Wednesday, October 23, 2019

"Prom."


This strip (and the next one, if I'm honest!) runs pretty squarely against "show, don't tell" as we hit a wall in what I can do with action figures. It's not like I have a young Nightcrawler figure...wait, I do, all those X-Men Evolution figures. Well, it's not like I have a young Elsa Bloodstone figure. Although...do I still have that Baby Bonnie Hood from Darkstalkers? Well, it's not like I have costumes for them! Although...

Actually, since I'm getting ready to move next month, I shouldn't even have the stuff I do have out. And I shouldn't be buying more figures to have to move as well. And I almost certainly should be packing instead of trying to plot out another strip, so you can easily guess what I'm up to.

Nightcrawler pretty memorably threatens a guy with neck-biting in the classic Marvel Graphic Novel #5- X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. His potential victim panics and spill his (figurative) guts; but I wonder if Kurt's ever had his bluff called. Or started giggling midway through, after a bad Bela Lugosi-styled 'Blah!' "I vant to su-- Ach, sorry; let me try that again..."
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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Satana should get to properly host a horror comic.


Today's book was not what I thought it was going to be: From 2018, Avengers Halloween Special #1, featuring "The Eyes Have It" Written Rob Fee, art by Eoin Marron, color art by Mike Spicer; "Whatever Happened to the Richards Family?" Written by Gerry Duggan, art by Laura Braga, color art by Arif Prianto; "The Thing From Another Time" Written by Jen and Sylvia Soska, art by Jonas Scharf, color art by Jordan Boyd; "Punisher of the Opera" Written by Jay Baruchel, art by Luca Pizzari, color art by Michael Garland; and "Haunted Mansion" Written by Robbie Thompson, art by Bob Quinn, color art by Cris Peter.

The title page is a repurposed Vicente Alcazar Satana, warning the reader the heroes are gone, and monsters are in their place. I kinda thought the whole thing was going to be reprints, but no; the rest is new. Sort of. These are mostly versions of classic horror stories, repurposed with Avengers. Or other heroes, as in the opening "The Eyes Have It," where Matt Murdock finally gets new eyes. It's strictly in horror movie territory, so I don't think it's a spoiler to tell you he's not going to like what he sees. That could be a riff on anything from Dead Man's Eyes to the Eye; it's fairly well-trod ground, but still nicely done, especially since I wasn't expecting it right off the bat.

Next, in "Whatever Happened to the Richards Family?" Doctor Doom attacks the FF, not for his usual vengeance, but because only he has realized the horrifying truth about them. There may or may not be a direct horror analog for that one (or if it's the first one that occurs to me, it'd be a spoiler) but "The Thing From Another Time" wears its influence on its sleeve: it's John Carpenter's the Thing with Iron Man versus another thing from the ice, Captain America! Guest-starring (briefly!) Colossus and Deadpool! It's an interesting homage; but I'm not sure if it needed a few more pages to play out, or if the bit would've worn too thin if pressed further.

"Punisher of the Opera" is an odd mashup spin on two stories you know, as a French Francis Castiglione avenges his wife, a murdered opera singer. I liked that one better than "Haunted Mansion," where some kids explore the spooky, abandoned Xavier's School for the Gifted, and find some literal and figurative ghosts.

DC seems to do this type of story more often (as we'll see Thursday!) so I wonder if this was Marvel testing the market. I don't know if all of DC's stories are as um, directly inspired, as this one was. I wouldn't mind if Marvel tried this again, though: you could pretty easily get a few issues out of Spider-Man horror.
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Before Christmas or before Halloween? Flip a coin...


I personally don't, but I imagine some people get as sick of Halloween crap in the stores at the end of August as others do of Christmas stuff in October. Today's book could go either way! From 1987, Elvira's House of Mystery Special #1.

The first story is probably the best, even if it is a standard: "Elvira's Christmas Carol" Written by Joey Cavalieri, art by Frank Springer. An exhausted Elvira has nothing but snark for Christmas, so of course she gets the three spirits treatment; in this case portrayed by former House of Mystery hosts Cain, Abel, and Destiny. While she has a perfectly reasonable reason for disliking how "the holiday forces you to pay attention to it!" her Christmas future with a silent Destiny suggests maybe that's not the worst thing in the world.

