Monday, October 29, 2018

Creepy #24 Review

Some Scary Tales of Slit-Erary Alle-Gory

Written By: Peter Bagge, Dan Braun, Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein, Richard Corben
Art By: Ricardo Cabral, Peter Bagge, Tony Guaraldi-Brown, Glenn Fabry
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: June 22, 2016

Here’s another Reggie fact you can add to my collector’s card: horror comics are my favorite kind of comics. More than superheroes, more than wacky comedy books, even more than the psychedelic underground comix that were instrumental to my youthful drug experimentation—I love horror comic books and have ever since I was given, of all things, a stack of Bronze Age Tales of the Unexpected and the House of Mystery (among others) by a family friend when I was about eight or nine years old. Many comic books have come and gone in my life, but I still have that original stack, languishing in the bottom of an old wine bottle carton, tattered and creased from repeated readings. Not much later, I’d snap up whatever horror comics I could—there were lots of black and white offerings when I was old enough to hit the comic store myself, but I preferred oversized reprints of EC Comics 1950s classics and Warren Publishing’s old Eerie and Creepy comics. Well, besides reprinting these comics in handsome hardbound collections, Dark Horse has also been making new issues of Creepy, and I decided to check out the latest one! Here’s my review!

Explain It!

One of the unfortunate legacies of horror comics is really shoddy worksmanship. For every Crypt of Terror, there were dozens of also-ran books like Witches’ Tales and This Magazine is Haunted. The success of high-quality magazine Eerie begat the spiteful Eerie Publications, which churned out black & white adaptations of the aforementioned also-rans, mockeries of a genre practically created by Warren Publications. Even throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, there were lots of horror comics that were just dreadful, poorly executed independent works of some creator’s personal fetishes and sadistic fantasies. With this in mind, I approached Dark Horse’s Creepy revival with trepidation. In hindsight, I don’t know why; Dark Horse Publishing has one of, if not the best reprints program in comics today, diligently compiling works like Crime Does Not Pay and Alex Toth’s work for Warren Publications with equal care and diligence. Clearly, folks there aren’t asleep at the switch, turning out comics reprints for a quick buck, so there is nothing to suggest they would short change readers of their new material. Still, on an instinctual level, I was leery.

Well, I am glad to say my concerns were completely unfounded and spurious. Creepy #24 is a horror comic in the classic pre-Code tradition, full of chills, thrills, and lots of gore rendered in glorious black and white. There are a lot of stories and pin-up pages rendered by lots of creators, and I think I could only do them a disservice by naming a couple of stories specifically or spoiling the entire book as is my usual fashion, so I will give my impressions: Modern Creepy seems to hold more similarity to the Heavy Metal magazines I read in junior high than the original, ink-washed Creepy magazine from the 1970s and 80s. There are two full stories in the book, one contemplative and the other…just plain fucking creepy, man. Like, sort of unsettlingly so. Then there’s a lot of filler, some good and some not so great, but all fairly entertaining and interesting in its own right.

If you love horror anthology comics like the Haunt of Fear or You WILL Believe in Ghosts, then there’s a good chance you’re going to dig this too. It’s sort of tough to define because there’s so much talent on this issue, and perhaps that’s one of its problems—it sort of slips through genres and styles, providing an uneven mood overall. But it still works, as a kind of old school MAD magazine, except for decapitations and evisceration. And creepiness. At four bucks, this is a really good value and still in that realm of dollars that can be spent on a whim without too much impact to your budget. So give it a chance. If you’re not at least a little grossed out by the end of the issue, then please turn yourself in at the closest mental health facility. You pose a danger to society and have no ability to feel empanthy.

Bits and Pieces:

Fans of old school horror comics rejoice! Dark Horse is here to scratch that itch with this high-quality, reasonably-priced anthology series in the vein of the original Creepy and Eerie titles of yesteryear. I suppose if you're lame and don't like horror comics, then this will hold no fascination for you. But if you're a normal, gore-loving closeted sadist with an unspeakable blood lust, then yeah, sure, you should check it out.


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