Horror Comics in Black and White: A History and Catalog, 1964-2004

Horror Comics in Black and White: A History and Catalog, 1964-2004 lists all the major black-and-white horror comic magazine titles dating from the publication of Creepy #1 in 1964. (The format arose to carry this kind of content as a reaction to the crackdown of the Comic Code Authority in the mid-50s.) The much-missed Archie Goodwin edited and wrote for the title, while a number of accomplished artists — including Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, John Severin, and Angelo Torres — drew the stories for Warren Publishing.

The introduction provides an excellent capsule history of the format and genre. As he explains, the author, Richard J. Arndt, focuses on publishers of new stories, leaving out magazines based on reprints, recolorations, or redrawings of existing work. He also includes Warren’s Blazing Combat, believing “that a good war story is inherently a good horror story as well.” After the introduction come chapters dedicated to the various publishers.

The first, and longest at 150 pages, covers Warren, starting with Creepy‘s 146 issues and including Eerie and Vampirella. Each title has credits listed and an editorial note pointing out interesting historical facts and background information. The occasional illustrations are mostly limited to cover reproductions. However, since most readers will be more interested in the issue information, it’s not a crippling limitation. Arndt does point readers toward the Grand Comics Database, where all covers can be seen. What sets this book apart from simply being a reprint of the same information found there are the informative comments for each issue. They make the reader want to seek out copies of the magazines to see the particular comics and artists Arndt praises so highly.

(There are some pages of interior art included as well, but reproduction can be a bit smudgy. The first example has a smear in the middle, as though someone moved it on the copy machine while it was running or the glass wasn’t clean.)

Additional chapters cover Skywald Publications, home of Nightmare and Psycho; the Marvel horror mags published from 1971-1983, including Dracula Lives!, Monsters Unleashed!, and many others (but not Conan, Kung Fu, or other adventure titles); and a catch-all chapter that includes Warrior and DC’s Spirit World. There’s also a short section on modern horror comics, current reprint editions, and other books and magazines that cover the subject.

This appears to be a labor of both love and hard work, making for a reputable guide to the topic. In addition to research, the author assembled this information by “reading all the original magazines in total” and interviewing editors and artists who worked on them. Stephen R. Bissette, whose Taboo is mentioned later in the book, provides a personal history about discovering black-and-white horror comic magazines in the foreword. More information is available on the publisher’s website. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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