Monday, April 13, 2020

The Warren Report Issue 31: July-September 1971

The Critical Guide to 
the Warren Illustrated Magazines
by Uncle Jack
& Cousin Peter

Creepy #40 (July 1971)

"The Fade-Away Walk" 
Story by Don McGregor
Art by Tom Sutton

"The Impersonation!" 
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Pablo Marcos

"Swamp Demon" ★1/2
Story & Art by Dave Cockrum

"The Disintegrator" ★1/2
Story by Nick Cuti
Art by Ken Barr

"Lost and Found" 
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by George Roussos

"Dual Dragon" 
Story and Art by Gary Kaufman

Tarrant, the last man on Earth, walks through the rubble of South Dakota, looking for something to keep him alive. He finds what's left of a nuclear power plant and heads inside, discovering a wall of protective suits. As he's donning one, he notices the empty space where a suit once hung and realizes he's not alone after all. When he heads back onto the street, his only mission becomes to find the elusive second last man standing but, unfortunately for our protagonist, the guy has found him first. Barely dodging a laser blast from a "thermal ray" gun, Tarrant must flee for his life, eventually winding up at Mount Rushmore, where (for some unknown reason) he climbs to the top. His assailant follows him and, when they come face to face, reveals that he's out to kill Tarrant because of his skin color. In the end, the man lets Tarrant fall to his death and then ponders life's inequalities.

"The Fade-Away Walk"
Yet again, we have to travel back to the time when funny book writers did their best to edjacate the masses; fresh out of college and, yep, they saw the Kent State massacre on TV, protested Viet Nam, and read about Selma in their University newspaper. Then they had to go get a job. Don McGregor (in his Warren debut) was obviously one of those guys because he injects a heapin' helpin' of young '20s-angst into "The Fade-Away Walk," a preachy bit of nonsense that makes very little sense. There's these two guys, both in big white spacesuits, and they're fighting over race? How the hell can you tell which race Tarrant belongs to from a mile away through a gun sight? Why in God's name, if you were being chased, would you head for Mt. Rushmore? And Tarrant is obviously a native, so don't tell me it's because he didn't know any better and the monument just snuck up on him. Tom Sutton doesn't escape criticism either (though, for the most part, the art is the only thing worth turning pages for); how is it that radioactivity has given these poor guys teeth the size of tusks? Just how long ago did the world end that these survivors could have mutated so dramatically? Fear not. As history has shown, Don McGregor himself will mutate... into a good writer.

"The Impersonation!"
Agent Barnes is sick and tired of being sent out on these phony assignments, impersonating bad guys in order to get intel. Problem is, the real guy keeps showing up near the end of the assignment to ruin his work. The boss doesn't want to hear Barnes's gripes and sends him right back out in the field, but promises his top agent will not have that problem again: this time the guy Barnes is to impersonate has been dead three years. The chameleon infiltrates the organization as Jackson Dennis but, sure enough, the real Dennis shows up and Barnes has to think quick. Dennis's boss tells the two men that the real Dennis was a master escape artist and so the men will be shut into a huge box and buried alive; only the real Dennis will escape. Once the two men are below ground, Barnes comes clean and asks Dennis how they're going to get out. Dennis reveals that he really did die three years before and only comes back to foil impersonators.

"The Impersonation!"
The hook for "The Impersonation!" is a lot of fun, as are the reveal and the dialogue, but the whole does not make much sense at all. For one thing, Barnes never changes facial features for assignments; it's almost as though Pablo Marcos was told to just make all the guys look like Sean Connery. We're never given enough info on exactly what company Barnes works for and what organizations he's infiltrating... is it Corporate America or Doctor Evil? There's a weird moment toward the beginning of the story when a gorgeous co-worker confronts Barnes about a date they're scheduled for and the agent disavows any knowledge of said date. I thought that might go somewhere (the obvious path would be that someone is impersonating Barnes as well), but it's dropped like a parcel full of Bill Fraccio's artwork. And then there's that twist at the end, a very funny reveal but one that makes you look sideways at the magazine after you've laughed. So, this ghost comes back every once in a while to scotch the plans of impersonators? Wouldn't Dennis's boss have figured out the anomalies by now?

