HARVEY HORRORS COLLECTED WORKS: CHAMBER OF CHILLS VOL. 2 (PS Artbooks, 2012; Hardcover)
Collects Chamber of Chills Nos. 8-13 (cover dates May- October, 1952)
Writers: Bob Powell, Howard Nostrand, and other unidentified writers
Artists: Lee Elias, Vic Donahue, Bob Powell, Howard Nostrand, Al Avison, Tom Hickey, Manny Stallman, John Giunta, Rudy Palais, John Belfi, Warren Kremer, Abe Simon, Moe Marcus, and other unidentified artists.
I adore 1950s Pre-Code Horror comics. While Harvey Comics were not quite as good as my beloved EC Comics they are still solid reads and belong in the library of Horror comic fans the world over. Without these comic books we would likely have no Stephen King, no John Carpenter, no Alice Cooper, no Glenn Danzig or Misfits.
Headless Horror from issue 8 predates the “found footage” fad by nearly fifty years. Vic Donahue's artwork on The Face Of Horror (#10) is incredibly effective. The Dead Sleep Lightly and Devil's Due round out what I consider to be the most consistently satisfying issue in this book, #10.
Truth be told, I doubt that many of these stories will scare modern Horror fans on a steady diet of Saw-inspired snuff porn. For those reared or schooled in what could be called “classical” Horror, however, it doesn't get much better than 1950s Pre-Code Horror. These tales all fall in normal parameters for the era and genre. No real surprises here, just plenty of enjoyable old school Horror comics that gave ninnies like Frederic Wertham fuel for his witch hunt. I am beyond grateful that PS Artbooks has resurrected the corpses of these long gone and buried classics.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.
The OCD zone- These are some beautifully produced books. Restoration issues aside, I am thrilled to see these books resurrected in relatively affordable deluxe editions.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Foreword by Michael T. Gilbert. (4 pages)
Macabre Maestros featuring artist Lee Elias. (6 pages)
Linework and Color restoration rating: 3.75 out of 5. These are scans of original comic books, which means that all of the imperfections of the four color printing process are present. Line bleed, off register printing, and yellowing due to age abound. The only major attempt at color correction has been removing the yellowing from the word balloons, which are as white as the paper stock. A fair number of the pages are of mediocre to poor quality, possibly JPEG sourced low resolution scans, likely 300dpi. Some pages look fuzzy and out of focus, others look acceptable. Most are good enough that I am willing to overlook the yellowing.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Thick uncoated stock. It has that wonderful aroma that Chinese made books tend to have. Out of all of the Archives lines available from all of the publishers, PS Artbooks smell the best. I seriously sit there and huff these things as I read them. The toxic stew of broken asbestos tiles, lead paint chips, mercury from recalled thermometers, and the blood, sweat and tears of the Chinese children working the sweatshop printing presses give these book their delectable scent.
Binding rating: 5 out of 5. Smyth sewn binding with seven stitches per signature. The book block is rounded in the casing, enabling this book to lay perfectly flat as God intended.
Hardback cover coating rating: 4.75 out of 5. The issue cover images are spot varnished with screen printing while the rest of the casewrap has a dull matte finish which is sufficiently resistant to scuffing when handled with reasonable care.