Friday, March 14, 2014

Lovecraft in Comic Books: Creepy, Issue 21

Continuing our exploration of the works of H.P. Lovecraft as presented in comic book form, today we examine Creepy Issue 21.
Introduced in 1964, Creepy was one of three illustrated horror magazines produced by Warren Publishing (the other two being Eerie and Vampirella). Featuring outstanding macabre color covers and black-and-white interior art, Creepy and Eerie stylistically mirrored classic EC Comics horror publications. Creepy even boasted a sinister host in the form of Uncle Creepy.

Creepy went through a string of editors in its formative years, beginning with Russ Jones and including Archie Goodwin, Bill Parente, Nicola Cuti and even publisher James Warren. Contributing artists included such prominent names as Frank Frazetta, Steve Ditko, Neal Adams, Alex Toth and John Severin. The magazine originally ran from 1964 to 1983.

For Lovecraft devotees, Creepy Issue 21 is notable for its inclusion of “The Rats in the Walls.” Bob Jenney provides the atmospheric artwork. The adaptation captures Lovecraft’s tone, though the truncated climax isn’t as effective as the author’s original ending.

Interestingly, Jenney’s résumé indicates that during the 1940s and ’50s, he worked primarily as an illustrator for pulp magazines. A biographical sketch found at the Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists lists several pulp titles to which he contributed artwork, including Ace Sports, Ten Detective Aces, 10-Story Detective, Western Aces, Western Trails, Famous Western, Exciting Sports, Popular Football, North-west Romances, Popular Sports, Super Sports, Thrilling Football, Thrilling Sports and Wings. One can’t help but wonder if Jenney had illustrated Lovecraft’s work prior to his Creepy appearance.

Jenney apparently enjoyed a long career in illustration, active from the 1940s through the 1980s. During those years, he worked on at least two syndicated comic strips, provided artwork for children’s books and was employed by an advertising agency. Busy as he was, he still managed to find time to serve as an artist for Warren Publishing.

Creepy Issue 21 hit the newsstands in June 1968. A near mint condition copy is currently listed at just over $40 at one online comic book shop. On the other hand, Dark Horse Comics began reprinting Creepy archival volumes in 2008. This issue is included in Creepy Archives Vol. 5.

Say … have you checked out the Indiegogo fundraising campaign for the forthcoming World War Cthulhu anthology? Edited by Brian M. Sammons and Glynn Owen Barrass, this collection will feature work from authors such as John Shirley, Mark Rainey, Wilum Pugmire, William Meikle, Tim Curran, Jeffrey Thomas and many others. If you haven't already contributed, today would be a good day to do it: If the campaign reaches 80 percent of its goal by 11 p.m. PST today, Friday, March 14, artist Wayne Miller will create a new illustration for Wilum Pugmire's tale "To Hold Ye White Husk." And remember: Those stretch goals are mighty important, too. More funding means more authors and more art!

So what are you waiting for?

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