Well here we are… finally. It’s taken me much longer than expected to make my debut here on Bloodsprayer, but with Halloween gone and long holiday weekends on the way I have every intention of becoming a more active part of this horror-loving community in addition to my other haunt, Strange Kids Club.
Having had ample time to figure what my first article would be about, I decided to start where my love of the genre originated: comics. Not just any comics, mind you, but nasty tales of morality and the supernatural forces that haunt our nightmares. Four-colored fiends that lurk within the pages of such tomes as Tales from the Crypt, Eerie, Strange Fantasy, Black Cat and more. And while most fans of the genre are all too familiar with EC’s repetiore as the forerunners of this saddle-stiched fear, there are so many more forgotten horror comics that lurk in the shadows.
Howard Nostrand’s “Mother Mongoose’s Nursery Crimes”
Luckily, I’m not the only horror-loving comic nerd that remembers these books. There’s also people like comic book historian Greg Sadowski who have a fond rememberance of these “classic offenses against good taste.” So fond in fact that Sadowski himself has edited, designed and produced a massive, full-color collection of some of the best forgotten horrors the 50s has to offer entitled Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s.
Sadowski has restored many of these stories with pain-staking detail, presenting them in all of their vividly gory glory. Some of the industries greatest horror artists are in attendance as well, such as Basil Wolverton (Swamp Monster), Jack Cole (Custodian of the Dead), Howard Nostrand (I, Vampire) and Bob Powell (Colorama) to name a few. This doesn’t even include the mesmerizing, glossy cover reproductions of Wolverton, Maurice Whitman, Bernard Baily and L.B. Cole.
This is not to say that every story contained therein will blow you away. In fact, there are more than a few that I found to be quite toneless. However, those that managed to tap into the universal consciousness of fear will most certainly give cause to tuck yourself in a little tighter at night. Among my favorite stories were Basil Wolverton’s “Nightmare World,” Warren Kremer’s “Amnesia,” Bob Powell’s “Colorama,” and Reed Crandall & Mike Peppe’s “The Corpse that Came to Dinner.” A bonus guilty pleasure would surely have to be Howard Nostrand’s comic strip parody “Mother Mongoose’s Nursery Crimes” which takes a decidely more sinister view on children’s nursery rhymes.
All of this is summed up rather nicely with an afterword that provides some history on a few of the tales as well as pre-code horror comics in general. For fans of horror comics, or even comics in gerenal, Four Color Fear is an excellent slice of nostaliga that provides an ample sampling of what made 50s horror so great while giving some of the more obscure titles of that decade their due.