Fantagraphics' collection Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s
, edited by Greg Sadowski, is a wonderfully creepy hurtle through the exuberant, cheerfully gross and icky horror comics that prevailed in the golden, pre-Comics-Code era. Four Color Fear
focuses on the B-list comics, the non-EC titles that most of us have never seen in reprint before, and features hand-picked gems that range from outright psychedelia to gothic grossburgers full of shambling zombies, flying heads, puckered walls of human-devouring flesh, bogeys, creepies, crawlies and madness.
Most of these are morality plays of some kind, but they feature funny lessons -- stories where the wronged wreak terrible, poetic vengeance on the wicked and walk away scott free; as well as plenty of tales in which the wicked get their comeuppance and everyone involved is punished alongside of them. There is exposition in plenty, and lots of the sort of surprise ending that Damon Knight called "Jar of Tang stories" ("For you see, we are all living in a jar of Tang!").
Whatever the merits or demerits of the story, the art is brilliant: indistinct piles of slimy viscera, purple-green zombies, skull-faced vampires and demons, Satan in a dozen guises, witches and occult symbols, creatures from the eleven hells of the darkest mythos of the human spirit. This is the stuff that's drawn me like a moth to a flame for as long as I can remember, the Basil Wolverton-y, Big Daddy Roth-y, Marc Davis-y, Elvira-y spookhouse stuff that makes no apologies for its exploitative nature (Fantagraphics has a great Flickr set of images from the book, and I've put some of my favorites after the jump).
And if you need some scholarship with your atavistic thrills, have no fear: the fascinating endnotes that close the book are filled with sharp analysis and great context for these forgotten treasures.
Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s
I’m touring 20 US cities (plus dates in Canada and the UK!) with my forthcoming novel Walkaway; the full tour hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m delighted to reveal that the NYC stop on May 3 will be at the New York Public Library, where my interlocutor will be the whistleblower Edward Snowden. Tickets are […]
After his awkward endorsement of pedophilia disqualified Milo Yiannopoulos to be the hard right’s token gay pal, CPAC needed a new speaker to fill his slot their conference, and the guy they chose was Jikido ‘Jay’ Aeba, a member of the notorious Japanese “Happy Science” cult, who helped the religion extrude a tendril into the […]
dj BC writes, “In 2006 I mixed a bunch of New Orleans artists with Wu Tang rappers to make the record ‘Wu Orleans.’ 11 years later, here’s part two, with ten new songs. Free MP3 download of both albums here. A very limited run of vinyl with all 20 Wu Orleans songs on two records, […]
DJI is the world’s leading designer and producer of easy-to-fly drones and aerial photography systems. If you’re a drone enthusiast, you want a DJI. If you know absolutely nothing about drones and think they’re weird, if you win a DJI you’re going to become a drone enthusiast.Enter this giveaway (for free, yes) and you’ll get a […]
Although there will never be a consensus about the best way to make coffee, any coffee connoisseur will agree that controlling the grind of your beans and balancing water temperature are the keys to a tasty cup. Since your plastic coffee pot doesn’t really allow for that kind of customization, going back to the French […]
Not all hackers are malicious information thieves—white-hat ethical hackers work with technology companies to ensure the security of their computer systems and user data. With all of today’s high-profile data breaches, ethical hackers are in considerable demand. To learn these critical skills and break into the high-paying cyber security field, try taking the courses in this […]