Pop Culture Gadabout
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
      ( 11/26/2014 07:46:00 AM ) Bill S.  

”SPINE-SNAPPING TALES FROM BEYOND.” Back when this writer was a blood-thirsty teen, my main source for grand guignol comics were the Warren magazines (Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella) published in the mid-sixties. Inspired by the great EC horror comics of the early fifties – comics I’d been too young to read at the time – the Warren titles were beautifully illustrated black-and-white mags featuring work by top-flight illustrators, many of whom had been a part of the early EC stable. They were so popular that they naturally inspired their share of cheesy rip-offs, foremost of which was Eerie Publications, which started a year after Creepy’s debut in 1964.

The mutant brainchild of low-rent publisher Myron Fass, the company’s mags worked to slake horror comics fans’ love of the grotesque with some of the most out-of-control images possible. Warren’s books took their inspiration from EC, and in the hands of inventive storytellers like writer/editor Archie Goodwin and former Vault of Horror artist Johnny Craig, the black-and-white mags were able to hold their own as well-wrought original horror fare. Eerie Publication, on the other hand, took an easier route, grabbing stories produced in the fifties by EC’s imitators and paying journeyman artists from the old comics shops to redraw them to look more contemporary. One small problems: said imitators were by-and-large crap and refurbishing them with new art, no matter how professional, was still like putting lipstick on a pig.

Still, the mags have their appreciators – and perhaps their very artlessness is a part of their appeal. Like a low-budget drive-in filmmaker, the creators of these knock-offs set out to shock by forsaking any sense of craft of storytelling subtlety, by zipping straight to the grisly finish. Characterization was for sissies; this was pure stick-a-needle-in-yer-eye comics. Where EC typically relied on ironic punishment to bolster its horrific conclusions, (e.g., the murderous ballplayer whose vengeful teammates festooned the baseball diamond with his body parts, the tainted meat seller who winds up in his own butcher display), their imitators indulged in gore for gore’s sake.

Which brings us to The Worst of Eerie Publications (IDW), the latest addition to gonzo re-packager Craig Yoe’s “Chilling Archives of Horror Comics.” Edited by Mike Howlett, the 152-page hardbound collection features both black-and-white tales and color repros of the line’s lurid covers. One look at the book’s Chic Stone front cover – which features a giant Frankensteinian creature gnawing on the torso of an unfortunate damsel – and you know this is exactly the sort of stuff that the Eisenhower Era anti-comics crusaders warned about.

The stories aren’t quite as outlandish as the covers – how could they be? – but they come close. In one tale, for instance, an unfortunate hotel visitor runs afoul of skin-eating caterpillars because he’s the descendant of a white man who once killed an Indian tribe’s “sacred caterpillar.” In another, a doomed married couple land on a desert island housing giant flesh-eating ants. And in my personal favorite, a housewife gets stalked by a sentient jealous saguaro cactus. Ludicrous? Campy? You betcha.

Occasionally, you can see one of the book’s anonymous writers ripping off their betters: “From for Ghouls” (from the 1954 issue of Mysterious Adventures) takes its basic plot structure and shock ending from Tales from the Crypt’s “Taint the Meat . . .It’s the Humanity” (one of the most egregious puns ever perpetrated in a horror comic) published two years earlier. So it went in the disposable days of early comic books: nobody thought that we’d be looking at this stuff fifty years later. Thanks to tireless archivists like Yoe and Howlett, though, we can.

You may vary as to whether that’s cheer-worthy news or not.

(First published on Blogcritics.)


# |

      ( 11/26/2014 07:42:00 AM ) Bill S.  

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN Okay, I'm back. We’ve moved to a new home that is actually nicer than the one we were renting – in an Arizona designated ghost town named Geronimo – and things have finally gotten settled enough that I’m able to find time and focus to write once more. Reviews to follow.


# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed

Powered by Blogger

    follow me on Twitter