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Author Topic: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?  (Read 2642 times)

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Offline garbanzo

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Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« on: January 02, 2018, 12:28:21 PM »
I just got back from a vacation in San Francisco, and while I was there I stopped in a local comic shop and found a copy of The Horror! The Horror!: Comic Books the Government Didn't Want You to Read. Not only is it great to look at, but it provides some historical context to the comics - something which I lack as a child of the 1980s. The more I read, the more I see these old stories in a new light.


Now I'm wondering what other good books, magazines, or other media might be worth tracking down to help me learn more about the art, artists, and culture surrounding horror comics prior to the CCA?



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Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« on: January 02, 2018, 12:28:21 PM »

Offline Yoc

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2018, 04:51:51 PM »
Hi G,
Welcome to the wonderful world of precode horror comics!  Oh I envy you.  You've got so much good (and bad) horror material to read.
EC is your gold standard but unfortunately it's not in the public domain so we can't share it here.  But there's many reprint volumes out there to find.  Check your local library, many carry the EC archives.

For learning more on the era one of our scanners Tilliban is very devoted to the genre.  He's got a handful of site to check out starting here:  http://fifties-horror.de/   It's in German so you'll have to run that URL through Google Translate or some other such site.  Tilliban also has subsites at the bottom that cover Ace; Avon, DC & Quality; Fawcett & Charlton; Fiction House & Standard and a last one on the crime genre.

We have an old topic on here that covers a lot of different books that would help you:
Books on the History of Comic Books you have read or own in your collection!  CLICK HERE

The best current Magazines being published on comics is Roy Thomas' ALTER-EGO published by Two-Morrows.  Every issue is great!  They also publish BACK ISSUE which focuses more on the Silverage comic era.

A book that gets talked a lot about in there that you really should give a read is David Hajdu's The Ten-Cent Plague followed by 'Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, gangsters and the birth of the comic book' by Gerard Jones.  Both are wonderful reads.
The Steranko History of Comics Volumes I and II is wonderful but also very hard to find and can be pretty expensive too.  I paid more than I wanted for a couple of reader copies on eBay.
There's a series of comics that was reprinted last year I think called 'Comic Book History of Comics' by Fred Van Lente that is well done.  A tpb of it can be found on Amazon.

Two recent reads I quite enjoyed but are specific to artist or character:
Dinomania - The Lost Art of Winsor McCay (2015) by Winsor McCay and Ulrich Merkl
The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Lepore (Knopf 2014) and a big source material for the 'Professor Marston and the Wonder Women' movie that came out last Nov.

Some books I have in my 'to read' pile though not horror specific include:
Fiction House: From Pulps To Panels... (Yoe Books 2017) by Mitch Maglio
Black Light - The World of L.B. Cole (Fantagraphics 2015)
Four Color Fear - Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s (2010) by Greg Sadowski
From Shadow To Light: The Life & Art Of Mort Meskin by Steven Brower (2010)
Out of the Shadows by Mort Meskin, Steven Brower (2012)
Spacehawk by Basil Wolverton (Fantagraphics2012)(Digital)
Take That, Adolf!: The Fighting Comic Books Of The Second World War by Mark Fertig
The Art of Will Eisner (Kitchen Sink Press 1989)
The Blighted Eye: Original Comic Art from the Glenn Bray Collection (2014)
The Secret History of Marvel Comics by Bell/Yassallo (2013)


I'm sure some others here might suggest more reading material.

Let us know how it goes,
-Yoc

Offline garbanzo

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2018, 06:11:26 PM »
Holy cow, what a great reply. Thanks Yoc!

I've read quite a bit already, so I'm looking now for more context, and stuff written about the comics.

I've definitely got EC covered. I've been buying up the reprints from Comixology - both the recolored versions from Dark Horse and the beautiful black and white artist collections from Fantagraphics - both of which are full of lovely articles and extras.

I have a few others from your list too, including Spacehawk and Creeping Death From Neptune in paper (and Turn Loose Our Death Rays And Kill Them All - how could you miss that one?). In digital I have that LB Cole book, Four Color Fear, Dinomania, and a couple of nice Bob Powell collections. I'm still waiting for that Fiction House book to be released on Comixology - the publishing date keeps getting pushed back. If they delay it any longer, I'll have to break down and grab the hardcover. Of course, I can't get enough of Maurice Whitman's GGA covers, so maybe I should just buy it in paper anyway...

But I'm interested specifically in horror stuff at the moment. Four Color Fear has some nice extras, but it's mostly reprints. Yoe/IDW has been doing a bunch of horror reprint books under the Chilling Archives of Horror title, and from what I've seen thumbing through them at my local comic shop they have some extras too, but still not enough to justify collecting yet another series (especially when most of those stories are already available here!)

I'll definitely look into ALTER-EGO (especially if Roy Thomas is involved, I love his Conan stories). I've read other stuff from Two-Morrows (including their horror-focused Best of From the Tomb which is pretty OK), and they do good stuff. Does ALTER-EGO focus mostly on Golden Age or is it all across the board?

