Eerie #3 (1966)

The first few years of Warren Publishing presented horror and war comics with perhaps the finest roster of creators since the heyday of EC Comics in the 1950s. Under the astute and insightful editorship of Archie Goodwin, these magazines are a virtual clinic in the art of intelligently creating horror comics.
Just look at the roster for this magazine, which came out towards the tail end of the golden age: Gene Colan, Reed Crandall, Steve Ditko, Rocco Mastroserio, Joe Orlando, John Severin, George Evans, Alex Toth and Al Williamson. Just how many legends can one magazine contain? Crandall, Orlando, Severin, Evans and Williamson were among the finest of the EC artists, and Williamson has always been a master at a very beautiful, highly illustrative approach that is a real fan favorite. Meanwhile, Ditko and Colan were among the finest of the Marvel artists, and Toth is, well, Toth. A master at his own maverick art style and approach, an idiosyncratic genius, Toth is a genius on his own terms.
Toth has one of my three favorite pieces in this issue. "The Monument" is a masterpiece of clean lines and thoughtful panel arrangements. Ideal for a story about a work of architectural genius that helps to spawn some evil people, the story almost feels architected, built from the ground up with a master plan for design and creation in place. The story has a lean and intelligent feel, attributes typical of Toth. And his mastery of wash art is just wonderful, adding a depth and emotion to the b&w art that adds still more drama to the story.
Gene Colan illustrates "Full Fathom Fright," abut treachary and greed (and a monster) among underwater explorers. Like Toth, Colan uses wash to intensify the story, but unlike Toth, Colan’s focus is on his characters as much as their setting. Colan’s strongest suit has always been the way he draws real people, and in this story his characters show their emotions in every movement of their bodies. Colan’s talked many times about how he’s a big movie fan, and here he follows the trick of great actors: every line and movement is about the characters on the page.
Steve Ditko’s "Room with a View" takes the opposite approach for its art, employing thick cross-hatching to create mood. Ditko’s art, even at its most open, has a claustrophobic feel to it; here, using this style, the claustrophobia is overwhelming. His characters really are tortured by their evil inner lives, as depcited by Ditko, constantly in conflict with the evil beings who live just beyond their reach. Ditko’s style is just wonderful here, using bizarre camera angles and intense emotions to lift an ordinary story into something special.
Plus Al Williamson and Reed Crandall and a bunch of other artists. It’s too bad this old Warren stuff has its rights tied up, because it’s the perfect candidate for the nice hardcover treatment.

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