- Taschenbuch: 304 Seiten
- Verlag: Abrams Books; Auflage: Pap/DVD Re (19. Oktober 2010)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0810955954
- ISBN-13: 978-0810955950
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 19,7 x 3,2 x 27,3 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 261.608 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Horror! The Horror!: Comic Books the Government Didn't Want You to Read! (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 19. Oktober 2010
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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Jim Trombetta is a writer and comics collector. He has written for Crawdaddy and The Los Angeles Times, as well as for television, including Miami Vice, The Flash, and Star Trek. He teaches courses in screenwriting and Shakespeare at UCLA.
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Aber: es ist Geschichte, die Parabel zu anderen Formen von Zensur ist und somit wohl immer wieder auch in heutiger Zeit relevant ist. Dazu kommt, dass der Autor hier einen besonders persönlichen Bezug zu diesen Comics hat, was dieses Werk allein darum zu einem interessanten Lesevergnügen macht.
Ich möchte hier einen Absatz zitieren, der mir beim Lesen so sehr gefallen hat, dass ich ihn extra für diesen Fall vorgemerkt habe.
Der Kontext ist, dass das Verbot der 50er Jahre Horror-Comics u.a. mit der Behauptung legitimiert wurde, sie würden die Entwicklung von Kindern behindern:
"One can improve the lot of these illiterate children with a stroke of a pen: not by giving them anything new but by depriving them from one more thing - their preferred reading material. Their real problems can then be forgotten. Such is the seduction of censorship" (S. 76)
Der grobe Rahmen ist der Verlauf bis zum Verbot dieser Comics, wobei einzelne Kapitel auch Abstecher in andere Zeitperioden und Thematiken machen, um die Argumentation des Autors zu unterstützen. Diese Abschnitte sind teils mehrere Seiten lang. Darin werden auch ausgewählte Cover zu diesem Kapitel beschrieben und in Zusammenhang gebracht.
Auf diese Text-Abschnitte folgen die eben beschriebenen Cover in ganzseitigen Farbnachdrucken (übrigens ist das verwendete Buchpapier, Schriftgestaltung etc. sehr ansprechend).
Dazwischen kommen auch hin und wieder komplett abgedruckte Geschichten vor, allerdings zu einem weit kleineren Teil, als ich erwartet hatte.Lesen Sie weiter... ›
Wissenschaftlich: ***** Künstlerisch: * Zusammen: ***
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According to Trombetta, "Skeletons perform any number of lonely personal revenges, but they most often appear less as the mirror of human self-hatred than as a quorum." Huh? Just tell me how they can speak without vocal chords! A little far fetched is this description of the cover of Mysterious Adventures #18: "Here a superb Hy Fleischman skeleton grabs his ex-wife and demands that she join him in the grave. What ups the ante is that the ex-wife's boyfriend is also on the scene - molested, prison-style, from behind by another skeleton." Does anybody really see in this cover, even squinting, a skeletal version of Deliverance?
There are 16 strips here, several of which are dopey fun. ( I'd love to own a set of Dark Mysteries, with titles like "The Terror of the Hungry Cats," "Terror of the Unwilling Witch," "Vampire Fangs of Doom," "Terror of the Vampire's Teeth"). My favorite of the batch for sheer goofiness would have to be "The Eyes of Death." Ralph Moore has always been jealous of fellow astronomer Don Reynolds' success. Don seems to have all the fame and fortune that astronomers deserve: stars named after him, awards bestowed, lots of dough, and a sweet chick named Elaine. Ralph's biggest problem is that his eyes are going bad and, sorta like a junk man with no arms, he's having a tough time getting the job done. Despite the fact that this has nothing to do with Don, Ralph has a "moment" and tosses his partner down the observatory stairs. Now, here's where it gets interesting. Instead of calling the cops and confessing, Ralph calls his cousin, the surgeon, to ask if the doctor can perform a super-secret operation to give him Don's eyes. The doctor scratches his chin, pondering, and says "I can do it, Ralph...it's unethical...but...all right, I'll do it! No one will know - he'll be buried with his eyes closed!" (At this point I pause and ask why author Trombetta didn't research the medical field of the 1950s to get to the bottom of how something like this could occur? No autopsy?) Needless to say, Don's corpse rises from his grave to reclaim his eyes at the climax. I have to believe that Trombetta is pulling our leg with his analysis of the story: "'The Eyes of Death' (Dark Mysteries No. 7, July 1952) succeeds in becoming a true nightmare out of a kids' campfire story, in which eyes can literally be ripped off. The story also presents an original idea of cosmic casuality that will no doubt have astronomers revising their theories."
