Creepy Archives Volume Two

Creepy Archives Volume Two
Creepy Archives Volume Two review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Dark Horse - 978-1-50673-614-3
  • Volume No.: 2
  • Release date: 2008
  • UPC: 9781506736143
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

Creepy’s original glory years were the largely bi-monthly magazines published between 1964 and 1967, featuring an impressive variety of horror shorts primarily written by Archie Goodwin. An early cover claimed Creepy featured the greatest comic artists in the world, and that wasn’t just hyperbole. However, while the content of Volume One justifies the hype, standards are starting to slip a little here.

As creative as he was, and acknowledging some masterpieces supplied in this collection, Goodwin didn’t maintain the high quality streak. It’s noticeable that his contributions here resort more to formula, adaptations also feature, and if Goodwin’s not writing, with one exception, there’s a fair dip in quality. Goodwin, though, is exceptionally good at tailoring stories to artistic strengths. He supplies Reed Crandall with period pieces, Gray Morrow with fantasy, and Steve Ditko with unsettling trips into the unknown. ‘Collector’s Edition’ is an extraordinary consideration of obsession, and ranks with Ditko’s finest art, his haunted characters stunningly rendered, and the pages dripping with seedy atmosphere.

The one story approaching Goodwin’s quality is ‘Thumbs Down!’, a standard come-uppance in some respects, enlivened by being set in the Roman gladiatorial era by Anne T.Murphy. Johnny Craig the writer disappoints, while Johnny Craig the artist is very welcome.

Even artistically, though, standards are beginning to slip. Only two John Severin stories are present, Al Williamson, who featured heavily in Volume One is just represented by Murphy’s gladiator piece, and even allocated the type of World War I plane story he loved, George Evans’ pages are sketchy. Quality art from Angelo Torres and Alex Toth is frequent, but Crandall’s illustrative excellence now looks very old-fashioned, while Joe Orlando’s illustrations for Adam Link are ordinary in comparison with others (sample art left), Of the new artists added, several only draw the one strip. Goodwin supplies Wally Wood with an echo of his triumphant 1950s ‘My World’, adding a horror twist, but the hand of Dan Adkins is evident. Manny Stallman is eccentric, almost foreseeing outsider art, Rocco Mastroserio is no-one’s definition of first rate, and George Tuska is far better here than on many later jobs, but again, nowhere near the quality of Volume One. It leaves Ditko and Gene Colan as the prime additions, and even those who love Colan’s later work might be surprised at his stunning experimental layouts (sample right) and his evocative portraits.

To pick one strip where everything comes together perfectly, we have ‘Duel of the Monsters’. Goodwin skirts cliché, but avoids it, in spotlighting a 19th century Spanish town plagued by both a vampire and a werewolf. It’s narrated by a police sergeant, supplies a couple of surprises surviving the decades, and is immaculately drawn by Angelo Torres.

However, great art and entertaining plot aren’t as well matched as they were, and that continues into Volume Three.