Everyday activities become the stuff of joyful perseverance in the first issue of Troy Vevasis and Aleksandar Jovic’s Mr. Crypt from Alterna Comics.
Divided into seven mini adventures (“Mr. Crypt Visits the Park;” “Mr. Crypt Buys Pet Food”), the premise is simple and mundane. Mr. Crypt is a walking skeleton. Able to walk the Earth after a lightning bolt hits his grave in 1932, his first move is to head toward the nearest town, with the hope that “someone there knows what happened to me.” The response he meets instead, from everyone who sees him, is fear and violent defensiveness.
In the time it takes for a gust of wind to blow the fake moustache off his face, small talk gets traded for pitchforks when strangers discover he’s a skeleton. An obvious place where the creators could have gone wild is in Mr. Crypt’s disguise but, instead, they stick with a classic moustache and top hat ensemble. The flimsy identity masking staples are all the better to point out the ridiculousness of how quickly, and drastically, people change their behavior towards Mr. Crypt when they find out the truth.
Even smarter, Mr. Crypt recognizes that giving into rash judgments isn’t just for villagers, when he meets his pet rat for the first time. Initially reacting in much the same way as those who would brand him a monster, the difference is in how Mr. Crypt regroups, realizing his mistake.
The ending rewards story progression, with a possible ally for Mr. Crypt in issue two. “All ages” is a broad audience to please but little details (a cute meta comment to end “Mr. Crypt’s House;” a brief but bold recognition of Mr. Crypt’s human past in the opening chapter, “Mr. Crypt”) ensure that adults will be as equally taken as younger readers by the first issue.
What makes reading Mr. Crypt such a happy experience is its optimism. In a world prone to cynicism, a skeleton becoming the face of positivity is a treat in more ways than one. Mr. Crypt doesn’t ignore or sugar coat the cruelty of others but finds the positive needle in a haystack of angry mobs. It’s a quick read but one you will want to have around for those days when you need an extra pick-me-up.
Available for download here.