EXCL: Phantom City Creative’s “VAULT OF HORROR” Piece for Mondo’s E.C. Comics Tribute ShowBooks/Art/Culture,Features/Interviews,News Samuel Zimmerman
“Their time was cut short,” R.L. Stine writes in the introduction to Jim Trombetta’s collection and history of Horror Comics and their persecution, THE HORROR! THE HORROR! The GOOSEBUMPS creator continues, “Their star went dark. But the eerie, ghoulish glow they gave off shines on.” Later as he pledges his own allegiance and spot under the influence of E.C. titles like TALES FROM THE CRYPT, THE VAULT OF HORROR and THE HAUNT OF FEAR, it’s clear Stine is but one example of the far-reach E.C., creators Al Feldstein and William Gaines and artists/writers like Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Joe Orlando and Al Williamson exert into the present.
Found everywhere from modern comics to anthology films (CREEPSHOW being the most delightful and overt) , 30+ more stellar displays of the impact horror comics landed with are in turn hitting Austin this week for the beloved Mondo’s October gallery show, “It Didn’t Rot Our Brains.” A tribute to the specific titles from E.C. and Feldstein & Gaines, as well as the great HBO TALES FROM THE CRYPT inspired, the roster of artists contributing to “It Didn’t Rot Our Brains” span comics illustrators and writers like Jeff Lemire; to acclaimed designers and poster artists such as Mondo collaborators Phantom City Creative, Jason Edmiston and ‘Ghoulish’ Gary Pullin; to artist and Converge front man Jacob Bannon; to original E.C. contributor Jack Davis.
It’s a thrilling, sure to be bloody affair that celebrates both the types of tales E.C. dealt in (clever, ghastly, gory stories tinged with twists and gallows humor) and those who told them—namely, the Vault Keeper, the Crypt Keeper and the Old Witch. The celebrated Phantom City Creative (dig their THE BURNING and THE WOLF MAN works) opted for the latter, depicting illustrated horror host and wisecracking orator of terrifying yarns The Vault Keeper, and his co-host Drusilla.
Designed by creators Feldstein & Gaines, the Vault Keeper was most often drawn by VAULT OF HORROR’S aesthetic leader, Johnny Craig (who helmed all of VAULT’s covers, all but two of the series’ main stories and even illustrated the host’s guest appearances in CRYPT and HAUNT). Paying tribute to Craig and more was important to Phantom City’s Justin Erickson, who tells FANGORIA, “To me the EC comics perfectly exemplify how much fun horror can be. Whether the stories were about gooey zombies, freaky ghosts, or vampires with boundary issues, the writers and artists never failed to revel in the joys of terror. On top of that, each story was introduced by a razor tongued horror host who never seemed to run out of morbid puns. The stories were just as fresh when the HBO series debuted in 1989 which featured some of the best horror talent of the era.”
He continues, “For my piece I wanted to feature the host of the Vault of Horror, the Vault Keeper and his assistant Drusilla. Stylistically I wanted to pay tribute to the original artists of the series such as Johnny Craig, Jack Davis and Al Feldstein.”
Here then, is Phantom City Creative’s “THE VAULT OF HORROR.” Mondo’s “It Didn’t Rot Our Brains: A Tribute to E.C. and TALES FROM THE CRYPT” gets underway Friday, October 25 with an opening reception from 7-10 p.m., and will be on display until November 23 at the Mondo Gallery (4115 Guadalupe St. Austin, TX).