Reprint Reviews: 'Eerie' v10, 'Creepy' v13, 'MAD' v3, 'Space Family Robinson' v4

Eerie Archives Volume Ten (Dark Horse, $49.99)

Art and story by diverse hands

 

I keep expecting to run out of things to say about the Creepy and Eerie reprint series, especially since these volumes have reached the 1970s, when I was reading the magazines the first time around. But some specter or other always rises from these books to insist I make comment.

 

This volume, collecting Eerie #47-51 (Mar-Sep 73), is no exception. Here are some observations:

 

I read some of the letters page aloud to my wife, which both of us found hilarious for its contemporary slang. The year 1973 was one in which young Americans (like myself) used words and phrases like "groovy," "outta site," "far out" and "right on" with utter sincerity. I know that today's post-ironic hipsters will find that hard to believe, especially since people now find hippies hilarious (after decades of right-wing demonization). Heck, even I find it hard to believe sometimes. But there was a time when we could imagine a world without war or poverty, when the cynical monied interests were in retreat, and when we believed we could change the world. So I sneer at the sincere idealism of myself and my peers in the past, but then I feel a little guilty. We really did believe, man, and we really did win for a little while. But The Man eventually crushed us, as he always does.

 

You'll notice that virtually all of the white twentysomething men in this book have the same look: Long locks and facial hair, usually a mustache and sideburns. (All the black twentysomething men have the same look, too: Afro). To today's eyes that might look like a failure of imagination. But the truth is ... all white twentysomething men in America DID look the same, usually like one of The Beatles on the Let It Be album cover. And in 1973, there were a LOT of white twentysomething men -- it seemed to me, at age 15, that there was an endless supply. (I was born at the end of the Baby Boom.) And you might say: Well, if it was the Age of Aquarius, and everybody was doing their own thing, why did they all look alike? Well, for one thing, they were rebelling against their crew-cutted fathers, who were driven to fury by those long locks. For another, hey -- they may have been soldiers in the war against The Man, but they still wanted to get laid, and the chicks dug that look. Some things never change.

 

Eerie had already quietly begun a few ongoing series by 1973, including "Dracula" (the version introduced in Vampirella somehow, instead of a new one) and Esteban Maroto's "Dax the Warrior," a cheesy Conan swipe whose over-written narration and epicly awful dialogue couldn't disguise that it had no point, and that Dax was kind of a stupid, misogynist thug. (The stories were amazingly bad, but boy, Maroto sure could draw. This was a criminal waste of his talent.) With this volume, it was apparent that stories starring a mummy and a werewolf in the previous volume weren't one-offs, and were to be ongoing series of their own (albeit, as time would show, short-lived ones).

 

The talent in this issue is interesting. Which isn't to say it isn't good, because it is. But it's fascinating that this book is rife with a bunch of young, twentysomething creators whose names today's readers might recognize: Rich Buckler, Al Milgrom, Paul Neary. They joined some other young creators who'd already been around a year or two, but also went on to bigger things: Doug Moench, Steve Skeates, Tom Sutton. In 1973, Warren was becoming a launching point for young American creators on the rise.

 

And I bet they all had long hair, mustaches and sideburns.

 

Creepy Archives Volume Thirteen (Dark Horse, $49.99)

Art and story by diverse hands

 

I have less to say about this book, which collects Creepy #60-63 (Feb-Jul 74), even though I enjoy it just about as much as the others. Here are some salient points:

 

By 1974, Warren had struck the motherlode of good, cheap artists in Spain, and there are a lot of them in this book. Names like Adolfo Abellan, Jose Gual, Gonzalo Mao, Martin Salvador, etc., aren't well-known now, nor were they then. But I loved their illustrative style -- which, having been raised on American comics, I couldn't begin to duplicate with my own pen-and-ink forays -- and it gave the Warren books a classy, Old World look. Some contemporary fans hated it (see the letters pages), but many more loved it, including me. Then and now.

 

Also, two more names began to become fixtures in Creepy that you may recognize: Rich Corben and Berni Wrightson. Let me say that again: Rich Corben and Berni Wrightson. They were in virtually every issue in '74, and they alone made Creepy worth the price of admission. They struck quite a contrast with the Spaniards, but were just as good -- or better -- in their own areas of expertise. Great stuff.

 

This volume includes Wrightson's justly famous "Jenifer," which gave me bad dreams all those years ago. And John Severin drops in for a story, while Howard Chaykin writes a forward. Pretty nice package!

 

One sour note: A few reviews ago I mentioned -- to my great disappointment -- that the visual for Jim Starlin's Gamora (currently a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but who got her start in Starlin's Adam Warlock stories) turned out to be a complete and total swipe of an Esteban Maroto character in Creepy. That character reappears in this volume, in a sequel story drawn by Abellan. So if you didn't believe me before, here's another chance to see for yourself.

 

The MAD Archives Volume 3 (DC Comics, $59.99)

Art and story by Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Wally Wood, Jack Davis, etc.

 

I've been waiting to read the comics collected in this book (MAD #13-18, Jul-Dec 54) for my entire life. In a less grandiose and more specific way, I've been waiting for five years -- because the previous volume of The MAD Archives was published in 2007!

 

I have no idea what caused the delay, nor do I care, now that this book has been published while I'm still alive to read it. Did I say read it? I absorbed it through the pores of my skin, opened my brain and let it rinse away conscious thought, sucked it in like I was working a hookah. 

 

Because the first 24 issues of MAD -- when Kurtzman was in charge, before it became a magazine -- is not only the blueprint for MAD's style (and success) for the next several decades, but the very foundation of all parody humor in America everywhere, in every medium, for all time, amen. The rhythms and percussion of this kind of humor is as familiar to us as our own breath, because it is in the very air around us, from M*A*S*H to Airplane! to Not Brand Ecchh!

