Let me tell you, this is one of my most prized collectable books and that judgement is based off of the artwork alone.
This book is a nice size, about copy paper size in height and width and contains a whopping 304 pages and there is a ton of high quality 50s comic book scans because these have fallen off of copyright and there is a ton of those images in this review. I feel like I’m in a museum when I’m reading this thing. . .
It’s just amazing and Sméagol honored to simply hold it. I checked Google Shopping to see what it was going for, but it looks like it’s all out of print now.
I located this unit at a Books-A-Million several years ago and they deserved my money, even if it was at retail price. Why would I say it like that, though? Well for reasons I will get to a little later in this review, but I would have never, ever located it otherwise.
It has a thick, card stock cover and also comes with a DVD of a warning video played in the 1950s concerning these comics in relation to children ( pictured below ) that I am not covering in this review.
I will focus on the artwork first and then move into a little about the books quality in respect to the writing.
As you can see this book has plenty of high-res scans of old comics. Here’s some more:
We have an introduction by R. L. Stine:
Jim Trombetta covers a myriad of topics surrounding these comics that includes around 42 ( out of over 300 – so you really can tell how much of this book is artwork, around 85% artwork in this book ) pages of written history, but most notably the controversy these comics created in a moral sense. Then, there were laws put in place and it really changed not only the comics industry, but also the entertainment industry in respect to those morals. It lead to a low level form of censorship.
However, there is one very sad thing about this book and how it relates to a marketing standpoint. The name. Not to be brash, but think about it — The Horror! The Horror!: Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You to Read! — is a terrible idea to name a book and it never turns search results because Google, Amazon, etc all assume you are talking about genre when you look for it. I don’t know many people that would remember anything about the title past ‘The Horror! The Horror!‘. On the other hand, props to the author for coming up with a great idea for the content of a book. I had to type the author’s name in to find the book anywhere on the internet! Which probably explains why it didn’t do well and is now out of print.
Now, have some more pictures of non-copywrited content:
The book also covers other comics relating to war, crime and the strange / science fiction and ties the art to other parts of real American culture with relations in time, but otherwise unrelated real horrible things which I personally didn’t mind. It’s completely unnecessary in relation to art, but not from a cultural standpoint.
Other chapters contain information and background on characters such as the werewolf or the skeleton which I thought was very much warranted.
The writing is not the very best in terms of quality and fluidity and sometimes punctuation, etc. However, I didn’t care that much since I feel like I’m being educated in the process.
This prized bundle of printed paper about other printed paper is a great way to appreciate the history of a major part of the entertainment industry in the American decade of the 1950s but not only to the art, but also dives into cultural history for a tribute to an era in time when comics ran amuck and some truly entertaining things were being created for an adult horror fanatic to enjoy. These comics changed the path of the entertainment industry in America and also put a staple in time in regards to style and form so in that respect the historical value in relation to culture is great. I give this book ★★★★★ five stars out of five.
Guys, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley