Hey! I’m doing a list! Not done one in years and after a chat the other day I thought I’d do this, so here’s my top 10 horror comics, and to start I go back to the pre-superhero days of Marvel Comics, or as they were known then, Atlas Comics.
Before Stan Lee got told to rip off DC’s Justice League of America, as well as their successful reboot of Golden Age superheroes, Lee wrote endless amounts of romance, monster and horror comics. Most were awful, but he had a stable of artists who managed to milk what little gold there was in Lee’s ideas. Artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko managed to do great things with very little, and indeed. it is Ditko who drew one of my favourite horror comics ever.
It Happened on the Silent Screen is simply a brilliant example of an artist on the peak of his game. As for Lee’s prose, the story doesn’t need it and can be read without the aid of it.
These stories were normally five or six page stories featuring a monster of the month such as the wonderfully named Fin Fang Foom.
All of these stories were merely a way for all involved to pay the rent as Atlas/Marvel bled everything they could out of the post Comics Code horror comic, and even into the superhero era as the likes of Fantastic Four started as a monster comic, while the first episode of Doctor Strange is simply a Ditko horror story. Eventually though these comics would die out being replaced by the superhero and Marvel would veer away from horror til the 70’s but more on that another time.
These small stories are what they are. They’re fun, disposable trash with a clearly bored Lee grinding out scripts as his co-creators refined art and storytelling styles for more important things to come but they’re a joy. A remnant of a time when horror was harmless and giant monsters always wore underpants…