"Oh, What Fun to Laugh and Sing a Slaying Song Tonight!" from Michael Fleisher and Jack Sparling is a fairly standard crook on the run dresses up as Santa number; then Barbara Randall and Stephen Destefano's "O Christmas Tree" is a cartoony, fun romp about the perfect tree...for murder. "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" from Ed Hannigan is a post-apocalyptic shaggy dog story; and a bit cheerless. I don't necessarily know that Elvira's stories were supposed to be more cheery than DC's usual horror fare, but I always expect more jokes.

Y'know, I think Netflix recently passed on some kind of Elvira show; and I gotta say I would've watched it. Hope she turns up somewhere!
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Monday, October 21, 2019


The cover promises a bit more sci-fi horror than the interior delivers, but there's still a smidge: from 1984, Alien Worlds #8, cover by John Pound.

"...And Miles to Go Before I Sleep" is a sentimental story by William F. Nolan and the great Al Williamson: a rocket captain contracts an alien disease, and is told he would die long before making it home to see his parents. Unwilling to break his promise to return, the captain sends a robot duplicate to visit his parents, then dies. But he may not be the only one considerate of others.

"Soft Boiled" is a private detective story where the clues don't add up, but there's a reason for that. (Written by Bruce Jones, art by Paul Rivoche.) It was okay, but I liked "Collector's Item" better: written by Bruce Jones, art by Ken Steacy. A young boy is bound and determined to complete his familiar-looking collection of "Venus Invades" trading cards, but the last card he needs may be an unpleasant surprise. (I'm 90% sure I still have the Mars Attacks novel Steacy did the cover for.)

"Stoney End" has a Wally Wood/Weird Science homage going, as another rocket captain reads his Wonderful Planet Stories comic to take his mind off of the mess his ship was in. It ends sadly, but with acceptance, possibly in more than one sense of the word.

Pretty sure I have another issue of this lying around, lets see if he can cram that into the month!

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Death has five costume changes this issue; total diva.


The cover blurb sounds more suggestive out of context: "What is the fine line...between flesh and fantasy!" Apparently, it's today's book! From 1981, Weird War Tales #95.

Behind a Joe Kubert cover, we get four stories hosted by Death; because I think probably 95% of this title's stories ended with "...and then everyone died!" Death has a cheery little referee hat and whistle for "Come Play War with Me!" (Written by George Kashdan, art by Fred Carrillo.) Set in 1853, a Russian colonel relinquishes command of his battalion (and his hat!) to an alien visitor with fantastic weapons; reasoning he could use them to defeat the Turks. It doesn't occur to him the Turks might have the same weapons, until much too late. The alien visitors are a little disappointed in the earthlings, even if they just murdered a ton of them...

"The Way of the Horse" has a nice twist, but is a slight three pages. (Written by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn, art by Nestor Infante.) "The 600 Heads of Death!" has Steve Ditko art that wouldn't have been been out of place in classic Marvel monster titles, except Robert Kanigher's story is a hair more violent. The cover story, "Between Flesh and Fantasy" is about a pair of WWII-era soldiers, Becker and Salgado, on a troopship to Europe. Becker is gung-ho, a fan of Conan-styled pulp barbarian Nokka, and looks down on gypsy Salgado, who doesn't think this 'glorious' war was just to prove Becker's manhood. After a brawl, Salgado decides to use "gypsy magic" to teach Becker a lesson: a lesson Becker might've learned for himself after his first exposure to battle, but he's visited by his idol Nokka. And it's a lesson Salgado maybe should've learned himself...(Written by J.M. DeMatteis, art by Noly Zamora.)
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Friday, October 18, 2019


Yesterday we had Bruce Jones's Twisted Tales, which was maybe PG-13 horror; today we've got the Twisted Tales of Bruce Jones, which is more of a hard R. From 1986, the Twisted Tales of Bruce Jones #4, story and art by Bruce Jones.

Unlike yesterday's book, today's stories have more adult situations, nudity, and graphic violence; it's the 80's cable of comic books! A writer plans on getting rid of his wife and his lover's husband in one stroke, planting letters and gifts pushing them towards each other. All the better to murder them in a surprisingly visceral two-page sequence. Still, as usual, there's no perfect crime; although I don't necessarily buy how he gets hung up, as it were.

In "Alone" young Karin's crank caller escalates in an unexpected manner: it's a hypnotist out to avenge his brother's death, since he had killed himself after she broke up with him. Worse, Karin had already been hypnotized at a party, with a secret, everyday trigger that will compel her to kill herself! It's reminiscent of the Twilight Zone episode "The Jeopardy Room." Nice twist in this one.

