May 14, 2009

, , , , ,   |  

Thrill Book!

Written by Stan Lee and others(?)
Illustrated by John Romita, Jack Cole, Joe Kubert, and others
Pure Imagination

This is a collection of pre-code horror and sci-fi comics, a lot of which are written by Stan Lee and several are illustrated by his future Marvel partner, John Romita.

Pulled from the ether from a time when comics had no restrictions, these are often gory tales of deception, greed, lust, and pure evil. But since they're done by some of the best in the comics business, the results rise above their ultra-pulpy origins to be things worth reading.

Watch as John Romita's work looks more like Robert Crumb! Thrill as Stan Lee uses a romance comic artist to tell a tale of womanly evil! Watch Jack "Plastic Man" Cole stretch his talents into a murderous sea monster or mysterious oriental death! If that's not enough, you'll even get Frankenstein!

There's all kinds of horror tropes within these glorious pages, from heads hung from living trees to men thinking they're just as monstrous as their intended deeds to space trips gone horribly wrong. (Stan Lee nails Venus as an unsafe planet, but not for the right reason.)

On top of that, comics historian Greg Theakston offers his insights into each story and why they were chosen, providing just enough context without bogging too far into the morass of comics history for those who aren't as interested as I am.

This book is part of a trend of finding old comics and saving them for future generations. I am solidly in favor of this practice, and if you want to see some Silver Age artists getting ready to work their magic, you'll find this book will thrill you almost as much as it did me.