Eerie Archives Volume Nine (Dark Horse, $49.99)
Creepy Archives Volume Twelve (Dark Horse, $49.99)
These two volumes come to us from the early 1970s, with Creepy a year ahead (1973) of Eerie (1972). At this point in Warren’s history, the publisher is in something of a holding pattern it will maintain for several years, meaning the stories are enjoyable but not ground-breaking.
The backbone of the art “staff” are Filipinos, who come from a fine-art tradition and are generally serviceable, if not spectacular. The better ones, it seems, enjoyed the higher page rates at Marvel or DC (think Rudy Nebres, Ernie Chan/Chua, Alfredo Alcala), so what we have here are the second-tier: Munes, Aureleon, a bunch more you’ve never heard of). As I said, they’re generally accomplished, but after a while they all start blending together.
The best of them is the inestimable Esteban Maroto, who isn’t second-tier in anybody’s book. Unfortunately, though, in the early ‘70s he concentrated on his character Dax the Warrior, a forgettable Conan knock-off that ran primarily in Eerie. In my view, it was terrific art wasted on a character that didn’t deserve it.
There are a number of American artists represented as well. Tom Sutton is a frequent contributor to both books (yay!), as is Jerry Grandenetti (boo!). Richard Corben would usually contribute a story to Creepy, sometimes in color (Warren was experimenting with color sections in 1973). Over in Eerie, a Dracula story continues from the Vampirella continuity that appears to be the beginning of an ongoing series, but I don’t recall if that happened, and I’ll have to wait for the next volume to see if it did.
Warren put the artist credits first on their stories, so you can see what their emphasis was. Still, there are a number of names here that will be familiar to comics fans of the 1970s and 1980s, and most do pretty good work: Steve Skeates, Doug Moench, Don McGregor. There are a lot of other writers represented as well, but either they are pen names or they didn’t last long, because I don’t recognize them (nor, given the quality of their stories, would I expect them to have long careers). I didn’t actually count, but it looks like Moench has the highest number of stories, which were often as good as his Master of Kung Fu work when he didn’t get all caught up in being a “serious writer,” which he sometimes did.
One other thing of note here is that the 1970s constituted a peculiar decade in pop culture, and not necessarily a good one. You will note the hairstyles and clothes as very specific to the time – and, thank God, not much repeated – and I’m here to tell you that we really did look like that (much to my embarrassment). But moreover, this was a decade where social issues took a front seat, and there is much teeth-gnashing in these stories about pollution, women’s equality, civil rights, urban blight, and other such “relevant” topics. Honestly, as a survivor of the ‘70s, I believe a great deal in these issues, but even I tired quickly of the strident earnestness of the decade, and began to tune it out early. I can only imagine how this dialogue will strike the ears of younger readers. (Please, younger readers, judge us kindly. We really were trying to change the world. And we did -- many of these problems aren't nearly severe as they once were.)