THE HORROR AND MIKE…
Once again I will give you a little glimpse into the world of Mike Wall. I have an interesting relationship with Halloween. Since both my parents worked, I never got the home-made costumes that everyone else had. I was and am not that artistic to actually make a good one for me. I pretty much got the store bought costume which was not even close to being as good as my friends. Although I did love my Sleestak one from Land of the Lost. So trick or treating was not my most favorite part of Halloween. Don’t get me wrong I did love the candy. If you know me you know that Fatty loves candy. The biggest part of the Halloween season for me is the movies and comics. The subject of the movies I will not even try to explain. I might wait for another blog entry for that but it will be a long one. Yet the comics will be the subject of this entry. I realized again how much I loved reading horror comics last week when I made a display for Halloween. I relied on Dawn to make these displays and they were always great. This year it was me and I had a ball picking my favorites. Yet I will probably change my mind on a daily basis. What I want to write in this entry is a listing of the many different horror comics that I enjoyed over the years. I may miss some but there is always next year. Here we go:
These are the grandfathers of all horror comics. Sure the were a lot of other pre-code horror comics but these were the best. I got to experience them through reprints. Originals are far too out my price range. They had such titles as Vault of Horror, Haunt of Fear, and the big one, Tales from the Crypt. These were pretty creepy stories even in the 70s and 80s. They were well written and had some top notch artists as well. Everyone always goes for the Tales from the Crypt but the others were just as good. They even had horror slink into some of their science fiction. Remember EC was one of the main examples for the Seduction of the Innocent book and trials. They had a lot of 1950s parents scared for their children. So you know these stories are good. If you can find reprints, snatch them up because they are getting tougher and tougher to find. I pray that some company puts out affordable reprints so that other generations can enjoy these stories.
Warren publications did the horror magazine correctly. They had such titles as Creepy and Eerie with Vampirella as well. They also did magazines about horror movies with the biggest being Famous Monsters of Filmland. The covers on these magazines are painted works of art. These were difficult for me to find when I was younger. Yet as soon as I was working for Graham Crackers, that was no longer an issue. These were a little more adult with art and themes. Yet to me, I looked at them as EC comics for a new generation. Almost all of them were in black and white and that just made the stories creepier.
This is a brand of horror magazines that I only learned about in the last 5 years. I never really saw them but they have been popping up recently. One of my mentors, Frank Kurtz, taught me recently everything about them. They are old stories that have been redrawn. The art is not even close to Warren or EC caliber. Yet the covers are usually over the top gory. They are more fun than scary to read. They had such titles as Horror Tales, Witches’ Tales, & Terror Tales. These are not my favorite but I would be remiss to not include them on this list.
DC has been and is one of the most prolific for horror comics. They started in the 60s but did not come out with a plethora of horror comics until the 70s. They had such titles like House of Mystery, Unexpected, Witching Hour, Phantom Stranger, Ghosts, & Swamp Thing. These were like EC comics where they were anthology comics. These were easily accessible to me. My dad used to find them at garage sales. Being mostly anthologies, it was easy to pick up an issue and read. Sadly around the mid 80s, the horror genre disappeared from DC. We did not get anything until Vertigo started. Where we got Hellblazer and Swamp Thing (Even though the Moore series started as a DC imprint). Now DC started the Hill House imprint and these stories are not too shabby. For a good catalog of horror comics DC won’t disappoint.
Marvel actually doubled down in the 70s and 80s. They did both magazines and comics. Yet they were doing horror comics before the were doing superhero comics. With titles like Tales of Suspense (where Iron Man first appeared), Journey Into Mystery (Thor), Tales to Astonish (Hulk & Sub-Mariner took over) and Amazing Fantasy (do I need to tell you). They did not bring back horror until the 70s. They brought out titles like Werewolf by Night, Tomb of Dracula, and Monster Frankenstein. They tried to tie those characters into the Marvel universe. They even introduced characters that still stand like Moon Knight. They were fun adventure horror for me. Yet on the other hand, the magazines that they put out in the 70s & 80s were slightly racier. Again those were harder for me to find in my younger days but I got to read a bunch as soon as I started work for Graham Crackers. Sadly, nowadays Marvel does put out as much horror as they used to. They try but it never seems to work.
DELL/GOLD KEY & CHARLTON
In the late 60s, 70s and up to the early 80s, both turned out a bunch of horror comics. Dell/Gold Key had a lot of “licensed” properties. They would put out a Boris Kraloff comic or a Twilight Zone comic, as well as a Ripley’s Believe It or Not. They had original comics like Grimm’s Ghost Stories. Again in the anthology format so they were easy to pick up and read. Once again, dad found them at garage sales like nobody’s business. Charlton was also one that was garage sale fodder. I grew up reading Ghostly Haunts, Scary Tales, and Midnight Tales. They were fun anthologies. I would even read the gothic love stories in Haunted Love. Since they were so easily accessible, they hold a special place in my heart.
I know there are so many books that I have missed or don’t remember (I’m old you know). Yet I gave the books and the companies that are in the forefront on my memories. I try to read of few books like the ones I mentioned every Halloween. Try to find some of these at your local Graham Crackers. If you need suggestions please stop by Naperville. They are fun. They at least remind me of a simpler time when every Halloween all we had to worry about was razors in our apples.