Book Review of Creepy Archives Vol. 1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, September 01, 2008
Will all due respect to Playboy, Creepy may very well be the greatest magazine ever. Premiering in 1964, Creepy filled the huge void for true horror comics that was left when EC Comics was essentially forced out of business over a decade earlier. Because it was a magazine, it did not need to be approved by the Comics Code Authority and thus could showcase stories filled with monsters, ghouls, and gore that regular comics could not.
Warren Publishing, already well known for their Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, put out the magazine. Creepy brought together a collection of artists unparalleled on a single title. These included former EC comics alums Frank Frazetta, Reed Crandall, Al Williamson, Jack Davis, George Evans, Joe Orlando, and Angelo Torres in what was, for all intents and purposes, an EC Comics revival. Creepy was headed by Editor Archie Goodwin, a long time EC fanatic and its stories were in the “EC Style” meaning they were 6 – 8 pages in length and utilized satire and irony,
The first hardcover volume collects the first five issues of Creepy. It’s a magazine-sized book so the original aspect of the art has been maintained. However, you not only get the stories and cover art, but also the original letter columns and even original ads with all those great Captain Company products you could mail away for.
The first issue features an incredible rarity as it includes the last illustrated comic story that Frank Frazetta ever did before he would go onto produce primarily covers. For those who only know Frazetta for his covers, it is a rare treat to see just how good he was as a comic artist. Without the conveniences (or need) of modern computer enhancement techniques, Frazetta simply puts most modern artists to shame. There simply is nothing finer than outstanding black & white comic book art. The story “Werewolf” isn’t anything special plot-wise, but the power and elegance of Frazetta’s art is the attraction. Frazetta would go on to produce the covers for Creepy # 2 – 5, with Jack Davis getting the honor for the first issue.
Like EC’s horror comics, the magazine had its own host, Uncle Creepy, who introduced each tale with puns or humorous quips. Beginning with the #3, each issue adapted a famous horror tale. Issue #3 featured “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe; #4 included Ambrose Bierce’s “The Damned Thing”; and #5 featured Bram Stoker’s “The Judge’s House”.
There’s not a great deal of plot diversity…lots of stories with vampires, werewolves, and zombies and such, but it’s the ride that is the thrill. One of the better tales finds a comic creator who pays three creators to do the work for him while he takes all the credit. When the three discover his ruse they are killed but the ghouls will have the last laugh in the end.
Dark Horse has given fans a wonderful gift by obtaining the rights to republish these classic stories. There simply isn’t anything else like Creepy Magazine in today’s marketplace, at least not yet! Dark Horse will be coming out with an all-new Creepy Magazine in 2009.
Mania Grade: A+
Book: Creepy Archives Vol. 1
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics