Blood Between the Panels: Creepy #1
Creepy # 1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by: Joe Harris, Dan Braun, Mike Woods, Neil Kleid, & Bill Dubay
Art by: Jason Shawn Alexander, Angelo Torres, Saskia Gutenkunst, Brian Churilla, Hilary Barta, Alex Toth, & Bernie Wrightson
Cover by: Eric Powell
For better or worse, we live in the age of the re-make. Every week it seems like some updated version of a classic film is being unleashed on local cinema screens, and more often than not these films are of the horror variety. Yes, if one were to believe what movie screens were telling us, it wouldn’t be hard to surmise that the Hollywood well had run completely dry of ideas of the fright-filled variety. But film studios are not the only ones to regularly attempt revivals of classic titles. Comic book publishers do it all the time as well, albeit to much less fanfare, and Dark Horse Comics revival of horror anthology series Creepy is but the latest example.
For those unfamiliar with the title, Creepy was a EC Comics style horror magazine originally published by Warren Publishing. Each issue featured a collection of short horror comics by various writers and artists, and the issues stories were introduced by a Crypt Keeper-esque character named Uncle Creepy (original, huh?). This latest incarnation is basically the same beast, but with some slick new packaging.
The stories in this first issue are as follows:
“The Curse” written by Joe Harris, art by Jason Shawn Alexander. A young man finds out the truth behind his amazing super-powers.
“Hell Hound Blues” written by Dan Braun, art by Angelo Torres. Some vintage record collectors make a deal with dangerous consequences in order to acquire a rare album.
“Chemical 13” written by Michael Woods, art by Saskia Gutenkust. In WW2 Germany, Nazi’s test a deadly new chemical on their prisoners, but the results are horrifying than they could have imagined.
“All The Help You Need” written by Neil Kleid, art by Brian Churilla. A woman who will do anything to lose weight signs up for a diet camp that houses a deadly secret.
“Loathsome Lore: Faustian Deals” written by Craig Haffner, Dan Braun, & Shawna Gore, art by Hilary Barta. Uncle Creepy’s devilish sister, Sister Creepy, gives a little history lesson some famous stories of deals with the Devil.
“Daddy And The Pie” written by Bill Dubay, art by Alex Toth. A classic reprinted tale about a boys recollection of the alien visitor who lived with his family, and changed their lives.
The writing in this first issue isn’t amazing by any stretch of the word, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t entertaining. Most horror comics nowadays are either weird psychological head-trips or that perennial favorite, zombie stories, so it’s nice to see a title that hearkens back to the days of classic horror comics like Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt, or the original Creepy. The stories have a genuine sense of horror, and good sense of black humor pervades the entire issue, mostly in the form of Uncle Creepy’s musings at the beginning and end of each tale. For my money, the best story in the issue is “Chemical 13.” Michael Woods crafts a really unsettling tale set in a concentration camp. It’s a great twist on the recent wave of infection stories like [REC] or 28 Days Later, and it will really whet your appetite if you’re a fan of Nazi zombie stories, like the overlooked classic Shock Waves. Haffner, Braun, and Gore’s “Loathsome Lore” is also a great little comedic piece that offers a bit of history and pokes fun at some of well known celebrity legends. I see a lot of potential for this segment as a regular fixture in the series
The art is a very nice bright spot for this book. The amazing cover by The Goon creator Eric Powell is enough to suck anyone in, and it only gets better once you open the front cover and get greeted by a great frontispiece by horror legend Bernie Wrightson. From there the entire issue is filled with an amazing array of talent, both modern and classic. Celebrated cartoonist Alex Toth’s amazing ink-wash style on “Daddy and the Pie” cement his status as a true master, and Jason Shawn Alexander’s gritty line work on “The Curse” definitely make him an artist to keep your eye out for. With the work I’ve seen in this issue, I’m excited to see what other new and veteran talent are going to be showcased in the future.
This new incarnation of Creepy is by no means perfect, mostly because of it’s $4.99 price tag, but it does offer 48 solid pages of story with no ads, so you definitely could do worse. In an age when people seem to be mostly interested in how extreme creators are willing to get with their storytelling, it’s nice to see a book that is willing to reach back and revel in the kind of classic horror storytelling that made horror comics what they are today. This first issue offers up enough good content to definitely have me interested in checking out the next.