In many ways, Grim Tales From Down Below
is similar to Bleedman's other fan comic,
and the compliments I paid to that I'll pay again to this: the artwork is not just incredible, it's better than many professionally-drawn comics
(provided you like looking at phenomenally-drawn monstrosities), and though the writing is less than spectacular, it's streamlined and unpretentious, and it serves its purpose well. There's a strangely sweet kick to be had in watching so many old friends and familiar faces interacting with one another, all in the context of a story that's grown up right along with us. It's Mickey Mouse Works
for the Hot Topic crowd, and although that's about as far removed from a compliment as you can get, believe me, that's exactly how I mean it.
However, it's clear that this isn't Bleedman's first
comic, because there's an appalling tactlessness to it I doubt he could have gotten away with before having made some sort of name for himself. Grim Tales
reveals a lot about its author. We learn, for instance, that he lost no friends or family members in the September 11th terrorist attacks, or else he would have known better than to set up a plot point wherein Mandy plans the collapse of the World Trade Center. I'm a big fan of artistic freedom, but that kind of thing is just plain bad manners, and it isn't funny.
A few pages later, we see that she, proudly evil and borderline demonic girl that she is, acquires a position of power through left-wing politics.
Though I felt slightly affronted, I didn't stop reading... but somebody else might have, and Ngo really should have known better than to pull a stunt like that, especially in a comic that appeals to a relatively small demographic as it is. Besides, we know that, canonically, Mandy favors anarchy... so why does she have a poster of Adolf Hitler
in her bedroom? Hitler was a fascist, the exact opposite of an anarchist.
While I'm at it, why was Teen Titans
cancelled two years before it even premiered? But I digress.
All complaining aside, Grim Tales
is an incredible work of fannish devotion. If you're a child of the nineties
and more than half your wardrobe is black and / or has skulls on it, I quite recommend it.