Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review- THE HAUNT OF FEAR ANNUAL VOL. 1

THE HAUNT OF FEAR ANNUAL VOL. 1 (Gemstone, 1994; Softcover)
Collects The Haunt of Fear Nos. 15-17, 4, 5 (cover dates May/June, 1950- January/February, 1951).
Writers: Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein
Artists: Graham Ingels, Wally Wood, Jack Davis, Johnny Craig, Jack Kamen, Al Feldstein, and Harvey Kurtzman.
Colorist: Marie Severin
EC Comics are the gold standard for Horror comic books. They were among the very first Horror comics, and are clearly the very best. The artwork and writing are superb. Gaines employed only the finest artists, and unlike his competitors, did not flood the market with titles. He kept a small stable of artists who produced quality, not quantity. That might sound quaint and archaic in today's world of increased productivity and profits, but the results speak for themselves.
To say that these comic books were groundbreaking at the time is an understatement. One has to consider that this pre-dates The Twilight Zone. The twist endings that were an EC hallmark would later become a Twilight Zone signature.
I won all five Haunt of Fear Annuals from Russ Cochran himself on eBay for $9.99. I didn't notice this missing chunk until I read this well after I purchased it. Was Russ Cochran pissed that I got them for so cheap? Did a zombie take a bite out of this book? Sheesh.
The OCD zone- This is an EC Annual. If you do not know what an EC Annual is, then read on. Russ Cochran and Gemstone released monthly periodical reprints of every New Trend and New Direction title. They produced extremely large quantities with an eye towards selling back issues direct. These Annuals were an ingenious repackaging of those floppies. This is among the earliest ones, which have a super thick paper cover, while the later ones are cardstock. There were only a handful of these that had the almost-cardstock thick paper covers before going all cardstock. All EC Annuals are squarebound with glued binding, and are essentially trade paperbacks. They are five single issue comic books glued into a squarebound cover.
The color palette is very close to the original issues, much more so than the EC Archives. The paper is a Mando/heavy pulp stock, pretty much the standard paper grade from 1992 (when these single issues were reprinted by Gemstone).

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