"Swamp Demon!"
Here we go again. Firnir, the Hunter of Samekhar, is incensed when he discovers that the tribe has taken his squeeze, Orani of the Really Big Boobs, down to the swamp for the regular "Swamp Demon!" feeding. Firnir heads, very carefully, into the swamp to find his beloved (he conveniently warns us that "the swamp beast may appear in what ever form it wishes, or even cause some other creature to appear to be the beast itself...") only to be attacked by tree dragons and grunkhs. He finally sidles up to his old lady just as she's about to become lunch and slays the dragon, but looks can be deceiving (re-read that swamp demon warning). Dave Cockrum picks up a copy of Creepy or Eerie in the Warren lunchroom, reads a Gardner Fox script about a barbarian that fights giant monkeys with fangs and tentacles in order to save a princess with huge tits and thinks, "Hell, I can do this!" and does. Problem is, he writes a script just as incompetently and just as cliched as Fox would have. At what point will (whoever the heck is editing these magazines) stop accepting this swill? Don't hold your breath.

"The Disintegrator"
After being screwed out of his share in a successful electronics firm, Danny Gordon is working on a very high-powered laser gun, but instead he winds up with "The Disintegrator"! Being the king of pacifists, Danny uses his "weapon" (well, weapon is probably the wrong word for a gun hoisted by a pacifist, but you know what I'm trying to say, right?) to destroy the guided missile his ex-partner, Al Goodby, has just built and is selling to the military. Al decides the Disintegrator would be an even better tool for mass destruction and he attempts to steal it by holding Danny's wife and kids hostage at gunpoint. Danny, finally tired of being a nice guy, points his son's wooden gun at Al and blasts him to hell. Turns out it wasn't the gun that was the Disintegrator, but Danny! Yet another weak SF tale with espionage overtones, "The Disintegrator" reads like a failed "Mack Bolan Executioner" spin-off with cardboard characters, hackneyed dialogue, and unbelievable plot twists (at what point does Danny realize he's the power source, cuz the final panel's speech makes it sound like he knew all along); the biggest laugh is that Danny feels he must create this new weapon for peaceful means in the great tradition of all pacifistic weapon makers.

"Dual Dragon"
An old wizard loses his ability to walk through walls and, centuries later, the power is bestowed to Warren Savin, one of life's biggest losers. Warren sees this new ability as a means to getting chicks and cars and boats and Faberge eggs and just about everything that's eluded him all his life. So he does what any guy does, he walks through a bank vault wall and snatches up a load of dough and heads for a quick exit back through the wall. Just at that second, the sorcerer says a few magical words and gets his trick back. Poor Warren is left halfway through the wall. Know how I figured that out? Because there's a handy explanation of what happened right next to the panel of Warren stuck in the wall. Not that I wanted this wretched thing to be any longer but I was waiting to see if the dough would come through the wall as well. That was the highlight of "Lost and Found": the waiting.

In "Dual Dragon," a young warrior will do anything he can to win the love of the fair maiden, Inge... even slay a dragon. But what if Inge doesn't want to be won? Gary Kaufman, the writer/artist who so impressed us last issue with "Mad Jack's Girl," doesn't quite hit a bullseye this time out. The art's still stunning (very much akin to Jeff Jones's style), but the script is meandering and blah and the climactic twist is pretty much the same as that of "Swamp Demon!" (which may just be a case of coincidence). Seems as though Warren forgot this magazine is called Creepy, foregoing the horror for an issue stocked with fantasy and science fiction. Not a good trend.-Peter

Jack-The stories in this issue range from mediocre to not quite that good. Sutton's art helps "The Fade-Away Walk," in which Tarrant, like Burgess Meredith on The Twilight Zone, survives an atomic blast because he was underground. The North by Northwest finale comes out of nowhere. Overall, Don McGregor overwrites and the story is overlong and pretentious. "Swamp Demon!" has its moments and continues to show early Dave Cockrum work, though it's impressive in spots. I enjoyed "Lost and Found," probably because it's only five pages long, and the Roussos art reminded me of what we see every other week at Peter's journey through the Atlas catalog.

I lost track of "The Disintegrator" about halfway through and the end came out of nowhere, but Ken Barr's art is not bad. "Dual Dragon" starts out promisingly but meanders and can't sustain its seven-page length; it ends up a disappointment. Worst of all was "The Impersonation!" where Marcos seems to be trying to copy the style of Neal Adams. The story is awful and the climax unsatisfying.

Enrich Torres
Eerie #35 (September 1971)

Story by Gardner Fox & Steve Englehart
Art by Steve Englehart

"The Comet's Curse!"★1/2
Story by Buddy Saunders
Art by Frank Brunner

"The Tower of the Demon Dooms!"
Story by Gardner Fox
Art by Mike Ploog

"I Am Dead, Egypt, Dead"
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Victor de la Fuente

"Cats and Dogs"★1/2
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Jerry Grandenetti

Story and Art by Sanho Kim

In a war long ago, the city of Armal defeated the city of Gagrath. Corelle, the hot and scantily-dressed Queen of Thieves who has the real power in Armal, orders the execution of Bardak, high priest of serpent god Thurnool, since Bardak is the head honcho in Gagrath. Thurnool drips some snake venom on Bardak's corpse and reanimates him, sending him in the guise of a blind man to Armal, offering to trade gold for copper. Corelle quickly recognizes Bardak and has him lead her to a ruined tower in the desert, where his gold hoard is kept. She then orders him tortured and brings the gold back to Armal, where she throws a huge shindig and has her favorite high priest use magic to render the gold harmless. Suddenly, Bardak rips off his blindfold and transforms into Thurnool, quickly snacking on Corelle and achieving "Retribution."

An odd story to start this issue of Eerie, this is a tedious six pages that seem much longer. Steve Englehart's art is adequate and certainly better than that of some of the artists we've seen in the pages of the Warren mags, and the fact that he receives co-writing credit with Gardner Fox makes me suspect that he was given a tired Fox script and allowed to revise it while he also illustrated it.

"The Comet's Curse!"
In Ancient Rome, Sidious the Necromancer is condemned to death and puts "The Comet's Curse!" on his former friend Vallen, one of the soldiers who locks him in a dungeon. Sidious tells Vallen that the comet is coming that night and the next time it shows up, Vallen will kill everyone, including those he loves. Sidious grows old but never dies and, when Vallen is crushed by a collapsing building twenty years later, he thinks the curse was empty. Two thousand years later, Sidious is still alive, now calling himself Sidonious, Chief of Archaeological Studies at the Museum of Rome. While examining a previously unknown villa, the comet returns and the skeleton of Vallen rises up, ready to fulfill the ancient curse.

I like Frank Brunner's art, even in its early stages, but this story is terrible. As with the one before it, six pages seem like sixty! As usual, the proofreading is wretched--in one panel on the first page, Vallen is spelled two different ways! The story makes little sense and is basically an excuse for Brunner to draw a cool skeleton at the end. But no amount of atmospheric panels can rescue storytelling this inept.

"The Tower of the Demon Dooms!"
A plague in the ancient kingdom of Elbisson takes the life of Rosalia, whose lover, Evrom Dag, mourns her loss yet finds himself compelled to disinter her body from its grave and deliver it to "The Tower of the Demon Dooms!" where a sorcerer named Kodores reanimates her corpse. Evrom tricks his way into the tower and confronts Kodores, only to find himself powerless under the sorcerer's spells. Eventually, Evrom figures out a way to clobber Kodores and convinces the demon Affridiom to trade Rosalia's life for that of the sorcerer. But there's a catch--she can't leave the tower and has to drink Evrom's blood to stay alive. Evrom asks the demon to take them into his kingdom, not realizing that to stay alive there he will have to drink Rosalia's blood.

What a mess! I am beginning to realize that Warren must have been the training ground for some Marvel talent, with Englehart, Brunner, and Ploog drawing the first three stories in this issue. I was never a big fan of Man-Thing, but I have a memory that Ploog's work was pretty good. Here, it's uneven. In places I see what look like swipes from Eisner as well as attempts to imitate Eisner and, unless I'm crazy, Al Capp. Fox's story is as nutty as the rest of his tales, with names of people and places that are a real chore to decipher.

James Peters, Raymond Wilkins, and Diana Travis are archaeologists who discover the tomb of Ramses in Egypt. Jim suggests to Diana that they kill Ray so they can split the booty two ways rather than three. Jim dresses up as a mummy and scares Ray to death, but Ray the mummy seemingly comes back to life and strangles Jim. It turns out Ray and Diana planned to kill Jim, who thought he and Diana were going to kill Ray. Unfortunately, Ray and Diana take a drink of water from a canteen that Jim poisoned, planning to double-cross Diana, and everyone ends up dead.

Despite its terrible title, "I Am Dead, Egypt, Dead" is a straightforward and entertaining little story of double crosses and revenge that benefits from very sharp art by Victor de la Fuente. The tale will win a Warren Award in 1972. It succeeds mainly because it turns out not to be so eerie after all; it's really a crime story.

Willie comes home from being in the Army and is welcomed by his Mom, Dad, and little brother, Davey. The siblings used to fight like "Cats and Dogs," but they're all grown up now. Willie notices that the townsfolk seem to be acting strangely, so Davey explains that a werewolf has killed five people! Willie tells Davey that when he was in Sham-Pei, the town was terrorized by a man-leopard! That night, the brothers are about the hit the hay when they reveal (surprise) to each other that they are the werewolf and the man-leopard. From downstairs, their parents hear a lot of noise and remark that the boys are back to their fighting ways.

"Cats and Dogs"
Once again, Jerry Grandenetti's art is utterly charming and like nothing else. He appears to have used water colors to draw this story, and the layouts and character depictions are so offbeat that I can't help enjoying them. DuBay's story is predictable but Grandenetti's art is so wacky that it's fun to turn the pages to see what he does next.

Many years ago, in Korea, a gambler named Park loses all his money and is about to hang himself when an old man tells him to go back to the gambling house, where money will soon walk out the door. Park is advised to follow it but not to get too close. Sure enough, a big winner walks out and is soon set upon and killed by thieves. The thieves, in turn, are killed by a samurai, who takes the money and rushes to the side of his lover, happy that now they can be wed. In the night, she murders him and runs off with the "Money," only to be robbed by Park, who has been following the loot all this time. He becomes obsessed with the cash, certain that everyone is out to steal it from him. He ends up alone on top of a mountain, guarding his riches.

Sanho Kim's English is a bit awkward in spots, but it's leagues better than my Korean, so I can't complain. I like his Asian art style and was fascinated by his biography, which is reproduced at the end of this post. This is an odd issue of Eerie; there's nothing very eerie about it and the stories are not strong, but the art is mostly pretty good.-Jack

Peter-Like its sister pubs, Eerie seems to have given over to a predominately fantasy/sword & sorcery bent, which is far from my cup of tea, and if it's not S&S/F, then chances are it'll take place in Egypt. I was thoroughly lost halfway through "Retribution" and then just wished it would be over. Spoiler alert: it does end, eventually. Similarly, "The Comet's Curse!" has a convoluted plot and dopey dialogue but at least it's got some dyn-o-mite graphics by up-and-comer Frank Brunner.

Speaking of rising stars, we get the first appearance (of only four) of Mike Ploog, doomed to realize the aquarium-bottom-quality of Gardner Fox's "The Tower of the Demon Dooms!" a story so full of cringe-worthy prose (In those ancient lands that stretch from Kabblamoth to long-deserted Gagrath...), I thought my brain might forsooth melteth. This is raw Ploog, not yet the skilled comic master who will help redefine Marvel horror comics with Ghost Rider, Werewolf by Night and, especially, The Monster of Frankenstein.

"I Am Dead, Egypt, Dead!" (that sure sounds like something torn from the pages of a Skywald zine) is not bad; it's got approximately 37 twists at its climax and most of them work. This is the first of two stories this month devoted to Ramses. Artist Victor de La Fuente drops in for his only appearance of the 1970s but, oddly, turns up again the following decade for a long run on the series, "Haxur." Jerry Grandenetti returns for the supremely stupid "Cats and Dogs" and gives it one of his melty-sheens. Yeah, the script doesn't make much sense (only because the rules are not laid out for us) but, by golly, it's the only "horror story" you're going to get this issue. "Money." It's a bitch.

Vampirella #13 (September 1971)

"The Lurker in the Deep!" 
Story by Archie Goodwin
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"From Death's Dark Corner!" 
Story by Gerry Conway
Art by Steve Hickman

"The Silver Thief and the Pharoah's Daughter" 
Story by Dean Latimer
Art by Jose Bea

"The Frog Prince!" ★1/2
Story and Art by Bill DuBay

"Eye of the Beholder" 
Story and Art by Gary Kaufman

"The Lurker in the Deep!"
At the bottom of the sea lies "one of the seven demon servants of the mad god Chaos," Demogorgan, a really big multi-armed thing with the head of the Creature from the Black Lagoon and the patience of a five-year-old. Sick and tired of munching on passing minnows, Demo wants some proper food, pronto. Not so coincidentally, topside in a small Gulfside town in Texas, playboy Johnny Triton is looking for a new act to entertain on board a cruise he's putting together. He's scouting new talent and his nose for the next big thing brings him to a nightclub headlined by "The Great Pendragon" and his assistant, Vampirella. Triton manages to lure the pair away with a promise of big money and the ship sets sail.

Weird occurrences happen aboard the ship that put Vampi on guard, but she's a bit smitten with the host and goes with the flow until Triton undresses and bares his Chaos-tattooed chest. Triton explains that he was saved from drowning by Demogorgan and is now the creature's gofer, bringing it tasty snacks now and then, but that shouldn't stop him from having a little sexual merriment now and then, should it?  Just then, the hideous beast rises from the depths and terrorizes the ship; Vampi grabs an axe and starts whacking. The monster, jealous of Vampi's advances on its/her beau, Triton, snatches the man and heads for the bottom. Vampi and Pendragon are left drifting in a lifeboat while, thousands of miles away, Adam Van Helsing announces to his father that he's in love with Drakulon's favorite emissary and is going to find her, no matter what it takes.

"The Lurker..."
There's still a whole lot of silly nonsense going on here, but I guess I need to check my brain at the door and just enjoy it. I'm trying, but the whole thing just seems so random. There's really no need for Vampirella to star in "The Lurker in the Deep!"; she's yet again just a supporting character in some kind of crazy quilt only Archie seems to have a grasp on. He hasn't quite figured out how to use a vampiress who doesn't drink blood and has no other powers to speak of. But, hell, there's that suit, right? The wanna-be-Lovecraftian vibe is also frustrating; I get the feeling Archie read a lot of HPL stories, didn't get it, and then tried to fake it.

The updates on Demogorgan's status at the bottom of the ocean ("Now she's hungry," "Now she's sleepy," "Now she's mad as hell") reminded me of the classic interludes in Airplane where we flash back, now and then, to Howard Jarvis waiting for Ted to come back to the taxi. "Meanwhile, back at R'lyeh!" The creature design couldn't be more hilarious had it been crafted by Larry Buchanan. I'm stunned by how gorgeous Gonzalez's Vampi art is and doubly stunned by how comical Pendragon and Conrad Van Helsing look. Did the Muppet Show know that Statler and Waldorf were moonlighting?

"From Death's Dark Corner!"
"From Death's Dark Corner!" is a confusing mishmash about a swamp woman and her son and the thing that may lurk in the nearby bog. I've re-read this one a couple times (going far beyond the call of duty, I should add) and I'm still not sure what's what at the climax. This was Warren's first stab at the "Swamp Man" sweepstakes that would soon overrun comics with slimy, smelly, half-human bog beasts. Seemingly, every publisher would have its own swamp monster at one time or another. Stay tuned for Warren's second attempt. Hickman's art is amateurish at times but I like it; it's his only Warren appearance.

Jose Bea, who will very soon become a Warren regular and a fan favorite, sees his first published work with "The Silver Thief and the Pharoah's (sic) Daughter" and it's a good one. The tale of Ramses and his vault filled with untold riches, "The Silver Thief..." is a text-heavy but totally engrossing historical fantasy with fabulously detailed Bea graphics. Scripter Dean Latimer (in his only Warren appearance) obviously knew his Egyptian history like the back of his hand but someone at Warren decided it was Pharoah, not Pharaoh  (it's misspelled at least four times, including the cover and contents page!).

"The Silver Thief and the Pharoah's Daughter"
A gorgeous gal is passing through a swamp one day when a talking frog begs her to kiss him. He's really a prince, turned into a frog by a mean old witch, but one smooch and he'll be back in human form. When Freddie the Frog promises the girl anything her heart desires, she agrees to the deal and gives him the smooch. Immediately, the amphibian is transformed into a handsome (albeit naked) man, who takes the girl back to his kingdom. After seeing the luxurious palace, our heroine decides her reward will be marriage to the prince. He exclaims "Krooaak!" I thought "The Frog Prince!" started out as an interesting parody but quickly went south and we're left, in the last panel, with an embarrassingly bad "surprise" that makes no sense at all.

A 14th-Century countess wonders why the men won't look at her in "that way" anymore, so she plots a way back to beauty. The countess sees a gorgeous, long-tressed girl working in the fields and has her taken to the castle, where she orders her staff to remove from the girl whatever they need to transform the countess into a beauty. Lightning strikes twice as Gary Kaufman writes and illustrates a very original fairy tale nearly as effective as his classic "Mad Jack's Girl." Equal parts humor and horror, "Eye of the Beholder" is a weird roller-coaster ride, deriving most of its power from the deconstruction of the innocent maiden and the abject selfishness of the countess. The final line is a hoot. Special mention must be made of the cover, the illustration within the colored border, a striking design that made the Warren titles stand out from the rest in the mid-1970s. Once again, Vampirella proves to be the best magazine of the three this time out.-Peter

"Eye of the Beholder"
Jack-Agreed. I gave "The Lurker in the Deep!" four stars. It's a nice, long story with something for everyone--even sailors decomposing into skeletons! Well-told with great art, it's thoroughly enjoyable. "The Silver Thief" is another extended tale with very nice art. The writing isn't as clear as it could be and thus the story is a bit hard to follow in parts. "Eye of the Beholder" is very nearly a good fable, with above-average art and a good ending ruined by attempted humor that falls flat. "From Death's Dark Corner!" is moody, though the writing is a bit clunky and the art an odd mix of Crumb and Sutton. Worst of all is "The Frog Prince!"--a weak attempt at humor with a dopey ending.

The letters this issue are fun. One writer could have been reading our blog posts, since he praises the same writers we do and criticizes the ones we don't like. Another sent a nude photo of his secretary, who supposedly resembles Vampirella. It is not published, but "Uncle Creepy thinks she ought to work in a library because she's well stacked. Cousin Eerie just drooled."

