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average writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 2
total score 6
Back Cover
Back Cover
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Tales of the Macabre
Only Printing / 1974 / 32 pages / Windy City Publications
Tales of the Macabre is a horror comic fashioned after the classic horror comics from EC in the mid 1950s. It was produced by Steve Boswick and Jim Wisniewski for Windy City Publications in Chicago. Unlike other undergrounds inspired by EC comics (Skull Comics comes to mind), Boswick and Wisniewski don't take advantage of the new freedoms won by the underground comix movement, as they don't incorporate any nudity or depictions of sex, drug use or extreme violence in their stories.

But Tales of the Macabre is not only old-fashioned in subject matter, but also in matters of concepts, narratives, story arcs and surprise endings. Perhaps I'd feel differently if I read this book when it came out in 1974, but it seems like a pretty tame book that might just as easily been produced for EC in 1954 (though I doubt William Gaines would've published it due to lack of creativity).

The book and each story is hosted by two ghoulish characters, Felix (a zombie in a shawl, like Death) and Black Angus (a demonic old wizard type), who talk directly to the reader and introduce and close each story. This is not only like EC horror comics, but Warren magazines like Creepy and Eerie (which were patterned after EC). It's a convention I typically enjoy and I don't dislike it here, but it becomes a bit clichéd when the stories feel as stale and recycled as these.

Tales of the Macabre presents five short stories that are all nicely illustrated, but if you are truly shocked by the outcome of any one of them then I'd get my first shock from this book. There's not much point in spoiling whatever drama they might deliver, so I won't disclose the climactic scenes in any of the stories here, but if you've been exposed to EC comics, Warren magazines or early Mad comics (or any compilations of those), Tales of the Macabre will seem all too familiar to you.

On the plus side, as I've said the stories are nicely illustrated by both Boswick and Wisniewski, which may prove reason enough to enjoy the book. Boswick went on to do some Playboy cartoons, work as a commercial illustrator and illustrate some children's books. Jim Wisniewski, who produced some really nice work here, went on to work in some mainstream comic books, but like so many solid comic illustrators who eke out a living, never hit the big time.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted.

Jim Wisniewski - 1, 8-14, 15 (collaboration), 18-20 (collaboration), 26-30
Steve Boswick - 2-7, 15 (collaboration), 18-20 (collaboration), 21-25, 32