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April 26, 2012

Creepy Archives Review: Lucky number 13!

Title: Creepy Archives volume 13
Writing/Art: various writers and artists
Publisher: Dark Horse
2012

From the back cover of the book:
This tremendously terrifying thirteenth volume in the Creepy Archives hardcover series includes classic tales by Bernie Wrightson, Bruce Jones, John Severin, and more, as the esteemed horror magazine hits another fruitful period of frightful delights in the mid-seventies! Collecting the classic Creepy magazines #60 through #63 and featuring Archie Goodwin’s return to the Warren Publishing offices, Creepy Archives Volume 13 includes several color pieces by Richard Corben, Sanjulian, and Ken Kelly with black-and-white stories throughout by Bernie Wrightson, Tom Sutton, Jose Bea, Bill DuBay, Jose Gual, Martin Salvador, and many others. This archival collection is a perfect repast for those starving for a ferociously macabre feast!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this compilation. Part of the enjoyment was an excursion in nostalgia as I visited stories that I remembered from my childhood, but there were also many stories that I was exposed to for the first time. Tomes with lavish artwork and well crafted writing by artists and writers well known, and others that I was not aware of.

For those unfamiliar with the types of stories typical in an issue of Creepy, let me clarify. Creepy stories were meant to be more contemporary than those in its sister (or more appropriately, cousin) magazine Eerie, which focused more on classic vampire and monster tales. Of course, since the original magazines were published almost 40 years ago, the stories might feel more retro to the casual reader, with dialog that includes such phrases as “dig this” or the liberal use of the word “baby.” This volume also contains its share of mediocre work, but overall the quality is higher than might be found in most current horror anthologies.

The covers to Creepy #60 and #61 have Sanjulian winding down his strongest and longest cover run. With his magnificently detailed and colorful oil paintings, he was the heir apparent to Frank Frazetta, who had created most of the first two dozen covers. A student of Frazetta’s, Ken Kelley also starts his long run of covers in this volume. Jim Warren always believed that a strong cover was necessary to get decent sales on the news stands, and these gentlemen always delivered.

The combination of editor Bill Dubay; the new crop of talented artists from Barcelona, Spain; plus the existing stable of talent such as Doug Moench, Rich Margopoulos, and Bruce Jones; and the return of Archie Goodwin, improved the quality of the stories and was considered Warren Publishing’s second golden age. A full color section produced by the talented Richard Corben was included in each and every issue starting just six issues prior. I personally liked how Corben sometimes mixed a little humor with his horror comics. This made the story more similar to a roller coaster ride of emotions and gave it more dimension.

The following is my best of from the volume:
“The Other Side of Hell” – Only for the fact that it was the first time Gonzalo Mayo had illustrated for Warren, which led to a well received and successful run on Vampirella.
“The Ghouls” – A standard horror story written by Carl Wessler with art by Martin Salvador. This story would be reprinted and the last frame always stuck with me.
“Terror Tomb” – One of this classic Corben stories with a hint of humor.
“Twisted Medicine” – A classic tale of irony written by Steve Skeates with art by Leo Summers.
“Encore Ghastly” – A revenge story by Tom Sutton with a protagonist named Dr. Frederick Wortworm (a stand-in for Dr. Frederick Wertham, author of “Seduction of the Innocents,” the book that set back the progress of comics and caused the demise of EC Comics) who gets his deserved punishment at the end.
“The Black Cat” – The fabulous adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s famous short story by none other than Bernie Wrightson, making his full length story debut for Creepy.
“Buffaloed” – Featuring a weird western tale with art by recently deceased John Severin.
“Judas” – Another great Richard Corben tale, this time with a science fiction spin.
“Survivor or Savior” – Another great science fiction story written by Steve Skeates, with fantastic art by Gonzalo Mayo.
And last but not least ,”Jenifer,” probably the spookiest story ever printed in Creepy, written by Bruce Jones with art by Bernie Wrightson.

I highly recommend every fan of horror buy this book. This is one that you will keep on your bookshelf and pull it out every once in a while to be thrilled and totally creeped out. Lucky number 13!

A copy of this book was provided by Dark Horse for review.

Lee Parmerter
lee@commicattack.net

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