Dark Horse to release classic EC Comics reprints

CryptCoverAs we inch ever closer to the Halloween season, news is beginning to trickle down about all the cool horror-related books, comics and Blu-rays that will be coming our way. I’m already stoked about the Blu-ray of Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness that’s coming our way in September, and I’m looking forward to the 35th (!) Anniversary edition of my favorite horror film of all time, John Carpenter’s Halloween. Oh, and don’t forget Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, because I sure as hell haven’t.

The next tidbit that’s caught my eye is the news that Dark Horse Comics will be picking up where Gemstone left off in reprinting the classic EC Comics series Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror. This cements Dark Horse as the official curator of classic horror comics, as they add these important titles to a library that already includes hardcover collections of Creepy and Eerie. Russ Cochran will be coming over from Gemstone to oversee the Dark Horse editions (which begin with volume 4 of Tales and volume 3 of Vault). The reprints will be digitally re-colored with original colorist Marie Severin’s colors on hand to guide them.

Tales from the Crypt volume 4 hits shelves the day before Halloween, while Vault of Horror volume 3 will bow in January 2014. This is great news, and even though my bank account is already beginning to grumble in protest, I’m betting there’s more dark goodness to come in the weeks and months ahead.

Hill and Rodriguez to bring the Keyhouse down with two-part ‘Locke & Key’ finale

locke-key-head-games2-gabriel-rodriguezOver the past six years or so, writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez have been crafting one of the finest comic series on the shelves - Locke & Key. I’ve not been shy about professing my appreciation for their work in the past, and I’m anxious to see how they wrap up this intricate, intimate story of a family haunted by demons of both the internal and hellishly external natures.

The series is currently in the middle of its concluding arc, Locke & Key: Omega, and it’s killing me because I wait for the nice hardback collections to come out so I have no idea at this point what’s going on. And now comes along this news, which is great because it means we get just a little bit more Locke & Key than was originally planned, but awful because now we have to wait just a bit longer to see how everything plays out.

While adding an extra issue may scream “cash grab” to some, it’s clearly not the case here. Hill gives me the impression of being a guy who is all about the integrity of the story, first, last and always, so if this is the space they need to tell the ending, then I’m glad they are getting it.

Hill has also promised that, while this is the definitive end to the story of the Locke family, there are still more stories to tell involving the rambling Victorian mansion known as Keyhouse.

Can. Not. Wait.

Interview: Bev Vincent on ‘The Dark Tower Companion’

DTCompanionMuch like Roland Deschain does in the second Dark Tower book, The Drawing of the Three, Stephen King has drawn various individuals into his strange and captivating world as his long journey in Roland’s world has progressed. These people have become part of King’s own ka-tet, a group united in purpose. King’s purpose was to create the journey; these others have been brought in to enrich it.

Among them I count Michael Whelan, whose art graced the first Dark Tower book (The Gunslinger) as well as the last (The Dark Tower). I count Robin Furth, who came on as a research assistant when King began work on the what was then the final three volumes of the series, and has gone on to contribute much to this ever-expanding world. And I count Bev Vincent, who has now written two books about the Dark Tower series, each of them providing valuable insight into King’s complex masterpiece.

In this exclusive interview, we talk some about Vincent’s first book, The Road to the Dark Tower, but concentrate mainly on his new project: The Dark Tower Companion, due out on April 2 from New American Library (with special limited editions forthcoming from Cemetery Dance). We also talk about many of the topics Vincent covers in his new book, from proposed film versions of the Dark Tower story to the compelling, divisive way in which King ended the series. (Don’t worry, there’s a large SPOILER ALERT in place before you get there!)

How did The Dark Tower Companion come about?

I’ve been asked a number of times whether I planned to update The Road to the Dark Tower to include The Wind Through the Keyhole and other material that has been released since my first book came out in 2004. When a Dark Tower film was announced for 2013, I pitched this idea to my agent. He suggested that something totally new would be better than an update so that’s what I did. I went back to ground zero and wrote a completely new book—it’s 50% longer than The Road to the Dark Tower, but it uses none of the previous material.

