5. "Tell-Tale Heart" (Creepy #3)
Adaptations are pretty expected when dealing with a book like Creepy. You're talking about a 50 page comic packed with six to eight page stories, many of which were written by one man: Archie Goodwin. So, taking a look at the ol' bookshelf for inspiration wasn't beyond reason. As a result, the third issue of the magazine features Edgar Allan Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart" adapted by Goodwin and Reed Crandall. It's a sped-up version of the tale, certainly - Goodwin and Crandall told the tale of murder and the ensuing madness in eight pages - but still captured much of the intensity and building paranoia included in the original short story.
After killing his boss because of his creepy eye (really), butler Robert chops the body up and hides it under the floorboards. Driven mad by a thumping only he can hear, Robert eventually reveals his crime and goes to an asylum where he defenestrates himself with extreme prejudice. Crandall did a killer job of showing Robert's growing madness throughout the pages, throwing in more line-work than all of Image circa 1992 and (we assume) got it in completely on time.
4. "Haunted" (Creepy #3)
What's a guy to do when he's willed a potentially haunted hotel from his uncle? If you're Mr. George from "Haunted" by Archie Goodwin and Gray Morrow, you call in your cousin, your lawyer and a ghost hunter named Trask to check it out. As these things tend to go, Mr. George comes across a number of spooky things like a blood soaked gun, an equally bloody bed with a hatchet lodged into it and a floating female ghost. Luckily for George, Trask figures out that the lawyer and cousin are trying to scare George off so they can buy the place on the cheap.
As far as haunted house stories go, this one's pretty standard, though it's definitely elevated by Marrow's detailed and creepy artwork. But it's got a last-page reveal that leaves the writer scratching their head and wanting more: Trask taking his skin off to reveal that he's a ghoul himself! It's such a cool unveiling that you wish it actually happened in the beginning of the story because you're left wanting so much. It's the equivalent of spending all of A Nightmare on Elm Street with an odd janitor only find out he's a dream-hopping murderer right before the credits roll.
3. "Return Trip!" (Creepy #3)
Short story writer Arthur Porges got in on the Creepy action in the third issue when he wrote a story called "Return Trip!" illustrated by Joe Orlando. Giving the reader plenty to think about, this yarn features murdered scientist Arthur Forrest not only returning from the dead, but taking three years to get out of his grave. Considering his wife Gloria and his best friend Fred Mason killed him, you'd think Arthur would have one thing on his mind: double homicide. And sure, he takes Fred out with his bare, bone-revealing hands, but when it comes to Gloria, he wants one simple thing: to spend the rest of his afterlife with her. The story ends with zombie Arthur landing a huge kiss on Gloria.
"Return Trip" is a little more cerebral than some of the other Creepy stories, but it gives you plenty of room to imagine all the terrible things Arthur had to go through and the less than comfortable life he intends to make for his wife. Can you imagine waking up next to that worm-eaten mug every day? It'd be like constantly looking at a scab with scabies that wants to plant a wet one on you all the time?
2. "Untimely Tomb" (Creepy #5)
One of the best stories in the first collection of Creepy offerings happens to be one that contains no supernatural elements. "Untimely Tomb" was written by Archie Goodwin with artwork by Angelo Torres and features a man named Stanford convinced that his pronounced-dead sister is still alive in the castle's basement. When Doctor Beamish finally gets there to check it out with him, they discover that his sister really was alive, but died of fright down in the family crypt!
Intent on destroying the doctor's reputation, Stanford tells the townspeople what happened, but also harasses Beamish in person. One such outburst leads to retaliation from the good doctor, who accidentally kills the man with his cane. Beamish later realizes that Stanford wants to be interred in the mausoleum next to his house.
Convinced he can hear Stanford in the crypt, Beamish investigates in the dark where he winds up dying of fright. At the very end the audience comes to find that Stanford wasn't even in the tomb - meaning Beamish basically killed himself with fright. "Untimely Tomb" came across as a really good Hammer horror film told in seven pages that's better than 90% of the horror films released in theaters.
1. "Sand Doom" (Creepy #5)
The first five issues of Creepy are packed with stories set in mostly gothic and modern settings, but "Sand Doom" went a completely different route by taking place in a desert. Archie Goodwin and EC mainstay Al Williamson joined forces to tell the tale of Whitey, an arms-dealer who sells faulty weapons to the locals and abandons his friend in the hot, sandy wasteland to save his own hide. While wandering the desert, Whitey spies a mysterious woman who leads him to a hidden underground vault filled with treasure.
Driven by greed, Whitey fills the woman with lead and even avoids the snakes who guard the treasure. Or so he thought. Just as it seems like the bad guy is going to win again, he got back into the open air and immediately turns into a snake himself thanks to the cursed treasure. The panel Williamson drafted of Whitey turning into a snake not only looks perfectly creepy to this day, but should also accompany the definition of "politician" in every dictionary going forward.
Happy Halloween, Roboteers!
Previously by TJ Diestch