I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got two new comics plus a hard cover collection:

  • Grifter – 3
  • Marvel Point One – 1
  • ”Frank Miller’s Holy Terror”
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

    ”Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Strange Tales Volume 2” by Various

    It’s been almost two years since I bought this book and this is the first time I’ve gotten around to reading it. It reprints a bunch of “Pre-Code” horror comics from 1952-1953. I was inspired to finally read this by another book that I just read. That one was “Fire and Water” and was a short biography of cartoonist Bill Everett and his life in comics. He worked on some of these comics and samples were shown of that work in “Fire and Water”.

    I remember reading articles about comics as I was growing up and a lot of people in those articles mentioned that Pre-Code horror comics were their favorites. That didn’t mean much to me then but now I see why they were favorites. I am familiar with Pre-Code horror comics from EC Comics because they are the most famous and most easily available ones. I generally like EC Comics but they also leave me a little cold. I think that’s because they have been ripped off or adapted so many times by TV or the movies that there is a staleness to them now. EC Comics were so popular and influential that they seem a bit too familiar.

    On the other hand these Atlas Era Pre-Code horror comics seem a lot fresher to me. I was pretty sure I’d like the art since I knew the names of a bunch of the artists involved but I was quite surprised that I liked the writing so much. Before the days of the Comics Code Authority and censorship bad things actually happened in comics. People got shot, stabbed, strangled, and buried alive. Nothing we’d consider gory today but frighteningly done. It’s good stuff. Even the coloring with its limited 1950s palette is well done.

    I gotta say that I had a hard time putting this down. I’m used to the bland Post-Code horror work of the 1960s and 1970’s that can, at best, be described as “Mildly amusing”. It was a real joy and a bit of a surprise to read work from the 1950s that was more sophisticated and better crafted that I expected it to be. Once again I’ll say that censorship really did ruin comics in this country and they still haven’t really recovered.

    So if you want to read some really cool old comics from a nearly forgotten era in Marvel Comics’ history then check out these Atlas Era books. I know I’ll be tracking more of them down.