Thursday, December 7, 2017


ACG COLLECTED WORKS: ADVENTURES INTO THE UNKNOWN VOL. 7 (PS Artbooks, First Printing, 2014; Hardcover)

Collects Adventures Into The Unknown #31-36 (cover dates May- October, 1952)

Writers: Unknown

Artists: Ken Bald (covers), Edvard Moritz, Art Gates, Milt Knopf, Al Camy, Al Streeter, Charlie Sultan, Lou Cameron, Rocke Mastroserio, Pete Riss, Frank Simienski, Moe Marcus, Harry Lazarus, Lin Streeter, S. Cooper, Tom Hickey, King Ward, Paul Cooper, Paul Gattuso, Charles Nicholas, Leo Morey, Emil Gershwin, George Klein, Gus Ricca, Robert S. Pious, and other unidentified artists

I love '50s Pre-Code Horror comics. This title is fondly remembered and widely considered one of the better non-EC titles. I think that the main reason for this is that it was the first Horror anthology title and it ran for 174 issues. This particular volume has a noticeable dip in quality compared to earlier volumes. There are any number of other Horror comics of the day that crush the comics slapped between these two covers.

That's not to say that these weren't enjoyable. I'm just saying that these were not the most illustrious examples of 1950s Pre-Code Horror comics. The artwork is solid, done by the usual workhorses and journeymen of the day. It's the writing that sinks some of these stories. It's easy to sit here with 2017 eyes and sophistication and critique 65 year old comic books, but I am referring to the quality within the context of the era when compared to other then-contemporary comics.

Oh man! It's like looking into a mirror. 

One of the reasons that these stories would fall flat for readers today is that people are not as superstitious as they once were. While I enjoy stories about cursed masks from some unknown African tribe, werewolves, ghost ships, pacts with the devil, jungle curses, vampires, serpent gods, possessed paintings, ghosts, zombies, frozen cavemen who come back to life, witches, ghosts, magic, cursed jewels, and split personalities, many of these topics are now boring to modern day sensibilities. People are too smart to enjoy a good ghost story. More fool them.

Issue 36 is the best issue in the book. I am hoping that this is indicative of an uptick in quality, as I have Vols. 8-12 in my backlog waiting to be read someday.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The OCD zone-PS Artbooks reprint public domain material in a high quality hardcover format. While there are several companies that reprint public domain material via Amazon's CreateSpace print on demand imprint, none of them are as nicely made as these books.
Linework and Color restoration: Like any PS Artbook, the quality varies issue by issue. Some are perfectly acceptable raw scans. Others are blurry, muddy messes sourced from lower resolution scans.
The raw scan presentation has the benefit of the feeling of reading the original comic book. The drawback, which is a huge one subjectively speaking, is that all of the shortcomings of the primitive four color printings presses are apparent. Line bleed, off register printing, and other anomalies are all present. It's a warts and all approach.
This material will likely never be given a full blown Marvel Masterworks level restoration, so this is your only chance to get it in color in hardcover.

Anyone who claims that the four color printing press and "Ben Day" dots were artistic choices are delusional. There is nothing romantic about off register printing.

Paper stock: Bright white matte stock.
Binding: Sewn binding.
Hardback cover notes: Matte casewrap with spot varnish. No dustjacket. Images printed directly onto the casewrap. 

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