1, is a good example of this. The plot was fairly dry, highlighting the movements of a glaciologist researching on his own up north. The plot twist of what he finds there is exciting without being suspenseful. The weird story is just right for its subject, fitting neatly into a general idea of what might happen to a glaciologist if one was ever to encounter something odd at work.
However, I don’t think I really enjoyed the first issue until I read the rest of the series and began to see connections form between the diverse stories. Eric Haven seems like a guy who grew up on a paperback library, golden age comic books and B-movies. He has repurposed these key elements of dork culture to create strange, pulpy comic books.
I really enjoyed Haven’s artwork and clean, elongated hand-lettering. The first two issues of Tales to Demolish were done in black and white with a variety of cross-hatching styles to create very interesting textures. The third issue was done in full-color with the same hand-lettering.
Many different stories compose issue #3. The concept tying everything together is a man in an armchair flipping through bad cable channels on what must be a boring evening. The change in artwork for issue #3 seems to have come from the story. The full-color pages continue the illusion that the comics on the page are meant to reflect shows on a color TV.
The comics from issue #3 are campy and brief. Haven still tells more interesting tales, but in several instances the ability to make conclusions about the work gets taken away from the reader because of comments made by the television viewer or other characters in the plot. Because they don’t understand what’s going on or find something ridiculous, it is as if Haven has predicted the reader’s reaction and anticipates that these comics are not really going to be appreciated.
At times, it feels as if Haven tries to make apologies for his work through his work, which seems very unnecessary. Tales to Demolish is all about fun and fantasy and Haven need not make apologies for that.
In issue #2, Dan Clowes and Adrian Tomine both die as a result of cartoonist overpopulation in the Bay Area. God grants them the power of revenge. Tomine makes a lady friend. Haven offers direct apologies to Clowes and Tomine on the issue’s final page. That time it may have been warranted. I’m pretty sure he’s the one who ran them over with his car.