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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Creepy Magazine The First Illustrated Horror Magazine

It a very stormy night here in New York the thunder sounds like booming cannon and the lightning flashes illuminate my apartment like a disco strobe light. A night like this seems like a good time to tell you about my childhood friend Uncle Creepy. Uncle Creepy was the best friend a ten year old boy could have twice a week he introduced me to a world of monsters, murder and Gothic madness. What more could a little boy wish for? Uncle Creepy was the narrator of Warren Publishing's Creepy Magazine the best and now largely forgotten Gothic horror comic anthology. Warren's last comic creation Vampirella is the only one that is remembered today.  Its a real shame because from 1964 (the year I was born by the way) until its end in 1983 when Warren Publishing went bankrupt it consistently produced high quality Gothic Horror from the worlds best illustrators.
The artist who grace the pages of Creepy Magazine included Neal Adams, Dan Adkins, Reed Crandall, Johnny Craig, Steve Ditko, Frank Frazetta, Gray Morrow, Alex Toth, Rafael Aura Leon, Luis Garcia and Fernando Fernandez just to name a few. As you can see from the page pictured below Creepy Magazine was a comic not illustrated stories despite the use of the word "magazine" in the title.  Printing Creepy in magazine size and claiming it was a magazine for adults allowed Warren to skirt the Comics Code Authority click on this link if you want to know more about that travesty. I can assure the "magazine" was actually for kids it cost the same as a regular comic and was sold the same place where comics where sold.  I never had any trouble buying it when I was 10.
One of the staples of Creepy Magazine was the use of public domain classic stories where the plot was slightly re-writen to make them a little different like the long running story "The Coffin of Dracula" below, which was a reworking of Dracula.
 There were plenty of original stories too.
Warren's policy of asking  the artists what they wanted to draw resulted in some unusual stories.
Top rate artists were expensive and Warren Publishing started loosing money so some fantasy and sci-fi content was added in hopes of increasing sales and finally special themed issues were put out.
The introduction in 1969 of a completely new magazine staring the sex kitten Vampirella held Warren Publishing up for a time but in the end bankruptcy was the inevitable outcome.
My favorite part of Creepy Magazine as a kid was the "Loathsome Lore" section on the first page of each magazine where Uncle Creepy tolls off some deliciously gruesome facts. See examples below.
So when people ask me how did I get into Gothic Horror gaming I tell them my Uncle Creepy got me into it.

For those of you driven to the point of suicide because you missed out on a childhood with Creepy Magazine don't despair the Internet Archive has preserved these magazines for posterity. In fact all the images in this post are taken from PDF issues I downloaded free from the Internet Archive. Click here to get all the magazines you could want.