Wednesday, October 24, 2012


THE CHILLY EVENINGS OF OCTOBER ARE GOOD FOR READING.  And yes, I mean books.  Not one of those "Swindle" devices.  An actual book with pages.  And it just so happens that my recent Halloween reading tends towards the "horror comics" of the 1950's. 

The golden age of E.C. Comic's "Tales From the Crypt", "Vault of Horror" and "The Haunt of Fear" as well as multitudes of similar horror comix during this time period so freaked out the establishment that they basically put E.C. out of business and banned horror from comic books for the next quarter of a century.  But when the pumpkins are grinning on the front porch rail, there's nothing better to get the Halloween juices flowing than the gruesome goodies from 1950s horror comix.  And there just so happens to be several rather nice collections for your palpitatin' perusal.

THE HORROR!  THE HORROR!:  COMIC BOOKS THE GOVERNMENT DIDN'T WANT YOU TO READ by Jim Trombetta.  This is a nice large-sized paperback from Abrams Books which has heavy stock paper and colour throughout - for those of you familiar with Taschen art books, this edition is similar in format.  There is historical text of the Congressional Hearings, the Comics Code of America and the effect it had on horror comics as an industry as well as examinations of the comic book companies, the different genres of horror and the artists and writers who created these comic books.  However, the real meat of the book is the reprinted of scores of vintage comix from the time as well as countless examples of cover art included.  As if all that wasn't enough, the book also includes a DVD of the "Confidential File" TV documentary aired on October 9, 1955 which hysterically tries to convince the viewers that horror comics caused juvenile delinquency and murderous children.  If you've seen any documentaries on comic books (especially the feature film "COMIC BOOK CONFIDENTIAL"), you've seen footage from this programme including kids stabbed trees with rolled-up comic books (because reading a horror comic causes kids to become homicidal, obviously) and the kid who picks up a rock and is about to bash in the head of another kid - merely because he read a horror comic book.  This is a big, chunky almost 300 page tome with tons of classic comic book art from Johnny Craig, Jack Davis, Steve Ditko, "Ghastly" Graham Ingels, Wally Wood, Basil Wolverton and scads of other greats!

Then there's the "CHILLING ARCHIVES OF HORROR SERIES" from Craig Yoe.  The first absolutely beautiful edition was the "DICK BRIEFER'S FRANKENSTEIN" tome out a couple years ago.  This book reprints many of Briefer's celebrated Frankenstein comix - both the "serious" horror comix and the "funny" Frankenstein stories.  If you've never experienced Dick Briefer's take on Frankenstein (and you fancy yourself a horror fan), you owe it to yourself to grab this one quick.  The hardcover is beautifully produced with a die-cut space for your choice of which Frankie's face to come through the front cover.

The second volume in Yoe Books' "CHILLING ARCHIVES OF HORROR SERIES" was "BOB POWELL'S TERROR": another exquisitely-produced hardcover spotlighting the comic art of the great Bob Powell.  This book not only reprints many, many comic book stories by the artist but also gives a detailed history/biography of Bob Powell and his extensive comic book career.  The book also features original artwork and sketches by Powell.

The third volume in the "CHILLING ARCHIVES OF HORROR SERIES" is called . . . well . . . "ZOMBIES".  And what could be more topical?  Co-edited this time by Craig Yoe & Steve Banes, this is yet another beautiful hardcover edition with (like all the others) nice, heavy paper stock and colour throughout every page.  Since there's not much text to be generated by zombies, this book consists almost completely of reprints of horror comic stories from the mid-century heyday of horror comics.  The illustrious roll call of artists includes Wally Wood, Frank Frazetta, Gene Colan, Jack Cole, Bob Powell and many more.  

These are just delicious books like trick-or-treat candy for an October filled with frightful fun!   

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