IDW Publishing and Yoe Books are at it again! The continuing series of The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics now has an 8th installment showcasing the artwork of Howard Nostrand and titled, appropriately enough, Howard Nostrand’s Nightmares. So who is Howard Nostrand? Glad you asked…
Nostrand was an assistant to Bob Powell and when you look at his work it’s obvious (and admitted by Howard himself) that there’s a heavy Jack Davis influence. Additionally, Nostrand’s art reflects the work of such greats as Wally Wood, Will Eisner, Milton Caniff, Noel Sickles and Harvey Kurtzman, not to mention the mentor Bob Powell himself.
A foreword provided by Howard Nostrand’s former editor, Sid Jacobsen, gives a terrific introduction to this often overlooked talent and Craig Yoe has collected and reprinted some prime examples of his efforts. Like his contemporary, Jack Cole, Nostrand seemed to be fighting off some of his own demons, often with alcohol, but his work didn’t appear to suffer.
With contributions in such Harvey Comics titles as Black Cat, Chamber of Chills, Witches Tales and Tomb of Terror, it doesn’t take a genius to realize the reader is in for some more pre-code horror escapades that will linger in the memory bank.
Some of the treats inside this book include stories of Zodiac symbols coming to life and terror in the boxing ring in “Big Fight!” Further, there are twist endings in Twilight Zone style fashion in such stories as “Haircut,” “Dead End” and “Lynch Mob.” Other features include “Mother Mongooses’ Nursery Crimes” and in a real coup there are five stories reprinted from the original art boards, adding a new dimension to the reading enjoyment.
Nostrand covered more than just horror, also managing to master such genres as adventures on desert isles, tales of knighthood and intrigue in the old west. We also learn of the forays into humor. Since MAD was the gold standard of the day, with imitators galore, including Editor Jacobsen’s FLIP magazine, which was reminiscent of such nearly forgotten efforts as Ross Andru and Mike Esposito’s Get Lost, featuring the inevitable poor schlub and the beautiful babe, we can see Howard flexing his artistic muscles in new directions.
While the horror work in this tome is not as explicit as some of his peers, the stories are every bit as riveting and haunting and it will be a great addition to any aficionado’s library.