In a previous post for Madness Heart (“Ink Stained: Two Memories of Horror Comics”) I wrote about my love affair with horror comics, which began in my middle school years and continues to this day. In particular, pioneering horror comic company EC Comics made an impact on me – and not just on me. As I wrote:
…it was the section [of an illustrated history of comics] on EC Comics that really spoke to me. EC, in case you are not familiar, is a comic brand that peaked during the 1940s and 50s. At that time, EC specialized in horror comics – in panels that depicted, in loving detail, each shred of rotting flesh and splotch of viscous goo dripping from the skeletal fangs of zombies and the claws of werewolves.
EC specialized in ghostly (and ghastly) tales of revenge, greed gone wrong, murder, mayhem, and malfeasance. My kind of stuff, in other words! They were the comic book company that later fare such as Creepshow and, of course, the Tales from the Crypt TV series (Tales was originally an EC comic), paid such loving tribute to. In fact, most horror anthology series descended in some way from EC as much as The Twilight Zone.
Well, speak of the devil (as I often do): Shudder’s outstanding Creepshow has returned with a second season brimming with quality horror, a wry (and gory!) sense of humor, and an awe-inspiring quantity of easter eggs scattered throughout that are sure to tickle astute observers. If I have one complaint about Creepshow it’s that Shudder is releasing it one episode at a time rather than as a complete season. I won’t be too hard on Shudder, though: this gripe is probably a function of my greed and the fact that streaming television has spoiled me rotten.
The best story in season two so far has been “Public Television of the Dead,” which was written by Rob Schrab. I have followed Schrab’s work since he co-founded Channel 101 with Dan Harmon, and I have been delighted to watch him succeed with large properties (The Lego Movie 2) while still dedicating love and attention to eccentric, irreverent projects like Creepshow. If you are not familiar with Schrab’s weird taproot in the indie film community, I would strongly encourage you to acquaint yourself with “Ringwald and Molly” or the incomparable “Twigger’s Holiday.”
Television is not the only medium in which horror comics are having a moment. There are comics themselves: 2020 saw everything from an adaptation of Vampire: The Masquerade (“Winter’s Teeth”) to an unforgettable Swamp Thing Halloween Spectacular. 2021 is looking excellent as well, with the continuation of James Tynion IV’s and Martin Simmonds’ The Department of Truth and new titles like John Jennings’ adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s After the Rain.
New projects have been given a boost by fan support on Kickstarter, which allows creators to take risks and pursue personal visions in a way that is often limited by more mainstream entities like Marvel or DC. Even established creators like Scott Snyder are crowdfunding new efforts. One of my favorite endeavors is Little Deaths, a historical fantasy comic inspired by the life of Julie d’Aubigny, a 17th century swordfighter and opera singer (no, seriously). Little Deaths is written by David Doub, and while we’re on the subject, I would be re remiss if I didn’t mention Dusk by David Doub and Bekah June. Dusk is a novelization of the comic by the same name, currently available from Madness Heart Press, newly revised and with new art:
Horror comics have followed the path blazed by titles like Tales From The Crypt and Swamp Thing into exciting new realms of art and storytelling. No doubt indie creators like David Doub will continue to lead the way.