We're in the midst of a Stephen King renaissance—between the nonstop King homage that is Stranger Things, the upcoming film adaptations of It and The Dark Tower, the upcoming TV adaptations of Gerald's Game, The Mist, and Mr. Mercedes, and the meta-sounding Castle Rock series, King fans have a lot to look forward to. Or, perhaps more accurately, a lot to get nervous about. Adaptations of King's work have always been plentiful, but few have been good—and even fewer have captured what makes King such a remarkable writer.
One King adaptation went the other way, though: 1982's Creepshow comic. King's screenwriting debut was Creepshow, the horror/comedy directed by George A. Romero that paid tribute to the old EC horror comics that made parents and censors clutch their pearls (a few years later, HBO's Tales from the Crypt would riff on some of the same stuff). Befitting Creepshow's pulpy origins, King's screenplay was also turned into a comic book—one that came out just a few months before Romero's film hit theaters.
Defined by striking art from the late Bernie Wrightson, the precise publication history for Creepshow is hard to nail down—the only thing it seems everybody can agree on is that it's been unavailable for years. But the book is finally out again, from Gallery 13, and it's well worth a look for anyone who's into King, Wrightson, or things that go bump in the night. Or drag their victims screaming to their untimely deaths. Or ravenously consume unsuspecting schmucks who... well, you get the idea.
If you're wondering how a 35-year-old movie tie-in comic holds up, good news: It holds up great. King's stories are goofy, pulpy, and cruel, and Wrightson's art remains nothing short of phenomenal. Wrightson's was a very specific sort of genius: One that somehow enabled him to depict exactly what's most evocative, eerie, and disgusting about graveyards, ghouls, and things that should look natural but instead thrum with foreboding. Wrightson's probably best known for his work on the erratically brilliant Swamp Thing, where he helped make a heap of decaying swamp muck one of DC Comics' most entertaining and bizarre characters, but if I was going to give one book to someone to introduce them to Wrightson, Creepshow might be it.
The stories in Creepshow all hew to those in Romero's film—slicked with blood and dark, dark humor, they're short glimpses of doomed and depraved characters behaving in the worst possible ways, and in the true EC spirit, they're ugly stories about ugly things happening to ugly people. In other words: It feels like a throwback, and like the sort of thing that wouldn't get made today, and like a lot of fun. We'll have to wait and see how all these upcoming King adaptations are going to turn out, but in the meantime, Creepshow doesn't disappoint.