Vampires #1, and variant cover. Coming from Asylum Press on June 29th.
When I was around 8 years old, I often used to sleep over at my friend Kris’ house. Kris’ brother Charles (“call me Chuck”) was six years older than us, and at 14, was already the king of contraband. Though most of the items he dealt in where of no interest to me (back issues of Playboy, old and likely very skunked cans of beer, etc.) the one thing which he always had in copious quantities was horror comics. For a teenaged boy, this was not contraband at all, but a staple of daily life.
But for an 8-year-old girl from a very conservative family, Marvel’s Strange Tales, or DC’s House of Mystery, were akin to full blown Satan worship, and were definitely not an acceptable way to spend one’s allowance. With this in mind, Chuck was all too happy to slip me several issues at a time, to read during my visits once Kris fell asleep in front of the television. In Chuck’s mind, providing me in particular with horror comics, was still an act of rebellion on his part.
[Click the images for more vampiric versions.]
Sample pages from Vampire #1
And just to clarify, though by this time my Dad was already allowing me to sneak out of bed to watch classic horror movies with him if I promised not to tell Mom, he felt Lugosi and Karloff movies were cinema art – in no way associated with the tawdry, colorful pulp underworld of the horror comic. One was groundbreaking filmmaking at its best, and the other would rot my brain and corrupt my soul.
This, of course, caused me to love both for the rest of my life, though for very different reasons.
Which is why, to this day, I always feel a little rush of adrenaline when I hear about a new horror comic like I did last week when my favorite Asylum Press released art for their latest blood thirsty collection of “pre-code” vampire tales. If you’re not familiar with the term “pre-code” as it pertains to comics whose stories and art harken back to the unregulated era from the late 40s to the early 50s before much of the industry was forced to self-censor with the Comics Code Authority, meant to protect the innocence of children.
The CCA was an actual thing that was still around into 2011. However, it was revised a number of times during 1971 to allow for, among other things, the sometimes “sympathetic depiction of criminal behavior” and the “suggestion but not portrayal of seduction.” Also newly allowed, and to my benefit, were “vampires, ghouls and werewolves.”
Vampires #1, available in your local comic shop on June 29th, contains rarely seen blood sucker classics from the gory Golden Age of comics, highlighting the art of Lou Cameron, Dick Beck and George Klein, and featuring the classic tales: “Vampire’s Bite,” “One Door from Disaster,” and “Vampire Castle.” Frankly, this looks exactly like the horror comics I remember, and I could not be more excited.
More sample pages
I’ll be reading this one around midnight, by flashlight, under a blanket.
Some habits die hard…