Wednesday, October 31, 2012

BOOK REVIEW! EERIE'S GREATEST HITS (Harris Publications, 1994)

When I was a lad of fourteen, I was really gung ho on getting hold of alla the EC horror/sci-fi/adventure/humor reprints that I could lay my grubby little paws on. Strangely enough, I really couldn't care one whit about the line of horror comic magazines that Warren Publications was churning out even if they were pretty much feasting on the carrion that was left by the Werthamites and assorted do-gooders a good  two decade or so back. Now, I gotta give credit to to HELP! publisher James Warren for doing the obvious and recreating the spirit of fifties horror comics as sixties comic magazines thus circumventing the Comics Code once and for all, but they never did gel well in my brain...for me, the fifties were the cool times with the cool comics and cool tee-vee shows and cool automobiles while the present day was only good for scavenging fifties remnants via garage sales and afternoon viewings of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER reruns.  If I only knew about the underground rock spasms that were being birthed by the likes of the Stooges and Dolls at the time maybe my tastes in something concurrent woulda been brewin', but for me  the likes of CREEPY and EERIE were just too new and hot off the press for me to even remotely take seriously. As far as I was concerned it was 1963 and nothing LATER (unless it was something birthed from a hot fifties/early-sixties ideal that was ruminating around this late in the game, and within my ape-like mind these horror comics just didn't fill the bill!).

Maybe I was too hard on the Warren horror comics, though I gotta admit that the EERIE'S GREATEST HITS collection didn't cut to any quicks or affect me the way those EC comics had during my disformative years. Yeah, I know that this title was practically an EC knockoff (I've read COMIX too, bub!) and that Warren was tryin' like the dickens to recreate the fifties EC style for the mid-sixties comic club, but things (as usual) tend to get lost in the translation and the original potency always seems to be left in the men's room at the diner on that long road trip to comic book fruition. The stories don't quite strike you the way they should and the art just comes off too sixties to conjure boffo fifties memories, and even the fact that Warren was able to pull off a coup by getting old EC regulars like Johnny Craig (who'd lost his Milton Caniff-y style by this time) and Wallace Wood to work for 'em couldn't help me forget the fact that these comics were from the mid/late-sixties and came housed in mags with garish covers painted by Frank Frazetta with grotesque monsters abusing ample maidens with loads of double-D boobies fiting into B-cups and cleavage galore and inward navels perfectly placed within smoothly terrained bellies that...hey,  forget about what I said...these comics are a gas!!!!

Well, at least the covers were boffo, and even a curmudgeon turdball such as I will admit so were some of the stories. Nothing as engaging as the Warren comics which appeared in the aforementioned Les Daniels comic book history tome is here, but there are a few surprises such as Angelo Torres' "Soul of Horror" (with a telegraphed ending true, but it's nice reading getting there) and Johnny Craig's "Trial By Fire" (with art that looks more like I'm sure his commercial work at the time did). Speaking of EC regs, Al Williamson's "The Lighthouse" is yet another hit-me-over-the-head obvious story with fantastic art, and even personal fave Steve Ditko pops up with a nice horror saga that naturally doesn't rank up there with his Marvel work let alone MR. A. or THE QUESTION but still sates enough esp. if you were one (like me) to gobble up every WHERE MONSTERS DWELL for his early-sixties reprints. Best of the batch in my humble opinion's Alex Toth's "The Monument" which again has you knowing the ending well into panel #3 but when you finally get there boy will you be surprised at how wrong (in the right way?) you were!!!

I understand the Warren titles have been reprinted (again) recently, but this'll make a good toe tinkler before you decide to take the plunge into the hardcovered editions that'll fit fine in your own personal library situated in your own personal den as you wear your own personal smoking jacket and smoke your own personal cigar taken from your own personal humidor just like you always thought you would do this stage in your life. If you've read 'em before and wish you never sold 'em off at the family garage sale this might be the one for you...if you were the kind who just stood around at newsstands and read 'em for free this might also alleviate your guilt for being such a penny pinching tightwad. And if you were a kid birthed in the forties, fifties and first half of the sixties who missed out on a lotta hotcha teenage antix because your parents were afraid for you and kept you locked up with nothing but Maypo and JACK AND JILL this might be a good chance to check in on just one of a thousand neatly subversive and entertaining teenbo things you missed out on the first time around. It's never too late to start acting fourteen again, and in fact judging from kids today it's sure be nice if they acted fourteen in the cool, baby boomin' fun way 'stead of the "young adults" they most certainly tend to be anymore. Heh, get some EERIEs for your Dilton Doiley of a nephew and if they don't turn him into Eddie Haskell I'm afraid the brat's gone for good!

1 comment:

Bill S. said...

One good thing about the Warren line of magazines is that they can still be found all over and unless you are in the dreaded "collectors market," they can be found relatively cheaply at junk stores, flea markets, etc.
I remember as a kid buying a Warren title when I couldn't find SOMETHING ELSE THAT I WANTED MORE. If that 25 or 50 cents or whatever was burning a hole in my pocket, I'd take the plunge on a Warren title...