Dark Horse Books has brought back the cult classic Tales From The Crypt comics from EC Comics in all its cheesy horror glory!
The Entertaining Comics (EC) group was a comics line founded by Maxwell Gaines in 1945 and later run by his son William Gaines, that published popular horror, science fiction, and war-related comics. Sadly the comic line was torpedoed by the Comics Code Authority, and the publishers stopped printing the horror comics in 1956, instead devoting their time to the fledgling Mad magazine known for its humor and satire. But EC left behind many fond memories and a strong legacy in the comics world, thus this is the first volume in a series that reprints some of the best stories from that era!
The Crypt Keeper, which many readers might recognize from the tv series on HBO in the 90s (yet another legacy from EC), opens many of the tales giving a brief narration for the upcoming theme of the story. Keeping in mind these stories were published from the 40s thru the 50s the stories are quite tame with little gore and often incorporated a lesson in them. While there were supernatural beings such as werewolves, Neanderthals, vampires and zombies- the scoundrels typically met their doom, while the pure prevailed. There were also some cringe-worthy storylines that demeaned women with sexist attitudes, and there was an especially racist story about Black island natives. Well regarded author and illustrator Al Feldstein, who later edited Mad magazine, was credited with many of the stories found in this volume.
Some standout stories were:
Death Must Come- A doctor who has cheated death with a youth serum finally meets his end.
The Man Who Was Death- An executioner becomes too diligent with his work.
Curse of the Full Moon- The werewolf is not who you think it is!
Mute Witness to Murder- After witnessing a murder, a woman goes mute in shock, and the killer comes after her.
Ghost Ship- A newly married couple are stranded and climb aboard a ghost ship.
The Hungry Grave- A cheating couple who scheme to kill the woman’s husband has the tables turned on them.
Rx…Death- Be careful in taking the correct medicine, or else deal with the dire consequences.
Terror Ride- Don’t go on sketchy looking carnival rides!
The Vault of Horror- A curse dooms a family and should have been taken more seriously.
The illustrations are dated to modern readers, but were from the Golden Age of Comics, and have such a retro look to us today because of the clothes and hairstyles of that time period. Cover pages were especially well done- for they captured your attention and drew you into the story. Artists such as Johnny Craig (who also wrote some of the stories), Wally Wood, Graham Ingels, Harvey Kurtzman, George Roussos, Jack Kamen and Marie Severin gave their talents to EC and it’s a delight to see some of their gone-but-not-forgotten work. This was an enjoyable Halloween read, and while not as scary as I had imagined it might be, it was very worthwhile.
October 16, 2021 at 9:44 am
How fun! I love comics from the Golden Age like this for the exact reason you said – they are such a snapshot of a moment in time. I think comic books, because they are such a visual medium, can capture so much of the pop culture/history from the era they were created in. From the tone of the story to the dialogue to the clothes and hairstyles, all those things you mention. I bet old horror comics are particularly fun because it also gives a glimpse of how fear was presented!
Incidentally, “Terror Ride- Don’t go on sketchy looking carnival rides!” sounds like the perfect story for me because THIS IS MY RESPONSE TO EVERY RIDE IN EVERY AMUSEMENT PARK EVER; I’D RATHER EAT AN ICE CREAM CONE AND JUST GO HOME THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
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October 17, 2021 at 3:55 pm
Yes, the snapshot into the past was the most fascinating part of the book for me. Sure the clothes & hairstyles were neat to look at, but the mores of the era and how they compare to today was equally as interesting.
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