Rewind six decades or so, and you can really see what censors and parental critics felt about the minds of their children being corrupted in black and white and how they reacted in a manner so over the top that it ended up creating the Comic Code Authority in 1954 (seriously, look it up kids, it’s fascinating reading!).
At the forefront of the furore stood EC Comics who, with their line-up of fantastical titles including Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror, poked the proverbial bear as often as they could with their content. Within their ranks was Jack Davis who had a style that leaned so far away from what was expected of comics in those days from the superhero stables of other comic publication companies.
He knew exactly how to draw dark stories; stories of revenge, murder, and horror. From monsters unreal to everyday and with tales of the supernatural to those based within a more mundane plane, Davis was a driving force within the industry.
Whereas it is possible to pick up collected volumes of the EC archives, this compilation of thirty-two stories is a good start as any for the uninitiated to the back catalogues of the infamous company that specifically used Davis’ artwork.
Tales veer from the sublime to the ridiculous and all seemingly have a moral or two to tell. Of course, we are all too aware of these by now, with the stories being rehashed so many times over the years, it’s almost impossible to count them, but this is a moment in time that we should remember fondly, even if we weren’t there. Without these boundary testers, who knows if we ever would have met Rick Grimes and his gang?
Davis was a legend (he passed away in July this year) and this is a compendium that belongs in any horror fan’s collection. It is beautifully put together and a great read, even all these years later. Go buy it now, lest the Crypt Keeper decides to make you one of his bookends.
THE LIVING MUMMY AND OTHER STORIES BY JACK DAVIS / AUTHOR: JACK DAVIS, AL FELDSTEIN, RAY BRADBURY / PUBLISHER: FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW