Panels From Beyond the Grave #30

Part-time Random Reviews contributor Bob Ignizio is back to confab a special issue of Cracked magazine.  Technically, this could be a new edition of Vanity Scare, but this book reads more like a comic.  Before you read Bob's beastly blurb, be sure to check out his movie blog by clicking HERE.  On with the show!


Since Dom has decided to slack off again (EDITOR'S NOTE: guilty as charged), he asked me if I could do a comic book review or two. Trying to weasel out of the task, I told Dom I really hadn't been reading any new horror comics lately. Dom, ever the wily bastard (EDITOR'S NOTE: again, guilty as charged), countered that maybe I could review an older horror comic. I said I'd see what I could do, but truth be told, I wasn't really in the mood to go digging through old comics looking for a worthy review subject. As luck would have it, though, one fell into my lap. While perusing the racks at a local vintage (i.e. junk) store, I saw a little piece of my childhood that I had only recently been thinking about trying to track down - Cracked Special Edition No. 4: Those Cracked Monsters.

For those of you too young to know of Cracked as anything other than a website that puts together lists of things and writes snarky comments about them, at one time, Cracked was a magazine. Essentially, it was a Mad knock-off, and some of the writers and artists were former Mad contributors, notably John Severin. Not that any of that really matters with regards to the particular issue of the magazine at hand.

What we have here is essentially a collection of horror movie stills, mostly from the classic Universal monster films, Toho giant monster flicks, and Ray Harryhausen fantasy epics. Superimposed on these stills are word balloons containing what can only loosely be termed jokes. For example, a picture of Mothra with a helicopter flying by, the caption from the helicopter reading, “Hello, hello, base! Send us the biggest can of RAID you have!” Or how about a shot of Lon Chaney in his Wolfman makeup saying, “I don't like to brag, but I bet I got the worst case of dandruff going!”  Dandruff gags are a recurring theme.

There are also a few pages of actual comics by Cracked regulars John Severin, Oskar Blotta, John Langton, and Vic Martin with equally groan-worthy punchlines.  Sophisticated comedy it ain't, but that didn't matter much to me when I first discovered this mag. Exactly when that was I'm not sure, though. The copy I just picked up appears to be from 1974, but the cover and most of the interior pages were recycled several times over the years. A quick internet search turned up editions from 1979 and 1984 just for starters. I know I was in the single digits when I bought this thing originally so the '79 version is a possibility, but I'm thinking more likely another reprint somewhere in the middle. Regardless of the edition, as cornball as the humor is, these special issues of Cracked are still good nostalgic fun, a reminder of a more innocent time when most horror movies were still looked at as kid stuff, just good spooky fun.
If you're interested in checking some of these issues out yourself, they do show up on eBay now and then.  Of course, you can always check local used book stores, comic shops, flea markets, and antique stores. The copy I bought was in so-so condition and set me back six bucks. Even in mint condition, these aren't such high-demand collectibles that you should have to pay much more than that. Happy haunting!

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