This is the 16th book Craig Yoe & co have published in their series of “The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics.”
Yoe, who won an Eisner for his archival work on Walt Kelly is a master historian of pre-code horror.
Pre-code horror is not for everyone, but for those who appreciate it, this is an excellent collection. Yoe tends to use non-EC publications, featuring both the well-known and the obscure talents from the era.
The Cult of the 13 Ghosts
The Monsters Ghost
The Hand of Fate
Prey for the Vampire Horde
The Witches Come at Midnight
Day of Panic
Candles for the Undead
Demons of the Sun
The Locked Door
Code of the Shadowmaster
A Dead Ball
Bride of Death
Your Head for Mine
The Cloak of a Corpse
Mind Over Matter
And then What?
Pre-code horror magazines were often uneven. Some stories were tremendous while others were lacking. Yoe and his team comb through their expanding collection and look for superior pieces to share out with the public.
They are all one-shot, stand-alone stories. They were often written by the artists. This era seldom produced multi-part story arcs, and rarely had repeating heroes and heroines. They all center on either psychological or supernatural horror. There are no giant monsters or space aliens, only what the introduction (written by Artie Delmar) describes as “ghouls, ghosts, graves, death, dismemberment, murder, mayhem, demons, devils, witches, werewolves, vampires, zombies, and various things that go bump in the night.”
Much of this is somewhat tame by modern standards, (consider the gore of the Recent Fly miniseries, Escape from Jesus Islands, or Insexts. Japanese Horror Manga is often far more violent and graphic (Magical Girl Apocalypse, Tommie, or Gyo).
Comparative analysis is fundamentally unfair, however; these storytellers had no idea that their . work would survive this long. They were merely trying to tell a story and entertain their readers with short, amusing, horror comics. The stories in this collection date to the early 1950’s from approx. 1951-1954 (the late Truman and Early Eisenhower administrations). People were just getting over WWII and the Cold War was beginning to rear its ugly head. Readers were not collecting comics, boarding and bagging them as historical artifacts. Readers wanted to drop a dime for an inexpensive release from the pressures of their daily grind.
Pre-code horror is not for everybody. For those who appreciate it, this book is a must-have. For horror fans in general, this is an important book – it is an opportunity to understand the common history of horror comics and how this era moved the genre forward. For the general comics reader, this is a useful book. IT is interesting to understand the history of comics, and Yoe & Co are working diligently to preserve an important chapter of that history.
Written & Illustrated by: Various