Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I should be drawing.
I'm close to finishing my third page of the 'Haps story Christian and I are working on but I can't get this out of my head. Last week, I picked up Dark Horse's CREEPY ARCHIVES HARDCOVER VOLUME 1 which reprints CREEPY issues 1-5. I read the thing in less than three days. That's impressive for me. With comics, I tend to linger of the artwork, especially if it's drawn by someone I admire. Plus, I usually do my serious reading in bed before I turn in. That usually means I can only read two or three pages before Suzanne ends up putting my book somewhere safe because I've most likely fallen asleep with it on my face. It's why I have three years worth of comics to read and two sets of shelves full of unread novels. It's why, when Christian loans me a book, he doesn't get it back for six months or more.
But this book was different. I described it to Christian as "a tasty little treat" and I think that's true. The artwork is amazing. These pages were lovingly drawn by artists at the top of their game. Al Williamson has always been a favorite artist of mine and this book is a perfect example of why that's the case. There's also a nice Alex Toth story and other stories drawn by guys who looked to be having the time of their lives. Most of the stories are written by Archie Goodwin who was a huge fan of the old E.C. horror comics and it showed. The majority of the stories have twist endings and feature vengeful zombies crawling their way out of the grave to inflict supernatural justice on their killers. To be honest, the stories get a little repetitive when you read them all at once. But they're so much fun you won't care. I breezed through this volume. Suzanne warned me to slow down but I couldn't put it down. I read it in the car on the way to work, while I was eating dinner and while I was supposed to be watching the Olympics with Suzanne. She told me I'd finish it too quickly and be sad. And she was right. When I finished the last story I wanted more. But I'll have to wait until the end of the year for Volume 2.
What surprised me most about this book wasn't really how fast I read it but how utterly inoffensive it is. When I was a kid, Dad used to bring home all these great horror magazines. CREEPY, EERIE, VAMPIRELLA, MONSTERS UNLEASHED, DRACULA LIVES!, VAMPIRE TALES and a bunch of the Skywald books. There were even a whole slew of Warren knockoffs with horrible stories and art but with these terrifically lurid covers. Most of these books were not intended for kids but Dad didn't have any problem with Mike and me reading them. And I absolutely devoured them. I've always been a horror nut. I love that tingly feeling in my spine when I get scared. And the Warren books provided that feeling in spades. It started with the covers and went straight through to the ads in the back. Even the logos were scary. Whenever I wanted to be freaked out, I'd crack open a CREEPY or EERIE and I was never disappointed. That's why I was so surprised at how...sweet...the feeling was that I got while reading the Archive volume. The cumulative effect I got from the book was almost a sense of...cuteness. I know Goodwin would probably be disappointed but there it is. These books were done in the Sixties but they ran through until (I believe) the mid-Eighties. So I suspect as the Archives progress, the stories will get a little darker in tone. I know they eventually introduced harsher language and nudity. More mature themes. But, whatever. Dad didn't have a complete run of these magazines, having missed a few of the early issues. So it was nice to finally see how it all started. (Heck, there was even a story detailing the offbeat, funky origin of Uncle Creepy himself.)
This book was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it. I can't wait for the next volume and also for the upcoming EERIE Archives. I wish Marvel would start putting out nicer editions of some of their horror stuff. The TALES OF THE ZOMBIE Essentials was nice but these full-size hardcovers are the bee's knees.
Posted by Matt Wieringo at 5:42 PM