All the way back to 1977 we go for this, volume 19 of Creepy Archives put out by the wonderful people over at Dark Horse. Gerald Ford handed the reins over to Jimmy Carter as president, the first Star Wars dropped in theaters, and the Sex Pistols released their only studio album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols. And throughout this year of 1977, horror comic Creepy was released by Warren Publishing. Creepy Archives 19 collects issues 89 through 93, and runs around 280 pages. It’s a big beastie, but what we need to determine here, boils and ghouls, is, well, is it good?
Creepy Volume 19 (Dark Horse Comics)
Each issue is in black and white, and contains the original letters to Uncle Creepy at the beginning. Each issue also contains a column on comics by Joe Brancatelli entitled The Comic Books, and has the original ads which appeared! It’s a great way to transport the reader back to the time these issues were originally printed. So, the presentation is quite wonderful.
And now, let me mention my favorite messy murderous masterpieces found within the issues of volume 19.
We begin with issue 89, an all war-themed issue. Stories within cover such conflicts as WW2, Korea, and the Civil War. It’s fairly fact heavy, though this shouldn’t drag you down too much, unless you really care to research which wars and battles are being discussed. I’ve never been much of a history nerd, so I found this issue a bit of a slog. Still, there are some great stories. Blood Brothers, written by Bruce Jones with art by Jose Ortiz tells the story of a WW2 soldier trying to survive a trek to base camp through enemy territory with his friend, who bites off more than he can chew. The Windmill, a story by Lou Rossin with art by Leo Duranono tells the tales of a hunchback named Einar who lives in a windmill with dreams of being a soldier that he finally gets to see to fruition. The Poor Gunner, written by Larry Hama and Cary Bates with art by Leopold Sanchez is my absolute favorite of all my favorite stories from #89. It recounts D.P., a Vietnam vet-turned-mailman who starts to have flashbacks, and one day finally snaps completely and shoots some people while on his route. #89 is a poignant issue, since it manages to show the horrors of war, and how the psyche of a solider is effected.
Issue #90 has no theme, and honestly, the issues tend to be more fun when they aren’t themed. If you don’t like to read about say, war or sports, when you come to an issue that is themed as such, you get demotivated to read it. This issue had two I really liked, One entitled Warrior on the Edge of Forever, and one entitled Please… Save the Children. Warrior on the Edge of Forever, written by Bill Dubay with art by Jose Ortiz, tells the story of Fedor, who’s dreamed he’s been many different warriors over time. He tells these dreams to his friend Edik, who reveals at the end of the tale he too has had the same dreams. They determine that they, as Russian soldiers, have to kill a person in power… again! Please… Save the Children, written by Bill Dubay with art by Martin Salvador is about a man named Bean who’s on death row for killing children. But, Bean’s brother is the president, and Bean tells the priest who gives him his last rites the shocking truth as to why he killed all those kiddies! #90 is a solid issue.
Issue #91 is unthemed, and also only has three stories in it, and it’s also a decent issue, but it seems odd that the first two in the collection are six stories, and this is only three. It has a delightfully odd story entitled Gamal Cockatrice, about a guy named Gamal that is tasked with finding and killing the mythical, deadly beast, the cockatrice! … COCKATRICE!
Issue #92 is the best of the whole bunch. Unthemed, it’s got a bunch of great stories. A Toast to No Man’s Memory, written by Len Wein with art by John Severin, we hear the story of Babbitt, and I think it was set during WW2, but I’m not entirely sure. Anyway, Babbitt is the new pilot who hears about the bottle of wine on the mantle in the barracks, and the other pilots tell him whichever of all the pilots lives out of all of them, that guy needs to make a toast to the dead. So, of course, Babbitt kills them one by one to get that sweet, delicious boozey-booze. Mrs. Sludge and The Pickled Octopus Raid (yes, that is the real title), written by Bill Dubay with art by Luis Bermejo takes place in Tennessee, and has a bunch of backwoods rednecks who are eating pickled land octopus! This is perhaps the best story out of the whole volume, in my humble opinion. It seems like the quintessential story from a 70s horror comic, and its fan-fucking-tastic.
Instinct which I’m assuming was written and drawn by Richard Corben, is about the princess of the Kingdom of Malivore, who gets married to King Ladislaws III. Turns out the princess, Rhoda, well…her bloodline is filled with rat people. Yup. Moving on!
Toward High Places, written by Bruce Jones with art by Ramon Torrents tells the story of two sisters in ancient Egypt, and how one double crosses the other to get a place in the royal pyramid! ‘Sob’, ‘Choke’. Everybody and his Sister, written by Jim Strenstrum with art by Jose Sanchez is an hilarious account of Norman Dribble, and how everybody wont fuck off and leave him alone. And finally, we come to a story called The Generations of Noah, written by Roger McKenzie with art by Leo Duranona. It’s a futuristic (well, futuristic for the 70s) take on the biblical tale of Noah and his ark.
Lastly, we have issue #93, a sports-themed issue. I’m not the hugest sports fan, so found this issue, while a laugh riot, to be a bit of a snooze. The standouts are of course the story about an alien playing baseball (The Replacement written by Roger Mckenzie with art by Carmine Infantino and Dick Giordano), and the mummy Rah playing for the Jets and winning the Super Bowl (The Return of Rah written by Roger Mckenzie with art by Carmine Infantino and John Severin).
Is It Good?
I had a lot of fun reading this, though admittedly I had no idea how dense these volumes are. Holy shit! It’s fucking huge! It’s got a nice introduction by Jack Butterworth, and is a great read for anyone who likes horror anthology comics, or old school comics. Plus, I’m sure you could bludgeon someone to death with the hardcover. Until next time kiddies, pleasant screams, BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!