Review by: Mike Peluso
Written and Illustrated by:
Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: March 4th 2014
Rating: 10 out of 10
Synopsis: From the Golden Age of the comic book era comes an unrivaled collection of terrifying tales that thrilled readers and appalled a nation! For the first time, all of the stories written and drawn by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby themselves, as well as a selection of rarely seen collaborations, are collected in one huge hardcover edition.
Our Thoughts: When I was initially tasked to write a review on “Horror!” from the “Simon & Kirby Library” my psyche was immediately flooded with several different emotions. An overwhelming combination of joy, intimidation and honor consumed my being. Joy obviously due to the fact that I would be reading 300+ pages of pre-Comic Code Authority horror. The intimidation and honor danced together because it is horror produced by two of the most legendary ICONS in comic book history, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. The only thing I could do to tame these emotions would be to tackle this beast of a book cover to cover, one masterful panel after another. So as your reading this, don’t so much look at it as a review, for who am I to judge two industry titans whose work paved the way for comic books as we now know them? This is just a report on how horrifically enjoyable “Horror!” from “The Simon and Kirby Library” truly was.
Titan Books brings us this huge collection of stories from two of the Joe Simon and Jack Kirby produced comic runs “Black Magic” and “The Strange World of Your Dreams”. In 1954 Simon and Kirby’s “Black Magic #29” was singled out on national television by an ignorant United States Senate and head ignoramus Senator Robert C. Hendrickson. This happened because of course horror comics were the reason for the chaotic uprising enacted by the youth of the 50’s (oozing sarcasm) and Simon and Kirby were the children’s proverbial devilish pied pipers. I must admit learning all this just made me appreciate and value these archives even more and made me eternally grateful that these masterpieces were given life before the powers that were pulled the creative plug on horror comics.
As you can see my opinion is quite the opposite of Senator Hendrickson’s. Comic books created by the team of Simon and Kirby are not unlike a painting being crafted by both Donatello and da Vinci. These stories are not your typical blood, guts and gore infused “EC” style 50’s horror comics (not taking anything away from them because I truly enjoy those also). But Simon and Kirby’s horror was a different animal. It was way more psychological and meaningful. “Black Magic” comics creep out of the shadows and suffocate you slowly opposed to knocking the door down and decapitating. There is so much intelligence behind these tales it would not surprise me one bit if it came to be known that Ron Sterling was a monthly subscriber to Simon and Kirby’s “Black Magic”. They came into print in the early 50’s, quite a few years before “The Twilight Zone” hit television screens, so it’s plausible that Simon and Kirby’s horror comics could have inspired some of Sterling’s ideas for his hit show.
There are so many quality issues packed into this collection, it would be exhausting to exhume and dissect every one. *MINOR SPOILER ALER* A few entries included that stood out to me were Black Magic #1: “Last Second of Life”, where a power hungry industrialist realizes it takes more than money to cheat his inevitable demise. Another noteworthy issue Black Magic #13 vol.2-“A Rag-A Bone and a Hank of Hair!” tells of story of a lonely old tailor whose sadness reanimates a sackcloth manikin who quickly shows him that being on his own might not of been so bad. “Maniac!”, Black Magic #32 vol. 5, has an overprotective older brother take his siblings life to ‘protect him’ from being imprisoned, not realizing it was him the authorities were after all along.
Also included in this compilation were 7 issues of the Simon and Kirby produced “The Strange World of Your Dreams”. These few rare installments of an unfortunately ill-fated book had Dr. Richard Temple analyze and solve nightmares that were regularly haunting his patients. This bizarre series oozes 1950’s culture and weirdness. It’s unfortunate to think that such a unique series was so short lived.
There is so much nightmarish nostalgia and brilliance packed into this book it was undoubtedly one of the greatest horror comic collections I have ever absorbed. “The Simon and Kirby Library- Horror!” has an epically endless amount of horror comic history; you would be foolish to say you’re a fan of the genre and not check this book out. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were already on my comic book “Mount Rushmore” and reading this hardcover just reassured that sentiment. The asking price for this book is more than worth the content included. Titan Books “Horror!” from “The Simon and Kirby” Library is out now so go make Senator Hendrickson roll over in his grave, pick up your copy today!