The Comics Code Authority was established in 1954 to stop comic books from melting children’s brains into juvenile delinquency. With its myriad and unclear rules, the CCA did away with the EC Horror comics of the 1950s, as well as many Western and Crime comics. Warren Publishing (who also ran Famous Monsters of Filmland) continued to publish horror comics in black-and-white as “magazines.” Since 2007, New Comic Company LLC and Dark Horse have worked to republish Creepy magazine as The Creepy Archives. The 26th installment collects Creepy #123-127, nearly 300 pages of Creepy comics and it’s a lot of fun.

One of the best parts, oddly, is the ads. There are pages dedicated to selling masks, and my favorite, an ad that runs twice selling “Genuine Soil from Dracula’s Castle.” I’m tempted to clip out the form and send my $9.95 plus $2 for shipping. It’s impossible not to have fun as you flip through the ads and think about what you would do with a vial full of Dracula’s finest dirt.

The stories can be great too. “Kiss of the Plague” by Doug Moench and Leo Sommers & Alex Toth, “The Prometheus” by Rich Margopoulos and John Garcia & Rudy Nebres, “Dreamer” by Nicola Cuti and Fred Carrillo, “Forbidden Fruit” by Bruce Jones and Luis Bermejo, “Prism Second Generation Blues” by Gerry Boudreau and Noly Panaligan, and “Daddy is a Werewolf” by Nicola Cuti and Fred Carrillo are all excellent. Though they’re varied in setting—some western, some crime, some fantasy—these stories lean into the weirdness and the melodrama inherent in horror stories. The artists cut loose, bringing to life the black-and-white macabre. The writers have fun, leaning into puns. For example a German shepard (as in a person who herds sheep)  the villain in “Prism Second Generation Blues.”

The bad stories in the anthology fail by reaching for too lofty of goals. Some try to address the Holocaust with the addition of supernatural horror. Another takes a stab at portraying the American-Indian Genocide that took place in the United States. All of these stories, black-and-white horror comics under twenty pages, fail in insensitive and stupid ways. The creatives who made these attempts seem to have no idea what they’re working on. A little self-awareness, or editorial intervention, would’ve gone a long way.

Creepy Archives vol. 26 tells simple stories, full of melodrama and exaggerated pictures. There’s a Christmas issue in this volume (#125), and quite a few good stories beside that. If you like Creepshow (an homage to Creepy), Black Sabbath (the film, not the band, though both are great), and The Twilight Zone, you’ll have a good time reading Creepy Archives vol. 26.

Creepy Archives vol. 26 is available from Dark Horse now.