Monday, June 2, 2014

"Creepy" Comics (1964-1983, Warren Publishing on Internet Archive)

Good afternoon!

How was your weekend, kiddlings? Anything exciting on the home front? We had an action packed (ish) weekend-- my dad and I hit the sales on Saturday (natch), Matthew and I went to a baby shower that night for two good friends who only has a little while left until we get to meet their daughter (so exciting!!), and as a married unit, we spent all day Sunday playing old CD-ROM scary video games and eating way too much General Tso's Bean Curd (which doesn't sound as appetizing as General Tso's chicken, but TOTALLY IS). As for this workday, I am ragged but I'm right!

What I'd LOVE to clue you in to today...the find of the century, as far as I'm concerned, for a penurious vintage horror comic lover...INTERNET ARCHIVE HAS OVER A HUNDRED ISSUES OF CREEPY. No, I am not kidding. Creepy fans, rejoice!
I'm a member ! Are you? (source)
Creepy was one of the first and best horror comics to come out of the post Comic Code Authority era. Similar to the film industry's 1931 Hayes code crackdown on Filmland "indecency", the ire of America's concerned parents and civic leaders was raised in the early 1950's by horror comics' shock-til-you-drop aesthetic. Your average horror title of that time managed to fit in a dizzying array of horrible, hideous, and hilarious fates for their characters with an economy of storytelling and excess of splattery gore that delighted its readers, both young and old. We're talking grave robbing ghouls, accursed shrunken heads, witches, goblins, decapitations, immolations, premature burials, zombies, gypsy curses...pretty much anything a Cramps or X song of the late seventies' would be about, Tales from the Crypt (in its original incarnation), Crime Suspenstories, and Vault of Horror had you covered. When William Gaines's EC comics, the parent company of each of those titles, was effectively shuttered by censorship, many of the industry's best artists moved on to satirical comics like Mad magazine, which held their own subversive (but code-approved) sway over the nation's youth. But what about us bats-and-moonlight loving spookies-seekers? That's where Creepy comes in.

Founded by Russ Jones in 1964, the idea behind Creepy was to round up some of the best comic book artists in the business back into the job that brought a lot of them to the field in the first place-- scaring the pants off people through beautifully executed, imaginatively rendered horror story panels. Sure, some of the issues may showcase familiar terror classics like Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart" or Ambrose Bierce's "The Damned Thing" (hey! They're in public domain, do you blame them?), but outside of your own imagination, I assure you, you haven't seen it done quite this well. With an average of seven individual tales, along with features like "Loathsome Lore" (an illustrated page of panels featuring "true" horror stories that actually do have some basis in fact) and "Dear Uncle Creepy" (where the magazine's mascot fields questions, comments, and brickbats), you are getting a lot of bang for your horror buck! The magazine ran 145 issues, and even had two sister publications in the horror genre, Eerie and Vampirella.

Look. At this Frank Frazetta. Cover. Is this real life? In terms of depth, skill, and creativity, these are to the horror comic what, say, N.C. Wyeth was to children's book illustrations. Meaning: the rest of y'all go home, a gold standard has been set!

See how each panel has about thirty-times the usual amount of attention to detail you would get in a similar comic book of the time? I can't get over the shading and the shadow
While I do miss the "people getting their heads grafted onto other bodies" and a "grave robber with a Frigidaire full of human cold-cuts" storylines of the fifties' pre-code EC output, and it's still technically my favorite type of scary comic, there's a calmer, less-hysteric feeling to these sixties' issues of Creepy while still keeping the wheels of one's imagination turning. The content reminds me less of a Stephen-King-edited-horror-anthology, in tone, and more of say the publication Weird Tales, with a mix of sci-fi and fantasy thrown into the mélange and not just horror. Take, for example, the popular Adam Link series that featured prominently throughout two years of Creepy. Link was actually a reboot, originally appearing in the pages of 1930's-era Amazing Stories. The titular character is a robot whose self-awareness predates Star Trek: TNG's Data and even Asimov's I, Robot (with which it actually shares a title in one installation) by some distance, and asks the same questions about how much humanity you can fit into a tin can, when that tin can can grow human emotions along with its steely, super-human strength and agility. I'm a fan, what can I say.

An example of the "Loathsome Lore" feature from issue 11 (source)
Anyway, I have to scoot back to work, but if you're into horror comics, profitez tout suite, avail yourself IMMEDIATELY to this online archive of full-page scans, there's no telling how long they will or won't be available (while Internet Archive is a totally above-board website, I worry about the nebulous copyright issues surrounding who-owns-what with regard to the Warren Publishing oeuvre). Start with issue one via this link, then scroll through the Warren entries (which are kind of jumbled up with others) via this one. And don't get too scared! Or if you do, come back and we can commiserate about how I have to check my chifferobe for ghosts at least once a calendar week because of my steady horror-intake. :)

Have a great Monday! See you tomorrow!


  1. Wow! Thanks for teh heads up!

    1. I am STILL enjoying this glut of gory/ghoulish comics...I hope you are, too! :)



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