Sunday, November 15, 2015


ACG COLLECTED WORKS: OUT OF THE NIGHT VOL. 3 (PS Artbooks, First Printing, 2013; Hardcover)

Collects Out of the Night #13-17 (cover dates March- November, 1954)

Writer: Richard Hughes

Artists: Ken Bald, Bob Forgione, Harry Lazarus, George Klein, Art Gates, Dick Beck, Robert McCarty, Ed Good, Ken Landau, Sam Citron, Sheldon Moldoff, Lin Streeter, Milt Knoff, and John Belfi

This title became very, very good at the end, as they ramped up the shock/twist ending elements to better compete with EC. The Senate Subcommittee hearings on the effects of comic books on juvenile delinquency were well under way at this time, possibly adding fuel to the fire. Maybe the writing was on the wall so everyone went balls out before the hammer dropped. I don't know. There are certainly many comics historians out there who could present better theories than I can, I am just giving you my two cents.

Stories like #13's The Screaming Skulls! have that EC preachy aspect to it, using Horror to demonstrate the outcome of greed. That same issue's From The Bottom Of The Well is awesome, as there is no happy ending to be found. Many of the recurring themes of the era are present here: werewolves, zombies, vampires, etc.

A page from The Screaming Skulls!

#14's Out Of The Screen deals with the then-new fad of 3D movies. That same issue's Big Kill! is a story told so many times that I couldn't hope to pinpoint where it originally came from. Hunter mercilessly hunts game with a local tribe guiding him, man does something to piss off the spirit of the land, tribe warns him to change his wicked ways, ends up being turned into game by said spirit of the land, and gets hunted and killed by other hunters. Rinse. Repeat. The story is beautifully illustrated by Sam Citron, so it is a delight to the eyes if overly familiar storywise.

The vampire in issue 15's The Vampire's Vow bears a resemblance to Marvel's Morbius The Living Vampire, who wouldn't appear in 1971. I wonder if this was a subconscious influence or merely a coincidence. Roy Thomas is a known lifelong comic reader and collector, so it is not out of the realm of possibility that he owned this comic when he was a teenager. That same issue's The Little Furry Things! is the most disturbing story in the entire book. Great stuff there.

#16's The Tunnel! has artwork by the godlike Ken Landau. His work is very detailed and photo realistic, my favorite. I did some research on him, and he later went to work for Hanna Barbara, which is pretty cool. The most bizarre story in the entire book is issue 17's The Professor And The Pixie! It is a lighthearted, whimsical romance tale that feels like a precursor to Bewitched. Indeed, the end of the story seems like the beginning of a series. There also seems to be a Venus (Atlas Comics from the '50s) vibe to it, especially in the artwork department. The story art is uncredited in the book, but whoever it was tried to do their best Jack Kamen or Matt Baker. Part of me wonders if one of them was moonlighting. Maybe one of their helpers/inkers took the reigns here tried to do emulate their style. Sadly, many of these mysteries will never be solved, as most of these guys are dead and gone.

A page from The Tunnel!

The writing and artwork are all top notch here, and one can only wonder how far and how high the artform would have progressed if not for the implementation of the Comics Code Authority. And now for a slight rant...

I refuse to call the Comics Code Authority censorship. See, I have argued with many Millennial/ Social Justice Warrior (SJW) types online, and they claim that every time that they get butthurt and into an online uproar which causes a comics cover to be changed, that this not censorship. They claim that only the Government can censor things. Okay then, using their logic (and I use the word very loosely when pertaining to SJWs), comic books have never been censored. The CCA was a voluntary body formed by the industry, not the Government. Distributors refused to carry comics without the CCA, but that's not censorship by their definition, either. Isn't rewriting history fun, kids? Censorship used to come from outside, from the establishment. In 2015 it comes from the people who supposedly love what they are trying to kill, all in the name of “being on the right side of history”. Pro tip, kids: There is no right side of history. History always has, and always will, be written by the victors. Put that in your tumblr and smoke it in your eCigarette.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.75 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 Chinese children working in the 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 bright white stock.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding. Lays mostly flat.
Hardback cover notes: No dustjacket. Image printed on casewrap with matte finish and spot varnish.  

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