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‘Eerie Archive Volume 27:’ Hardcover Review

Presenting the final volume of Eerie Archives, a 320-page grand finale to the complete collection of one of the most acclaimed comics magazines of all time.  With tales of terror and adventure by comics’ finest creators, Eerie Archives volume 27 goes out with a resounding bang! Collects Eerie #132 - #139.

In the mid 1960s, Warren Publishing introduced readers to a brand-new magazine, Eerie, hosted by a creepy, little fellow by the name of Cousin Eerie.  Sister to Creepy magazine that made its debut a couple of years earlier, Eerie was a black-and-white format magazine featuring horror comics that bypassed the Comics Code Authority (meaning these comics were not reviewed and rated).  Targeting newsstand audiences, the first eleven issues were edited by Archie Goodwin.  Over the years, several other names in the industry would helm the magazine and would involve many comic book writers and artists, reading like a who’s who from the industry.  In February 1983, the 139th issue proved to be its last breath and the end of a 25+-year run.  

Why was issue 139 the last one? Well, Warren Publishing went bankrupt in February 1983, and the rights to Eerie, Creepy, and Vampirella were acquired by Harris Publications the same year; however, Harris Publications was quickly embroiled in a legal dispute for 17 years before Warren Publishing regained sole rights to Eerie and Creepy.  Harris Publications had better luck with Vampirella, having published several series from 1991 through 2007 (Dynamite Entertainment acquired Vampirella in early 2010).

It seemed like Eerie and Creepy would be forever locked away, to be remembered fondly by its readers, but 2007 was a very good year for these two.  New Comic Company acquired all of the rights in perpetuity in 2007 and through an agreement with Dark Horse Comics, all original issues of both magazines – 285 in all – would be published in collectible hardcover editions.  Eerie’s first volume that collected the first five issues premiered in early 2009.  This month marks the last volume in the series for Eerie.

This series of hardcovers have immediate value on several levels.  Obviously, fans of Eerie, and more generally horror and science fiction/fantasy, will appreciate the collection of stories contain in this volume.  Most are one-shots, but there are a few ongoing series that follow recurring characters such as space hero Zud Kamish, the time-leaping Restin Dane, Haggarth dangerous adventures in the Amazon, and Chris, an Earthman who is awaken after floating for a thousand years in space.  

Each hero’s journey unfolded in the pages of Eerie, entertaining readers, but, at a deeper level, were re-enforcing the hegemony of the 1980s: Men were manly and women were damsels to be saved from the villain (or themselves!).  There was an overwhelming number of stories in this vein. This is where a popular culture historian would find these volumes valuable: studying the stories for what they were saying about American politics – Cold War attitudes towards the Soviets for instance – and as mentioned above, the accepted societal ideologies about gender.  Exceptions were rare and stood out.  For example, the two-part “The Mist” (Issue 138, January 1983) written by Don McGregor and illustrated by Bill Draut was a narrative and visual departure.  The story is structured more as an ensemble cast of characters, many of them women that are referred to by name and directly support the story.  At the center is a woman named Victoria who has captured the attention of voodoo practitioner Lucifer. Draut’s art style is softer and he incorporates more thin lines, and as a result, the visuals are clearer on the page and are not muddled by the black-and-white printing medium.

This volume also proves to be a fascinating archival document of its own and other Warren Publishing publications.  For example, Issue 133 (August 1982) documented the introduction of a regular column “Eerie’s Earful” (the title seemed to morph from one issue to the next) featuring Warren Publishing-related news.  Fans could read about upcoming series, when a favorite character would be returning for their next adventure, and, of course, what was happening over at Creepy, Famous Monsters, etc.  In Issue 138 (January 1983), there’s a lengthy farewell to Forrest J. Ackerman who retired as editor-in-chief for Famous Monsters magazine.  Additionally, back issue and sister publication advertisements were carried over into these volumes, as well as documenting the changing issue prices. (Eerie premiered with a cover price of 35 cents!) And, the last few issues, one story was printed in full color!

The issues in this volume for the most part featured covers that were fantasy based.  Although steeped in the 1980s machismo, Sajulian’s covers are on par with Boris Vallejo’s art of the same period: Conan-esque and filled with fantastical symbolism.  Other covers included Rudy Nebres’ cover featuring a superhero-inspired epic fight scene (Issue 134), a brightly colored Issue 136 featuring a single shot “Starlad” story (Nester Redondo), and Kelly Freas’ Space Beagle cover.

If there are any criticisms to this volume, then there are two. First, the stories from Issue 135 (October 1982) and Issue 137 (December 1982) are missing.  The covers, front matter advertisements, and table of contents pages are included, but the stories are missing.  Hopefully, that is rectified with the physical print. The second critique is more related to personal preference; the full-color comics seemed to bleed and blend, not to mention bright in comparison to the black-and-white comics through the rest of the volume.  Again, it is a personal opinion, but it's minor in comparison to all of the reasons that this volume and the series of hardcovers are a must-have for fans, collectors, and historians.

Below is a list of the writers and artists featured in this Eerie volume:

Stories by the following writers are part of this volume: Jerry Bourdreau, William DuBay, Jean-Claude Forest, Victor de la Fuente, John Jacobson, Budd Lewis, Rich Margopoulos, Don McGregor, Timothy Moriarty, and John Ellis Sech.

The artists showcased in this volume are: Louis Bermejo, Jaime Brocal, Fred Carillo, Vic Catan, E.R. Cruz, Bill Draut, William DuBay, Kelly Freas, Victor de la Fuente, Paul Gillon, Ken Kelly, Rudy Nebres, Noly Panaligan, Jordi Penalva, Nestor Redondo, Sajulian (also the cover artist), and Ramon Torrents.

Creative Team: Timothy Moriarty and James Warren are the series editors
Publisher: Dark Horse
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