The GCD claims there's another story in this one, "Birth," but in my copy anyway there's only the three-pager "The Light at South Point," a slight war ghost story. Rather have gotten "Birth," sight unseen.
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Thursday, October 17, 2019


I had an issue of Creepy--or was it Eerie? with a John Severin story, just waiting to be blogged. Then I set it down and lost it, so we've got Ripley's Believe it or Not #83 from 1983, with a cover by George Wilson. It's all reprints, from 1966's Ripley's #2 and 1967's #6.

There are no writer credits anywhere for this, partially because these were allegedly 'true' ghost stories. Which may or may not imply the existence of the supernatural: although there are some odd happenstances here and there, and some may believe in the involvement of ghosts, it could've just been coincidence, a guilty conscience, or overactive imaginations. Or it could be complete hogwash! Like "Testimony of the Ghost," with art by Joe Certa: Mary Walker's wicked uncle has burned through her inheritance, so he arranges for a miner to 'take care' of her. With Mary's body dumped in an abandoned mine and the murder weapon and the murder's clothes even disposed of, it seems the perfect crime...until Mary's ghost tells a shopkeeper she was murdered, and where her corpse lay, and who did it. (A more likely explanation: the shopkeeper saw the crime, or heard tell of it, and invented the ghost story so he wouldn't have to snitch himself.)

I wasn't able to find any evidence online related to the first story...in the three seconds I took to look; but I did find the "Ship of Doom." (Art by Tom Gill and John Verpoorten.) The SS Great Eastern was a real ship, and the ship's designer Isambard Brunel did die before the ship's first voyage to New York. His death and the other misfortunes of the ship probably weren't due to a riveter and his mate getting sealed in the double hull. Probably.

Likewise, the battle of Marengo was real, but the Wikipedia doesn't mention Napoleon's brave officer Steingel; who leaves his last will with his general the night before, since he had dreamed of "the Dark Rider" that would kill him there. (Art by Joe Certa.) "The Thing with Claws" is almost certainly made-up as hell, but the clawed up walls and corpses do remind me a bit of Hobb's Lane in Quatermass and the Pit, one of my favorite horror movies. (Art by Joe Orlando.)

"Hounds of Death" is at least the third Halloween comic I've blogged with a mean-to-dogs story: a farmer poisons some hounds that keep tear-assing through his property. They proceed to haunt his ass good, eventually driving him to flee across a frozen pond, fall in, and die. The hounds may have just been playing; they didn't bite the guy or anything. (Art by Joe Certa.) Next, in ancient Athens, the philosopher Athenodorus Cananites gets a good deal on renting "The Haunted Villa." (Art by Andre LeBlanc, although possibly without any reference at all!) That one is based on an ancient ghost story.

Lastly, "the Lady in White" with art by Al McWilliams, which involved Queen Sophia of Prussia, who had an alarmingly long Wikipedia page but the word "ghost" wasn't in there anywhere; so I guess you can take that one with a grain of salt.
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What was the last non-Marvel, non-DC book I blogged here? Unless I stumble across something else between when I'm writing this and when it posts (and yeah, I did!) it was an issue of Gold Key's the Outer Limits. I was thinking it was going to be an EC book; but today's book is a pretty direct homage to their horror heyday: from 1982 and Pacific Comics, Twisted Tales #1, all stories written by Bruce Jones.

As usual, I'm going to keep the scans in the area of PG here, but this was Jones's more adult homage to the classic EC horror books. Richard Corben draws "Infected," in which a collections agent trying to take advantage of a young woman gets his. Corben's art could make your trip to the supermarket terrifying, though.

"Out of his Depth," with art by Alfredo Alcala, is very EC: a girls' camp counselor, afraid she's aging off the market, has two options as far as finding a man. There's hygiene-deficient handyman Willie, and administrative cad Lowry. Feigning interest in Willie gets Lowry's attention, briefly: when she finds Lowry cheating, she marries the rank-smelling Willie out of depression and desperation. Unable to, ahem, consummate their relationship because of the smell, she runs back to Lowry, who knew the camp was on Willie's land, and he was actually quite rich...The comeuppance is implied more than seen here, but still awful. Awful in the exact way these stories should be, that is!

"A Walk in the Woods" is a fairy tale romp with art by Bret Brevins, and the last story is the Bradbury-like "All Hallows" with art by Tim Conrad. A now-teenaged band of trick-or-treaters seemingly have an entire neighborhood under their thumb, but their motivation is a surprise. Three solid hits out of four here, and even that whiff is stronger than most Marvel/DC horror strips. Wonder when I'll stumble across another of these, though.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

"Hunters."