If all this comes off as too negative, don't get me wrong. The Horror, The Horror is a delight from start to finish and features not only those 16 stories but hundreds of rare comic covers. Trombetta drops his professorial cap several times and made me laugh out loud. Regarding the cover of Dark Mysteries #13 (directly to my left). The author questions: "The guard expresses amazement: `It's Tom's leg.... But he was executed last night!' What is striking, of course, is how many more questions this explanation raises than it answers: How does the guard know it's Tom's leg? If this is Tom's leg, where's the rest of him? Did his execution involve his dismemberment? Are the other prisoners afraid that the leg itself will, say, give them the boot? Or has something eaten the post-resurrection Tom in one large gulp, leaving only a drumstick, and are the other characters afraid they'll be next?"
This is how I think Jim should have tackled this project. Forget phallic symbols and emasculating mother-figures. Sometimes a zombie is just a zombie.
What we have is a book with only 16 stories (boo!), lots of single pages and panels (ok), and loads of covers (Hurray!) It could serve as an introduction to the horror-comic genre for newcomers, with way too much psychological analysis heaped on top. The history is mostly a few oft-repeated stories (The Senate hearings, the Comics Code, Gaines' fight in defense of the story JUDGMENT DAY). You know all these by heart if you are anything more than a very casual fan. There is nothing new or very revealing about the industry or the guys who turned this stuff out.
Instead we have reams of Freudian analysis, much of which reads like a parody of itself. Some of it is so off-base, in attempting to make a dubious point, that I sputtered out loud. (Note to future comic book analysts: LET ME DECIDE MYSELF WHAT I SEE IN A COMIC.)
Examples? The comic BATTLE CRY showed, in its logo, a soldier screaming- issuing a "battle cry". The author sees this: "The logo of BATTLE CRY, with its bawling GI head... suggests that it's all right for grown men who have lost their buddies, who have suffered the "heartbreak" of a brutal engagement, to break down and cry... the conventional war comic is the male equivalent of a romance comic." HUH?
A page later we have this, in search of phallic symbolism: ..."The artist has supplied us with a surplus, even gratuitous, phallic symbol: the GI's pistol holster. It doesn't seem to contain a pistol; it's not really connected to the pistol belt; and it rides not on the GI's hip but extends rigidly from his crotch, pointing downward directly at the dead man's splayed form." Problem is, that's not a pistol holster. It's a BAYONET HOLDER. The soldier just bayoneted someone. That's the scabbard his bayonet came from. That is why it doesn't look like a holster.
The horror comics have been analyzed to death by now. If I'm getting a history book, I just want the cold, hard facts. Or in a reprint book, give me stories with minimal commentary, allowing them to speak for themselves. That's not this book. There is almost no info about the men behind these comics, and only a broad outline of the history of the genre. Most of the books in the bibliography have been printed after 1995. It's lazy scholarship to fill pages with pop- psychoanalytical ruminations, and to rely on recent works instead of ferreting out source material from the time. I was REALLY hoping for some solid research- some real meat and potatoes- that would cast a new light on the horror era or fill in some of the blanks.
PROS: The cover is great. The book is the actual size of the comic books themselves, which is nice. There are DOZENS of covers, many excellent, mostly full- page. (To me, the book is worth it for the 9 Bernard Baily covers alone!) The author does a nice job in spotlighting the connection between crime comics and the horror comics they morphed into. Most of the stories are at least decent, some are excellent. All are worth reading, even if a couple are overly- familiar (Ditko & Wolverton). The proofreader seems to have done a good job (but that's not a Matt. Fox cover on page 201).
CONS: Most of the covers are not printed to the edge of the paper, but have a white border with the editorial info printed at the bottom. It destroys the "cover" illusion, for me- it loses some impact. The non-glossy paper also takes away from the "feel" of a cover. Some of the covers are very worn and no restoration was done to improve their appearance. The stories are scanned from the comics, so off-register coloring and some muddiness result at times- although it is true to the way these cheesy books looked. There are only 16 stories in 300 plus pages.
