Matthew D. Smith and Jeremy Massie have come together to create Bee Sting, a slasher-inspired comic book with all the tropes and cliches you could shake a stick at. But when there are hundreds of slasher-inspired comic books out there, can this creative duo present something fresh and a little different?
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Writer: Matthew D. Smith
Artist: Jeremy Massie
Price: £4.99 from Comixology
Our rating: [star rating=”3.5″]
Our tale begins in a cinema, with a one-page introduction and teaser from one Maggot D. Smith (styled on Matthew D. Smith, writer), in the style of a ‘Blood-drenched Creature Double Feature’ special screening. Very Tales from The Crypt in its execution with an unsavoury host and its use of an example or moral to the story. In this case, it’s ‘an example of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time’. And the curtains come up and the lights get low…
Bee Sting opens with two friends – Aaron and Kevin – having a friendly argument about whether they go to Camp Augustus for their summer holidays. Kevin has one thing on his mind: girls; girls; girls! Aaron doesn’t want to go because ‘people get chopped up by a guy in a mask’ and there’s this impression that he thinks it’s a dumb thing to do for two weeks of his summer holiday. However, fate is against him as Kevin and Aaron’s mother step in and put plans in place. Sorry Aaron, looks like you’re coming along for the ride. This beginning is very quick and doesn’t dilly dally. We get a sense of the depth of Aaron and Kevin’s friendship, and we know that Kevin only has Aaron’s best interests at heart. Once at camp, we’re introduced to twin sisters Ashley and April. One friendly game of softball later and it happens. One tiny little bee sting and it’s a heroic rush to the hospital. But things don’t go to plan…
The character voices in Bee Sting are really solid, you can clearly hear each character in your head, even April and Ashley, despite being twins, sound different and have their own ways of speaking. Although sometimes the dialogue is a little clunky in places and there are one or two missing pieces of punctuation, overall this is some very strong character writing. Smith has taken the cliches and tropes of the slasher genre, but adapted them so that they fit with the story. It isn’t taking itself too seriously and pokes fun at how teenagers are portrayed in everyday life.
Massie has presented Bee Sting in black and white which, when it comes to the slasher scenes, works really well. It looks like he’s taken black ink and flicked it off the edge of some thin card so there’s these really beautiful blood splatter patterns going on: it looks really realistic and adds this unnerving edge when you compare it to the cartoon-y aspect of the character design (especially as these teenagers are running around in their softball uniforms). And these marks have spilled over the panel edges, taking away the neat and ordered feel of the setting in the summer camp.
As far as slasher comics go, Bee Sting is a good giggle. Beautifully crafted with the simple cartoon-y artwork, some excellent character voices and, of course, ending with our host Maggot D. Smith giving us the moral to this tale. And what a moral that is.