• Creepy Archives Volume 18

    Published by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: Feb. 5, 2014
    Writers: various
    Artists: various
    Cover: Ken Kelly (from issue #85)
    Purchase at Amazon

    This latest volume in the Creepy Archives series continues with reprinting every issue of Warren Publishing’s Creepy comic magazine, this time covering issues 84 through 88, originally published in 1976 and 1977. You no doubt know what this series was (and still is) all about: awesome artists showcasing their work to some cool-as-shit stories by some warped minds. Not everything that packed the black-and-white pages was a winner, but it was mostly a solid bunch of tales. And what did it matter if the story was less-than-awesome if the artwork knocked your socks off? It didn’t matter one bit. As an impressionable youth, monsters, gore, and tits is what mattered and we couldn’t find that in Archie and Spider-Man. So what does this volume of fantasticness hold? After a long forward by Dan Braun called “The United States of Creepy and Eerie”, the comics kick in, broken down as follows.
    • Issue #84 “All-Sports Special Issue”: cover by Ken Kelly; “Hitter’s Wind!” by Roger McKenzie, art by Carmine Infantino and Walt Simonson; “The Mummy’s Victory” by Roger McKenzie, art by Richard Corben; “Till Hell Freezes Over” by Steve Englehart, art by Carmine Infantino and Dick Giordano; “The Home Stretch” by Roger McKenzie, art by Leopold Sanchez; “Menace, Anyone…?” by David Michelinie, art by Carmine Infantino and Al Milgrom; “Relic” by Roger McKenzie, art by Carmine Infantino and John Severin
    • Issue #85 “All-Monster Issue:”; cover by Ken Kelly; “Like Icarus, Quickly Falling” by Roger McKenzie, art by Leopold Sanchez; “Hide and Go Mad” by Budd Lewis, art by Carmine Infantino and Walt Simonson; “The Thing in the Well” by Roger McKenzie, art by Leo Duranona; “Orem Ain’t Got No Head Cheese!” by Bill DuBay, art by Jose Ortiz; “The Terrible Turnip of Turpin County” by Roger McKenzie, art by Martin Salvador; “A Way in the Woods” by Bruce Jones, art by Luis Bermejo
    • Issue #86 “Giant Christmas Issue”: cover by Ken Kelly; “A Noggin at Mile End” by Budd Lewis, art by Leopold Sanchez; “Dick Swift’s Power Ring” , no creator credits; “The Greatest Christmas of All” by Roger McKenzie, art by Leo Duranona; “Mother Knows Best” (in black, red and white) by Bruce Jones, art by Al Williamson; “Bloodstone Christmas” (in black, red and white ) by Gerry Boudreau, art by Carmine Infantino and John Severin; “Season’s Grievings” by Bruce Jones, art by Gonzalo Mayo; “A Gift for Momma” by Roger McKenzie, art by Luis Mermejo
    • Issue #87 “Planet Mars Special Issue”; the cover is pieces of colorized art from various stories within; “A Warped Tale” by Al Sirois, art by Gray Morrow; “A Martian Saga” is a poem illustrated by Bernie Wrightson; “Those ‘Orrible Passions of ‘78” by Bill DuBay, art by Carmine Infantino and Dick Giordano; “The Last” by Roger McKenzie, art by John Severin; “They Come Out at Night” by Bruce Jones, art by Martin Salvador; “Warmonger of Mars” by Wally Wood, art by Ralph Reese
    • Issue #88: cover by Ken Kelly; “Castles Made of Sand” by Gerry Boudreau, art by Jose Ortiz; “Eye for Eye, Fanf for Fang” by Doug Moench, art by Carmine Infantino and Ernie Chan; “Do You Believe in Sinsigs?” by Gerry Boudreau, art by Luis Bermejo; “Temple of Seilos” by Bruce Jones, art by Leopold Sanchez; “Iron Man” by Bill DuBay, art by Esteban Maroto; “Second Child” by Bruce Jones, art by Ramon Torrents

    “Hide and Go Mad” from #85 (the cover story), where a man goes on a quest to kill the yeti is one of the standouts in this volume. He kills one alright, but of course comes to a most unpleasant end up there in the icy mountains. Simonson's very effective inks make a snowstorm in black-and-white look quite deadly. Other standouts for this fan: “Orem Ain’t Got No Head Cheese!” in the same issue is one nasty little story with great pictures by Jose Ortiz, and an ending that doesn’t end in the typical fashion of the wrongdoers getting their just desserts. Gray Morrow makes your eyes jizz their pants with his breath-taking work (as always) in issue #87’s “A Warped Tale”. Also in that issue, the McKenzie/Severin tale “The Last” is about a mutant on Mars and his robot buddy in an Old West setting. It’s a great segment and with Severin doing a western, you know it can’t be anything EXCEPT great. That man…did anyone, or has anyone since, ever illustrated westerns any finer? No. The story is fun, but the art absolutely makes it one of the best tales in the book. Issue #88 has a story with art by Esteban Maroto, which is simply beautiful. Enough praise can never be given to Mr. Maroto and no one- NO ONE- draws a sexier brunette. It’s what he was born to do. Great story too, but his pencils totally overshadow Bill DuBay’s script.

    Issue 84, the all-sports issue, is for this reader one of the worst issues out there. Some might gasp at such heresy, but sports comics always seem so boring and are a struggle to get through. The art for “The Mummy’s Victory” is Richard Corben work (a god amongst artists), so it’s great visually, but the story…a mummy comes to life to replace a football player in the big game, winning it for the team…meh. And much of the artwork in this issue is by Carmine Infantino who, while obviously a capable artist, puts out some unexciting work most of the time, even with someone else inking. An exception in this volume being in the aforementioned "Hide and Go Mad." And in this issue, whoever is inking his work totally makes it look like their own style, almost canceling out Infantino’s style. Take “Relic” for example. It looks like a piece of John Severin’s work, but it's just not quite his. The same goes for “Hitter’s Wind!” with Walter Simonson’s inks. Sports and comics are never a good mix and sports and horror is even less of good mix. Even though it’s Creepy, it just doesn’t work for this reader.

    Neither do Christmas-themed editions of anything and sadly this volume has one of those in it too. “Mother Knows Best” is a pretty good one though, by Bruce Jones and Al Williamson. Either of these major talents usually makes anything better with either one’s stamp on it. “Bloodstone Christmas” is the only story in the issue that feels like a Creepy tale, but not until almost the end. “Season’s Grievings” is made tolerable mainly by the gorgeous 70s sexy-ass woman by Gonzalo Mayo, with the long wavy hair and the heavy eye make-up (things that made his work in Vampirella all the more fantastic), but the story is forgettable.

    All issues are near-complete, with letters to Uncle Creepy and ads for all sorts of wonderful things we probably all wish we bought some of all those years ago (if you were even alive, or old enough to have money): kick-ass t-shirts, masks, horror movie soundtracks, a Wrightson coloring book(!), and even tightie-whitie monster underwear(!!). Tidbits like these make books like this all the more fun to read.

    While maybe not the best volume so far, mainly in that two of the five are issues are kind of stinkers throughout, there is still plenty in here to more than satisfy long-time fans of this type of material. I’m probably in the minority in my dislike of the sports and Christmas issues, but oh well. The rest of the volume makes it worth picking up, without a doubt.