Another problem is the paper. In duplicating the look and feel of a cheap 1950's comic (a good intention), an absorbent matte-finish paper was used. Many of the black areas are fragmented and blotchy (pages 3 & 4 of NIGHTMARE WORLD); some of the color is dull and washed out looking. And did I mention that there is a tad too much Freudian analysis for my taste?
Despite my beefs, this book is still EASILY worth what it costs on Amazon. There are over 100 FULL-PAGE covers alone! Sorry if I sound like COMIC BOOK GUY. It's just that I was hoping for more- typical of a fanboy, I guess.
Also check out FOUR COLOR FEAR: FORGOTTEN HORROR COMICS OF THE FIFTIES by Greg Sadowski; released only a month or so apart, the two books are the best ever done on non-EC 50's horror. They pack a potent one-two punch. Sean Burns
Which is why I got so much out of this book. Even after having read books like Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code and The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America (not to mention actually owning a copy of "Seduction of the Innocent") I really didn't get the idea of scale. So many books pit the Comics Code as a private war waged against Bill Gaines to try and take away his market share, when it was more than that. With "The Horror! The Horror!" I finally got an idea of what the newsstands must of looked like during that Golden Age of 1950-1955 when almost every comic on the pile was a horror comic, outdoing themselves for blood and gore, for monsters and mayhem.
Really a coffee table book, "The Horror! The Horror!: Comic Books the Government Didn't Want You to Read" is mainly a collection of pictures and stories. Author Jim Trombetta has offered a few short essays and edited the selections down to a few chapters, but that is really the fluff of the book. The real fun is flipping through the pages, looking at all the covers and the sheer variety of weirdness that was available then. The images are sectioned by theme, like "The Tale of the Head" showing shrunken-head covers, or even more simply "Skeletons," "Werewolves" and "Death and the Maiden."
Also included are sixteen complete stories, some of which are just peculiar like Basil Wolverton's "The Brain-Bats of Venus" from Aragon's "Mister Mystery" comic, or Steve Ditko's "The Thing" from Charlton Comics, which does not feature a certain orange and rocky good guy. There are a few that are just scraps, like the seeing-eye human serving a blind werewolf from Prime Publications "Uncanny Tales." I would have liked more stories, sure, but I thought the balance was good leaving room for the cover galleries.
Trombetta's essays are hit and miss. He seems to have the same eye that Dr. Wertham had, able to spot symbolism everywhere. Too many of his essays would describe a picture, but when I looked at the cover itself I just didn't see what he saw. The soldier on the cover of "Battle Cry" didn't look like a "bawling GI head" suggesting that "it's all right for grown men who have lost their buddies...to break down and cry." It looks like a tough soldier giving a loud battle cry. You know, just like the name of the magazine.
Some of the essays I found very interesting, like the recap of Robert Warshow's 1954 essay "Paul, the Horror Comics and Dr. Wertham" of the uncomfortable position of a father caught between hating Dr. Wertham's sensationalist methods but also unhappy with his son Paul's choice of reading materials. The final verdict; "I would be happy if Senator Kefauver and Dr. Wertham could find some way to make it impossible for Paul to get any comic books. But I'd rather that Paul didn't get the idea that I had anything to do with it." I am sure there are many parents who find themselves in the same quandary.
Also included with this book is the "Confidential File" DVD, an obscure 50s' documentary on horror comics. Think Reefer Madness for comic books, and you get the idea. A very cool little piece of history that I was glad to see.
A big selling point of this book is the large L.B. Cole section, one of the largest Cole sections in recent memory. If you are not familiar with his work, search it out; he basically created psychedelic art with his illustration work in the 1950's. Lurid, nightmare landscapes in garish colors were his stock in trade and impossible to ignore, even the romance covers. There are more technically proficient cover artists of the 1950's, but few are as unique as Mr. Cole and their inclusion here is very welcome.
The Horror! is a good read for the comics fan with a background in the pre-code era who wants a nice selection of off-brand covers and a scholarly discussion (without getting too stuffy) of the context and content of these books. Although it seems unlikely that the writers of these garish tales had more in mind than separating people from their dimes, there is the requisite Freudian analysis of common themes in the genre. While the covers, excerpts and stories are attributed where information is known, the lack of additional indexes or appendixes limits its value as a reference volume. It is a worthy, colorful companion volume to one's collection of Tales Too Terrible to Tell or From the Tomb magazine, but not recommended as an introduction to the genre as a whole, due to the lack of many complete tales.