Horror Comics in Black and White by Richard Arndt is the perfect chronicle of a lost era of comics

A book review article by: Jason Sacks

I have a real weak spot for the black-and-white horror comic magazines that were released by a slew of publishers, mostly between the mid-1960s and the very early 1980s. These magazines, which had wonderful titles like Creepy, Eerie, Vampire Tales, Psycho, Scream and Bizarre Adventures, dared to tell the types of stories that couldn't be told in mainstream standard sized comic books. Often presenting beautiful artwork and always displaying a different mindset than the conventional comics of their era, these horror mags presented an alternative approach to comics than the color comics of the time.

Richard Arndt's exhaustive look at these mags, Horror Comics in Black and White: A History and Catalog, 1964-2004 is an invaluable book for any of us who love to read these magazines – or even to read about them.

Horror Comics

Arndt presents a detailed, subjective look at every issue of just about every black-and white horror magazine ever published, from the brilliant (such as Creepy #10, one of the finest magazines of its era, featuring an all-star creative staff including an astonishing story by Steve Ditko) to the obscure (1970's Web of Horror #3 featured work by some of the greatest artists of that timeframe, including Berni Wrightson, Jeff Jones and Mike Kaluta) to the absolutely terrible (Warren's 1994 #22 sounds like the most horrific sort of pathetic masturbatory fanboy oriented pornography imaginable).

Horror Comics

The level of detail that Arndt gives his subject is remarkable. Nearly every page has an anecdote about one of the magazines that he discusses: Steve Englehart's script for one story was lost in the mail so Bill DuBay had to write a completely different piece based on the art;  two pages of a Harlan Ellison short were printed out of order in an issue of Haunt of Horror; we get a quick little overview of the writing career of Jack Butterworth from a note about an issue of Vampirella ("there's also not a single story of his you could hold up as a poor story", if you're wondering); "Apocalypse" by Budd Lewis and Jose Ortiz was a great series in Eerie that's crying out for reprinting.

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I should note that Arndt doesn't reprint any interior pages from these books. I'm just including them here so you have an idea of the some of the more interesting comics from that timeframe.

Horror Comics

For those who don't care about such topics, this book could be a bit dull and often a bit daunting. But if you have an interest in this murky corner of our hobby, this is compelling and wonderful reading. Along with the authoritative Warren Companion from TwoMorrows, this is a must-read for any fan of the black and white horror mags.

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