Creepy is one of those flawlessly beautiful, classic comics that you wish every comic was like. While it's true that most Silver or Bronze age comics have some classic kitsch charm, the transcendent quality of Creepy and its ilk (sister publications like Vampirella and Eerie) place it as a series that accomplished far more than its simple name implied. Escaping from the oppressive structure of the Comics Code Authority by presenting itself as a "newsstand magazine" rather than a "comic," Creepy was able to explore things that other graphical modes of storytelling of the time could not.
By issue 51, Creepy had already reached its stride and had attracted many of the finest artists in the business: Sanjulian, Frazetta, Esteban Maroto, Tom Sutton, and many others who were masters of the black-and-white page, exhibiting masterful and exciting line work. Most of Creepy's artists focused on a more realistic, textured approach than their superhero-centric peers, making these pages a unique experience among comics of this era. Faces are emotive, zombie skin puckers and bloats, and damsels are pale and smooth as silk, no matter who is drawing them for any given story.
Of course, most written horror tales have to work very hard to evoke any sense of real fear, so Creepy instead thrives on creating atmosphere: a sense of trailing dread that emerges from a long night reading about ghosts, demons, vampires, and the occasional science fiction dystopia. Nothing has a happy ending, but every moment of it is completely beautiful. It's that dissonance between dread and beauty that follows the reader well beyond the pages and is a signature for the genre.
Dark Horse presents these collections in glorious, huge hardcover format--far larger than your average comic collection. Everything is preserved, including the original covers in full color, the occasional color story, letters pages, and ads for all manner of eclectic horror memorabilia (prompting one to hunt down some of the more interesting "scary" LPs of the 1970s). This manner of collection, from cover to cover, truly delves into what it must have been like to read these issues back when they were first released, revealing a wide world of neat stuff for which any young nerd or horror enthusiast would salivate. Glossy, white pages accentuate this artwork even more crisply than the original pulp pages would have.
Parents and librarians beware: These pages contain a fair amount of blood, gore, and occasional nudity. Of course, these are the things that make these stories really good, when the creeping sense of uneasiness isn't dominating them. While this whole series is designed with the collector in mind, it also perfectly preserves some of the best drawn pages from the past 50 years, making it a worthy addition to any serious graphic novel archive.
-- Collin David