What sets this new book apart from The Road to the Dark Tower?

The Road to the Dark Tower was intended for people who had finished the series and wanted to explore it in greater depth. After the first chapter, there was no safe ground—it was spoilers all the way down. The only way to discuss the ultimate significance of things was to reveal future events.

DTComicWhen it came time to write The Dark Tower Companion, I thought about readers who might be introduced to the Dark Tower series from sources other than the books themselves. For example, the Marvel graphic novels were very popular and some people who had read them but not the books might be curious about certain details. Also, when the movies are produced, there will be viewers who may want to know more about a particular character or event. The Dark Tower Companion was written with these people in mind. I’m careful about what I reveal about the series ending, for example.

However, it’s also a handy reference guide for people who have read — or are reading — the series. It has an extensive glossary of people, places and things, which wasn’t in The Road to the Dark Tower, as well as chapters on Mid-World history and geography, including maps of Manhattan and Mid-World. It’s less analytical than my first book and more expansive. It’s also the first book to explore the Marvel adaptations and how they relate to King’s novels.

What sets it apart from Robin Furth’s The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance?

Robin’s book is structured like a Biblical concordance, hence the name. People associated with a particular event or location are grouped together. So, if you want to look up Allie, you first have to find the section on people from Tull. There’s a logic and a benefit to this approach, but I used a different one. My glossary is divided into two sections — Mid-World people, places and things, and those from “our” world. Beyond that, it’s all alphabetical.

Also, my book contains plot synopses of the books and essays on various topics, including a few at the end in which I contemplate the significance of certain things, (such as) “Who was Roland’s greatest adversary?” And, of course, “What does the ending mean?”

Also, The Dark Tower Companion contains interviews with King, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman, Brian Stark, Robin Furth, Peter David, Richard Isanove, Jae Lee and several other Marvel artists. These pieces all reveal never-before-disclosed details about various aspects of the Dark Tower universe.

What is it about this series that has prompted you to write two in-depth books about it? Are there other series that you’d like to examine in a similar fashion?

As much as the Dark Tower series has been a constant in King’s life—he’s been working on it since 1970 — it’s been a constant in mine since 1984, when I read The Gunslinger for the first time. I’ve lived with the series in real time, waiting for the next installment to come out at 4-6 year intervals. When I heard that the final three books were done in manuscript, I proposed The Road to the Dark Tower as a way of exploring King’s work and themes without having to tackle everything he’s ever written, a daunting task. I treat the series as a microcosm of his literary world. That first book was my way of solidifying my thoughts and starting a conversation about them.

Having spent so much time deep inside the Dark Tower universe, I find myself thinking about it a lot and discussing it with a wide variety of people, so the second book came naturally. It was probably the backwards way of doing things — in depth first and then more expansive but less analytical second, but I’m glad I did it that way because I was able to cover the newer material in the more expansive book, The Dark Tower Companion.

There are other series that I’ve considered exploring, but the ones I’m most eager to tackle aren’t yet complete, so I have to bide my time if I want to do something with them.

What is your working relationship with Stephen King like on these books? Does he have final approval over what goes in them?

First off, The Road to the Dark Tower couldn’t have happened the way it did without King’s cooperation. He showed a great deal of faith and trust by giving me copies of the first draft manuscripts of Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower two years before they were published. I had so many secrets to keep for such a long time!

When I was writing that book, I asked King questions from time to time, but he’s a very busy guy as you might imagine, so I tried not to bother him too much. Mostly I bounced observations off him to see if I was on target or off the mark about something.

When it was going into production, my editor said they wanted to put “Authorized by Stephen King” on the cover. I asked King for his opinion about this and he said he was okay with it, but was that something I wanted? It implied, he said, that he had control over what I’d written, which wasn’t the case, and might weaken people’s perception of the book’s integrity. He did ask to see the manuscript prior to publication, primarily to fact check since I was working from the unedited manuscripts of the last three books, but he didn’t request any changes.

