Each year Horror News Network selects an individual(s) that we feel has been instrumental in helping the horror-comic industry grow, and has had a profound effect on the world of horror comics.
We encourage you to explore the stories of all of our Horror Comic Award Honorees. Have a look at our past honorees below.
When speaking of horror comics, you’d be remiss by not mentioning those wonderful oversized black and white magazines produced by Warren Publishing. The man behind Warren Publishing was James Warren. The company’s first titles were the wildly popular Famous Monsters of Filmland and Monster World, both of which were edited by Forest J Ackerman.
In the mid-1960s, Warren expanded heavily into the world of horror comics by publishing Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. Each of these magazine-sized comic books would play an integral part in horror comic history while introducing the reader to horror icons such as Vampirella, Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie.
During his career, James Warren was able to produce the macabre and legendary comics all while tactfully skirting the Comics Code Authority (CCA), an organization formed in formed in 1954 by as an alternative to government regulation, to allow the comic publishers to self-regulate the content of comic books in the United States. He did so by producing his comics in magazine sized format instead of standard comic book size which meant that that the CCA did not apply. This prevented any censorship from that group on his books.
Working with Russ Jones and later Archie Goodwin on Creepy would prove to be huge for Warren as Goodwin would position the title to be a prominent force in the field of black-and-white comic magazines. The art was a sight to behold as many legends of the industry lent their talents to the book including Reed Crandall, Johnny Craig, Steve Ditko, Frank Frazetta, Neal Adams, Alex Toth, Wally Wood, Angelo Torres and many more. Creepy would be published up to 1983 ending with issue #145.
Eerie was first published in 1966 and would follow the same stand-alone anthology format as Creepy until later issues when the series started to have continuing stories in the book. While the series may have been overshadowed in terms of popularity by its older brethren, Eerie packed the same quality thanks to many of the same creators that worked with Creepy. Eerie would be published until February 1983 and ended on issue #139.
In July of 1969 Warren Publishing would unleash an absolute iconic character with the release of Vampirella #1. Created by Forest J Ackerman and Trina Robbins, the world would get their first glimpse of the lovely vampire hailing from Drakulon. Archie Goodwin would later develop the character from horror-hostess to full-fledged hero and lead character.
With all of his contributions to the world of horror comics, Horror News Network is proud to honor James Warren with the 2019 Honoree of the Year.
No company has had a greater influence on horror comics than EC Comics. William Gaines’ controversial publishing line will forever be remembered as the home of Tales from the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, The Crypt of Terror, along with Sci-fi titles such as Weird Science, and a slew of urban crime titles.
One member of EC’s stable of artists, Johnny Craig (April 25, 1926 – September 13, 2001), distinguished himself early on in the company’s history, becoming a reliable fan-favorite of those that preferred their comics a little more macabre than most. Craig’s work graced the majority of EC’s horror comics and he was one of the few creators of his day that handled both writing and art chores on a story. He would become most famous for his work on The Vault of Horror and Crime Suspense Stories, both penning and illustrating the lead-story for both bi-monthly series.
Craig’s artwork attracted national attention when comics came under fire in the 1950s, thanks to Frederic Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent and the United States Senate hearings that followed. Senator Estes Kefauver used the cover of Crime Suspense Stories #22 to grill Gaines about the appropriateness of the shocking cover that featured a man holding the severed head of his wife. The cover has since become one of the most famous (or infamous depending how you look at it) covers in the history of the medium.
When the creation of the Comics Code Authority all but put EC Comics out of business, Craig worked briefly for other publishers before he left the field for a career in advertising. When Warren Publications brought back the horror comic in their heavily-EC influenced black and white magazine Creepy, editor Archie Goodwin reached out to the former great, and was able to convince Craig to return to the style that made him famous. Craig would go on to work for Warren under the pseudonym “Jay Taycee” (so he could continue to work his advertising job and to avoid any further controversy) for two years, before the artist gave up the comics once again.
Horror News Network is proud to honor one of the pioneers of horror comics, Johnny Craig, with the 2018 Honoree of the Year.
The world of comics lost another giant when Len Wein passed away in September of this year. Wein was not only responsible for the creation of Wolverine in the seminal Incredible Hulk #181 (along with the late Herb Trimpe), but he also wrote the adventures of “the Green Goliath” for five consecutive years in the 1970’s, one of the longest tenures on the title by any writer to date.
And speaking of “green”, Wein was also responsible for the creation of one of the greatest horror characters in the history of comics: The Swamp Thing. Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson captured the attention of all horror comic fans in House of Secrets #92 (1971) which introduced Dr. Alec Holland and his more famous mossy alter-ego to the world. Due to the “muck monster’s” immediate popularity with fans, Swamp Thing soon earned his own series, running for a total of 24 issues (with Wein scripting the first 13 issues).