Meanwhile I'll dig into some of the other books you listed - there are a few I haven't heard of - and I'll look through that other thread you mentioned as well.

Thanks again!

Offline SuperScrounge

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2018, 07:37:26 PM »

I can definitely recommend Foul Play! The Art And Artists Of The Notorious 1950s E.C. Comics! by Grant Giessman


My review for it over at Nitcentral "This is a very nice history of EC Comics & the artists who worked there. It's broken up into chapters for the main artists (Al Feldstein, Harvey Kurtzman, Johnny Craig, Jack Davis, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Wally Wood, Joe Orlando, Will Elder, John Severin, George Evans, Al Williamson, Reed Crandall & Bernie Krigstein), along with color reproductions of stories each artist did (one story per artist), & one chapter for minor artists (Marie Severin, Sheldon Moldoff, Alex Toth, Basil Wolverton & Joe Kubert). Some behind the scenes stuff is reproduced as well as a story intended for publication, but never used because of the shutting down of the comic book line."


Mike Benton put out a number of books on various facets of comic book history, one was Horror Comics The Illustrated History, but I haven't read that one, so I couldn't say how well it reads, but I did like his Science Fiction book and the two Superhero books, so it's probably of a similar quality.

Offline GeneYas

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2018, 07:50:48 PM »
Someone posted a link to this on another board and I thought it was fascinating.

The FBI files on William Gaines.  :o
http://comiclist.comuf.com/EC/EC_Comics_Investigated.html

Offline Yoc

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2018, 10:40:41 AM »
Thanks for sharing that FBI link with us here Gene.
---
I'm a big fan of Fletcher Hanks as well GB so yep, I've got the Turn Loose Our Death Rays as well.  Just forgot to include it on the list.

Take care,
-Yoc

Offline SuperScrounge

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2018, 02:53:51 PM »
Glancing through the FBI report it dawned on me that to get their information there had to be somebody paid by the government to read comic books and Playboy magazine.


How do you get that job???  :D

Offline garbanzo

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2018, 05:59:51 PM »
Last week I ordered two books from that Mike Benton series - the horror one and the sci-fi one. They both arrived today, and they look fantastic! Lots of art, lots to read, and great checklists in the back. Excellent recommendations, thanks!

Offline Yoc

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2018, 08:49:30 AM »
Have fun GB!
:)

Offline Poztron

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2018, 09:13:51 PM »
Now I'm wondering what other good books, magazines, or other media might be worth tracking down to help me learn more about the art, artists, and culture surrounding horror comics prior to the CCA?
I think there's a lot of good reading and art in Twomorrows publishing's "The Best of From The TOMB". They sometimes have this for sale at a discount.

www.twomorrows.com

Offline Yoc

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2018, 08:24:41 AM »
That's a good suggestion there Poz.  And one I should have mentioned right off: Tales of Terror - The Complete EC Compendium - Grant Geismen (Fantagraphics2000).  A must read for EC fans!

-Yoc

Offline garbanzo

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2018, 04:12:21 PM »
I've just ordered a copy of Alter Ego 97 which is mostly dedicated to pre-code horror. Looking forward to that one. And while buying it from TwoMorrows I found out there's another From the Tomb anthology called It Crept From the Tomb. It looks like its focus isn't GA stuff, but the synopsis mentions Skywald and Warren - post-code stuff, sure, but not CCA approved, so I ordered that one too.


I also picked up The Horror Comics by William Schoell (2014). Unfortunately I cannot recommend this one. It's mostly synopses of stories, including the twist that is common at the end of horror anthology comics. It does have a bit of contextual information about publishers and such, but not enough to make the book worthwhile. I was hoping it would at least serve as a good guide for collectors, but its organization is haphazard, and there are no checklists, or even issue counts for the various series it talks about.




Offline Yoc

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2018, 06:41:00 PM »
Thanks for the update Garbanzo.  BTW, love the avatar.  Nice.

If you are interested in the insane 70s Skywald era there's some books on that too.
The Complete Illustrated History of the Skywald Horror-Mood by Alan Hewetson (Critical Vision, 2004)
and this one which I understand covers horror comics from the 50s as well:
Ghastly Terror!: The Horrible Story of the Horror Comics by Stephen Sennitt (Critical Vision, 1999)

I haven't read either myself, just know they are out there.
-Yoc

Offline garbanzo

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2018, 05:41:15 PM »
Thanks Yoc. That Skywald book has been on my wanted list for a while, but it's kind of pricey these days.

A few more books about black & white horror mags I want to buy eventually:

Horror Comics in Black and White: A History and Catalog, 1964-2004

The Great Monster Magazines: A Critical Study of the Black and White Publications of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s

The Weird World of Eerie Publications: Comic Gore That Warped Millions of Young Minds

Offline Geo (RIP)

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Re: Books/magazines about pre-code horror?
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2018, 05:07:43 PM »
Here are a few more to add to the list some might be interested in.

Wally Wood Eerie Tales of Crime and Horror - Vanguard 2013

The Comics Journal Library Volume 10 - The EC Artists Part 1 & 2 - Fantagraphics Books September 2016

Geo
Filling holes, by ONE book at a time