Friday, October 30, 2015

Review- HOWARD NOSTRAND'S NIGHTMARES: THE CHILLING ARCHIVES OF HORROR COMICS VOL. 8



HOWARD NOSTRAND'S NIGHTMARES: THE CHILLING ARCHIVES OF HORROR COMICS VOL. 8 (Yoe Books/ IDW, First Printing, 2014; Hardcover)

Collects selections from Chamber Of Chills #13, 17-21, 23, Witches Tales #18, 20-25, Black Cat Mystery #44-46, 48, Tomb Of Terror #8, 11, 12, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not Magazine #1 (cover dates October, 1952- August, 1954)
Writers: Nat Barnett and Howard Nostrand (unconfirmed but suspected on many of these stories)
Artist: Howard Nostrand



Every single one of these stories except for one has already been reprinted and collected in PS Artbooks' Harvey Horrors line, making this book a double dip for me. The main problem lies not in this book as a book but rather the lack of content information in the text copy when the book is originally solicited. The only saving grace that this book has for me is that seven of the stories reprinted here are scanned directly from the original artwork, making this kind of a poor man's Howard Nostrand Artist Edition.



If you do not own the aforementioned PS Artbooks then this book is a pretty cool read. It is a complete overview of Nostrand's 1950s Harvey Horror output (with the exception of stories that he inked for other artists). Nostrand's artwork has a cartoony feel that is completely removed from the era and the genre. It seems almost humorous in appearance and it wouldn't surprise me if it helped inform the underground “Comix” of the 1960s. I also appreciate the cinematic feel of much of his work. His panel composition could serve as a camera angle guide for a film or television show.



The stories themselves all kind of run together, as non-EC Pre-Code Horror comics tend to if you read a lot of them in a row. They were still enjoyable on the reread and made for splendid pre-Hallowe'en reading. I would recommend this book to folks who like Pre-Code Horror comics who do not own the PS Artbooks or purists who want to see the scans of the original artwork, which is something of a treat. So much of the original art from this era is lost that it is great to see complete stories reassembled with it. Blessed be the curators and collectors.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The book was originally solicited with this cover, although it was never used. 


The OCD zone- Yoe Books are high quality presentations, with lots of thought put into the design and layout. Overall production values are very high. My only complaint is that they are a hair wider than, say, the Creepy or Eerie Archives from Dark Horse, meaning that they are too wide to be stored in a white acid free magazine box.
Linework and Color restoration: High resolution raw scans with the yellowing removed. This warts and all approach is favored by some fans while others prefer full blown restoration. I appreciate the benefits and drawbacks of both. If good source material (film, original art) is unavailable then raw scans are sometimes the best way to go. Your mileage may vary. I have had countless discussions with fans online and it all really boils down to preference.
Paper stock: Super thick uncoated stock. This is the heaviest paper used by any of the major publishers for collected editions today. No bleed through from the other side of the page in any light. (I read books in various rooms using various light sources for such experiments. Natural sunlight, incandescent bulbs, CFL, and LED are all in use in various rooms in my house. I have a halogen bulb on my back porch and should add that in too.)
Binding: Smyth sewn binding. The book lays mostly flat.
Hardback cover notes: No dustjacket. Image is printed on the paper casewrap. Blacks have a matte finish while the colors have spot varnish, a kind of screen printed lamination which gives the color a glossy appearance. I experienced no scuffing on my copy while reading and handling this book. 

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