Welcome back to Halloween comics where we here at Word of the Nerd give you some suggestion on comic books you should read to get into the Halloween spirit! So far we have listed some essential spooky HellBoy stories, we got zombieified with Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale and had a monster mash with Legion of Monsters. Now, we are going way back to a time where horror comics were all the rage and the government had to save our souls. We are going to have a bit of a history lesson with this pick, today we are spotlighting The Horror! The Horror!: Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You to Read.
Roots! Bloody Roots!
Alright so this one is kind of a cheat, it is not an actual comic book or trade (it does contain some complete stories, excerpts and lots of beautiful covers). This is more of an anthology, collection and history of horror comics before the “comics code” was issued. Jim Trombetta is the author of this collection and gives insight into these books and also into the committee that established the comics code because of these horror and crime books. The Horror! The Horror! mainly collects comics and stories from horror/crime comics of the late 1940’s early 1950’s before the Comics Code Authority (CCA) was in acted. If you do not know the whole history of the comics code the very very short version is, the CCA was formed in 1954 after a series of Senate hearings about how horror/crime comics where destroying America’s youth (for more in depth look here). Many things where banned (like any act of killing/murder, words like vampires, werewolves and the list goes on) from comics and it subsequently destroyed the horror comic genre and help lead to the rise of the super hero comics. Trombetaa does an excellent job of going very in depth about the stories, covers and the creators working on them.
Macabre and Monsters!
While admittedly you might cringe with some of the dialogue in these stories overall it’s a great piece of history and they are genuinely creepy. Trombetta gives some psychological breakdowns and gives us a thorough look at the genre at this time period. The stories have a Twilight Zone like feel to them and most certainly do not end very happily ever after. The different collection of stories and excerpts provide an adequate feel for these books and will send some chills down your spine! You get stories about everything from vampires, werewolves, ghost, psycho murderers; basically everyone that is going to be at your Halloween party! The art is the real treasure of this book, it is magnificently restored and laid out perfectly. These horror comics where really the masters of selling books by their cover, they are highly imaginative, grotesque at times and will have you wanting to read the stories that they contain! The images and stories are not for the faint of heart! Not that I am agreeing with the CCA, but I could see how these could definitely scare some kids even in today’s world. I almost forgot about the excellent introduction in this book from the man that gave every 90’s kid Goosebumps straight from Fear Street, R.L. Stine. He gives a brief look from his childhood and being able to pick up these books and how they influenced his writing.
This is definitely not a book you can just read through in one sitting, it is “textbook” thick. It will take a long time to read through it all but it gives great insight into the horror comic genre.The great thing about it though is you can jump in just to read a quick horror story or just flip through to marvel at the cover art and make your own stories up in your head. If you buy this book it also comes with a DVD of of a show that aired in 1955 about how comics where destroying the youth (I picked this book up at my local library so have not gotten to see this). That does it for another issue of Halloween Comics! Check back next week for our next installment in our Halloween Comics countdown. Have you discovered any comics recently that get you in the mood for Halloween? Share with us your favorite Halloween comics that you think we should read in the comments below.
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