GN fans have been torn over the IDW-published, Craig Yoe-edited series of hardback books reprinting classic comics. Unlike most series of hardcover reprints, Yoe doesn't clean up the artwork with a computer for publication, he simply scans the actual pages in from old comics. Some say this is no way to treat this material, while others are glad to get this rare stuff any way they can. There are even those who say the off-register colors and muddy printing give the material an authentic feel... regardless of how one feels, Yoe has always presented the material in handsome books with great designing. Yoe's books seem mid-range, to an extent... not as good as a top flight series (I'm thinking Fantagraphics' Popeye), but better than cheap, bottom-of-the-barrel efforts by such outfits as Pure Imagination, who simply pick public domain material, wash the colors out and print them in schlocky, black and white softcover books. It should also be noted that Yoe has chosen material that possibly wouldn't get printed otherwise...
Having said all that, this book (Powell's "Terror") might well be Yoe's best outing to date... nice book design work (matching the previous volume, Dick Briefer's Frankenstein (Library of Horror Comics Master)) and a very informative intro depicting Bob Powell's career... Powell died tragically early, and, since he really didn't work on what one would call a defining character, little of his work has remained in print. These characteristics are normally found in Yoe's books, but "Terror" also has a 3-page, self-typed synopsis of Powell's career, written by Powell himself!! A great find, indeed!!
Most of the artwork is what you'd expect... pages scanned from comics. Some are relatively clear, some muddy... but all readable. However, there are two entire stories reproduced directly from the original art!! Somehow, someway, the artwork to both stories has survived since the 50s!! These pages are truly the gem of this collection! They are beautiful, as Powell even used a blue wash for shadows!! There is also a splash page that was never published in original art form. For anyone who is interested in Powell's artwork, this book is a must!!
As far as the actual stories go... well, these comics were certainly influenced by the EC horror comics. Some, if not most, of the stories are pretty silly, and relatively tame by today's standard... yet the stories, particularly combined with the somewhat grungy printing, have a subversive feel to them... much like the ECs or the recently released Blackjacked and Pistol-Whipped: A Crime Does Not Pay Prime... goofy to us today, these comics were deemed dangerous by yesterday's standards. So there is the sense of historical value to this collection as well.
Fans of ECs, horror comics or just plain good cartooning will like this Yoe-edited volume... even those who have been somewhat critical of his aesthetic decisions... whether said decisions were truly aesthetic in choice or financial. Highly recommended!