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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
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for Thursday, May 14, 2009

Creepy Archives

The only reason I saw the premiere issue of Creepy was because it was racked next to Famous Monsters of Filmland on the drug store magazine rack. From the cover, I wasn't sure what it was supposed to be. My initial guess was that it was some sort of monster-based humor mag. I looked through it and was confused. It was some kind of comic without color and a wee bit intimidating. Even if I'd had an extra 35 cents after buying the new Marvel comic books, I don't think I'd have bought it. But I kept thinking about it until my next trip to the drug store.

There was one copy of Creepy #1 left on that next trip to the drug store and no new Marvels. I passed over various DC, Charlton, and Gold Key comics to buy this magazine that had been haunting me for several days. Not sure if my parents would approve of my selection, I read it in my bedroom instead of in my favorite "comic-book reading chair" in the living room.

The art was like nothing I'd seen in Marvel or DC comic books and not merely because it was in black-and-white. It was like the drawings found in some of the books from the library. The stories reminded me of the "twist ending" tales in the pre-hero/early-hero Marvels, albeit horrific. Even then, I recognized the three Archie Goodwin-written stories were superior to the others. It would be a year or so before I saw the Ballantine Books reprints of classic EC horror and science fiction comics stories, a year before I realized publisher Jim Warren was attempting to follow in those very large footprints. I bought Creepy and later Eerie as often as my meager funds allowed, acquiring any issues I missed in trades with other kids.

Dark Horse Books has been reprinting those early issues of Creepy and Eerie in well-made hardcover volumes. The only one I've read so far is Creepy Archives Volume One [$49.95], which collects issues #1-5 of the title. My acquiring subsequent volumes will be based on gift cards and trades. This has naught to do with quality - these are wonderful books - and all to do with the meagerness of funds. Can I get a "deja vu" from the congregation?

Creepy Archives Volume One reprints the covers of those five issues, 31 stories, "Creepy's Loathsome Lore" one-pagers, letters columns, and some "Captain Company" ads for merchandise sold by Warren Publications. An introduction by Jon B. Cooke does a good job setting the stage for the main attractions.

The stories first. Goodwin's "The Success Story" with its fraud of a syndicated cartoonist held a particular resonance for me back then. I had recently met my very first syndicated cartoonist at a library lecture and he impressed me as a major jerk, just about the strongest insult in my young vocabulary.

Issue after issue brought new delights. More superbly-crafted tales by Goodwin. Adaptations of Otto Binder's "Adam Link" stories which were and art equal in my regard to Isaac Asimov's wonderful robot tales. Adaptations of stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, and Bram Stoker. The adaptations fueled my further reading of other works by the authors with Poe becoming a favorite.

Then the artists: Joe Orlando, Al Williamson, Angelo Torres, Frank Frazetta, Gray Morrow, Alden McWilliams, Reed Crandall, and Alex Toth. My favorites were Orlando for his sense of movement, Crandall for his realism, and Williamson for the sheer beauty of his sci-fi stories. Toth was a shock to the system, but I came to appreciate his genius early on...and was sorely disappointed by the handful of Marvel jobs he would do around this time.

This has turned out to be more of reminiscence than review, but here's the payoff. Creepy Archives Volume One earns the full five Tonys. It's a magnificient collection.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony



I'll be in Philadelphia on May 15-16 for the Glyph Comics Awards ceremony on Friday night and the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention on Saturday. It would be great to see some of my online readers there.

For more information, go to:



In this week's Tony Polls questions, we start a special three-week "THEY'RE NOT DEAD YET" COMICS IDOL competition. Taking a swipe at the Big Two's unwillingness to employ the writers of the 1970s on a steady basis, we'll be listing twenty writers of that decade and their signature features.

You'll cast three votes in this first phase of the competition and, for the following week, narrow the list down to ten writers you'd like to see writing their features on a regular basis. Then, in the final week, you'll vote on which of the five finalists you'd like to see writing his feature on a regular basis.

You can cast your ballots at:

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back next Wednesday with new stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 05/13/2009 | 05/14/2009 | 05/20/2009 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

Please send material you would like me to review to:

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