Eerie Publications

In 1954, the comics code authority pretty much destroyed everything good about comic books. Ten years later, Creepy magazine came along, which bypassed the code by publishing in a magazine format. After its success, Myron Fass and his company, Eerie publications, started releasing horror titles which made all the gore and nudity in Creepy look tasteful by comparison. The following text is excerpted from the super-excellent Frankensteinia blog:

Myron Fass was the ultimate exploitation publisher, flooding the newsstands with countless magazine titles. There were skin mags like Jaguar, Poorboy and Flick (its title in caps reading like another four-letter word), true crime, hot rod and gun magazines, Famous Monsters knockoffs like Thriller and 3-D Monsters, pop music and gossip titles, TV Photo Story, and a slew of wild paranormal offerings like ESP and Official UFO. Writers were hired out of college and encouraged to make everything up. Al Goldstein, who would go on to publish Screw, learned the ropes as one of Fass’ writers. Contents were slapped together, printed on the cheapest newsprint available and rushed out to the stands. A title’s survival was predicated on a single, simple rule: It had to sell at least 20,000 copies.

In 1966, Weird was Eerie Publications’ downmarket entry into the black and white horror comic magazine field pioneered by James Warren’s Eerie and Creepy. It was soon joined by Terror Tales, Horror Tales, Witches’ Tales, Tales of Voodoo, Terrors of Dracula and Tales from the Tomb, all basically the same magazine with different titles and interchangeable covers and contents. Early issues carried reprints of lowbrow horror comics from the Fifties, spruced up with ink washes or redone with added grue.

As new material was phased in, the sleaze and gore scores were jacked up, making the Eerie titles synonymous with bad taste and stomach-churning violence. Black ink blood spurted across the pages and severed heads, for some reason, became a signature image, nearly ubiquitous on the covers, either hanging by their hair, strewn about the dungeon, lined up on laboratory tables or kept in bell jars.

Covers were unsigned... nobody agrees on who might have painted the lurid, disturbing images of gleeful torture, bloody impalement, cannibalism and other indignities visited equally on semi-clad, bound females (often fanged vampiresses) and various drooling monsters.

I have a stack of these magazines; I stopped reading superhero comics when I was 13, but I made occasional visits to comic shops in the 80's and 90's to dig these up. There was no collectors' market for them at the time, and I'm not sure there is now (although they're quite rare, because most of them were thrown out for being the trash that they are).

But there's Zombie Factory, a fantastic trade paperback that collects many stories from them. It's been sitting on my bedside table for almost two years now; every few weeks I'll pick it up and flip through it, bringing me such indescribable joy that I'd almost diagnose it as Stendhal Syndrome.

A gallery of cover art is over here. The same website has scans of some of the stories. This one is as good an example as any.


Jason said...

Enjoyed your memories. As a little Halloween treat, here's a short video I made that (crudely) animates up some familiar Eerie Pub covers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq_hSKKrg0Y

Happy Halloween!

stexe said...

Superb. I've just reposted it here: