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Oh the Horror...comics....I like.

by Jason Laframboise on October 31, 2016


It was near Halloween 1992 when my dad got me it. It was a reprint issue "Silver Age Classics" printed above the title. A familiar character was on the cover, one that I'd seen on tv, one I had action figures of. Swamp Thing, and the book reprinted: House of Secrets #92. My first horror comic. I'll never forget reading it, I was hooked. Although the Swamp Thing character was the star of the book it was the other stories in it that fascinated me, from the bridging stories featuring Cain and Able the hosts of House of Mystery and House of Secrets respectively, the two of them on a snipe hunt, the second story with a little boy who rewards a homeless mans kindness with a magical bath tub that's tap gives out dimes. Over twenty years later this comic still sticks with me, and I still have it somewhere in my collection. This book started a love of macabre comic tales that continues to this day. The point of me writing this entry is to just highlight some of my favourite horror titles.

I'm going to start by pointing out some books I won't go into great detail about such as Creepy and it's companion title Eerie, both of which I've read but I can't say stand out. There was a great recent series that was being put out by Craig Yoe's company that was reprinting golden age and other public domain horror books that was worth the read, and contained a lot of great stuff that would have been otherwise lost and forgotten. I'm not a fan of the Walking Dead, but it seems to be immensely popular.

Marvel comics in the 1970's took advantage of the relaxation of the Comics Code Authority's rules about monsters and horror (more on that in a minute) to introduce several horror related titles such Tomb of Dracula, Werewolf by Night, The Monster of Frankenstein, and of course any discussion of Marvel horror wouldn't be complete without mentioning the new star of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D the Ghost Rider. My personal favourite of these creature features was Steve Gerber's awesome run on Man-Thing( I like muck monsters I guess). Of course Marvels publishing line during the 50s was a lot of monster stories, even the Fantastic Four was basically a monster book when it started.


The DC horror titles offer some great stories written by premier talent, and drawn by amazing artists. Neal Adams did several covers of House of Mystery and they are really up to the same standards as his legendary runs on Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow. Although Swamp Thing was what drew me into that first issue, and remains one of my favourite characters(one of the few pieces of comic memorabilia I have on display is a Yannick Paquette print of the cover of Swamp Thing #1) , it was the stories themselves that kept me buying these old horror books. Another of my favourites was a story from an old issue of House of Secrets features an orphan who learns that he has a sister, who he learns is a witch who is going to sacrifice him to a demon. The boy plots to kill her to save himself and forges a weapon that will kill a witch, thing is turns out his sister was actually warlock and the weapon was useless.


The DC horror books followed a similar horror anthology introduced by a host formula that was perfected by another company, EC Comics which in the early 1950's set the gold standard of horror comics. EC originally stood for Educational Comics and was run by Max Gaines until his tragic death at which point his son William took over the company and changed the course of comics history. The younger Gaines, along with editors Al Feinstein and Harvey Kurtzman introduced a new line of comics featuring Horror, Sci-Fi and Miltary comics. These books are well written and feature awesome art from legends like Joe Orlando, Jack Davis and Wally Wood, just to name a few. If great stories with some sweet poetic justice is your thing, EC is for you. A good sampling of what EC was all about is available in the Suspenstories comics which offers not only the horror and sci-fi stories but also crime, military and some very good social commentary stories that are legendary. EC was one of the primary targets of the Seduction of the Innocent panic of 1954, which after a congressional hearing lead to the creation of the Comics Code Authority. The CCA's guidelines among which wouldn't allow the use of Horror or Terror in comic titles seems to have been almost too punitive against EC, and lead to the fall of the company. However there is still a piece of EC being published...Mad Magazine was started by EC and is still around. Lucky for us EC books have been reprinted multiple times over the years, starting in 1964 and continuing today. The ones I recommend are the recent Fantagraphics or if you can find them the Russ Cochran ones.

Overall I still love all of these books and reread them more than just about anything else in my collection. While my main focus has been on the horror host style books, horror comics are diverse and if you love horror chances are you will find something out there to your liking. Thank you for reading my first blog, and Happy Halloween.


 

Comments

Comments

I too have read "Silver Age Classics"  at a very young age. It is a buy a dissertation very good book that can stand us a basic introduction to this subeject. Thank you very much for publishing such a good blog here. You have gone into the details of this subject.

There is no other comic that persistently pushes limits like "Crossed". The series is situated in a Professional Essay Writers post-apocalyptic world where a torment transforms most of the populace into voracious zombie like creatures that attempt to assault and loot everything in their way.

I loved to read comics too. My sister had this collection of comics and she used to ask me to read her favorites. Many of them were horror comics and it scared me like death those days. I still have some of them with me. why not try these out