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.