For The Dark Tower Companion, I decided to bother him just the once, for the interview.

Were there significant differences between the first draft manuscripts of the last Dark Tower books and the versions that were published?

There were some substantial changes between the first draft and the copy edited versions and the final published books. I had to verify every quote that I used (a couple of times!) and fact check with each new version. There are a couple of “mistakes” in my chapter on the seventh book in The Road to the Dark Tower because King changed some details in the final version, which I didn’t have access to until after my book was done.

GunslingerThere’s been talk in the past of King going back and revising some of the Dark Tower books, similar to what he’s already done with The Gunslinger. Is that something you’d like to see happen?

I asked him about that in the interview in The Dark Tower Companion and he replied that it would be good, rewarding work for him, but that the differences would be so subtle that only the most dedicated Dark Tower fans would notice. Some readers might be upset to think that they’d bought something new only to discover that it was substantially the same.

I would much rather see him write new material than go back and tinker with books that are already finished and ingrained in my mind. I appreciate what he did with The Gunslinger but, though I treat the revised edition as the “true” version for the purposes of The Dark Tower Companion, I still prefer the original because I’ve read it so many times over the years.

After talking with Ron Howard in preparation for this book, do you feel like his approach to adapting the series for film and TV would work?

Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman are passionate about this series. Goldsman read it in much the same way that I did, starting with The Gunslinger in the mid ’80s. He was the one who brought the project to Howard when they were working on A Beautiful Mind, so it’s something they’ve been thinking about for years. They were disappointed when it looked like J.J. Abrams might tackle it first and elated when the rights freed up again.

I talked to them at length about their approach and it is both unique and logical. Though they’ve made a few general comments about their plan in the past, they discuss it at much greater length in The Dark Tower Companion. They’ve identified certain things that would work well on the big screen and others that would be better served by the more intimate platform television provides — the more character-based elements.

They have revolutionary ideas about how to tackle such a huge story that may not sit well with purists, but people who are willing to treat the film as something different from the books and not as a straight adaptation should be in for an adventure when the project is launched.

The most recent Dark Tower book, The Wind Through the Keyhole, as well as the Dark Tower graphic novels that Marvel has published, have demonstrated that there is a lot of room to tell tales outside of the original ka-tet’s mission. Who are some of the writers and artists you’d like to see take on the series, either in comics or prose?

I don’t think I’d like to see anyone else take on the Dark Tower universe. Robin Furth is an exception because she knows Mid-World better than just about anyone. Besides the Marvel adaptations, the only other “expanded universe” Dark Tower material is the Discordia game on King’s website, where Phase II should launch soon. Though there are occasional mentions of characters from the books, this interactive game primarily uses settings as its basis: the Dixie Pig and the passageway to Fedic in the first adventure and the Rotunda in Phase II. They are free (with King’s approval) to introduce new characters and scenarios to take the story in a different direction. That’s about the extent of what I’d like to see with the Dark Tower, though. I wouldn’t like to see it handed off to other writers. King suggests in his interview that he might return to Mid-World in the future. That’s enough for me.

How many times have you read the Dark Tower books?

My flippant answer to this question is “delah,” that unique Mid-World word that means “many” or “too many to count.” Because I’ve been with the series since the start, I’ve read some books more than others. I read The Gunslinger several times. Then when The Drawing of the Three came out, I read it again. Then when The Waste Lands came out, I read The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three again, and so on.

While working on The Road to the Dark Tower, I probably read the entire series five or six times, often for different reasons. Armed with colored highlighters, I looked for timeline details, character descriptions and characterization details, cross-references, etc. I read it once more while working on The Dark Tower Companion, as well as reading The Wind Through the Keyhole a few times.

Which is your favorite, and why?

For a variety of reasons, The Gunslinger is my favorite. When I first read it, I considered it a mood piece more than a character- or plot-driven novel. I had no idea at the time what it would blossom into. I know it’s a difficult book for some, but I must have read it four or five times before there were other books in the series. I was less interested at the time in its convoluted structure — flashbacks upon flashbacks — though I became more intrigued by that later, especially when I had to unravel it all into a linear narrative.

Who is your favorite character from the series, and why?

It’s hard to pick anyone other than Roland as a favorite character. It’s all about him. He’s there, alone, in the beginning and alone again at the end. He’s a tough guy to like at times, but I think I understand him better than any of the other characters. I don’t generally participate in the casting games people play, but I have the ideal actor in mind for Roland. I even mentioned the name to Akiva Goldsman when I interviewed him, though I doubt it will come to anything: Timothy Olyphant from Justified. I think he’d be perfect. The problem is that he’s probably not a big enough name to be at the center of an expensive project like this.

DT7Let’s talk about the ending of the series. Personally, I think it was a perfect, logical end to the series, but not everyone agrees. Where do you stand on the ending – did it work for you? Why, or why not?

I read the last 100-150 manuscript pages of The Dark Tower early one morning. As I told King later that day, he made me late for work, because I couldn’t stop. I reached the “false ending” and then continued on to the real conclusion. I set the pages aside, stunned and somewhat wrung out, but satisfied.

Since we’re getting into spoiler territory here, let’s warn away people who haven’t gotten to the final page yet.

SPOILER ALERT!

The ending worked perfectly for me. I couldn’t think of another way to encapsulate the nature of Roland’s existence. The closing line had to be the opening line. Everything in the series pointed toward it. Roland had to face a day of reckoning for many of the things he did during his journey, and his punishment was to be forced to try again.

I discuss the ending at length in The Dark Tower Companion. We know this is Roland’s nth iteration through his tortured existence. Some people believe it is his second-to-last journey to the Tower, but King believes otherwise: Roland has a long way to go until he achieves the perfection that will allow him to break free. I asked him about the “Butterfingers” episode of Kingdom Hospital, in which a baseball player is given a chance to do one thing from his past differently to break out of his private hell, wondering if that was an indicator that the next time might see Roland’s salvation, but King said, no, that was just television. In reality it takes a lot longer.

The big question is: what does salvation look like for Roland? What does he need to do and change? I have an opinion about that, which I lay out in The Dark Tower Companion, but that’s just my view. King hints at his own thoughts on the matter in the interview in the book. There is no right or wrong answer, though.

Outside of the Dark Tower/Stephen King world, what other projects do you have in the works?

I always have a lot of things going on at the same time. I write an essay on writing every month for Storytellers Unplugged; keep up a regular blog that deals with writing projects, books, TV and movies; and review books at Onyx Reviews. I usually have at least one short story underway and it takes quite a bit of time to keep them in circulation with the various markets. I’m currently writing an afterword for an upcoming book (I can’t say more—it hasn’t been announced yet).

However, I’m hoping to clear my plate as much as possible to turn my attention to a novel I’ve wanted to write for a while. I thought I was going to get to that on April 1, but it now looks like it will be either mid-April or May before I can start.

Review: ‘The Art of Dead Space’

artofdeadspace1“Art of…” books are unique in that, even if you aren’t a huge fan of the book’s subject matter, you can find yourself spending a lot of time perusing its pages. Such was the case with me and The Art of Dead SpaceI’ve never played the games (the third of which was just released earlier this month), so my only exposure to the series comes from reading and reviewing the graphic novels and, now, this book.

The Art of Dead Space is an exploration of what must be a cavernous archive of material dating back to the earliest days of the first game’s production back in 2006. This book, as jam packed as it is, likely represents only a fraction of the work done by teams of artists under the Visceral Studios banner. Effort was made to make it as comprehensive as possible, as we see early concepts and designs ranging from the human heroes of the series to its otherworldly creatures, and as many of the ships, weapons, tools, vehicles and even logos as could be crammed in along with them.

It’s not just pretty pictures, either, as written commentary accompanies many of the pieces to explain the evolution of the design work and the choices that were being made. Clearly, the game’s designers had more on their minds than making cool visuals – they were striving to create an entire aesthetic that worked together and made sense as a cohesive whole. You have to admire that dedication to detail, especially when much of what is created is going to fly across the screen in a flurry of action.

About halfway through the book we hit my favorite part – the creature designs. From what I’ve gathered in my reading, the Necromorphs of Dead Space were heavily influenced by John Carpenter’s classic take on The Thing, and that is confirmed in both words and pictures here. Still, it’s great to see the pains the artists took to create their own distinct, twisted look, and what they came up with is simultaneously beautiful and grotesque.

I also enjoyed seeing how recurring design elements were utilized, from the “rib” imagery to the influence of DNA on the religious relics that are central to the Dead Space story. Again, its the careful use of such details that help tie such massive visual creations together, and the team behind these games should be commended for their careful, deliberate choices.

Production-wise, Titan Books has done its usual stellar job on this volume, from the embossed, glossy black covers to the Rorschach-like endpapers to the stunning amount of work between them.

Take it from a guy totally unfamiliar with Dead Space – liking the videogame is not a prerequisite for enjoying this book.

NOS4A2 gets a cover, Abe Sapien gets a ‘Dark and Terrible’ series

Just...awesome.

Just…awesome.

I shy away from doing “news” posts here because, let’s face it, by the time I’ve read something I consider newsworthy it’s likely been splashed across a dozen or more websites that do “news” far better – and faster – than I can hope to. Still, every now and then something really cool catches my eye and I just want to share it…

Today, two cool things caught my eye.

One, Subterranean Press has unveiled the cover of their limited edition of Joe Hill’s upcoming novel NOS4A2. It’s painted by Hill’s Locke & Key partner-in-awesome Gabriel Rodriguez, and it’s stunning. Subterranean is planning two editions: a limited of 750 signed and numbered copies, oversized, with a novella (“Wraith”) that was cut from the book’s manuscript, an alternate ending, and more illustrations by Rodriguez; and a lettered edition that’s already sold out, so it’s not even worth mentioning that it comes with custom-made autopsy bone mallet (a device that apparently figures heavily into the book’s plot) because we can’t order one anyway. $125 for the limited edition is steep for one book in my corner of the world, but the temptation is growing.

Cover art for ABE SAPIEN: THE DARK AND THE TERRIBLE #1, as seen originally at Robot 6/Comic Book Resources.

Cover art for ABE SAPIEN: THE DARK AND THE TERRIBLE #1, as seen originally at Robot 6/Comic Book Resources.

Two, Dark Horse Comics has announced that 2013 will see longtime Hellboy partner Abe Sapien get his own ongoing series, The Dark and the Terrible. Titles don’t get much more foreboding than that, and considering Mike Mignola had no qualms about killing Hellboy, it’s likely the upcoming years aren’t going to be a walk in the park for Abe. I’m not even going to try and summarize what’s been going on in Mignola’s ever-shifting universe as of late – suffice to say Hellboy is, literally, in Hell, and Abe is mutating, and all sorts of beasts and creatures have overrun the Earth. I’m contemplating a larger writing project about the Hellboy series for later this year, but for now I’m in an almost hopeless game of catch up. Thankfully, Dark Horse continues to let Mignola and his crew run wild, so there’s lots of good stuff ahead.

Hard Case Crime plans February 2013 ‘Seduction’

Hard Case Crime seems to have settled comfortably into its new home at Titan Books, where it continues to publish some of the most intriguing and exciting titles out there for lovers of crime fiction. This week, HCC announced they will continue their long and fruitful relationship with author Max Allan Collins by publishing their eighth book together, Seduction of the Innocent.

The title may sound familiar; it’s also the title of the infamous 1954 tome by Dr. Frederic Wertham, in which the good doctor laid the blame for the “corruption” of America’s youth squarely at the door of comic book publishers – particularly publishers of violent horror comics like EC Comics. Collins’ tale is inspired by the real-life witch hunt that Wertham’s inflammatory book unleashed. Here’s the synopsis from HCC’s press release:

“Written by best-selling novelist Max Allan Collins (author of Road to Perdition and long-time scripter of theDick Tracy newspaper comic strip) and featuring 16 pages of interior illustrations by comic-book artist Terry Beatty (BatmanThe Phantom), SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT tells the story of comic book industry troubleshooter Jack Starr and his investigation into the death of a moralizing crusader out to get violent comics banned. “

If I’m not mistaken, this will be the first time a Hard Case Crime release will feature interior illustrations. The cover manages to capture both the pulp detective feel of all HCC books and the flavor of those EC Comics covers, and the HCC website states that the illustrations will be in “the classic EC style.”

I’m excited any time Hard Case Crime announces a new book, but this one feels like something special. The movement against comics that Wertham incited is a fascinating period of our country’s history, and I’m sure Collins is going to use that as a backdrop for a great detective story. The book is set for release in both paperback and digital formats in February 2013, and it can’t get here soon enough.

Horror, noir mix it up in new comic series ‘Fatale’

One of my goals for October Country in 2012 is to up the comics-related content. There’s a lot of good work being done in horror and crime comics these days, and I’d love to bring more discussion of that work to this little corner of the Internet. I can think of no better title to jump-start those discussions than Fatale, the new supernatural noir comic from writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips, which hits the stands courtesy of Image Comics today.

Brubaker and Phillips have built an impressive body of work together over the last decade or so, and the thing that sets their work apart is the way they start off with straightforward crime stories and then spin them off in new directions. Criminal is the foundation, a series of pure crime stories that demonstrate how versatile and effective comics can be in the right hands; Incognito takes those same sensibilities and mixes them into the superhero world, proving once and for all that the capes n’ tights genre has all sorts of dark, shadowy corners that are just now getting explored.

Now, with Fatale, it looks like Brubaker and Phillips are mixing a little horror into their crime. According to this interview at Newsarama, the duo has planned an epic story stretching over 12 issues and spanning several decades, from the ’30s to modern times. While they have been careful to keep many of the details under wraps, images of a tentacle-headed, sharp-toothed mobster/monster have appeared in several previews (and in the cover reprinted on this page), hinting at a Lovecraftian tilt to the story.

Whatever it turns out to be, I’m sure Fatale will not disappoint. These two have an impeccable track record together, and Image is reportedly giving them free reign to tell the kind of story they want to tell, in the way they want to tell it. You can read a lengthy preview of the first issue here.

So, how about it? Going to check out the first issue of Fatale? Are you reading Animal Man, Swamp Thing, the new Creepy comics from Dark Horse, or any other good horror or crime comics? Let us know what we should be checking out.

Preview ‘Road Rage’ from Stephen King and Joe Hill

Back in October, IDW Publications announced they would be releasing a two-issue comic adaptation of “Throttle,” a short story written by Stephen King and his son Joe Hill. The prose version originally appeared in He Is Legend, an anthology of stories inspired by the works of Richard Matheson; it was also released as part of an audiobook package called “Road Rage,” which featured it alongside the Matheson story which inspired it, “Duel.” (Stephen Lang provided the vocals for that, and it’s excellent – his rough-around-the-edges voice is a perfect match for the gritty subject matter of both stories.)

IDW’s take on “Throttle” will also be part of an overall package called Road Rage - as in the audiobook version, “Duel” will adapted in a two-parter as well. IDW’s Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall will script both adaptations, with Nelson Daniel handling art for “Throttle” and Rafa Garres taking up penciling duties on “Duel.”

The first issue of “Throttle” won’t be out until February, but Stephen King’s official website has some advance artwork up, including a downloadable PDF of the first eleven pages (sans lettering and color) and an incentive cover by artist Tony Harris depicting King and Hill embarking on their own two-wheeled road trip. Looks like a lot of fun, and IDW (home of Hill’s acclaimed series Locke & Key) has a proven track record with original and adapted works. This looks like a great way to kick off what promises to be a busy 2012 for King and Hill fans alike.

Ten Essential October Comics: ‘Creepy’ and ‘Eerie’

We’ve flipped our calendars and moved on to November, but remember – it’s always October in October Country. And today we’ve got the last two Essential October Comics, a pair of titles so intertwined that I couldn’t pick just one.

2. Eerie / 1. Creepy 

Although Creepy came first, it’s hard to separate these two cousins in the Warren family of publications when it comes to listing my favorite October comics. Both were magazines jam-packed with black-and-white goodness written and illustrated by some of the biggest names in the business, and both remain sentimental favorites of the horror audience today. Yes, they could be campy and corny and filled with awful puns, but that’s an integral part of their considerable charm.

Creepy began in 1964, its black-and-white magazine format a calculated move to skirt the Comics Code Authority and present undiluted tales of terror. Heavily inspired by the horror line of E.C. Comics, the series featured short, macabre tales that overflowed with rotting corpses, strange creatures, and plenty of horror staples like mummies, vampires, werewolves and grave robbers. Fantasy and science fiction sometimes slipped into the mix as well, but the emphasis, naturally, was on the scary stuff.

Likewise with Eerie, which followed Creepy onto newsstands in 1966. The first issue was something of a miracle; legend has it that it was created as a 200-issue “ashcan” edition in one feverish night so as to protect Warren’s claim on the title (it had come to their attention that a rival publisher was planning a magazine of the same name).  The title persevered through changes in editors and a lack of funding that saw most of its established artists flee, forcing it to rely heavily on reprints for a time. It soon bounced back, though, and stood side-by-side with Creepy (and another companion magazine, Vampirella) as premier providers of horror comics.

Both titles shared more than their horrific sensibilities; they shared talent as well. Names like Archie Goodwin, Steve Ditko, Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson and Wally Wood graced the pages of both magazines, creating memorable work that continues to stand the test of time.

In comparison to today’s more multi-layered, character-driven comics, Creepy and Eerie might strike some as toothless and quaint. But many recognize that the work being done “back then” laid a strong foundation for the work that has since come along, and has served as an inspiration to the artists and writers making comics today. Dark Horse is releasing the entire runs of both magazines in nice hardcover editions that mirror the magazine’s original size, and these come highly recommended; however, if you can, track down the originals. There’s real magic in those crumbling old newsprint pages.

Ten Essential October Comics: ‘The Walking Dead’

We’re just going to plain ignore the fact that “Ten Essential October Comics” has drifted into November. That’s right, move along, nothing to see here.

Oh, wait! There is something to see here…an Essential October Comic that has staggered off the page and into its own hit television series.

3. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard

Despite the title, it’s important to remember that The Walking Dead is NOT about zombies. If it were, it’s doubtful that it would be approaching 100 issues and nine years of publication. Robert Kirkman’s series has always been about the human element of the zombie apocalypse, about the struggles of the survivors to make sense in a world which reason and logic seem to have abandoned. Kirkman has used the zombie platform to tell a thrilling adventure story about a group of people doing all they can – good and bad – to stay alive, and it’s because of the characters he’s created that the book remains as compelling today as it was when the first issue hit the stands.

No plot summary is necessary, because if you don’t know about The Walking Dead by now you probably ended up here by accident. If that’s the case and it sounds intriguing, then by all means go and pick up the paperback or hardcover collections. What you’ll find is a book full of excitement, fleeting hope, sometimes staggering gore, a pervasive feeling of dread, and, often, outright horror. It’s a testament to the work of Kirkman and his artistic collaborators Tony Moore (through issue #6) and Charlie Adlard (still going strong since #7) that they are able to invoke more emotion in the static, black-and-white pages of a comic book than many filmmakers can muster with the added advantages of sound and motion.

The television series is very good, staying faithful to the essence of the series while clearly striking its own path. But if you want the full, unfettered effect of Kirkman’s creation, buy the books. October, November…it doesn’t matter. This is classic stuff, unfolding right in front of our eyes.