I will concede upfront that I am a soft touch for Cosmic Bowl, the maiden entry in what will hopefully be an ongoing series of horror-anthology comic books from Dan McCoy, Stuart Wellington, and Elliott Kalan of beloved bad-film podcast The Flop House, because it combines three of my favorite things: The Flop House, Tales from the Crypt-style comic horror, and Crypt-Keeper style macabre wordplay.
Fans of The Flop House know horror anthologies, particularly Tales from the Crypt, are near and dear to the hearts of the Original Peaches as well. Kalan in particular has eked huge laughs out of his love for The Crypt-Keeper but the first digital issue of Flop House Comics was written by host Dan McCoy and perfectly captures the genial hilarity of his comic voice on the podcast.
McCoy also hosts the comic book. He’s Flop House Comics’ version of The Crypt-Keeper, which makes him, what, The House-Keeper? The Fear-Keeper? The Fear-Keeper is a little spookier, so let’s go with that. The “tale calculated to mildly creep you out” McCoy shares is a latter-day version of one of those “funny” episodes of The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt that explored a strange middle ground between comedy and horror that’s equal parts unfunny and non-scary.
McCoy’s tale, however, manages to be both amusing and sufficiently creepy. It’s the story of a struggling working-class couple that runs a bowling alley that’s barely hanging on. He’s a good-natured pushover. She’s a more monstrous version of Peg Bundy whose banal existence takes a turn for the macabre and the fantastical when they discover a wish-granting lane in their bowling alley with a seeming link to the distant cosmos.
The couple’s wishes backfire on them in an ending that is at once impressively disturbing and amusingly jokey, as a memorably macabre final image in which innocence is punished as well as greed and weakness is immediately, and inevitably, followed by a deluge of exquisitely terrible puns that feel like the comic book’s raison d’être as much as its enjoyably retro, EC Comics-style fright.
Subsequent issues of Flop House Comics are in the works from Wellington and Kalan (who already has a thriving sideline writing for Marvel in addition to being the head writer of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival) and the proceeds will go to the ACLU. To put it in The Flop House terms, Cosmic Bowl is a spookily scarifying, frighteningly funny debut comic I more than just kind of like. It’s good stuff, for a good cause.
Nathan Rabin is the author of five books, including Weird Al: The Book (with Al Yankovic) and the recently released Ebook “Short Read”, 7 Days In Ohio: Trump, The Gathering of The Juggalos And The Summer Everything Went Insane.