Here’s some sleazy business: as editor of Eerie Publications during the post-comic code-era, Carl Burgos would just collect a bunch of pre-code comics from obscure titles and have his artists redraw them with new details. That those new details were often primitive splashes of blood or eyeballs squeezing out of sockets was even sleazier. Because these comics were published in black and white and sold on newsstands, the code didn’t get to mess with them, so they could be as nasty as Burgos wanted them to be. And he wanted them to be pretty nasty.
Compiler Mike Howlett pulls together a heaping help of the nastiest Eerie comics he could find in a new anthology from IDW gleefully titled The Worst of Eerie. To read publisher Craig Yoe’s “revolted” introduction, you’d think you were about to view pornography or something. Granted, a couple of the covers are pretty outrageous and require a tolerance for monsters assaulting absurdly sexualized women, and the stories are probably gorier than anything you’d want your eight-year-old to read, but they aren’t that shocking. There are some typical plots (an executioner is haunted by his collection of heads), topical plots (a comic from 1969 finds an acid head butchering his hippie buddies), and topographical plots (a jealous cactus axe murders a woman’s suitors before pricking her to death). “Heads of Horror” has some of the funniest artwork I’ve seen in a horror comic. “Horror Club”, in which a couple of ug-ohs find true love, is gore-free and downright cute. The most shocking story is probably “Vengeance” because it involves an off-screen rape. But it can’t be that shocking, since this plot ripped from Samuel Blas’s short story “Revenge” made it onto TV in 1955 in the debut episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”. “Food for Ghouls” deals with domestic violence, but it’s more depressing than gross.
Still, you have to hand it to Yoe: that cat has the ghost of P.T. Barnum flowing through him. His introduction, in which he declares that the comics in his book should have been banned, is great fun— just as fun as most of the comics that follow. Howlett’s horrifying history of Eerie, which has no shortage of thievery and gunplay, is even more outrageous than those comics. With its wonderful essays, quality paper, full-color cover reproductions, and untampered-with black and white interior artwork that’s better than Yoe wants you to believe (wink, wink), The Worst of Eerie is another beautiful horror comics collection from IDW.
Oops, did I say beautiful, kiddies? I meant revolting. Real revolting.
Get The Worst of Eerie Publications on Amazon.com here: