Friday, January 23, 2015

'THE CREEPS' NO. 1 REVIEWED


I hold in my hands the first issue of "Warrant Company's" homage to Warren Publications, entitled, aptly enough, THE CREEPS. Okay, here goes -- Scraggy, drippy cover logo? Check! Image of The Old Creep in the upper left corner for easy spotting on a cramped newsstand shelf? Check! Cover painting by a notable Warren alumnus? Check! Contents page formatted as a dead-ringer for vintage CREEPY and EERIE magazines? Double check! Stories and artwork as good as the classics? Well ... read on and I'll tell you.

Subtitled, "All New Tales in the Warren Tradition!", THE CREEPS is the latest addition to the venerable illustrated horror anthology market. Magazine-sized, but comic book length (issue #2 promises to be 52 pages instead of 36), it's the brain child of one Richard Sala. Writing as "Artie Goodwin", another homage, this time to the late Archie Goodwin, author of countless stories for the Warren titles, and sharing the illustration chores with a host of other artists including Rich Buckler and Joe Rubenstein, Sala has wrangled a pretty good first effort.

Upon opening the 'zine the reader is drawn instantly back to the storied past of the original Warren series of "illustrated fear" with an inside front cover page take on "Loathsome Lore", this time titled "The Old Creep's Historic Horrors" (a tale of the succubus drawn by Frank Brunner), and the aforementioned contents page that's designed about as close to CREEPY's original contents page as one can get. There's even an anti-smoking ad to be found like the type that were often seen in the Warren 'zines (remember Frazetta's half-pager?).




So, how does THE CREEPS measure up to its predecessors? The artwork, while mostly lacking the skill of say, an Angelo Torres or Al Williamson, thankfully avoids the tiresome, never-ending trend of the angular style of comic art introduced in the 1990's by the likes of the late Michael J. Turner and Todd McFarlane and that morphed into the school of slick realism a la Alex Ross. Over all, the work here is at least average and often above, albeit with a tendency toward a certain lack of anatomical symmetry and awkward foreshortening that pervades in several instances. Still, I'd have to say that the artwork is at least on par with the folks over at Dark Horse, who currently have the rights to the Warren illustrated material.

It appears that Sala writes all the stories under his nom de plume of Artie Goodwin. His own illustrated story, "Vengeance!" has a Frazetta/Wrightson-inspired look, and Rich Buckler's "Castle of Doom" conjures up a tip of the brush to Wally Wood, including a splash page layout panel that replaces Woody's obligatory maiden's bare backside with that of a horse (!). All have the EC comics trademark of the twist ending that succeeds in varying degrees.

The verdict? THE CREEPS tries hard to uphold the legendary legacy of Warren's horror comics empire -- and early indications suggest that it will. I'm anxious to see what's ahead. Could a future issue even find the reader flipping through the back pages, shopping for monster goodies to order from "Capstone Company"? Only time will tell. In the meantime, you can order your issue of THE CREEPS right HERE. Heh! Heh!

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