Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Review: 'It Crept from the Tomb'

From the Tomb is the abbey-normal brainchild of Peter Normanton, a long time aficionado of classic horror comics. Normanton and his supporting cast of GhouLunatics such as Frank Motler, Peter Crowther, and Barry Forshaw use the British ’zine as an outlet for historical retrospectives, artist tributes, and personal tales for collectors of E.C., Charlton, Marvel, and the rest’s most gruesome titles.

In 2016, Twomorrows Press anthologized a selection of these articles from past issues of From the Tomb in a collection that somehow slipped under my radar. However, I managed to snag a follow up collection called It Crept from the Tomb, which bundles up a sprint through the careers of lurid artists Lou Morales and Richard Corben, the interesting story of Britain’s answer to Fredric Wertham, a few non-critical histories of the depiction of anti-communist hysteria in comics (these pieces do not focus on horror comics and are flatly written in keeping with the dullness of the topic), a piece on sex comics (which reaches the odd conclusion that "Human progress has evolved precisely...because of the males objective fascination with the female form"), a look back at House of Hammer comics, a quick look at the history of vampires in the comics, etc.

I enjoyed the pieces most when historical details specific to Britain entwined with more personal stories. Barry Forshaw’s memories of acquiring a banned and exceedingly rare copy of the first Tales from the Crypt published in the UK (a hodgepodge of stories published in various American issues) is neat both for the rarely told history and the nostalgia-stoking details (he swapped a beloved toy for the comic) that will resonate with collectors who surely have their own such tales stored in their personal crypts. It Crept from the Tomb is also loaded with comic art, which mostly stick with the lo-fi B&W images of a true ’zine but also adorn a lengthy full-color spread in the middle of the book.
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