Edward Gorey and Charles Addams are the names that frequently come up when talking about the work of cartoonist, Richard Sala. That’s because his works fit in the “delightfully macabre” approach of these cartoonists, but throw in the cartoon gothic of filmmaker Tim Burton’s film, Beetlejuice and Sleepy Hollow and one gets a better idea of his work. Still, Sala is a unique talent, and whether comparing his cartooning to woodblock art or modern horror, he’s not as easy to pin down, as it may seem at first glance.
In his latest work, PECULIA AND THE GROON GROVE VAMPIRES (a graphic novella that is also the thirteenth issue of his comic book series, Evil Eye), Peculia, the waif-like girl with uncanny luck and a penchant for having strange acquaintances and being involved in extraordinary goings on, encounters more of the same. A bizarre new family has moved into town and bought the old house in Groon Grove. The new family’s older sister, Nicola has hired the local babysitters club for a night of sitting, but only three of the girls show up. Needing a fourth, they convince Peculia to join them; also along for the night is George, a boy of undetermined age (pre or early teens) who is the charge of one of the sitters. Once the decrepit and spooky house on Groon Grove, the quintet of sitters and George will encounter each sharp-toothed and thirsty undead member of the household, so will Peculia escape trouble again?
Peculia and the Groon Grove Vampires is a superbly entertaining nod, part parody and mostly celebration, to B-movie horror, especially old black and white Universal horror flicks. Not exactly scary, it’s a page-turner both because of the subject matter (vampires are unsettling) and because Sala creates engaging comics that are hard to put down, even for a minute. In the last two years, there are few comics that have made me passionate about them; this is one. As soon as I was through reading it, I was desperate for more. The Vampire Sala’s bite has left me with a nagging taste for more of his work, and even the approach of dawn want take the edge of that thirst.