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Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s Paperback – October 18, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“EC is often at the center of the story [of Pre-Code horror comics]... Four Color Fear strives to provide an accessible sampler of everything else. Editor Greg Sadowski is adept at such missions.” (Joe McCulloch - Los Angeles Review of Books)

About the Author

Greg Sadowski is a writer, editor and designer (B. Krigstein, Supermen!, Four Color Fear, Setting the Standard: Alex Toth; Action! Mystery! Thrills!) living in Washington State.

John Benson is a comics historian living in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Series: Four Color Fear
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics; Reprint edition (October 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606993437
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606993439
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #976,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Greg Sadowski (disclaimer: a friend of mine) strikes again, giving us (with John Benson) the definitive compilation of 1950's horror.

Get past the ugly cover (which looks like a generic "Zombie" cover from today) and it's a treasure trove.

PROS: The sheer QUALITY of most of the stories, especially the writing, is great, even with the ridiculous or unbelievable premises many are based on. The real discoveries for me were the great Jack Cole stories, as I only knew his PLASTIC MAN stuff. The Kida story from EERIE 1 was excellent, even without considering its primordial age. George Evans has 2 stories the equal or better of his EC work. (He could have done traditional horror real well.) Palais, Cameron, and Kubert all have excellent stuff. The Powell and Nostrand stories are some of their most famous; nice to have in one place. The notes are breezy but informative, dishing the dirt and giving some needed background to the stories. They also feature some more great covers and panels. Benson's list of all the pre-code horror comics that were published is a great idea and helpful.
The production work is spectacular. Off- register printing, drop-outs, damage to the covers that were scanned, and other faults are all corrected. Best of all, the stories look really close to their original sources. The paper and printing make it look like you are reading an actual comic, not a slick paper reprint (my main complaint with the EC LIBRARY). You forget it's a book.

CONS: There are 5 Iger studio stories, about 4 more than I would have liked. I would have liked to see some of the more outrageous, sick covers- Bernard Baily only has 3 printed (and one is blah). The Kirby cover is so-so.

But that's all personal preference- overall it is a great book. With 40 stories and 32 covers there is a lot to like. Typical of Benson and Sadowski, it's high quality all the way. Sean Burns
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Four Color Fear is 320 nicely reprinted pages, comprised of 39 horror stories from such 1950s horror comics as This Magazine is Haunted, Witches Tales, Web of Evil, Black Cat Mystery, Strange Terrors, and Chamber of Chills. The overwhelming impression I get after reading these dusty old relics is that EC might not have been the first, they might not have been the only one, but they certainly were the best. It's not even a close race. EC excelled at not just its art but also its stories. The other companies could ape EC's stable of artists (and do a decent job as in the case of Howard Nostrand's "homage" to Jack Davis, "Dust to Dust," which looks just like Davis) and rip off their ultra-violent storylines (Tales from the Crypt's sadistic butcher story "T'aint the Meat...It's the Humanity" becomes Mysterious Adventures' sadistic butcher story "Chef's Delight"). But if you're buying Four Color Fear for anything besides offbeat nonsense, you're obviously going to be disappointed. If, like me, you relish this stuff, you'll need this book.

Inside you'll find: "Wall of Flesh" about a crazed scientist who creates, well, a wall of flesh that absorbs anyone who touches it; Reed Crandall's ludicrously entertaining "The Corpse That Came to Dinner" about a young couple who discover the undead corpse of their recently deceased friend eating out of their refrigerator; "The Flapping Head," with typically nice art by Al Williamson but atypical story about a flying vampire head seeking to rebuild its body; and what must be not just the goofiest comic in this book but possibly in all of pre-code, "Green Horror" about a lusty, jealous and murderous cactus!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This a wonderful book that contains what horror comics outside of the EC universe were bringing to the table. Here is a small list of the stories that stood out for me.

Corpses...Coast to Coast- A New World Order of zombies takes over the globe thanks in part to a grave diggers strike. How this is not a movie yet what with the current zombie craze going on is beyond me!

The Corpse That Came to Dinner- This is the one featured on the cover in which the title character harasses a couple he knew in his mortal life. Comes with one of the more standout twist endings but I won't say more than that.

Green Horror- Killer cactus goes on the rampage. You can't make this stuff up.

What's Happening at...8:30PM- Definitely the most unique story of the bunch. A very odd looking green man finds the streets of his town empty because everyone is hiding in fear of what's going to happen at-that's right- 8:30PM. This is one of those stories where you won't know what's going on until the last panel.

There were other stories I was tempted to add but that would ruin the fun of you discovering your own favorites in this great collection! The book also contains a brief history behind each story in the notes section.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book encompasses everything a fan of early horror comics could want. Is it large? Yes! At over 300 pages, this encyclopedia of horror will keep you entertained for weeks! Does it actually contain reprints of the comics? Yes! I have been disappointed at other books I've purchased reprinting fiction from the 50s when you'll only receive the covers, critical analysis, or perhaps a smattering of "best of" stories coupled with pages and pages of filler. Does it contain information about the comics, writers and artists? Again, yes. There are over 20 pages of text about all aspects of comics from the 50s. Honestly, I can find no faults with the book. The actual comics are printed on good paper stock, while the cover reproductions are on glossy paper. The binding is quality as well - This is a book meant to be read many times and last for years and years. As far as content goes, there are approximately 260 pages of comics, 40 pages of cover reproductions and 20 pages of "behind the scenes" stories and analysis. At just under $20.00 for a new copy, I find this book the be the very meaning of value. Here's to the hope that Fantagraphics will further delve into comics and fiction reprints of yesteryear, as I absolutely love what they've done this time around.
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