Advance Review: A Puppet Show Of Horror In `Spectral: A Showcase Of Fear’

by Tom Smithyman


Horror fans who are more interested in interesting stories than gory ones should check out this project on Kickstarter. It’s packed with a collection of short stories and dynamic artwork dramed through a menagerie of children’s puppets.


Puppets are generally thought of as friendly creatures that relate valuable lessons to kids. Think of X the Owl and King Friday XIII in Mr. Rogers’ Land of Makebelieve or Kermit and Miss Piggy on The Muppet Show. Those hand coverings wouldn’t hurt a fly. That is, until Spectral: A Showcase of Fear.

This collection of short horror stories, now in its final week of funding on Kickstarter, features a traveling children’s puppet show as a framing device to tell its tales. The creators provided a work-in-process copy to Comicon for review. The competed stories include a bullied child who literally puts on the devil’s skin and begins his own reign of terror, a camper who gets what he desires most courtesy of a witch and knight who comes face to snout with a werewolf.

Writer David Accampo varies the stories’ timing and subject matter to keep each vignette fresh. While none of the tales are particularly deep, the pace is brisk. Some of the stories are so short, though, that character development can suffer. Still, better to leave readers wanting more than to overwhelm them with exposition.

Artist Chris Anderson adapts his visual style to each story. Anderson’s medieval story is flush with splash pages showcasing horse and rider, while he depicts the tale of a battered woman fighting a different kind of demon using panels meant to resemble a photo album. The stories are all in black and white, except for the monochromatic puppets. The red devil puppet which opens the anthology provides the only color in that story. Similarly, a baby blue ghost and an orange creep draw attention on otherwise stark pages.

While the collection is still being completed, it shows promise. Collectors of horror who prefer quality storytelling over gore will want to contribute to the book’s creation.

Spectral: A Showcase of Fear is available on Kickstarter through July 7, 2022.

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