Sunday, August 09, 2015


EC was the comic book that influenced several generations of creative artists. Even today, there are traces of EC that turn up in popular culture. In THE EC ARCHIVES: TALES FROM THE CRYPT VOL. 1, Gemstone Publishing has brought together the first six issues of that famed EC comic, "Tales from the Crypt." Although seeming tame by many of today's standards, EC was ahead of its time, and "Tales from the Crypt" is a perfect example of this. The stories almost always live up to the classic horror format: someone does something that is immoral or unethical or evil, at first they seem to get away with their crime, but in the end retribution is served. The innocent are usually safe, except sometimes at the hand of evil-doer.

This collection brings together the "The Crypt of Terror #17 – 19" (the series was originally "Crime Patrol" and issues #1-#16  of "Crime Patrol" are collected in a different volume) before changing the name to "Tales From the Crypt" in issue #20.

The collection features many of those great artists that have had just as huge impact upon culture as the writers: Marie Severin, Johnny Craig, Harvey Kurtzman, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Al Feldstein, and the master illustrator Wally Wood.

The color has been re-mastered and looks gorgeous. All of the original covers, letters, and columns have also been reprinted, so a person really gets an idea of what the original comics in their full glory were like. There's a series of articles scattered throughout written by original publisher Russ Cochran and the forward to this book is written by John Carpenter.

The stories in volume are:

The Crypt of Terror #17
"Death Must Come!" – a man has been cheating death and staying young by replacing his organs from the corpses of  recently deceased young men.

"The Man Who Was Death" – a public executioner takes the law into his own hands.

"The Corpse Nobody Knew" – a private detective and his wife rent a hotel room and discovered an unidentified body inside.

"Curse of the Full Moon!" – after traveling in Europe a man is convinced he has been turned into a werewolf.

The Crypt of Terror #18
"The Maestro's Hand"  - driven into madness by the breakup of his fiancĂ©e, a surgeon removes the hand of his ex-fiancee's new lover.

"The Living Corpse" – a man who works in a morgue begins having visions of death. He becomes convinced they are connected to a performance artist who feigns death during his show.

"Madness at Manderville" – a woman believes she is going insane after hearing and seeing strange things after her son's death. Her husband comforts her, but she believes he might be involved.

"Mute Witness to Murder" - a woman becomes mute after witnessing the local doctor kill his wife. He has her sent to an asylum, but decides he has to murder her in case her voice ever returns.
The Crypt of Terror #19
"Ghost Ship" – a couple is stranded in the Bermuda triangle on a raft after their plane crashes. They believe they are saved when they come across a large wooden boat. However, they begin to realize things are strange when they discover a skeleton tied to the wheel.

"The Hungry Grave" – Ida and Jim are having an affair and plan to murder Ida's husband so they can marry and live together. The task becomes more difficult than they imagined.

"Cave Man" – after having his exhibition snubbed in favor of one that features a Neanderthal encased in ice, a curator tries to have his revenge by thawing the cave man.

"Zombie" – Daniel King is staying in Haiti with a friend on his plantation. He is warned not to spy on the natives during a voodoo ritual they will be performing. But curiosity gets the better of him.

Tales from the Crypt #20
"The Thing from the Sea!" – the reader becomes a first-witness part of this story that takes place on the seas with a supposedly cursed cabin.

"A Fatal Caper!" – four college students play around with a book of magic and discover that playing with evil isn't a game.

"Rx…Death" – a woman's brother is a workaholic and she becomes concerned about his health. He's given a tonic by the doctor and begins to transform into a hideous monster. This is an instance of a story where the innocent aren't always spared.

"Impending Doom!" – a young man goes into a trance and draws a picture of the face of a terrified man. He later meets the man and finds the man carving his name on a tombstone.

Tales from the Crypt #21
"A Shocking Way to Die" – a prisoner on death row is visited by a professor who claims he can bring him back to life after his electrocution. Indeed, the professor does revive the man after he is electrocuted in the electric chair, but things don't turn out for either the professor or the prisoner.

"Terror Ride" – a honeymooning couple discover an abandoned amusement park with only one ride still functioning.

"House of Horror" – a hazing ritual at a college fraternity goes horribly wrong.

"Death Suited Him!" – a young man kills his rival and is determined to marry his wife.

Tales from the Crypt #22
"The Thing from the Grave!" – A man kills his rival and then plots to murder the dead man's girlfriend.

"Blood Type" V"!" – a young couple are involved in a car crash and the woman needs a blood transfusion.  A stranger volunteers to donate his blood for the transfusion and shortly after dead bodies drained of blood begin appearing.

"Death's Turn" – the owners of a failing amusement park are given the opportunity to build a brand new roller coaster. However, when the project is almost complete, they become jealous of the man who created the ride and cause his death.

"The Curse of Arnold Clan!" – A man is determined to bring back a couple of cursed family items for a New Years' party even though he is warned it will be his death.

Overall, THE EC ARCHIVES: TALES FROM THE CRYPT VOL. 1 is a great collection and some mighty entertaining reading.

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