This feels like a hundred years ago and didn't really happen anyway, but it used to seem like Marvel Legends and Marvel Select were going to run on different tracks; with Select featuring less conventional choices and larger characters, like Mephisto or the Watcher. Neither of whom have gotten a Legend figure to date, by the way: I think the last Select I picked up (at full price, anyway) was the Destroyer, another big'un. In some alternate timeline, maybe Legends kept the regular sized figures and Select was down the roster to Xemnu the Titan or Gorgilla...maybe not.
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019


When the Paramount deal for the Atlas-Seaboard properties was announced, I had never picked up a single issue of that company's all-too-brief line, but I did pick up this final issue recently: from 1975, Planet of Vampires #3, "The Blood Plague!" Written by John Albano, art by Russ Heath.

In the far-flung future of...2010, a band of astronauts returns from space to find earth decimated by atomic and biological warfare, and New York City ruled by a vampire elite that prey on humans like cattle. By this point, Elissa and Brenda, the wives of our heroes Craig and Chris, have been captured by the vampires; so the guys raid an abandoned Air Force base for weapons and storm the dome. (Since these aren't traditional, Dracula-style vampires; they don't need the wooden stakes and whatnot; shooting them works just fine. Still, despite being 'science' vampires, on the cover of #2 one of them is wearing a Dracula cape, because...um...) Elissa is found dead, but while Chris puts a bullet in the head of the head vampire (or middle-management vampire, I'd guess) Craig finds Brenda, alive. Still, Craig was done, unwilling to go on.

Chris and Brenda take one of the vampires' "floater" crafts, and fly all the way to "Los Angles" (sp) in search of humans, and find nothing. Running out of gas, they set down near an abandoned zoo, with the cages torn open. Instead of lions, tigers, or bears, though; they're set upon by a pair of giant spiders! Chris rallies to knife them both to death, but Brenda is injured, and dies at the end of the issue. Does Chris have anything left either, to press on? The "Next Issue" teaser seems to team-up Craig and Chris again, in a very Kirby/Kamandi looking spread against the "Revenge of the Vampires!" But I don't think Atlas-Seaboard had a single title get a fourth issue; this one doesn't either. (That spread is signed Lieber and Milgrom.)

I read the first two issues online. The cover of #1 proclaims "A world gone mad! Six astronauts return to earth and find it ruled by vampires!" There were only five; and they lose one maybe three pages in. Their return to earth is reminiscent of Planet of the Apes, of course the Omega Man was a remake but it was from 1971 and was probably an influence. I thought the scene on the dome rooftop where Craig stays was based on Dawn of the Dead, but that was from three years later.

So in blogging random horror comics for Halloween, tons of them have been from anthology books: short stories, no continuity. Planet of Vampires feels like it was trying to start a long-form horror story; something I don't think would really catch until the Walking Dead. (I suspect there may have been other attempts!) (EDIT: Of course, there was Tomb of Dracula and some of the other Marvel horror books, but even that leaned more towards superhero style.) I read, and watched, TWD for a while, but eventually it just became a grind. To keep the stakes high and build drama, nothing ever gets better; eventually, why even go on? I could see Chris and Craig going on just long enough for revenge or a blaze of glory, but that's about it.
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By this point, I've set up a couple weeks worth of horror comics posts for Halloween; and we'll see a few issues of this series, which I still don't think I read before pulling them out of the quarter bin. I also don't think this was the best of the lot, but here we go: from 1977, the Witching Hour #74, featuring an E.R. Cruz cover for "A Tiny Bit of Torment" Written by George Kashdan, art by Fred Carrillo. (I've noticed most of these DC horror shorts only give the one art credit, implying the artist inks their own pencils.) A failing puppeteer touring south of the border stumbles across a tiny tribe; natives only a foot high due to "something in local waters." So of course the puppeteer enslaves them for his show. You kind of figured those natives were gonna get exploited one way or another; I'm thinking they're lucky they weren't found by a plumber or something. ("Why, your tiny hands could reach clogs undreamt of! Get right in there...")

Next is "Death Can Be Contagious," written by Carl Wessler, art by Abe Ocampo. An aging lothario finds out his new girl is actually old: a witch with a potion keeping her young. He sweet-talks his way into getting some of the potion for himself, but the witch isn't his only conquest; and he may not realize he now has the kiss of death. Accordingly, his demise is profoundly stupid. Still, some spooky visuals in this one.

Finally, "A-Haunting We Will Go" brings us probably not the only example of gaslighting we'll see in these books. (Written by George Kashdan, art by Leopold Duranova.) A murderous couple arrange to have their uncle Arthur killed in a mining accident. Now they just need to get rid of uncle Wallace, who was already sick with guilt that his brother died in the diamond mine he was responsible for safety for. The husband disguises himself as Arthur to haunt Wallace, while the wife pretends not to hear the 'ghost.' Events are complicated when the 'ghost' turns on the wife, and she realizes if her husband was willing to kill his uncles, he'd probably be onboard for getting rid of her as well...but there were still a couple twists to come.

As I write this, I've got half the month filled up with whatever horror comics I had lying about. Wednesdays will still be homemade strips, but we'll see if we can get the whole month ready for Halloween!
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Monday, October 14, 2019


Is the Twilight Zone associated more with New Year's than Halloween nowadays, because of the marathons? Well, we're still checking out the comics this month! From 1971, The Twilight Zone #38, painted cover by George Wilson.

Luis Dominguez draws "A Date With Death," in which a newspaper photographer is taken too soon by Death--literally, Death misread the date in his little notebook. Death is forced to grant the photog a wish, and seeking scoops he opts to follow Death on his rounds for 24 hours. Maybe he should've been more curious about his upcoming demise: spying Death's dropped notebook, he sees he's going to die at the foot of the Empire State Building at high noon. He's about to do the smart thing and drive hard in the opposite direction; which probably wouldn't have delayed his death, it probably would've caused the ESB to get launched ten miles into the air then land on him or something. Still, his nose for news is too strong, and the photographer gets sucked back in to get pictures of rampaging circus animals. Geez, busy news day. Kind of a dumb one.

I loved Thor #309, wherein a cat avenges the crap out of his master's death; but "The Cat with the Evil Eye" gets three times the revenge after grave-robbers kill his caretaker. Dig it. Art by Win Mortimer. "Buried Alive" is amusingly stupid: a grifter returns home to gloat, but has another of his seizures, "suspended animation of death." Luckily, he had a medic-alert type bracelet explaining his condition; unluckily, his stupid family is illiterate...That one probably could've ended there, but it goes on to make a teachable moment, not an ironic death. (Art by Frank Bolle.)

Finally, there's "The General's Statue," with art by Joe Certa. A young sculptor has done a striking job sculpting a war hero general, but why does its arm keep falling off? You can probably guess, but not for the reason you'd think!

I'm still looking for a cheap copy of TZ #70 with "The Tyranny of Time" by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez; but I know I got #68 recently. Need to find it, I can't remember the twist ending, and it was literally a twist ending...
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Although Journey into Mystery is doubtless best remembered for introducing Thor in JiM #83, the title was a horror title before that, and would have a stint as a reprint book in the 70's for more Marvel nightmares. Like this one! From 1975, Journey into Mystery #16, featuring a John Romita cover. My quarter bin copy has the Charles Atlas coupon cut out of it! Hopefully somebody got as swole as they wanted or mastered muscle mystery or whatever...

Every once in a while, one of these little stories seems to stumble across a little truth: sometimes those among us with the most can be the most cruel. And sometimes things might be better without them. That's the case in "The Man Who Said 'No'" (Art by Angelo Torres, no writing credit in the GCD.) Rich Jonathon Bascombe has a couple fun hobbies: watching ants climb to the top of his anthill then knocking them down, and saying 'no.' When an old scientist friend asks for five grand to complete his "cellular project," you can guess Bascombe's answer; although admittedly the scientist does not pitch it very well. "For science's sake" is not going to make you any friends...Saying no was so fun Bascombe decides to visit him, pretend to be reconsidering, then say no again; but while examining the scientist's formula he's struck by lightning; cue ironic fate. Still kinda fun, and only four pages.

"The Rag Doll!" puts a much friendlier spin on the traditional evil dolly story, with art by George Roussos. In "The Old Man's Secret!" Larner seeks immortality in Tibet, but makes a wrong assumption that would cost him. (Also, why would he want to be immortal if it meant being immobile and completely dependent on others? Unless he knew hell was real and he'd done some stuff...) Art by John Giunta.

"The Thing in the Jungle!" has an ending I think used to be more common in these stories, but I hadn't come across one in a bit: the "what would you do?" There's no continuity or anything in these, so write your protagonist into a corner, it's fine. (Art by Bernard Baily.) Finally, there's "Inside the Mummy Case," with art by Joe Orlando: a museum guard is compelled to try and open a secret compartment in a sarcophagus, but the curator warns him there's no prize inside.


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