• Creepy Archives Volume 21

    Published by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: Feb 11, 2014
    Writers: various
    Artists: various
    Cover: Richard Corben (from issue #101)
    Purchase at Amazon

    This volume collects issues 99 through 103 of what is one of the greatest horror anthologies ever to see print and with some of the best artists and writers ever to grace the genre. You know the names, or you should, and the quality they cranked out in these wonderful black-and-white pages continues to please and sometimes disturb even decades later. Quite often Creepy pushed the envelope, at least compared to what was on the stands at the time. Paul Tobin, writer for the awesome horror series Colder (among others) provides the forward for this issue, sharing his experiences with the magazine as an impressionable youth. It’s a quick read at just three pages, but a good read nonetheless. But what does Volume 21 hold besides the forward? Well aside from some old advertisements (though not always exactly what was in the actual issues) and letters pages, there’s a bunch of greatness in here. Below are highlights as this fan sees them, but certainly not the only good stuff in the book.

    Issue #99 cover by Bob Larkin. “Earth-Shattering Disasters Issue” is the theme, complete with nuclear holocaust and the Earth exploding into cosmic dust. Among the issue are the writer/artist teams of Nicola Cuti/Moreno Casaures, Cary Bates/Buz Vaultz, Bill DuBay/Jose Ortiz, Bill DuBay/Leoplod Sanchez, Bob Toomey/Alfredo Alcala, and Roger McKenzie/Leo Duranona. The story by Toomey and Alcala is called “There Shall Come a Great Darkness” and stands out above the rest, mostly visually. Alcala’s art looks amazing. The story is about the end of the world due to an asteroid, and before it hits two brothers-in-law talk about the suicide of the woman who connects them. The brother of the woman is an astronomer who delivered the news of doom, and some locals look to lynch him. It’s a wicked downer of a tale; depressing and nihilistic and yet downright awesome.

    Issue #100 features a cover by Bob Larkin that falls short of anything interesting to be honest. But whatever, the issue still has plenty going for it. Work from the teams Gerry Boudreau/Pablo Marcos, Bill DuBay/John Severin, Nicola Cuti/Jose Ortiz, Carey Bates/Buz Vaultz, Bruce Jones/Russ Heath, Gerry Boudreau/Auralon, a landscape style tale by Bill DuBay and Alex Nino, and a color tale by Len Wein and Luis Bermejo. The one by DuBay and Nino stands out to this reader as the best of the issue. A mayor is on trial for activities that took place during a citywide blackout, which resulted in Judge Dredd-like law enforcement. The most minor of crimes were punishable by immediate execution and the mayor stands by his decision to use such drastic methods. And he has some support too. DuBay’s courtroom drama script plays over the art of Alex Nino rather than with it and it makes for a great little double story of sorts. We get to see all the carnage but the calm dialogue gives it an entirely different vibe than flat out action does. Good stuff. Another piece worth mentioning in this issue comes from the regular column “The Comic Books” by Joe Brancatelli. In it he shows the comic book market dying a slow death and using sales figures over the period of 1974 through 1977 to show the decline. It seems people have been whining about that for decades and here we are nearly 40 years later and comics are still kicking.

    Issue #101 displays quite the horrific cover by Richard Corben (the cover of this archive volume), probably due to the fact that it is not outside the realm of possibility. This issue is a “Jaws of Death” special issue, with all stories having to do with death and monsters in the water. The first story relates to the cover and is by a couple of favorites of this fan: Bruce Jones and Mr. Corben. In their story “In Deep”, a young married couple is stranded floating in the endless ocean and with no real hope of surviving. Sounds like a popular movie from a few years ago. Anyway the woman dies during the night and the guy is unwilling to cut her loose and let her drift down into the darkness. Not even high seas and sharks will break his will to keep her with him. Or at least some piece of her. Also in this issue are stories by these teams: Bruce Jones and Leo Duranona (“In Deep Part II, which has nothing to do with part I), Bill DuBay and Alex Nino, a color story by Louise Jones and Pablo Marcos, Gerry Bouderau and Alfredo Alcala, and lastly a story from Chris Adames and Pepe Moreno Casaures.

    Issue #102 is a “Giant All-Monster Issue” and has a cover by Pat Woodruff. The insides are by Cary Bates and Buz Vaultz, Bruce Jones and Leo Duranona, Abel Laxamana, Mark Lasky with art by Walter Simonson and Klaus Jansen, Bruce Jones and Alfredo Alcala, and finally Bruce Jones with Isidro Mones on the art chores. This one was kind of a dud issue, lacking any stories that stood out or even anything visually noteworthy. Although the giant mosquitoes in the last story are pretty frightening.

    Issue #103 is a “Demon-Beasts Unleashed!” issue with a cover by Kim McQuaite and Walter Simonson. For whatever reasons, the complete story contents from the original issue are not included. Stories in the original issue are by Archie Goodwin and Jeff Jones (not included), Gerry Conway and Richard Corben, John Jacobson and Auraleon, Anne Murphy and Al Williamson (not included), and Gerry Boudreau and Carl Wassler write a yarn drawn by Ramon Torrents. The last story is from the amazing Bernie Wrightson and is a rendition of the Poe classic “The Black Cat. It is 50 percent longer than the average Creepy story, which means 50 percent more Wrightson, which means even more stunning artwork to behold, but not here. Alas, it too is excluded. But at least we get to see another tale from another of the greatest horror artists to ever pick up a pencil and that’s Richard Corben. In “Bookworm” (Conway on script), Corben lays down an intense sequence involving a man possessed, armed with an axe, and provides new meaning to the word “bookworm”. The story by Jacobson and Auraleon features a nasty bit of dog violence, and Ramon Torrents draws some fine looking women so there’s that to look at too, despite the material we fans have been woefully denied. It’s really too bad Dark Horse didn’t (couldn’t?) include it all because the Poe-Wrightson story is simply fantastic.

    Aside from the somewhat disappointing 102nd issue and the gaps in issue #103, Volume 21 of Dark Horse’s most appreciated archival reprints of the Warren magazine is still right up there on par with the rest of the installments so far. They do a nice job of “cleaning” them up, making use of much whiter paper then the yellowed newsprint of the old days. Yeah the yellowed pages are nice for nostalgia, but the books do look nicer with Dark Horse’s care added to them. And no doubt they’ll keep the excellence going until they’ve reached the end of the series.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Thomas Wood's Avatar
      Thomas Wood -
      CREEPY 103 was an yearbook issue with all the stories being reprints. For these issues, Dark Horse prints the stories from EERIE but not the CREEPY issues since they were in earlier volumes of the archives. (Of course the EERIE stories were in the EERIE archives but I guess they figure most people buy the series but not necessarily the other series).