Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: 'Haunted Horror'


Chamber of Chills. Web of Evil. This Magazine is Haunted. Baffling Mysteries. None of these golden age horror comics enjoy the familiarity of E.C.’s Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, or Haunt of Fear, but they all share those books’ taste for ironic comeuppances and oozing creatures. They also suffered less high-profile but similar fates when the Senate Subcommitte on Juvenile Delinquency brought the whip down on horror comics in 1954. E.C.’s horror comics endured for a number of reasons. William Gaines bravely faced down the committee, which brought a temporary end to his comics but made him something of a celebrity, and rebuilt his empire with MAD Magazine. Then came the successful incarnations on screens big and small, guaranteeing Tales from the Crypt’s infamy among a lot of people who never even touched a comic book. And let’s not forget that the artists behind E.C.’s books were really, really amazing.

One will definitely recognize that Chamber of Chills, Baffling Mysteries, and the rest did not have illustrators of the caliber of Jack Davis or Graham Ingles (the oozing monsters are particularly poor looking), but they are still charmingly vile in their own ways. Take “The Constant Eye” (This Magazine Is Haunted… love that title!), in which the peepers of a dead man pursue the dude who offed him. Or “Black Magic in a Slinky Gown” (Baffling Mysteries), in which a spider woman takes revenge for all the squashed arachnids of the world. How about “Kill, My Minions of Death” (another fabulous title!) (Baffling Mysteries), which blends The Hands of Orlok and Frankenstein to shockingly gruesome effect? Let’s not even think about the necrophiliac sea creature of “Haunt from the Sea” (Journey into Fear)… it’s too horrible!

These horrible horrors are just a few of the stories Yoe Comics started compiling into a line called Haunted Horror in 2012. This is a really smart way to bring back lesser-known books that may not be able to sell as reissues on title alone. By skimming the cream of this creepy crop, horror comic freaks are not left wishing they were gazing at the Crypt Keeper instead.

Yoe has now compiled its first three issues of the Haunted Horror compilation into a sweet hardcover book of that same name. The full-color, partially glossy cover, with its groovy end papers depicting HH’s own ghoulunatics, contrasts the rough and ready presentation of these old comics. Unlike the E.C. Archives line that continues to drip out from a variety of publishers (the ball is currently in Dark Horse’s court with new volumes of Crypt and Vault now on sale and in the pipeline) there has been no attempt to recolor the original comics. They are printed on nice, course paper that makes it feel like you’re reading actual comic books. The Haunted Horror compilation also includes a couple of bonus stories that did not appear in its comic book form (one of which is presented in gorgeous pre-inked black and white) and an intro by horror comic geek supreme and Misfit Jerry Only.

Get Haunted Horror at Amazon.com here:

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