Creepy 1972 Annual

"No Fair!"
(Reprinted from Creepy #22)

"Spawn of the Cat People"
(Reprinted from Creepy #2)

"On the Wings of a Bird"
(Reprinted from Creepy #36)

"Tough Customers!"
(Reprinted from Creepy #35)

"Pursuit of the Vampire!"
(Reprinted from Creepy #1)

"The Judge's House!"
(Reprinted from Creepy #5)

(Reprinted from Creepy #28)

"Monster Rally!"
(Reprinted from Creepy #4)

John Pederson
Eerie 1972 Annual 

"Fair Exchange"
(Reprinted from Eerie #9)

"Deep Ruby!"
(Reprinted from Eerie #6)

"Spiders are Revolting!"
(Reprinted from Eerie #26)

"In Close Pursuit"
(Reprinted from Eerie #30)

"Nor Custom, Stale..."
(Reprinted from Eerie #12)

"The Monument"
(Reprinted from Eerie #3)

(Reprinted from Eerie #7)

Vampirella 1972 Annual

"The Origin of Vampirella" ★1/2
Story by J.R. Cochran
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"The Curse of Circe"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #6)

"Goddess from the Sea"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #1 )

"The Curse"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #9)

"Snake Eyes"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #8)

"Forgotten Kingdom"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #4)

"The Origin of Vampirella"
For some strange reason, Warren decided Vampirella annuals (this being the first and only stand-alone annual) should have one brand-spankin'-new story inside, even though the other two titles only merited reprints. For the premiere, it was deemed necessary to rewrite Vampi's origin. For those of you with blissfully short memories, I'll remind you that the initial origin story back in #1 was written by Forrest J. Ackerman. 'Nuff said? Well, I'm not sure this reboot is any better than the original, sorry to say. Sure, we lose Ackerman's deadly puns, but we get Shakespearean rigmarole like:

(when Vampi's boyfriend refuses to aid her in her killing of a Gronos--a boar-like creature) "Love without honor is empty... killing the Gronos would be like killing something in myself."

"The Origin..."
(when said boyfriend rises from the dead after being zapped by alien ray-guns and just... will... not... shut... up!) "Stay, Vampirella! Remain crouched... for you are most defenseless that way... and all the more beautiful!"

(Again, the undead boytoy) "Do you wonder at my strength, wind tossed creature your struggles amuse me, wench! Truly amuse me!" (and, no, I didn't accidentally omit punctuation)

We also get a whole lot of Jose Gonzalez's good girl art, lots of Vampi posing, looking into the distance, hand on ass, reclining on the ground, etc. The entirety of "The Origin of Vampirella" is a chore to slog through. A little trivia on the cover, stolen from David Horne's Gathering Horror: this cover was originally supposed to grace issue one until James Warren ixnayed the Aslan and commissioned Frazetta to whip up something magical. I think Warren made a good decision, but this cover is striking as well.-Peter

Jack-Come on Peter, this is better than the Ackerman story! The art is very impressive and it doesn't read like it was written by a 12-year-old. I don't get how this is an origin story, though--are we supposed to take that Vampi's sadness over her lost love propelled her to hop in a spaceship and head for Earth? As I recall, the first version of the story was a Superman swipe. This time, it doesn't make any sense. But the art is smokin'.

Next week...
The Cease Fire


Quiddity said...

Don McGregor is a writer who often tries to insert politics into his stories, often with mixed results. EC had been very successful with its tackling of subjects in Shock SuspenStories, but Warren and McGregor often whiff at it. The plot line of "Lost and Found" reminds me much of an episode of the television show Fringe where a group of criminals are able to use a machine to change matter enough to enable them to go through a bank safe, only for it to run out of time as they escape and one guy gets stuck coming out.

Victor de la Fuente was a very accomplished Spanish artist who has his sole original Warren story with "I Am Dead, Egypt, Dead". His return approximately a decade later to Warren was actually due to them reprinting work he had done in Europe, the series "Haxtur" and "Haggarth" in particular. Around this time Warren was so strapped for cash that they reprinted many works from foreign artists to reduce the number of actual new stories to be drawn. Both Haxtur and Haggarth are quite strong and far outdo any of the dreary original content left in Eerie by that time.