Wein was also Alan Moore’s editor on the relaunch of the character in the early 1980’s entitled Saga of The Swamp Thing, and under his guidance, Moore made the series one of the greatest ever published. Friend and long-time admirer Neil Gaiman pointed this out when he learned of Wein’s passing, saying that “Len Wein was the editor who brought the British creators to DC. He was one of the nicest people I’ve met, in 30 years in comics.” Gaiman also paid Wein the highest compliment possible for a writer of comic books, stating that “He showed 12 year old me that comics could be literature.”
Wein would also work with Moore in redefining the Comics medium with The Watchmen and would continue to write and edit comic books until his untimely death this fall. Over the course of his career, Wein impacted the industry like few others. He will certainly be missed by fans and fellow creators alike.
Unfortunately, many artists only gain the recognition they deserve after an untimely death. Gary Reed (5/2/56 –10/2/16) certainly falls into this category. Reed is most prominently remembered by fans as one of the writers of Deadworld, but his greater influence comes from his role as a publisher.
Caliber Comics emerged after the black and white publishing implosion of the 1980’s in 1989 and was the home of some of the most significant horror comics of the following decade including The Crow, Brian Lumley’s Necroscope, Mr. Monster, and the anthologies Caliber Presents and Negative Burn. Reed also gave many creators their start in the comic industry including Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack, Tim Vigil, Guy Davis, Michael Lark, Patrick Zircher, Jim Calafiore, Ed Brubaker, Michael Gaydos, James O’Barr, and Mike Carey.
Reed also helped launch McFarlane Toys in 1993 as vice-president of the company which brought highly detailed action figures based on Spawn and other licensed properties to fans all over the world. Reed will be missed for his contributions to the genre and the comic industry as a whole.
No artist had a greater impact on the horror comic revival of the 1970’s than Mike Ploog. When Marvel Comics made the wise, yet risky decision to return to horror comics after nearly twenty years, Ploog was at the forefront of the classic monster revival. Ploog’s work on The Monster of Frankenstein, Man-Thing, and Werewolf by Night cemented him as the go-to monster artist of the decade and helped make the revival an initial success in the 70’s and a well-loved era by comic fans of today. Not only did Ploog have a hand in shaping the look of many classic Universal Monsters in his unique Marvel-style, but he was also the artist that created the classic look of the supernatural superhero Ghost Rider.
After establishing himself as a popular Marvel artist, Ploog also contributed his artwork and designs to a number of classic films of the 1980’s such as Ghost Busters, The Thing, and Little Shop of Horrors. His work, both on the comic page and in film production, has inspired a generation of artists and creators world-wide.
Due to these accomplishments and an increased interest in his earlier work in a variety of collections from Marvel, Mike Ploog is our selection for Honorary Achievement in Horror Comics.
While many of our young readers may not recognize his name (he passed in 1992), he is one of the fore-fathers of modern horror comics. As a co-editor of EC Comics, he led the company in a more horror-centric direction in 1950 with “Tales From The Crypt”, “The Vault of Horror” and “The Haunt of Fear.” Due to the popularity of these titles, additional cutting-edge books were included in the EC Comics line up. Later, the company even started adapting stories from authors such as Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe, and H.P. Lovecraft, a trend we still see today.
A fighter in life, Gaines faced the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1954 by defending what may be considered appropriate for a horror comic. Although most of us now can appreciate his rebellious nature, the 1950’s were a more conservative time and this notoriety effectively put EC Comics out of business. Sixty years later, we can appreciate his stance and fighting spirit and likely have better and more interesting comics to show for it.
In memory of this great horror legend, Horror News Network would like to posthumously honor comic legend William Gaines for his outstanding contributions to horror comics with a 2014 Horror Comic Achievement Award.
Horror News Network would like to honor comic artist Richard Corben for his outstanding contributions to horror comics with the 2013 Horror Comic Achievement Award. Richard Corben has been admired for his stylish yet monstrous art since working on Creepy and Eerie for Warren Publishing. While he has worked as a writer, publisher, and colorist, he is perhaps best known for his striking black-and-white illustrations. Much of his decades-long career has been drawing incredibly distinctive horror pieces. This work is so distinctive that it is often the style that is associated with horror comics. Although he has been illustrating for so many years and with many of the major publishers, such as DC, Marvel, and Heavy Metal, most of the Horror News Network readers will be more familiar with his current work with Dark Horse. A regular contributor to the modern Creepy and Dark Horse Presents, he has also recently both adapted and illustrated works by Edgar Allen Poe. Corben continues to be a leader and visionary for horror comics and his elegant depictions of horrific monsters continue to intrigue and terrify us.
Congratulations, Richard Corben! Your work has both defined and recreated horror comics in awe-inspiring ways!
