B&W Horrors & The Bog Brood

Already En Route to Their New Homes…

* A hearty and heartfelt recommendation for Richard Arndt‘s new book, Horror Comics in Black and White: A History and Catalog, 1964-2004 (2013, McFarland). I’m not sure how to put this politely, so I’ll just come out a say it: this is the book The Great Monster Magazines: A Critical Study of the Black and White Publications of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s by Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter (2008, McFarland) should have been, and fell sooooo far short of even coming close to being (no offense, “Bobb,” but I spent my money on your handsome-looking book, and I was sorely disappointed). In fact, Arndt‘s book is the ideal single-volume for research libraries, librarians, scholars, and fans on its chosen subject; hardcore horror hounds will find it pretty useful and ideal, too, as an essential companion (and intro, for the uninitiated) to the more intensively-focused books covering the field.*

Full disclosure: I contributed a foreword to the book (which you can read in the amazon.com preview of the book’s contents), so I reckon I’ve got a dog in this fight, or pony in this race, or whatever; but my career meant I did anyways, since Richard covers my respective role in the history of black-and-white horror comics anthologies, including my collaborative work in Bizarre Adventures and my stewardship/midwifery role with Taboo, as well as the creative contributions to this legacy of dear friends like Michael Zulli, Rick Veitch, Neil Gaiman, Dave Sim, and many others, including the late Steve Perry.

Richard‘s book is the first-ever truly comprehensive, exhaustive history of the black-and-white anthology horror comics from the 1960s to the early millennial era, and as such an essential work. His primary focus, with few exceptions (including the Direct Market-only Taboo), are the newsstand b&w horror anthology magazines, from Warren‘s seminal Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella to IDW‘s most recent entry in the field. Richard spells out his parameters clearly—with an absolute focus on publications primarily built upon offering all-new content, which leaves the Eerie Publications and Stanley horror reprint magazines out of the arena—and sticks to them, for the most part. This means all the b&w comicbooks, whether anthologies (GoreShriek, Shriek, Asylum, etc.) or series (Deadworld, etc.), fall outside this study, as do movie monster magazines that featured comics as part of their primarily-article-driven contents (i.e., Monster World, House/Halls of Hammer, Monster Times, Weird Worlds, etc.). With that understanding, Richard‘s rigorous decades of research included reading and reviewing the comics themselves and personally interviewing as many living participants in that body of work as possible. He furrows that into a highly readable, accessible, and heady overview and issue-by-issue reference guide that pointedly highlights the peaks and valleys of the terror tapestry of titles.

The selection of illustrations add considerably to the value of the book (though, sadly, a few—and only a few—of the scans are slightly blurred in portions), with Richard cherry-picking key pages (sans spoilers) of the best covers and pages from key stories from a multitude of titles and creators.

There’s also an invaluable three-page concluding list of Richard‘s pick of the best titles and best stories from the plethora of horrors. This is particularly significant, given the lack of critical attention to the genre and these publications outside of fanzine circles: if you’re completely new to the genre and/or form, start by tracking down and reading Richard‘s top picks, and jump in!

This really is a perfect launching pad for further reading and study, whatever your orientation to comicdom or the genre; if you want or need only one book on this aspect of the genre, this is the one to own.

Needless to say: highly recommended!

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More Swampy head sketches, all now on their way or arriving to their new homes…

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* Richard‘s book is the best one-stop overview of the b&w horror anthology magazines, period. Take that to the bank. Also on my shelves, and also highly recommended, are David Horne‘s absolutely terrific, and sadly unsung, labor of love, Gathering Horror: A Completist Collector’s Catalogue and Index for Warren Publishing (2010, Phrona Press;

The Warren Companion by Jon B. Cooke and David A. Roach (TwoMorrows, 2001); The Complete Illustrated History of the Skywald Horror Mood by Alan Hewetson (Headpress, 2004); The Best of From the Tomb, edited by Peter Normanton (TwoMorrows, 2012); and The Weird World of Eerie Publications: Comic Gore That Warped Millions of Young Minds by Mike Howlett (Feral House, 2010)—which I also wrote the introduction to—and its companion checklist volume The Weird Indexes of Eerie Publications, also by Mike Howlett (lulu.com, 2012).

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Swamp Thing® and ©DC Comics Inc/DC Entertainment Inc.; sketch art ©2012 Stephen R. Bissette. All other artwork and photographs © respective years by their respective proprietors, posted for educational and archival purposes only.


Discussion ¬

  1. Richard Arndt

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Steve. It’s much appreciated.

Comment ¬

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