Enter The Crypt, Tomb, Vault, Coffin (And More) Of Horror Comics

Tales From The Crypt 1 by John Carpenter  Hardcover, volumes

There was a time when horror comics didn't just walk the face of the earth, they ruled it. Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, The Haunt of Fear, Tomb of Terror, Fantastic Fears, Adventures into Terror, Chamber of Chills, Beware, Weird Horrors, Horror from the Tomb, and on and on down the magazine rack, through the newspaper stand, and into the treehouses and forts and rumpus rooms of all the wide-eyed kids born right around World War II.

But, as happens when a phenomenon gets that big, the sensational titles and gory covers attracted some, um, disapprobation — particularly from one Frederick Wertham, who stirred up enough moral outrage at these graphic stories the children were consuming that those graphic stories had to go away. Starting with Wertham's 1954 screed Seduction of the Innocent and going all the way up to the early 1970s, the horror comic was largely black and white and magazine-sized — thank Creepy and Eerie for keeping the scares alive — which was supposed to protect the impressionable minds of America's youth.

In those early '70s, however, all those impressionable readers would sense that dark thread again when Gwen Stacy died in a — let me stress this now — mainstream, popular, good guy comic book: The Amazing Spider-Man. Just a couple of years before that (and because of that same webslinging title), the comics industry had grudgingly rewritten its guidelines so that werewolves and vampires and ghouls could once more be represented, provided it was done in the manner of "high caliber literary works written by Edgar Allan Poe, Saki, Conan Doyle" and other respectable authors.

Respectable? Yeah, that's what horror's into.

Eerie Archives  by Shawna Gore  Hardcover, 254 pages