 

And until I got this volume, I had never read these issues. Sure, I'd read the first 12 issues so many times I practically had them memorized. And I had read a couple of select stories that had been lifted from these comics and reprinted here and there. But I don't believe I have the entirety of these issues anywhere in my collection, and I'm thrilled that I finally got to read 'em.

 

Unhappily, I've discovered that the "MAD Archives" will only run four volumes, up until the aforementioned issue #24. That's a shame, but then, there would likely have been a huge drop-off in quality with issue #25, with both Kurtzman and Elder gone.

 

But who knows? Maybe in five years, DC will pick it up again. A fellow can hope, can't he? Potrzebie!

 

Space Family Robinson Volume Four (Dark Horse, $49.99)

Gaylord DuBois and Dan Spiegel

 

I know I mentioned in my review of Volume Three that Space Family Robinson went from being incredibly dumb to fairly sophisticated. This book, collecting Space Family Robinson #23-31 (Aug 67-Dec 68) and a story from March of Comics #320 (Jan 68), continues that trend.

 

I say "fairly," because it's still comics for kids, where the monsters are kinda silly-looking, the threats not all that threatening and somehow every solution the Robinsons throw at a problem always works. Nevertheless, by the time of these books, DuBois has brushed up on his science theory and is actually using terms like "the space-time continuum" accurately. (Remember, this is the late 1960s, barely out of the giant-radioactive-insect period of American Sci-Fi.) 

 

In fact, DuBois indulges in a multi-part epic where the Robinsons get back to Earth -- but are displaced in time, instead of space! So we watch as they visit various historical eras, and some not-so-historical (the sinking of Atlantis). Naturally, despite (probably) ending up back in the right time, they end up in the wrong space, and are lost again. No surprise there, but it was fun for this reader to see some quasi-accurate Earth history for a change, instead of lame monsters. 

 

I suspect artist Dan Spiegel enjoyed it, too, because he does a great job on Roman armor and whatnot, while his aliens were always kinda bland. It's here I begin to see hints of the artist that others would rave about decades later, especially Mark Evanier, who teamed with Spiegel on a couple of indie titles in the '80s.

 

And that's good, because this series is nowhere near over. Space Family Robinson ran until issue #59 (May 82), so there's at least two more volumes to come, maybe three. With both creators getting better, I don't dread them nearly as much as I did after I read Volume One!

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I looked up "Space Family Robinson" at Wikipedia and was surprised to learn original stories featuring the characters appeared in a British comic called Lady Penelope for about a year in the 60s.

 

Dan Spiegle also drew the "Nemesis" series written by Cary Burkett that appeared in the back of The Brave and the Bold in the early 80s, and the 1982-84 revival of Blackhawk (set during WWII, which Mark Evanier wrote). It's Spiegle, by the way.

This is an interesting comparison. According to Lambiek's page on the British artist Graham Coton a comics feature called "The Space-Family Rollinson", drawn by him, appeared in the early 1950s. The Lambiek page has two illustrations depicting the strip, one of which comes from the British comic Knockout.

 

This post displaced the thread Archie announces additions, promotions from the Sneak Peeks, Solicitations & PR forum from the home page.

There's a foreword to this particular volume which discusses the cross-pollination between Lost in Space the TV show and Space Family Robinson, but also alludes to what you're referring to. Others had had the idea of a Robinson Crusoe in space with an entire family -- and the name Robinson had been selected for that purpose before, too.

...Do the CREEPY and EERIE reprints overlap much with the reprinted stories that take up about 1/3 of the standard-format comic-book issues of the new Eerie ( and soon , Creepy , ) that DH has been putting out ?????????

Thanks, Cap. Robert Heinlein's The Rolling Stones was published as Space Family Stone in the UK.

I can't answer that, Emerkeith, as I don't buy the current Eerie and Creepy comic books. But if the reprints in those comics list a date or issue number of original publication, you could easily figure it out from my reviews, since the Archives are reprinting chronologically, and I list with each review how far the Archives have gotten.


Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...Do the CREEPY and EERIE reprints overlap much with the reprinted stories that take up about 1/3 of the standard-format comic-book issues of the new Eerie ( and soon , Creepy , ) that DH has been putting out ?????????

...Thank you , CC , the problem is , the issues I have of the new CREEPY (I spoonerized/reversed the places of the new DH versions , Creepy has been going for a bit and the new Eee
ie is about to launch . ) do not , in fact , instutinally (If that.s the right phrase .)/in the regular credits admit that they run reprints !

Captain Comics said:

I can't answer that, Emerkeith, as I don't buy the current Eerie and Creepy comic books. But if the reprints in those comics list a date or issue number of original publication, you could easily figure it out from my reviews, since the Archives are reprinting chronologically, and I list with each review how far the Archives have gotten.


Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...Do the CREEPY and EERIE reprints overlap much with the reprinted stories that take up about 1/3 of the standard-format comic-book issues of the new Eerie ( and soon , Creepy , ) that DH has been putting out ?????????

I would just like to interject at this point that, although I do credit Harvey Kurtzman with the creation of MAD (both the comic book and the magazine), I credit Al Feldstein with its success. Virtually everything I love(d) about Mad magazine sprung from the Feldstein era, no less a continuation of his own Panic than it was of Kurtzman’s Mad. If you want to see what Mad would have been like under the continued aegis of Kurtzman, look no further than Help!, Trump and Humbug. I will not be satisfied until Mad magazine has as many archival reprints as Creepy and Eerie.

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