Despite my love of comic books, there used to be a breed of comic magazines with lurid covers that Dr. Frederic Wertham was probably right about. They probably would rot your brain.
I used to see these magazines in the same section as the detective and the really tawdry celebrity scandal rags near the spinning comic rack. I was repulsed and intrigued by the covers featuring badly rendered blood soaked monsters mutilating one another and either a buxom zombie or vampire girl barely dressed in tattered clothing that was perpetually in danger of falling away from some of the more intimate, R-Rated bits. I always wanted to look at them, but it seemed wrong, and I was terrified that the lady at the cash register would notice me ogling such trash. Spider-Man and Fantastic Four comics were fine entertainment, but there was something wrong with these black and whites.
I don’t really recall looking at them at the time. I may have and been disappointed by the quality of the printing and the pedestrian to sub-par art. Warren Publishing’s black and white magazine comics (Vampirella, Creepy, Famous Monsters) were trashy, but they seem like the height of sophistication compared to something like Witches’ Tales and some of Eerie Publications other rags. Also, in the body of the comics there was nothing like the frightful free-for-alls depicted on the covers. There is no knock-down, drag-out, ultimate fighting bouts between vampires and werewolves except on the lurid covers.
These weird black and white comics went with a magazine format that wasn’t under the purview of the Comics Code Authority. EC Comics had done the same thing with Mad Magazine when they were forced to abandon their horror and crime comic lines. The difference is that Mad was more effective working outside of the Code’s stringent guidelines, and it had hysterically funny stories by the top comic talents of the field while Eerie’s rags appealed to mouth-breathing morons.There weren’t many ads in these magazines unlike Warren’s books which were packed to the gills with 8mm movies, posters and rubber masks. Eerie Publications’ ads seemed to be aimed squarely at juvenile delinquents, mental defectives and ne’er do wells.
The back cover shows the typical comic ads that everybody chuckles about like X-Ray Specs and bald wigs, but take a closer look at what is among the 7 Foot monsters and Raquel Welch pillows:
Switchblades and pellet guns. Sounds like somebody’s going to lose and eye and/or have a stretch in juvie. Permanent records will be shredded! Your second grade teacher always had a bad feeling about you!
Even if you get the magazine past the judgmental cashier at the drug store, you better not let Mom see you with this!
I’d like to thank Bill Cucinotta who lent me a fantastic box filled with Eerie Publications and similar magazines. I had seen and bought some of Marvel’s black and white magazines, but I never had the chance of really examining the brain rotting, bottom feeding trash mags. Thanks, Bill!