Live from somewhere inside a decaying castle with angry hoards outside, flaming torches and pitchforks at the ready, the horror comic enthusiast, comic creator extraordinaire and editor of many historically important but maddeningly strange and artistically brilliant volumes of bone-chilling comics, Craig Yoe joins us here on Bleeding Cool especially for Halloween. The massive line of artfully preserved and ghoulishly presented Chilling Archives of Horror Comics have reached we lucky readers through a partnership between IDW and Yoe Books, and if there’s one man who knows his horror comics, it’s this guy.
Hear about his work on these mind-bendingly strange and twisted tales here before night sets in and Craig takes on his true monstrous form as a not-so-mild-mannered editor, ready to strike fear in all and sundry.
Hannah Means-Shannon: Craig, are you a big fan of Halloween? How are you celebrating today?
Craig Yoe: Halloween! Today is my high holy day! I’m dressed up right now as a scary-looking horror comics publisher! Or is that silly looking?
HMS: What’s your history with horror comics? Were you an early reader of classic horror?
CY: I was too young to experience the glories of the Pre-Code 1950s horror comics. I’m afraid that, as a toddler, my innocence really would have been seriously seduced if I had read them. I would have ended up in not following social norms, I’d be publishing weird books, I’d probably be saddled with a embarrassingly stupid haircut… OH, WAIT!
HMS: What was the first horror anthology you edited, and what was your motivation in doing so?
CY: That would be Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein, the start of the Chilling Archives of Horror Comics series for Yoe Books/IDW which was then followed by Bob Powell’s Terror and Jack Cole’s Deadly Horror.
The motivation was to humbly do my very best to preserve our rich comics heritage, to showcase the work of tragically under-appreciated masterful cartoonists that deserve our praise, to bring much-deserved public awareness to the often sadly neglected but incredibly fascinating and vitally important horror comics art form–but mainly to make lots of money! Unfortunately the latter part hasn’t worked out so good, but I’m having fun, so there’s that!
HMS: What role do you think horror comics play in the history of comics? Why are they significant to our comics heritage?
CY: Many people don’t realize it but horror was a big part of comics history way before there were newsstands and candy stores full of pure horror comic books in the fifties. Early superhero and adventure comics had zombies, witches and even horror hosts in them, inspired by the pulps and suspense radio shows.
Of course, eventually slews of comics totally devoted just to horror began to overflow the newsstand racks adding fuel to the fire of criticism of comics by the author of Seduction of the Innocent, psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham, and his ilk. Then followed crushing Senate investigations and the resulting self-imposed emasculating Comics Code of the publishers of comics–the few that were left. And did I mention actual book burnings, decimated sales and fired cartoonists, writers, and editors jobless and out on the streets? That was a sad time in our comic history!
HMS: Who are your top 3 favorite comic artists dealing with horror and monster themes?
CY: Hannah, for me the nightmare-inducing Unholy Trinity are Dick Briefer, Bob Powell and J.C.–Jack Cole–that’s why I published books about them! But certainly I must also cite Ghastly Graham Ingels over at EC and the great Bernie Wrightson, his horror heir apparent. I was NOT aware of the power of Tom Sutton until Michael Ambrose and Donnie Pitchford put together a book of his Charlton work for us that will be coming out early next year. I’ve described Sutton as the bastard child of Graham Ingels and Jim Steranko to try to communicate my own reaction to discovering his spine-tingling oeuvre!
I’d like to mention one more guy. In my favorite book we’ve ever done, Comics About Cartoonists: The World’s Oddest Profession, we had a comic by an unknown guy named Vince Napoli. When I saw his genuinely creepy art, I was actually spooked and soiled myself–too much information?!
HMS: EWW! Speaking of releases please tell us a little about the upcoming offerings from Yoe Books. How do they add to our archives of horror tradition?
CY: There are lots more books in the Chilling Archives of Horror Comics coming up like Tom Sutton’s Creepy Things and Howard Nostrand’s Nightmares. And we are doing more Ditko books, like the book we just did with editor Fester Faceplant, the soon-to-be-released Ditko’s Shorts which includes Ditko’s great horror and fantasy short-form comics. Clizia Gussoni (a.k.a. Madame Clizia), Steve Banes (a.k.a. Mr. Karswell) and I (a.k.a. Firelock the Warlock) are always working away on our popular floppy bi-monthly comic Haunted Horror. And Clizia and I are gathering more comics for its companion comic, Weird Love.
But right now we’re all psyched about The Worst of Eerie Publications, edited by Mike Howlett, that is going to be out any moment! To use Popeye’s term, this “disgustipating” book was supposed to be out for Halloween but was actually held up in Customs where it was carefully scrutinized–but thankfully it was eventually cleared! Not to be confused with the Warren Publications’ Eerie, these Eerie Publications comics from the 1970s, “Tales from the Tomb,” “Terror Tales” and “Horror Tales” did do-overs of old scripts from 1950s comic books. They were redrawn by artists like Dick Ayers and Chic Stone with way too much blood, guts and bone-crunching gore, beyond all good taste and decency!
These comics SHOULD have been banned and the confiscated copies thrown on gas-fueled pyres–along with the editors and artists that did them! Yet, we are now lovingly publishing the very best of the very “worst” of them in a beautiful hardback book! Hannah, I see outraged shrinks, politicos and mothers with torches outside my home as I type this… HANNAH, I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR ANY MORE QUESTIONS! I’VE GOTTA RUN…
Find out more about these lavish editions of horror comics and what Yoe Books has in store by checking out their full listings here.