Thursday, June 23, 2016
THE CREEPS REVIEWED
Since Warren's original run of CREEPY from 1964 - 1983 (145 issues) there have been numerous attempts at reviving the spirit of the vaunted magazine-sized horror comic book. Dark Horse acquired the rights to the Warren title and branding, including the image of Uncle Creepy, as well as the rights to reprint the backlog. The resulting series of "Creepy Archives" is impressive, but disappointingly, the new version of the title was shrunk to a standard comic book size, exactly the opposite of Warren's work-around to the albeit weakening stranglehold of the Comics Code Authority which caused the self-immolation of many horror comic publishers in the mid-1950s who were either unwilling or unwitting enough to adapt to the new rules.
Another, indie-produced horror comic, BLOKE'S TERRIBLE TOMB OF TERROR, uses similar design features and themes to CREEPY. Publisher/writer Jason Crawley (really!) and artist Mike Hoffman and Co. do a pretty good job of it, but don't quite hit the heart with the stake.
Then, from out of the blue (or the grave, as Unca' Creepy would probably say) comes THE CREEPS, a brand-new, magazine-sized horror comic that is an unapologetic, unabashed, near clone of CREEPY. Now in its sixth issue, THE CREEPS is the closest thing yet to a true homage to the original, so close in fact, that one could say it is a pastiche. It is obviously deliberate by design, and while other attempts capture the "look" of CREEPY, THE CREEPS not only accomplishes that, but it also actually "feels" like the old CREEPY.
Granted, we will never again see the likes of a team of writers and artists that shepherded the early years of CREEPY. These consummate professionals were the crème de la crème of illustrators that had cut their teeth and sharpened their pencils over the drawing board for EC, the greatest line of horror comics ever, for chrissakes!
In this latest issue of Warrant Publishing's THE CREEPS however, one can see artists clearly under the spell of the aforementioned genius loci of horror comics. What you have here is a bullpen of artists like the Reed Crandall-esque Reno Maniquis, the Wally Wood-esque Jason Paulos, the Orlando-esque Mansyur Daman and the Brunner-esque Mike Dubisch, all combined to achieve a vague, but eerily (no pun intended) reminiscent appearance of the original. Even the mag's mascot, The Old Creep, is a blatant swipe of Uncle Creepy. Editor Rich Sala, writing as "Artie" Goodwin has brought aboard a capable stable of story scripters, including Warren alumni Nicola Cuti and Don Glut. And yes, the stories themselves have that old touch of the macabre and sardonic, with twist endings that hit the mark nearly every time.
I have to admit, I was a little leery with the first couple of issues, but the last two or so have shown a significant improvement in the writing as well as the art moving in the direction of more traditional draughtsmanship as opposed to modernist comic illustration. Issue #6 even sports a Frazetta cover! And I would be remiss to mention the anti-tobacco ad on the letters page as was seen in the original Warren 'zine?
I'm looking forward to more of THE CREEPS. Now that it's selling well enough to be put on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, it is hopeful that a new wave of readers will catch on to the entertainment found between its covers.