This year, we lost a great artist and long-time friend of the site, Josh Medors. Josh was a rising talent in the horror comics community and received major initial recognition for several projects with 2010 Honoree Steve Niles, including “Fused: Think Like a Machine”, “30 Days of Night Annual”, “Dial M For Monster”, “Horrorcide”, and “In The Blood”. Josh is perhaps best known for his work on “Frank Frazetta’s Swamp Demon” and the fan-favorite, creator-owned series “Willow Creek”. It was while working on both of these titles that Josh was diagnosed with cancer. The discovery of a tumor growing in Josh’s spinal cord slowed his pace but did not stop him from continuing his art. Both Josh’s work and his strength in the face of such adversity has and will continue to inspire all of us in the horror comic community and beyond.
In memory of this great horror artist who was taken from us too soon, Horror News Network would like to posthumously honor comic creator and artist Josh Medors for his outstanding contributions to horror comics with a 2012 Horror Comic Achievement Award. You will be greatly missed, Josh.
Horror News Network would like to honor comic creator, writer, and artist Mike Mignola for his outstanding contributions to horror comics with a 2012 Horror Comic Achievement Award. Mignola’s rise to horror comic super-stardom can be primarily traced back to 1993 when he created “Hellboy”, a half-demon detective that may be the most well-known and popular character in horror comics. While the first story line (“Seed of Destruction”, 1994) was co-written with John Byrne, Mike has continued writing the series himself. Currently, there are over a dozen “Hellboy” graphic novel collections, several popular spin-off titles (“BPRD”, “Lobster Johnson”, “Abe Sapien”, and “Witchfinder”), three anthologies of prose stories, several novels, two animated films, and two live-action films staring Ron Perlman. “Hellboy” has earned numerous comic industry awards and Mignola tied for Writer of the Year right here in the 2011 Horror Comic Awards for his work on that title. Mignola has also collaborated with Christopher Golden to produce another hit franchise character with “Baltimore”. Mignola is not just an award-winning writer, he’s also an outstanding and accomplished artist. The use of heavy blacks and chunky, geometric shapes has others attempting to replicate the style that has become so well associated with Mignola’s work. Mike’s artistic style is in fact so defined and easily identifiable that it has spawned the term “Mignola-esque”.
Congratulations, Mike Mignola. Your popular characters and inimitable style has made you a super-star in the horror comic community!
We would like to honor comic creator and artist Bernie Wrightson for his outstanding contributions to horror comics with a 2011 Horror Comic Achievement Award. Wrightson has been creating comics for fans of the gruesome for over 40 years and has worked on many of the best-known titles in horror comics including “Creepy”, “Eerie”, and “House of Mystery”. In his long career, he has brought us some truly memorable works, including the co-creation of “Swamp Thing” in 1971with writer Len Wein, and he is probably best known for his pencil and ink drawings of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” that was published in 1983. Wrightson continues to provide scares for the loyal horror comic readers and is once again preparing for a project with a frequent collaborator, Steve Niles. Having worked together on “Dead, She Said” and “City of Others”, the duo’s forthcoming project will take Wrightson back to the dramatic and nightmarish classic horror that he is most famous for with “Frankenstein Alive, Alive!”. Wrightson’s body of work is extensive and impressive, and his unique style continues to drive the horror comic industry to this day.
Congratulations, Bernie Wrightson. You are a legend among your peers and the nightmares you have given us continue to keep us awake at night!
On June 23, 2011, the comics community lost a great talent and leader, Gene Colan. Colan is best known to fans of horror for his work on “The Tomb of Dracula”, “Blade”‘ and “Night Force”. Colan, who began his career in comics in the 1940’s, penciled the entire 70-issue run of “The Tomb of Dracula” from 1972 to 1979 with writer Marv Wolfman. “The Tomb of Dracula” featured a group of vampire hunters fighting Dracula himself as well as other pesky, supernatural menaces and it was in this series in 1973 that the character “Blade” first appeared. In the mid-1980’s, Colan collaborated again with writer Marv Wolfman on the 14-issue run of “Night Force”, the story of a team brought together by the mysterious Baron Winters to fight supernatural threats. Colan continued to be heavily involved in comics throughout his life and even took on vampires one more time in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales of the Slayers” in 2002.
In memory of this forefather of horror, we would like to posthumously honor comic creator and artist Gene Colan for his outstanding contributions to horror comics with a 2011 Horror Comic Achievement Award. His work has and will continue to inspire generations of fans and creators of horror and comics.
For his outstanding contributions to horror comics, we would like to honor legendary horror comic creator and writer Steve Niles with the first ever Horror Comic Achievement Award. A long time fan of horror himself, Niles has been frightening the masses for almost 20 years with such titles as “30 Days of Night”, “Criminal Macabre”, and “The Ghoul” just to name a few. In fact, it is likely harder for horror fans to say they have not read anything from the prolific Niles than to list off several books in their long boxes with his name on the cover. With cross-overs, anthologies, adaptations, a strong body of original works, and even horror superheroes, Niles has shown that he is adept at trying new things and giving the fans exactly what they want: originality, quality, and characters that are both frightening and clever.
Congratulations, Steve Niles. You have scared us, and we have loved it!