When writing reviews, I’ve often professed my love for anthology books and lamented on their decline in the field of comics. Among the many titles I had the pleasure of counting among my literary pursuits have been Heavy Metal magazine, British series 2000 A.D., and Dark Horse Presents. However, my real love was for the horror and science fiction titles published by William Gaines under his EC imprint. These have included Tales From the Crypt, Vault of Horror, and Weird Science. So when I was given IDW Publishing’s Haunted Horror (a collection of stories compiled by comic historian Craig Yoe of Yoe Comics) to review, I expected a nostalgic trip down macabre rather than memory lane.
Unfortunately, this compilation (in my opinion) does not represent the best of the genre. Horror books suffered a setback in the mid 1950’s with the publication of Frederic Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent (1948). As a result of this scathing indictment of the genre, horror titles were deemed poisonous to the minds of the youth of that era. The results of this study, as well as a Congressional hearing on the subject of juvenile delinquency, gave rise to the Comics Code (where comics, as an art form, languished in the iron grip of censorship for years after). Horror titles hit their peak in the 40’s. By the time the 50’s rolled around, the genre became inundated by other, more obscure titles like Web of Evil, Horrific, and Fantastic Fears. The stories in Haunted Horror # 5 were first published in some of these periodicals.
The stories (some with sports themes) are derivative of some of the earlier horror stories from Tales From the Crypt and Vault of Horror titles. I found I knew how the story was going to end, even though it was the first time I was reading it. The artists, although competent, ranged from little known artists to artists whose names even I didn’t recognize. I still can recall some of the talent in EC’s stable. Among these legendary creators were Graham Ingels, Al Feldstein, Jack Davis, and the great Wally Wood.
While this collection may appeal to the die-hard connoisseur of horror tales, I’d point the novice reader towards the early EC works.