Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Creeps #24 (June 2020)

Editor: Rich Sala; Associate Editor: Don Glut; Cover: Jeff Easley; Artists: Nik Poliwko, Benito Gallego, Santos Zaballos, Reno Maniquis, Martin Peniche, and Mansyur Daman; Writers: Don Glut, Nicola Cuti, Billy Grim, and Artie Goodwin.

I was relatively late to arrive at the joys and wonders of magazines such as Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, and even Famous Monsters. When I was younger, I was much more interested in the humor magazines—perhaps edging into the Conan and Marvel magazines—but didn't spend much time on the spooky side of the street. Now that I'm older, I realize what I was missing... though I wouldn't trade my youthful reading for a single minute.

This magazine, published by Yucca Valley-based Warrant Publishing, is a modern-day appreciation of those older horror black and whites... and it's amazing. Drawing on the still vibrant talents of artists and writers who actually worked on the original Warren publications, this is a loving modern take on a very comfortable and creative magazine approach to comics. More than an homage, it's a direct descendent of those magazines—and a lively force of its own. (And, it seems that Warrant plans to launch a Vampi homage of sorts later this year: Vampiress Carmilla.)

This issue comes out at a sad time; contributor Nicola Cuti died in late February. The co-creator of E-Man, with Joe Staton, worked with people such as Wally Wood, Bill Black, and Stan Lee, and contributed professional to the comics of Warren, Charlton, DC, and Marvel.

P. 2: "The Old Creep's Historic Horrors," Art: Martin Peniche, Story: Artie Goodwin. A one-pager focusing on "Practices of Witchcraft." Just four panels touching on spells, necromancy, demonology, and white witches, offering several entry points to the topic if you're interested.

P. 7: "The Undertaker of Gravesend," Art: Benito Gallego, Story: Nicola Cuti. An undertaker makes a deal with the devil to succeed his brother as sheriff. He thrives in his new occupation, until he doesn't. Surprising punchline to the energetic, heroic storyline.

P. 15: "Winter's Crossing," Art: Reno Maniquis, Story: Nicola Cuti. A covered bridge, hungry undead, and survivors trying to figure out how to get where they're going. This is an excellent updating of an ancient myth from lore... and the punchline was something I could have seen coming but hadn't, making it all the better. This is the one to read.

P. 22: "The Seed of Destruction," Art: Nik Poliwko, Story: Billy Grimm. The Jerry Lewis Nutty Professor-like character design gives the reader some sense that the story isn't to be taken entirely seriously. What we have is science gone awry, an ever-growing killer plant, and an ending that suggests something else. A welcome bit of levity to an occasionally heavy black and white.

P. 29: "Fake I.D.," Art: Santos Zaballos, Story: Don Glut. An excellent vampire story.

P. 35: "The Creep in the Iron Mask," Art: Martin Peniche, Story: Don Glut. Just when I thought this was going to be a traditional retelling, it became so much more. Sometimes the surprises don't have to be that big to work well.

P. 45: "Into the Vault," Art: Mansyur Daman, Story Adaptation: Artie Godwin. The final story is an adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's 1925 story "In the Vault," is a cautionary tale about alcoholism, shoddy workmanship, and the cutting of corners.

Availability: You can subscribe online. The Creeps 2019 Annual Spooktacular might be a good place to start—it's a collection of some recent highlights. The Lovecraft story is available here.

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