Back in the 1970’s, I bought comics either from a spinner-rack from the Seven-Eleven, Eckard’s Drug Store or the local newsstand–remember those? If you do, then you are either a Boomer or a Gen-X’er. But you would also remember the glory days of black and white comic magazines–comics printed in magazine format, on pulp, to avoid having to submit their material to the Comics Code authorities. Companies like Marvel felt the Comics Code was hindering their ability to tell stories to a more adult focused audience so they published comic magazines like Savage Tales, Bizarre Adventures, Savage Sword of Conan, Master of Kung Fu, The Incredible Hulk (which featured stories with Moon Knight), Howard the Duck, etcetera. These comics could be done without a dweeb with a red pen going through each panel, censoring what they deemed unworthy of young, impressionable minds. And it didn’t stop with Stan Lee and his crew.
Warren Publications came along and produced the best quality comic magazines during this black & white magazine format boom. Cult classics like Creepy, Eerie, 1984, Vampirella and The Rook were born. Creepy in particular has become legendary among comic book junkies and I was a fan the moment I bought my first issue in that dingy, pulp smelling, wonderful newsstand in Charlotte, North Carolina as a third grader. It was from this twisted rag, and it’s cellar-dwelling demented cousin, Eerie, I discovered comic legend Bernie Wrightson and, to my delight, Richard Corben, who I had already discovered through my father’s underground comix collection lurking between the pages of Skull Comix and Slow Death Comix. The covers were painted by Conan illustrating legend, Frank Frazetta, among others, and the magazines were further enhanced by the talented inkwork of John Severin. Warren Publications knew how to produce the right stuff when it came to the black & white magazine format, practically taking it over with their highly creative titles that inspired millions to become comic writers and illustrators. So when they canceled their titles painfully one by one, I never realized how much I missed their horror/science fiction comic anthologies over the years until the current downward spiral started happening within the comics industry–with the superhero movies making people forget the source of their beloved cinematic monstrosities: comics. I mean, you know Wonder Woman was adapted from a comic book, right? If you’re going to devour the cinematic images, why aren’t you supporting the paper?
Understanding this concept, the creators at Warrant Publishing of the twenty-first century Horror/Science Fiction black & white anthology magazine, The Creeps–who are obviously die-hard fans of the source material that inspired them–have reproduced a rag that brings back a missing link from a comics laden past that was a lot of fun to be part of as a comics fan. These guys get it. They understand what made Creepy such a classic anthology and know how to cater to their audience who, like them, are obviously disappointed with the modern reboot of Creepy by Dark Horse Comics. To further add to the thrill of seeing a magazine remembering the format of comic anthology magazines from a lost era, Richard Corben (Creepy, Heavy Metal, Rat God), a legend in the field of independent comics, has contributed to The Creeps, making it a must for those who are looking for something different in comics today.
To date, I have acquired and devoured two issues of Warrant Press‘ The Creeps, #9 & #10, and I already want to go online to order the back issues. The stories range from horror and fantasy, inspired by the likes of Robert E. Howard, the late Bernie Wrightson and written by Warren Publishing originals like Neal Adams (Creepy, Enemy Ace, Batman) among others. I haven’t seen this title hanging on the racks of my local comic shops here in Portland and actually found them shuffled into the pop culture media magazines at Barnes & Noble. Regardless of this depressing fact, The Creeps is worth your time and dime, with artwork from various illustrators working on stories from writers who are veterans in their field. The magazine mimics the cult-classic Warren titles in a manner that brings back floods of memories of treks to the newsstand as a pre teen to grab the latest issue of Creepy, Eerie or Vampirella, hoping to read a illustrated short story by Corbin or Severin–written with a love for the medium by writers who do.
Furthermore, The Creeps should be a monthly issued anthology, not a quarterly one because weird tales like the Clark Ashton Smith inspired, “Fair Trade” (The Creeps #9) by Richard Corben, make me crave more of what editor Rich Sala puts together with each thrillingly produced issue. They even go so far as to recreate the beautiful phantasmagorical painted covers that Warren adorned their cult-classic titles with, announcing to the reader these magazines delivered tales with balls! The Creeps does the same, delivering their own brand of thrills through a magazine shamelessly knowing exactly what it is: a creature from the lab that produced the black & white comic magazines of the 1970’s and early ’80’s.
If you missed out on the era of Creepy, Eerie and other black & white comic magazines that defied the comics code, then seek out issues of this fantastic comics magazine anthology by the demented minds at Warrant Publications, The Creeps. The next time you’re at a comicon use it for what they are for and find the back issues of the magazines that are the twisted parents to this modern day mutant offspring–Creepy, Eerie, and 1984. It won’t be like it was back then, when you could smell the pulp heavy in the air within the stuffy confines of a newsstand as you pull down the latest issues, stacking them up in the crook of your arm to take home and read on the stoop of your house, but it’ll be close enough.