Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review- HARVEY HORRORS COLLECTED WORKS: TOMB OF TERROR VOL. 1

HARVEY HORRORS COLLECTED WORKS: TOMB OF TERROR VOL. 1 (PS Artbooks, 2011; Hardcover)
Collects Tomb of Terror Nos. 1-6 (cover dates June- November, 1952)
Writers: Howard Nostrand, Bob Powell, and other, unidentified writers.
Artists: Warren Kremer, Bob Powell, Joe Certa, Pete Morisi, Lee Elias, Vic Donahue, Moe Marcus, Rocco Mastroserio, Rudy Palais, Manny Stallman, Abe Simon, and other, unidentified artists.

I love pre-code Horror comics. The gruesome, albeit silly, supernatural and macabre tales make for fun late night reading. Harvey Comics were the epitome of lame when I was a kid in the '70s/80s. Hot Stuff, Little Lulu, and freaking Casper The Friendly Ghost were all lame lame lame. Imagine my delight upon discovering that the same publisher once gave my beloved EC Comics a run for their money, trying to out-creep and out-gross them. 
While the writing and artwork are not as good as EC, there are still some great talents that worked on this title. Bob Powell is the biggest name here, but Joe Certa also had a long, illustrious career. He went on to do some Gold Key stuff like Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery as well as House Of Mystery for DC.
The topics run the usual Pre-Code gamut, from witches, voodoo, zombies, monsters in undiscovered or remote locations (i.e swamps, etc.), wax museums, so on and so forth. While the stories are somewhat tame by today's standards and are often predictable, they are also a lot of fun. 
I enjoy how the original advertisements are included. It gives a feeling of authenticity as well as a historical reference point. I also enjoy seeing the house ads for the other Harvey Horror titles. PS has been cranking out these lines of books, and I hope to see stuff like Warfront collected at some point. My wallet sure doesn't, but the heart wants what it wants.
Some of these stories, like The Little People and the Wax Museum from #1, are tales dealing with the cruelty of man over that of any monster. At the end of the day humanity is the scariest thing in the natural or unnatural world. #5's The Rat Man seemed familiar, so I had to consult my files. Sure enough, I had read it before in Craig Yoe's Bob Powell's Terror hardcover. #6's The Survivors! is straight out of the EC science fiction mold.
Praise be PS Artbooks from rescuing these moldering gems from obscurity and bringing them to the masses in relatively affordable, high end hardcovers. My greatest fear is that the history of our artform will be lost to time or be solely in the hands of private collectors. A huge thank you to anyone who has helped out by scanning, lending, or selling their comics to make these books a reality.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5. 
The OCD zone- This book has the ever delectable sweet, sweet toxic Chinese printing press smell, likely the result of paper sourced from virgin Amazon rainforests and ink which is a concoction of lead paint chips, broken and pulped asbestos tiles, mercury from recalled thermometers, and the final magical ingredient: the blood, sweat, and tears of the children working the sweatshop printing presses. If loving these books is wrong then I don't want to be right!
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Tomb Whoever It May Concern... foreword by Stephen Jones (5 pages)
Macabre Maestros Featuring artist Morris “Moe” Marcus (USA) (6 pages)
Linework and Color restoration rating: 3.25 out of 5. These are direct scans from the original comic books. All of the imperfections of yellowed 60 year old comics are present. Off register printing, color line bleed, and discoloration from age are there for your viewing pleasure. This is a warts and all approach. Some of these scans are downright murky. They are readable but a little de-yellowing with Photoshop would have helped things out considerably. To be fair, this was one of the earliest PS Artbooks, and Pete Crowther and company have come a long way with their craft since then. Let's not forget that early Marvel Masterworks, DC Archives, and even Dark Horse Archives all had their problems. Chalk it up to growing pains and let's not lose sight of the fact that these books are a dream come true. Just a few short years ago your options were black and white reprints or expensive, obscure back issues.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Thick, beautiful, uncoated stock. It is a bright white stock, which might be part of the problem with the scans. Since the scans are not filtered or have the yellowing removed, “coloring” the borders a creamy color would have made things less noticeable. It is a trick that Craig Yoe uses on all of his books to fool folks, and to his credit, they buy it.
Binding rating: 5 out of 5. Smyth sewn binding, 7 stitches per signature. The book lies flat as God intended.
Hardback cover coating rating: 4.5 out of 5. This book has no dustjacket, with the image printed directly onto the hardback itself and spot varnished, giving the images a shininess not found on the rest of the dull matte finish found on the solid blacks. My copy has extremely minor scuffing here and there after reasonable handling. Most sane folks would not even notice it. Then again, I never claimed to be sane...

http://www.instocktrades.com/TP/PS-Artbooks/HARVEY-HORRORS-TOMB-OF-TERROR-HC-VOL-01/PSATT01




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