Reviews

Fantastic Review Of Adventures Into The Unknown Volume 1!

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We received a fantastic review of ACG Collected Works – Adventures Into The Unknown Volume One by our superfan Kris Shaw.

Check out the review here!

http://junkfoodforthought-krisshaw.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/review-acg-collected-works-adventures.html

 

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New Review – Courtesy Of Joel Cook – Cook’s Reviews

Phantom-Lady-Vol-1-CoverPS Art Books (who have been around for almost fifteen years) have already published an impressive two hundred and fifty titles. The company is headed by Peter Crowther – Director/Editor and Paul Stephenson – Creative Director and is based in the UK.

Recently they joined forces with a veteran of the Silver- Age of comics, Roy Thomas, editor and writer of hundreds of stories for DC and Marvel comics, many of which are fondly remembered.

Roy encouraged PS to reprint some of his favorite golden age characters, including the Phantom Lady, the Heap and Planet Comics culminating in the release of excellent collections of each of these titles.

Before Roy Thomas’s participation, PS Art Books had already began re-releasing many other comic books from the golden age of comics ( 1940’s-1950’s) that they fondly remembered including horror titles acquired from Harvey and ACG comics.

PS ArtBooks have created a process of reproducing these old comic books in loving detail without losing the grit and immediacy that could be found in most comic books of the time. These volumes are beautifully designed and a joy to behold.

Although PS ArtBooks publish a wide spectrum of re-prints, I wanted to first explore the subject of the horror titles that they have been re-releasing:

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At the height of the horror craze in the early 1950’s both Harvey comics and the ACG comic company regularly produced a series of horror and mystery titles that were popular in their time.

PS Art Books have released excellent collections of these two company’s comics.

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The Harvey titles (including Black Cat Mystery, the Witches Tales, Chamber of Horrors, and Tomb of Terror) were decidedly more scary and graphic than the ACG comics. I still find some of the stories unsettling.

Which brings me to the question, why do children like reading horror stories?

Supposedly, scary tales can serve an important purpose, say psychologists and children’s literature experts.

Many experts believe that frightening stories not only provide entertainment but may also at the same time help kids through key developmental stages.

Children, at various ages, may worry about being less loved than a sibling, starting school or perhaps worst of all, being lost or abandoned.

The thought of getting separated from your parents or worse yet, having your parents die is a common childhood anxiety.

Rather than instilling these fears in children, some stories that children read in comic books may actually help children face the fears that they already had- and help rid them of these fears for good.

The problem with the horror comic books of this era (early 1950’s) that caused such an enormous backlash and furor from politicians and the general public (and eventually shook the entire comic book industry to its core) was that young children were regularly being exposed to hideous, disturbing and inappropriate images every time they went to the corner candy store to buy a comic book.

During the 1950’s, there seemed to be no practical way to separate the flood of comic books like the ones Harvey and EC comics specialized in- showing graphic images of violence and horror- from those featuring more benign themes that would have been perfect for younger children.

Comic books created for vastly different audiences regularly appeared side- by- side on most new stands and luncheonette racks with no differentiation or signage.

The term, age-appropriate may not have existed yet, but I’m sure most comic book publishers at that time understood the concept. The problem was that many of these comic book publishers refused to take responsibility for the product they were producing even though they were making so much money selling their horror titles and could have afforded to do so or at least have tried to come up with a solution.

I have been spending the last year reading a great deal of horror comics from this era. As with the similar type of stories featured in EC’s horror titles, as good as the art was that appeared in these Harvey titles ( including Bob Powell’s and Howard Nostrand’s excellent work) many of the stories seem to be nothing more than an exercise in sadism and gore.

I know it’s a corny old expression, but it really seems to fit here :

Many of these stories have no redeeming quality or social value that I can discern.

I don’t enjoy reading about people suffering needlessly nor can I read about characters being tortured without good cause or reason.

Many of these early 1950’s horror tales are just putrid junk to me.

Over the years other comic books collectors have pointed out to me that I miss the humorous qualities in these old horror stories.

Quite often the narrator / story teller seems to be winking at the reader.

Most of the time, I guess I miss the joke or the jokes on me.

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That’s not to say that all of these re-prints from PS ArtBook are worthless:

Far from it:

The series of comic books originally published by the ACG company are more to my tastes. These stories exist in a type of moral universe that I can relate to.

The characters are not just pawns created to be tormented, like in so many of the EC and Harvey stories.

The variety of artists and styles of story-telling is more pleasing to me too in these ACG stories. Many times their evil characters get what’s coming to them.

 

The ACG titles re-released here included Forbidden Worlds, Adventures into the Unknown, Skeleton Hand, Out of Night and Operation Peril all dating from the early 1950’s.

I acknowledge in these times when many characters featured in popular movies, TV shows, graphic novels and comic books are anti-heroes and mirror today’s grim realities, these old Harvey horror stories may appeal to whole new young audience.

Try them. See for yourself. Stranger things have happened.

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Chamber of Chills Volume One Reviewed…


Our first volume of our Harvey Horror’s Chamber of Chills received a glowing review by James Lovegrove in this months Comic Heroes Magazine…

Harvey Publications may be best remembered for innocuous fare such as Richie Rich and Casper The Friendly Ghost. At the dawn of the 1950s, however, the company was producing a line of horror titles that outdid even EC in terms of gore and perversion. Of all the Harvey anthologies, Chamber Of Chills was by far the most notorious, even earning the accolade of a mention in Fredric Wertham’s vindictive Seduction Of The Innocent.

Collected in this gorgeous slipcased volume are the first seven issues, prefaced with a splendidly lurid introduction by Joe Hill. The reproduction is beautiful. Every smeary colour and demoniac brushstroke is faithfully rendered.

And what a cavalcade of depravity and fevered imagining it is. The stories lurk at the periphery of common sense, possessing the sinister incoherence of nightmares. They’re absurd, almost derisory, and yet that is their power. Were the scripts any more logical, the artwork any less lunatic, you might be able to dismiss them. Instead, they exert a grim, screw-turning grip on your brain.

Torture, whipping, bondage, entombment, cannibalism, zombification, transmogrification… You get the impression you’re looking at the product of seriously deranged minds, which makes these comics more than just crude curios from a bygone age. They’re capable of unnerving even the jaded modern reader.

****½

Comic Heroes is out now in all good outlets!
Chamber of Chills Volume One Available to order at www.harveyhorrors.com and www.pspublishing.co.uk

 

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