Very excited to see the arrival of Jose Bea to Warren. I think no other Warren artist can compare to just how bizarre and out of this world Bea can get with his artwork and storytelling style (as he will also write many of the stories he does). Not really featuring any monsters or non-human creatures, this story is only a small hint at what is to come from him. "Eye of the Beholder" is quite the highlight, one of my favorite Warren stories. Kaufman does such an effective job both with the writing and artwork, and it is quite horrifying as we see what the Countess becomes.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it’s because I’ve always been more into the art than the stories, but I’m just WAY more tolerant of terrible comics writing than you guys are. From an early age I learned that Sturgeon’s Law holds especially true for comics : well written stories are BY FAR the exception to the rule. If a crap story is just a frame to hang some excellent art on, I am totally okay with it! I’ll take that combo over the alternative (good story with awful art) any day of the week. When the art is as good as in these early Ploog and Brunner jobs, I can put up with just about any amount of poorly plotted, un-grammatical, cliche-filled, sub-Lovecraftian nomenclature-spouting, typo-riddled nonsense, and still be a happy camper.

On the other hand, ‘The Fade-Away Walk’ is quite bad in both respects. I know McGregor was just starting out but I was kinda shocked by how poor this was. As if the story wasn’t confusing enough, the narration kept switching tenses back and forth and Sutton’s slapdash staging of the climax on Mt. Rushmore just baffled me. As a team, both gents will be delivering much better stories soon enough, both here at Warren and in Marvel’s VAMPIRE TALES.

One of the sweeter developments over the past few years has been seeing both of you gradually coming around to appreciating Grandenetti’s distinctive talents. For sure, he could be hit-and-miss, but when he was ‘On’ he really was something special.

Peter’s comment about Gonzalez’s old dudes looking like Muppets is dead-on! I would say there is a weird, mushy cartooniness to his stuff in general, that is a little bit at odds with the ‘sexy horror’ vibe of the strip, especially in these early stories. Even Adam isn’t immune to the strangely-proportioned ‘Muppet Effect’; he sometimes looks like a realistic Alain Delon head sewn onto a rag-doll body. Not saying I don’t like it —it’s part of his overall charm — it’s just a bit odd.

The ‘new’ Vampi origin is superior to FJA’s amateur-hour original ‘story’ by several orders of magnitude, by default. This version was re-dialogued by Budd Lewis a few years later — my memory is that it smooths out some of Cochran’s more awkward dialogue.

I like these Jones-esque Gary Kaufman jobs a lot. I need to to Google him, don’t know much about the guy.

Those Enrich and Sanjulian covers are quite nice, aren’t they. A little preview of splendid Things To Come over the next few years.


Peter Enfantino said...

I can be tolerant of bad stories if they have great artwork as well. Most of Tom Sutton's stuff adorns bad Lovecraft pastiches but I will admit that I'm very intolerant of fiction (even comic book fiction) where I feel like the writer deems me an idiot (not that I'm not...). The Grandenetti thing took me completely by surprise (again, here's a case of style over subject winning me over) and I still can't explain it. Those Vampi covers are insanely good.

Joe Bea's finest hour (in my memory at least) is coming up, illustrating perhaps the biggest rip-off story of all time. Stay tuned.
I did a piece for a British horror comics fanzine years ago on the Eerie series and there's some really awful stuff coming up!

Quiddity said...

Hmm, now I have to think of what that Bea story could be! I think his finest hour is "The Other Side of Heaven', which is quite possibly the strangest story in the history of Warren, although that's a good 15 issues or so of Vampi away at this point.

Grant said...

Maybe I've never read it, but the first Jose Bea story is automatically a welcome thing to me. I don't think they ever had a spookier artist.