What They Say:
The latest installment in Dark Horse’s Eerie Archives deluxe hardcover series is here! In addition to the timeless horror stories found in this terrifying time, this volume contains vintage ads, all original text pieces, the debut of the “Eerie’s Delights” feature, and reproductions of Sanjulian’s legendary painted covers. This is one series that just keeps getting better and better! As a special bonus treat, this volume also reprints two horror-themed, cutout game spreads (complete with rules) created by Bill DuBay and reprinted in color.
Writers: Bill DuBay, Nicola Cuti, Greg Potter, Doug Moench, Esteban Maroto, Steve Skeates, Jack Butterworth, Al Milgrom, Richard Margopoulos, John Jacobson
Artists: Luis Dominguez, Tom Sutton, Jaime Brocal, Martin Salvador, Paul Neary, Esteban Maroto, Sanjulian, Bill DuBay, Rich Buckler, Enrich, Munes, Ramon Torrents, Aldoma
Thanks to the Comics Code Authority, the great horror comics of the Forties and Fifties were dead and gone. The constraints of the Code made it impossible for great titles like Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror to tell their signature brand of lurid tales of terror. Magazines, however, did not have to conform to the Code, and Warren Publishing took advantage of this in 1964 and published two great horror magazines: Creepy and Eerie. With the greater freedom afforded them, these magazines could feature female nudity, grotesque images, and sensational violence. Needless to say, they were very successful.
Volume 10 changes the format with the introduction of regular and limited series. The tales of Dracula and Dax the Warrior become mainstays, and this volume in particular features recurring stories about a werewolf and a mummy. From what I gather from the introduction, this serial approach helped differentiate Eerie from the other horror magazines and the new glut of horror-inspired comics, such as Marvels’ Werewolf by Night and Tomb of Dracula.
For the most part the stories are very similar to the kind you’d see in Tales from the Crypt: tales of revenge and sadism that often have some sort of supernatural twist, such as the story “Dracula’s Son” which chronicles the King of Vampires falling in love with a beautiful deaf-mute woman who doesn’t realize his identity. The Count fights against his murderous thirst for as long as he can, but he eventually leaves her to keep her safe. The story ends with Dracula engaged in a deadly confrontation with his estranged son.
99% of the stories are traditional Gothic horror, but there are the occasional science fiction tales and the series Dax the Warrior is pure Fantasy in the tradition of Robert E. Howard’s Conan and Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. Although it should be noted that the style of Fantasy that these stories fall under often relied on Gothic conventions.
The stories in this volume are all entertaining, but not always very well executed. They tend to stray into hackney Gothic clichés and are generally overwritten. To be fair, that was the style at the time, but it does date these stories and make them more amusing than terrifying. I will say, though, that this volume did contain one of the more interesting takes on the Lilith myth I have ever read and had a Swamp Thing-esque tale that was surprisingly sweet.
Where this collection really shines, though, is the art. There is some beautiful art in this magazine that is very reminiscent of the work of Bernie Wrightson, whom I consider to be one of the five best comic artists to have ever lived. The use of light and shadow to create atmosphere is excellent, the women are astoundingly beautiful, and the grotesque is stomach-churning. I could thumb through this collection just to look at the art.
While the stories tend to be a bit cliché and over-written, the art here is gorgeous, and that alone makes this worth checking out. Moreover, this is just fun to read, especially if you are a fan of Gothic or pulp horror.