A History of Horror
If there’s one genre in mainstream comics today that’s become largely underrated, it’s probably horror comics. Now, don’t get me wrong: there are still some quality horror books coming out from publishers today, and who knows how many independent creators out there are churning out these gruesome little gems, but don’t expect the Big 2, DC and Marvel to come out with anything that can be truly considered part of the horror niche anytime soon. And by DC, I mean the main line of titles they have, so Vertigo isn’t a part of it. Speaking of the Vertigo imprint, and to be completely fair, they have recently published some horror titles, but they’re – well, if we’re being honest here – not very good. As for Marvel, I can’t think of a single horror title they’ve come out with; they’re too busy lining up their comics with their movie properties. So, if you’re looking for some quality horror comics, then step out of your superhero-led cave and try out what other publishers like IDW, Dark Horse, and Avatar Press have in their respective wonderful, albeit criminally overshadowed, catalogues.
Since we’re on the topic of the horror genre in the four-color pages, perhaps no other is as iconic when it comes to providing readers with some of the most chilling, horrendous tales in history than EC Comics (which was an imprint under National Comics, meaning it was like DC’s sibling that’s a bit sick in the head, in a good way). And in the time that they published their horror titles, it is perhaps Tales from the Crypt that has become the most iconic banner in the genre. So much so, that it’s become synonymous with the horror comic itself, that even the TV series and movies that sprung from it, which based their stories on various titles like the Vault of Horror, have become associated with it. Not to mention, Tales from the Crypt featured one of the most gruesomely appealing hosts of all time, the Crypt-Keeper. Oh, that emaciated visage and that high-pitched laughter is something that’ll always be fondly remembered by fans.
The thing is, EC Comics’ offerings – not just tales from the Crypt but the entirety of their horror catalogue – was nothing short of revolutionary back in the day. You see, it was the stories that appeared within the pages of titles like the ones I’ve mentioned earlier, along with yet another classic, The Haunt of Fear, which shook the whole industry. In fact, it shook the whole United States of America when the government cracked down on it. As a result, all of mainstream comics were affected by what EC Comics had done: it will become a seismic shift in their publishing methods, one that gave birth to the Comics Code Authority.
But hey, it’s a good thing that we get to live in an era were there isn’t a self-censoring board out there hounding the comics. And even though EC Comics has been gone for more than five decades now, we’ll still have their stories to keep us awake at night.