ACG COLLECTED WORKS: OUT OF THE NIGHT VOL. 2 (PS Artbooks, First Printing, 2013; Hardcover)
Collects Out of the Night #7-12 (cover dates March, 1953- January, 1954)
Writers: Richard Hughes
Artists: Ken Bald, Harry Lazarus, Art Gates, Paul Gattusp, Igor Shop, Charles Sultan, Edvard Moritz, Dick Beck, George Klein, Pete Riss, Al Camy, Charles Nicholas, S. Cooper, Frank Similenski, Robert McCarty, Hy Eisman, Bill Molno, Bill Fraccio, Sheldon Moldoff, Charles Nicholas, and Bob Forgione
Some of these stories have been told so many times that I have no clue where the original idea came from. Magic lamps where man's greed proves his undoing, a witch trying to lure a husband away, Cold War flavored riffs on Frankenstein, relatives trying to scare another relative out of their inheritance by haunting a castle only to encounter a real ghost, so on and so forth. All of them are well done and enjoyable.
I found #8's Numbered For Death! to have a fresh vibe to it. An “emissary of Satan” encounters a criminal on the lam and offers him a chance to choose the number of his fate. This number will provide him with great fortune or his demise. It's a cautionary tale on when to know when to leave well enough alone.
Issue 9 is the strongest so far in terms of quality. Edvard Moritz's The Weird Wager is a love conquers all tale where Satan and Death make a bet to see who humans fear more. They pick a couple driving down a road as their contestants. This issue would have been on the stands in March or maybe April of 1953, so it is possible that writer Richard Hughes had love on the brain around Valentine's Day. This is pure speculation on my part. These stories might have been sitting in a file for a year for all I know. Death Has Wings is a beautifully illustrated story by S. Cooper where a vampire chooses to spare a victim because she is too lovely to kill. This might seem pedestrian in 2015 but seems fairly innovative for this era. While there are many, many Pre-Code Horror comics that I have not read, I have read enough of them to know when something feels overly familiar.
Issue 10 is where the “shock” or “twist” ending comes in. EC was on fire at this time and were the ones to beat. The stands were flooded with imitators and competitors. The emphasis in this series was on the supernatural, with a things that go bump in the night vibe until this issue. This not a complaint, merely an observation. EC are my favorite, so anything that tries to touch their tail feathers usually succeeds.
Many of these artists are gone and forgotten, but thanks to these wonderful books their work lives on in a relatively affordable format. These comics were nowhere to be found when I started collecting in the '80s, and even if I could have found them I would not have been able to afford them. They are expensive and difficult to find even now. PS Artbooks are nothing short of a public service to art.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- I enjoy huffing these Chinese made books. PS Artbooks smell the best. Whenever I crack one open I sit there and snort it...Oh yeah, that's the stuff. I theorize that their delectable aroma comes from the stew of lead paint chips, asbestos, and mercury from recalled thermometers combined with the blood, sweat, and tears of the children working in the Chinese sweatshop that makes these books.
Linework and Color restoration: PS Artbooks use raw scans, meaning that all of the printing imperfections of the original comic books are present, such as line bleed and off register printing. This is a warts and all approach that some fans prefer. I can see the benefits and drawbacks to this method.
That said, these are very good scans. PS has a hit and miss record with scanning, but this volume looks very good overall.
Paper stock: Uncoated stock, decent thickness.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding. Lays mostly flat.
Hardback cover notes: No dustjacket. Image printed on casewrap with matte finish and spot varnish.