With Halloween just around the corner, I thought I’d follow the lead of ever other blogger out there and talk about horror comics. What I present to you below are the 5 greatest horror comic books ever produced. Although this list is based entirely on my personal opinion, I’ve never known me to be wrong. Here we go folks, grab some popcorn and hold onto your hats!
5. Haunted #20
For those of you who like a tale with a Lovecraftian feel to it, you will absolutely fall in love with Haunted #20 from Charlton. Most Charlton horror books from the 70s feature a real mishmash of 5-8 page stories, but for some reason editor George Wildman allowed Tom Sutton to run wild for 23 pages. And run wild, he did! This is heaven for Tom Sutton fans (and if you’re not one, you should be) as we’ve got a great gothic mansion, a portal to hell and a nosy estate lawyer. Sutton ensures that the ending is not 100% happy. Reprinted in Haunted #44.
4. Tales of the Zombie #8
Ok, there’s a lot of nostalgia built into this selection. I grew up in the Beaches neighborhood of Toronto (or “The Beach” if you’re a local snob) and Saturday mornings were spent trying to find the best ways to spend my allowance at the sorely missed Queen’s Comics on Queen St. They had a good selection of black and white magazines, and when I saw this book I couldn’t resist. I first read this as a 9 year old in 1981, and there are a three images that I haven’t been able to scrape off my brain since then. Two are from the Gerber/Marcos main Zombie story; a rat chewing on Simon Garth’s cheek and Garth smashing a woman’s head into pulp. The final image is by Alfredo Alcala – a man’s bloated and swollen body as he fends off a swarm of killer bees. Thanks for 27 years of nightmares, guys! Reprinted in Essential Tales of the Zombie.
3. Tales From the Tomb #1
In 1962, Dell Comics did an end run around the Comics Code and put out the Tales From the Tomb one-shot. Edit by legendary visionary LB Cole (who also provided the cover), this infamous book features a fine collection of stories written by John Stanley (creator of Little Lulu, among other things). For an early 60s, post-Wertham comic book, this one is downright haunting. My favorite stories include “Mr. Green Must Be Fed”, which led to my distrust of area rugs, and “Mr. Quilt” which has a very creepy EC-style ending. Frank Springer and Tony Tallarico do an excellent job bringing these tales to life. It’s too bad nobody has acquired the rights and reprinted this book, as it’s getting pricier and pricier each year.
2. Creepy #6
If you are going to seek out one early issue of Creepy, might I suggest keeping Creepy #6 in mind? If I put together an all-star team of horror creators, it would certainly include John Severin, Joe Orlando and Gray Morrow. Those fine gents are all represented here, with the Morrow drawn tale “The Thing in the Pit” being a highlight. You’ve also got Alex Toth’s trippy “The Stalkers” . “Thumbs Down” is certainly one of Al Williamson’s greatest works at Warren. All of that is great, but the main reason that this issue made the list is the adaptation of Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” drawn majestically by Reed Crandall. It is bricklaying perfection. Most stories reprinted at least once in various Warren mags.
1. Tales From the Crypt #45
There are so many great EC horror comics, but I can think of none more impressive than this gem, as it contains 3 of my favorite EC stories, all written by Carl Wessler. “The Substitute”, with sharp Jack Kamen art, is a story we’ve seen a few times, but I’ll never get tired of a man striking a match to discover that he’s in a coffin. “Murder Dream” is an exercise in surreal paranoia – truly one of Berni Krigstein’s greatest pieces. My favorite story, however, is the tale depicted on the cover. “Telescope” is the tale of a rather, hungry and increasingly delusional shipwreck survivor. It all leads up to the final panel (which you can see coming from a mile away), but the pure charm of Jack Davis’ artwork may the journey ridiculously enjoyable. Reprinted by Gemstone in late 90s.