Written by: Tera Kirk
Regrettably, I was born too late for the Golden Age of horror comics. Between HBO’s Tales from the Crypt TV series and Stephen King and George Romero’s two love letters to the genre (Tales from the Darkside and Creepshow, respectively), it feels like I missed a huge party. Thankfully, Dark Horse is serving up some belated just desserts with its rereleases of Warren’s Creepy magazine. And everything in Volume 22 is delicious.
Volume 22 gives us issues 104–107, which were originally published between January and May of 1979. Each issue has a theme—robots, sword-and-sorcery, monsters, general science-fiction. Collecting these stories according to theme is a bold move, considering that many of them succeed or fail by their twist endings. But it’s a risk that pays off: I can only think of one tale where the theme gives away the ending—and even then, I was so caught up in the story that it still took me by surprise.
Rather than spoiling anything, the themes make the tales even more clever. A fierce mother amusement park who only wants to protect her child; werewolves in the Wild West and clowns on the moon. These stories are strong because they kink the familiar into something unexpected. Yet, they never wander too far afield: even the hardest sci fi and highest fantasy tales retain a darkly comic edge. (Like the one about the dragon who hates the medieval town he terrorizes, but is too fat to fly away.)
There are so many stories that it’s hard to talk about many in detail, but “Quimby the Barbarian” is one I can’t stop thinking about. With script by Bob Toomey and art by Pablo Marcos, it takes place in a future where people can share dreams, getting together to fight monsters (and each other) for fun. All the while, they never see the real bodies of the people they’re dreaming with. The whole thing is a lot like players in a massively multiplayer online game, imagined decades before MMOs existed.
With so many different tales in multiple genres, it’s amazing that there are no clunkers in Volume 22. Sure, “Mindquake” was my least favorite, but only because it was a bit too hard sci-fi for me. Kudos to Creepy’s artists and writers for their consistently high quality, and kudos to Dark Horse for making this magazine accessible to a new generation of horror fans.