Those who know their comics, know that Dark Horse means horror (among other things), and there’s no better showcase of this than series like Eerie and Creepy, which are Dark Horse’s hallmark to the horror comics of the 1960s and 1970s, using the same names of the Eerie and Creepy magazines published by Warren Publishing (Vampirella), which was a big competitor with DC and Marvel until 1981, and they were able to put out risqué comics banned in regular comic books because they published in magazine format, which was not restricted by the Comics Code Authority. Like those old magazines, Dark Horse’s Eerie #3 is a horror anthology featuring weird, out-there stories, the general goal is which are to be unsettling. Not to mention a fantastic cover by Paul Chadwick.
Issue three is composed of three short stories by different artistic teams. “Hunger,” penned by Landry Q. Walker and drawn by Troy Nixey, who has worked on some Mignola books, is a weird exploration of what happens to an alien stranded on Earth, and a criticism of our largely empty calorie diet. Walker builds a rather strange story, if not slightly predictable in its oddness, and the final turn is rather funny in that I-shouldn’t-laugh sort of way. What makes this first story incredible is Nixey’s black and white pencils, which create a complex, detailed world which highlights the erratic, frightful nature of the story, and makes the experience unbelievably gross (but cool).
Jonathan Case’s “Saturnian Infantroids” is an equally absurd tale, in which he uses a rather classic line style populated with Kirby dots to create a black and white world reminiscent of 1950s sci-fi comics to spin a yarn about giant radiation-mutated babies destroying an American colony on Titan. This story mocks America’s current Puritanical fear of birth control, by making use of birth control a subject of paranoid monster making, blaming the ‘Red’ Soviets for the creation of birth control and its defuncts (those giant babies). It’s rather hilarious, and a fun, short read, the out-there-ness of which counters the creeped-out factor of “Hunger.”
Imagine if the plot of The Search for Spock had involved Spock being reborn in the body of a grotesque, multi- ocular monster that can devour anything by absorbing and digesting it through its skin. Also, imagine that a woman were in love with Spock previous to his demise, and that that woman still wants to spend the rest of her life with the new green-bodied monster. Gerry Boudreau’s “The Manhunters” illustrated by Wally Wood has basically that plot, and it’s of the highest class mid-20th century sci-fi. Little else needs to be said, other than perhaps praising Wood’s ability as a colorist (my god, those bright and stark contrasts!) and artist, since his work is entirely enjoyable and captures the weird feel of the narrative.
Writing a short story is embarking on a dangerous journey of critics and fans and haters who will claim the work is “too short,” “not fulfilling,” “left me wanting,” but good short stories is exactly what Eerie #3 presents here. Each of these stories is classic horror or sci-fi, with enough content to feel satisfied but with a diegetic world interesting enough to be explored in future comics or in the reader’s imagination. As a fan of old horror comics, I’m definitely looking forward to more from Cousin Eerie (and Creepy).
My only complaint lies in the fact that I believe at least the last story is a reprint, since Wally Wood died in 1984, and it would certainly be eerie if Wood were making new art for Dark Horse. My complaint is miniscule, just that I couldn’t find citation information if this is indeed a reprint, because I completely enjoyed the comic regardless of being a reprint, and these classic horror/sci-fi pieces need to be brought back to the present readership. After some research, I discovered that “The Manunters” is a reprint from 1974’s Comix International #2 published by Warren Publishing. While this was the only reprint I thought to look for, it’s possible other of the contents are as well—but that’d be no reason to think this a bad book, just proof that the comics therein are in fact worth the read!
Finally, I love Eerie’s creation of the Cousin Eerie mythology and the back-up interview with Richard Corben, one of my absolute favorite artists and Poe-adaptationist par excellence. In the interview Corben provides an interesting perspective on editors, since he says that horror comics editors have gotten more relaxed over the years, whereas mainstream opinion sees superhero comics editors as ruling with an “iron fist” (the same phrasing used by Corben about earlier horror editors, probably a result of the new Comics Code Authority and today’s lack of such restrictions). If you like horror and sci-fi, or good art, or you want to explore the possibility of short-story comics, Eerie #3 is the book for you! It’s an anthology and a learning experience for just $3.99.
Dark Horse, if you’re reading: thank you. It’s books like Eerie #3 that I hope to edit someday soon and bring well-written quality comics to readers everywhere, and it’s further proof that Dark Horse is the company.
Story: Landry Q. Walker, Jonathan Case, Gerry Boudreau Art: Troy Nixey, Jonathan Case, Wally Wood, Paul Chadwick (Cover)
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read/Buy
Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review