TALES FROM THE CRYPT: THE EC ARCHIVES VOL. 4 (Dark Horse, 2013; Hardcover)
Collects Tales From The Crypt #35-40 (cover dates April/ May, 1953- March, 1954)
Writers: Bill Gaines, Al Feldstein, Jerry De Fuccio, Ray Bradbury, and Bill Elder
Artists: Jack Davis, Joe Orlando, Jack Kamen, Graham Ingels, George Evans, Reed Crandall, and Bernie Krigstein
Thus ends my EC Hallowe'en marathon! I have read over 1,000 pages of EC Comics during the month of October and loved every minute of it. There are two points in this book where the quality dips ever so slightly below EC's unusually high standards. #38's Mournin' Mess, where it is a complete retread of Midnight Mess from #35, and #39's The Crypt-Keeper's Grim Fairy Tale!, with the lame attempt at humor.
Russ Cochran's Foreword is fantastic. Cochran is the torchbearer for EC. If not for him EC may have faded into obscurity, and every fan owes him a debt for his endless work. He was part of the first generation of comic fans and was among the earliest members of organized fandom back in the '60s.
Midnight Mess from #35 is a great twist on the vampire story. #35 runs the gamut for traditional monsters (mummies, werewolves, etc.). EC really upped the ante at this point in terms of gore and violence while maintaining the class and quality of earlier issues. Ghastly Graham Ingels in particular was at his peak here, with each issue seeming better than the one before it. Shadow Of Death in #39 is one of his creepy crawliest best.
#36's Curiosity Killed... is pure George Evans genius. He is such an underrated artist. The story is fantastic, total Hitchcock vibe. That same issue's How Green Was My Alley takes an unsavory subject (adultery) and provides a great twist ending. Jack Kamen's beautiful artwork doesn't hurt, either.
EC Comics remain the gold standard for Horror comics and their importance cannot be stated enough. The writing is superior to modern comics by far. I love the narrative, as it paints a complete picture. Many modern comic fans prefer to “let the pictures do the heavy lifting”, but there are things that words in a caption can describe more effectively than a word-free panel.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- I can't wait for the day when someone, anyone, produces EC Comics Archives in full color with the original color palette, including the original cover color palette.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Introduction. (2 pages)
Foreword by Russ Cochran. (8 pages)
|On the left is an EC Annual which features the original color palette. On the right is this book. Note the liberties taken with the colors on this line of books.|
Linework and Color: The linework is superb, taken from the original artwork. The color is the killer for me. While based on Marie Severin's original colors, there are too many liberties taken with it in terms of gradient shades and other Photoshop effects for my taste. Your mileage may vary.
Paper stock: Thick coated stock with minimal sheen.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding with seven stitches per signature.
Hardback cover notes: This is the best of both worlds- a dustjacket with the same image on the paper of the casewrap. Top it off with a super thick lamination on the casewrap and you have the cherry on the top of this sundae.