Of the myriad genres comic books ventured into during its golden age, none was as controversial as or came at a greater cost than horror; the public outrage it incited almost destroyed the entire industry. Yet before the watchdog groups and Congress could intercede, horror books were flying off the newsstands. During its peak period (1951-54) over fifty titles appeared each month. Apparently there was something perversely irresistible about these graphic excursions into our dark side, and Four Color Fear collects the finest of these into a single robust and affordable volume.
EC is the comic book company most fans associate with horror; its complete line has been reprinted numerous times, and deservedly so. But to the average reader there remain unseen quite a batch of genuinely disturbing, compulsive, imaginative, at times even touching, horror stories presented from a variety of visions and perspectives, many of which at their best can stand toe to toe with EC.
All of the better horror companies are represented: Ace, Ajax-Farrell, American Comics Group, Avon, Comic Media, Fawcett, Fiction House, Gilmor, Harvey, Quality, Standard, St. John, Story, Superior, Trojan, Youthful and Ziff-Davis. Artist perennials Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, George Evans, Frank Frazetta, Jack Katz, Al Williamson, Basil Wolverton, and Wallace Wood contribute both stories and covers, with many of the 32 full-sized covers created by specialists Bernard Baily, L.B. Cole, William Eckgren, and Matt Fox. (See below for a link to the full Table of Contents.)
Editors John Benson and Greg Sadowski have sifted through hundreds of rare books to cherry-pick the most compelling scripts and art, and they provide extensive background notes on the artists, writers, and companies involved in their creation. Digital restoration has been performed with subtlety and restraint, mainly to correct registration and printing errors, with every effort made to retain the flavor of the original comics, and to provide the reader the experience of finding in the attic a bound volume of the finest non-EC horror covers and stories of the pre-code era.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 26-page PDF excerpt (19.4 MB) featuring four complete stories: "The Corpse that Came to Dinner" by Reed Crandall & Mike Peppe; "The Maze Master" by Lou Cameron; "Swamp Monster" by Basil Wolverton; and "Discovery" by Manny Stallman & John Guinta. Also, click here to read the Introduction by John Benson and see the full Table of Contents with story titles and artist credits.
• Review: "Ghost World feels like a really apt bit of social history to me now, rather than a piercing look at real life. I believe it, but I believe it happened, not that it happens, at least not quite this way, at the age shown here. But, what is timeless is the theme that crops up towards the end: the unsettling feeling one gets when contemplating the lurch into adulthood." – Christopher King, Timmy's House of Sprinkles
• Plugs: The bloggers at Comics And... Other Imaginary Tales comment on our offerings in the current issue of Previews, including Four Color Fear ("This will be awesome!"), Grotesque #4 ("This is a great story with great art and well worth the money"), and Wally Gropius ("The dichotomy between the clean and wholesome lines and the dirtyness of the story is what's pulling me in.")
• Profile: Christina Whiting of the Homer News reports on Jim Woodring's current residency at the Bunnell Street Arts Center: "The Bunnell gallery space has been transformed into an exhibition of Woodring's art and into a working studio. His work table is covered with pads of paper, bottles of ink, quill pens and unfinished drawings — basic tools of his trade. ... Throughout the month, Woodring also has been working on a 100-page graphic novel, which he plans to publish. The first 20 pages are currently displayed in the gallery exhibit area, and he is adding a new page to the wall every couple of days. 'I'll likely create ten new pages while I'm here,' Woodring said."
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Alex Dueben talks to Ho Che Anderson about his new book Sand & Fury: "I’ve always been highly, highly influenced by movies, as much if not more so than comics. There were certainly comic book influences on S&F, like Richard Sala’s work and also Richard Corben whom I’m a big fan of, and even a little Jason Lutes though it’d be difficult to see. But it’s true that the majority of the influences were cinematic, particularly Dario Argento and David Lynch."
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