Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella

As a child, the first comics I probably read were the Harvey Comics of Casper, the Friendly Ghost, Little Lu-Lu, and Baby Huey. As I grew up, I found DC and the Green Lantern, The Atom, The Flash, Aquaman, The Legion of Superhereos, and the Justice League. Soon, I found Marvel and Captain America, The Avengers, The Mighty Thor, the Fantastic Four, and more.

But while these color comics were occupying my interests, there was a whole different flavor of comics out there on the newsstand, something I wasn’t aware of until I was a little older and in high school.

The 1960s were a birth, of sorts, of television horror. The great old movies of the 30s and 40s had found a new audience with late night television fans introduced by horror hosts all across the country. Milwaukee had Dr. Cadaverino. This interest in the classic horror films led to the creation of a magazine devoted to these movies, Famous Monsters of Filmland. It was a black and white magazine which was edited by and featured many articles by Forrest J. Ackerman, a man known as Forrey and who many revered as one of science fiction’s staunchest supporters. It was he who coined the term, “Sci-Fi” and nearly single-handedly created Sci-Fi fandom itself.

As a fan of these great old movies, I started picking up the magazine. My interest in that magazine made me gravitate to Warren Publishing’s other offerings, which weren’t fan magazines. They were a modernized version of EC comics without the over-the-top shock appeal. They were black and white horror comics with some of the best artists and writers of comic bookdom. Names like Wally Wood, Jack Davis, Gray Marrow, Al Williamson, Joe Orlando, Archie Goodwin, and Frank Frazetta graced the pages of these magazines. Their names were Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella.

One of the advantages of black and white comic magazines was they didn’t have to follow the Comics Code. They had more freedom, which was why horror suited them so well. So although they never tried to reach the level of EC Comics, they still did things the color horror comics weren’t allowed to. This gave them a more “adult” feel.

So popular were these comics they spawned a whole new genre of black and white comic magazines. Even Marvel joined the fray with their own black and white horror and fantasy magazines under the Curtis umbrella, such as Savage Sword of Conan, Savage Tales, Tales of the Zombie, and Haunt of Horror.

And the man behind all this was James Warren. Surfing the web today, I ran across an interview with Warren that took place in two long sessions on October 17, 1998, and February 11, 1999.

I hope you find it as interesting and enlightening as I did.

The James Warren Interview by Jon B. Cooke.

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