I love horror. Scary movies, scary books, scary comics, I'm a fan of all of it. And I can trace this love of being scared to my mom letting me watch cheesy B-movie from the ripe age of five onward, and caving in to my asking her to buy three horror magazines, Creepy, Vampirella, and Eerie. Filled with art and tales that would have been right at home in the old EC Comics, these three books scared the pants off of me. Some of those stories are firmly stuck in my head to this very day.
So it's safe to say that when I heard that Dark Horse was going to collect these wonderful books in hardcover reprints, I was a little excited. (As for what this says about my mom's parenting choices… I leave that as an exercise for the reader.)
Eerie Archives is now in its tenth volume, and if you are a fan of old-school horror, or of the old pulp adventure magazines, then you owe it to yourself to pick up this book. It is a loving reprint of the magazine, issues 47 to 51. Well, mostly 47 to 50, to be honest. Issue 51 of the series was a "Best Of" issue, containing stories that have already been reprinted in the previous nine volumes of this series, so they were not reprinted in this volume.
The book does, however, contain the "Monster Match" game that was included in issue 51, if you feel like cutting it out and playing it, like I did when I had the issue as a child. I spent quite a few hours playing this game, though now I think it's wiser to copy the pages instead of cutting up your very nice book.
Aside from those already reprinted tales, this volume reprints every page of each issue, the stories, the letter columns, reviews of fanzines of the day, interviews with different writers/artists and even the cheesy "150 Army Set for only $1.25!" The book is a wonderful time capsule back to this era of lurid art of vampires, werewolves, half-naked damsels and bold heroes.
There is something fun about the horror comics of this era. Eerie was free of the Comics Code that tied the hands of the horror books by Marvel and DC of the time, so it was free to say and show things you wouldn't find anywhere else. Sometimes it's not the most polished art, especially compared to today's books, but it is always atmospheric, moody and fits the story being told.
Speaking of these stories, what separated Eerie from Creepy was, as pointed out by Batton Lash in his forward to this volume, was that while Creepy mainly stayed with the old EC formula of morality plays, Eerie had several continuing stories mixed in with the one-shot shockers. These ongoing stories were a bit of a gamble, and most of them get their start in this volume.
These tales included the adventures of horror mainstays Dracula, the Mummy, the Werewolf, as well as pulp adventure hero Dax the Warrior who comes right out of the Edgar Rice Burroughs mold. The solo tales covered everything from gothic horror, "modern" day murder and weird science-fiction stories, all of which have that Eerie twist.
As there are 31 stories in this book, I'm just going to give you the highlights.
(Nicola Cuti/Jamie Brocal)
In this tale, we're told Cousin Eerie's take on Lilith, the woman created before Eve in the Garden of Eden. Unlike the usual versions of the story, here we're told how God gave Gabriel the task of creating a companion for Adam, but as he is working on his "woman project", Satan comes along to ask him to speak to God on his behalf about getting over the whole rebellion thing. But after seeing the rough draft of Eve, Satan runs off, claiming he no longer wants to bother. Then he creates Lilith, to cause more mischief in the garden before settling on the whole Apple ploy.
As per most versions of this tale, Adam chooses Eve because of Lilith's poor attitude. So Lilith leaves in a huff, swearing vengeance upon them both. It doesn't help that Satan also comes back and tricks her a few times, turning her into a hideous devil woman. The story then details her tracking and harassing Adam and Eve through the centuries until their final confrontation.
This is a fun, if not quite traditional tale of the Mother of Monsters, but with some great art by Brocal, who's Lilith is sexy even when she has a demoic face, "Lilith" is a prime example of the lurid fun to be found in Eerie.
And An End
By Steve Skeates and Jaime Brocal
In the first installment of the Mummy series of stories, we're introduced to Michael Harding, Archeologist, who has discovered not only an unopened tomb in the desert, but a mystic amulet that will let him place his mind within the powerful form of the neigh-indestructible Mummy!
This is a cool and different take on the traditional Mummy story, where the dead Egyptian is driven to kill those who cursed themselves by entering his chambers. Here the amulet is a temptation to use the creature for revenge, as the mind of the Mummy itself rides shotgun like an evil subconscious, pushing you to more evil and murder. And Michael has quite the temptation when he finds out that his bratty girlfriend is cheating on him with another member of the dig team. This leads to a bloody confrontation and a typically Eerie end for Michael, but not the amulet, which finds its way to England.
This story has some of the best art in the book, and Skeates tells a great tale about how power and jealousy can corrupt even good men. This tale sets the tone and pattern for the further adventures of the Mummy, which will stalk through more issues of the book.
On A Stalking Moonlit Night
By Al Milgrom and Rich Buckler
Another first installment tale, this time of the somewhat tragic figure Arthur Lemming, who is cursed to upon the three nights of the full moon to become the murderous Werewolf! We don't see, at least in this volume of Eerie, how Arthur contracted this curse, but we do see its effects as we witness what we come to find out is another in a series of murders by the fuzzy beast.
We then meet his lovely daughter Miriam and his rather cold wife Angela. Arthur isn't happy that his wife is defiant and hasn't "been" with him in over a month. But as Arthur seems to be your standard domineering Victorian husband, who has blackouts that he can't explain, we can sort of understand why Angela is not that happy with her marriage. She accuses him of being a drunk, a liar and charges of infide
lity fly from them both. Arthur tries to deny the charge, but can't fully do so, what with the entire "I don't remember" excuse. Miriam slaps Arthur in return for his accusation, and he decides to follow her out that night and see if she is cheating on him.
That night, as he follows his wife, Arthur discovers the truth behind Miriam's nightly travels, just in time for the full moon to do its thing. From here we have blood, mayhem and a final scene that will shape the next episodes to follow.
It's very interesting and a good twist that Arthur doesn't realize or remember his transformations into the fang-faced beast, unlike most werewolves who are always begging to be tied up before the beast takes over. The story is gripping, and one of the best in the book.
The Secret of Pursiahz
In this tale of Dax the Warrior's ongoing pulp adventures, our loincloth clad, sword-swinging barbarian comes across a wounded winged man. He tells Dax of how he and his winged lady-love had flown too close the ground, and gotten themselves ensnared in the web of a giant spider. He had escaped, but was forced to flee the giant monster, leaving his mate behind.
Dax volunteers to see if he can rescue the woman, and embarks on an adventure straight out of the '30s pulp era.
The art here fits right in with the old Conan comics, and has a twist ending, which is unusual for the Dax tales, which are normally straightforward adventure stories in the pulp mold. It also answers the question of whether Dax's world is some alien planet (like John Carter's Mars), our distant past (like Conan's Hyboria), or some odd postapocalyptic future (like in Thundarr the Barbarian).
There are a lot of other stories in this 272-page volume, most of which are at least cool if not great. The art also runs from mid-range to great, especially for the era.
So if you are a fan of '70s lurid horror, comics history or just darn good stories, Eerie Volume 10 is well worth your investment.
Gary Mitchel is a writer, geek blogger, gamer, sf/fantasy fan, comics reader, podcaster and International Man of Mystery (who’s too dangerous for the entire country of Canada) currently living near Seattle. He is co-host with Deanna Toxopeus of the RevolutionSF Roundtable, the site's weekly geek culture discussion which was just nominated for a 2012 Parsec Award. He has also appeared on the Shauncastic, Good to be a Geek and Saturday B Movie Reel podcasts. He can be found on the Facebook and followed on the Twitter as @gary_mitchel (and yes, it's his real name).
Additionally, he is a frequent panelist at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, having discussed Sci-Fi TV, zombies, movies, zombies, cartoons, comics and zombies. Some attendees have stated that he is "hilarious," and Gary swears that said people are not related to him.