Horror comics have an odd place in American history. We all know about EC Comic and their Tales From The Crypt. But once upon a time, there was an entire ecosystem of ghoulish comics designed to separate kids from their spending money. These ghastly funny books had their own mascots and catchphrases, as well as their own menagerie of monsters to delight and scare in every issue. Despite shaping a generation of horror fanatics, those pre-code comics have been largely forgotten. But as the good book says, that is not dead which can eternal lie. Thanks to the folks at IDW Publishing, we’ve unearthed a collection of vintage frights. Let’s take a look at Haunted Horror Vol. 7: Cry From The Coffin. Edited by Craig Yoe, Clizia Gussoni, Steve Banes with classic cover art by Bernard Baily.
The seventh volume in IDW’s archival series, Cry from the Coffin collects a host of pre Comics Code Authority titles from across the horror comic world. Each entry has been lovingly restored for this collection. While their original publishers (Ace Magazine, Harvey Comics and more) are long extinct, editors Banes, Gussoni and Yoe reproduce their tales crisply and cleanly. It’s a good thing, too. These blasts from the past have to be seen to be believed. Cry from the Coffin is packed to the brim with outlandish stories about killer swimming pools, subway monsters and haunted purses. What a fright!
Unless you grew up with them, you’re probably not going to be familiar with the comics in this collection. After all, the Cryptkeeper became a household name, while “Forelock the Warlock” and “Madame Clizia” did not. Cry from the Coffin features stories from titles like Adventures Into Darkness, Web of Evil, and Weird Terror among others. Most of these comics didn’t survive the dreaded Comics Code Authority. This scarcity makes tracking them down all the more impressive and worthwhile.
The horror comic landscape has changed a lot since these comics were first published. What was once a market targeted at children is now firmly for adults. The horror host has gone the way of the dodo, while you’ll find more extreme content in your average cape comic (I’m looking at you Ryan Ottley). All that being said, there’s a refreshing honesty to these stories that you just don’t see anymore. They’re designed to thrill and excite young readers with a young reader’s idea of horror.
To say these comics haven’t aged well would be to do them a disservice. These dark tales are as colorfully grim as they day they were first printed. But by today’s light they’re positively wholesome, more good spirited fun than bloodcurdling terror. And yet these were the stories that inflamed he United States Senate into Creating the Comics Code Authority, the draconian regulatory force that stifled creative expression for decades.
In Seduction of the Innocent, American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham argued that these were the stories that would tear down the pillars of American civilization. Stories so evil, that the entire horror genre had to be erased from the newsstands.
What we see instead is tomfoolery. And sometimes that’s all you need. Check this one out Boils and Ghouls.
Haunted Horror Vol. 7: Cry From the Coffin
To say Cry From the Coffin haven’t aged well would be to do them a disservice. These dark tales are as colorfully grim as the day they were first printed. But by today’s light they’re positively wholesome, more good spirited fun than bloodcurdling terror.