Monday, July 6, 2020

The Warren Report Issue 37: August-September 1972

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

Vampirella #18 (August 1972)

"Dracula Still Lives!"★1/2
Story by T. Casey Brennan
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"Kali Tomb of the Gods"★1/2
Story and Art by Esteban Maroto

"Song of a Sad-Eyed Sorceress"
Story by Don McGregor
Art by Luis Garcia

"Won't Get Fooled Again"
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Auraleon

"The Dorian Gray Syndrome"
Story by Don Glut
Art by Felix Mas

Convinced that Vampirella has turned his son Adam into a vampire, Conrad Van Helsing returns home and is about to drive a stake through the young man's chest when our heroine stops him. Meanwhile, in the Transylvanian Alps, "Dracula Still Lives!" because a wandering peasant climbed into his coffin and served as a new host body. Suddenly, the vampire is surprised by the appearance of the Conjuress, a mystical woman he hasn't seen for centuries. The sight of her reminds Drac of all the bad things he's done and he is overwhelmed with guilt.

"Dracula Still Lives!"
He agrees to take a trip down the path of atonement. Back at the Van Helsing family mansion, Conrad's sixth sense tell him that "Dracula Still Lives!" and he pulls out Merlin's Mirror, a teleportation device and handy dandy video surveillance device. Vampi climbs through the mirror to be teleported to Dracula's location so she can kill him. The Conjuress has left Dracula lying on the psychiatrist's couch a stone slab, where Vampi finds him. Before she can put the bite on him, he recounts his youth on Drakulon, when he was just an idealistic kid who found out about climate change learned that the rivers of blood were drying up. Those darn Republicans in power The High Council wouldn't listen, so he summoned the Conjuress for help but instead ended up in thrall to the God Chaos, etc. etc.

The Van Helsings break the mirror, trapping Vampi in Transylvania, but she feels pity for Dracula when he takes her hand and the Conjuress tells her that her show of mercy toward the Count means she can be set free and return to Adam and Conrad, which she does in the blink of an eye. Dracula tells the Conjuress that, despite his journey down the path of repentance, you can't keep a good vampire down, and he thinks he'll continue being a bad guy.

What a contrast between heavy-handed writing and gorgeous art! If it were anyone but Jose Gonzalez drawing this story, it would've been very difficult to slog through, what with T. Casey Brennan's lessons for readers concerning mercy, forgiveness, environmentalism, and so on. Don't get me wrong: I am in agreement with his sentiments, but he has such a leaden way of making his points that I just have to roll my eyes as each new plot point unfolds. The dialogue is wildly overwritten and some of the word balloons are so filled with speech that it reminds me of a panel in an EC comic where the characters were being crushed under the overstuffed word balloons. Gonzalez's depictions of Vampi and the Conjuress remain stunning, and he tells what there is of the story effectively, but it's shaping up to be a long haul with Brennan at the typewriter.

"Kali Tomb of the Gods"
Long ago, the magician Caligor chose to sacrifice the beautiful maiden Kali to the god Agni to gain power. Somehow, she was saved from ravenous tigers and transformed into the goddess of life after death.

Esteban Maroto's "Kali Tomb of the Gods" is another example of why some artists with great skill at drawing should not be encouraged to write their own stories. It makes very little sense and made me wish for more from T. Casey Brennan, which at least I could follow. Maroto loves to draw willowy, naked women, but when the plot is so mysterious it's not a satisfying experience to turn eight pages of pretty pictures.

"Song of a Sad-Eyed Sorceress"
A creep named David Winters seduces a young woman named Harriet Stone and then dumps her. She summons a succubus named Nahemah to take revenge on Winters, but once that task is accomplished the succubus refuses to give up possession of Harriet's body.

Dear readers, you should thank me for summarizing twelve pages of Don McGregor's seemingly endless story in two short sentences. The characters are cardboard cutouts of early '70s folks who only existed in the writer's mind. David is a jerk who says things like "'Listen, don't mind if I just hang in there, you know. You've got some kinda class, doll. I think I dig that.'" Poor Harriet isn't much better, falling for his line even though she wears a "Lib" pin and is determined to retain "'some part of me that's mine alone.'" What is strangest about this tale is that McGregor not only punishes David, he also punishes Harriet, having Nahemah use words that are quite similar to those used by David. The whole thing is a pretentious mess.

"Won't Get Fooled Again"
When Ralph and Jean's car runs out of gas, they are welcomed at the creepy old mansion of Thomas Cates, a one-armed man who lives among axes on the walls and suits of armor in the entranceway. Ralph heads off to the local pub for a beer and Jean leaps into the arms of her lover, admitting that she staged the car breakdown to see him. At the pub, the bartender spins a ghostly yarn about how Cates was insanely jealous and drove his wife to attack him with an axe, chopping off his arm. Ralph puts two and two together and gets concerned, racing back to the house only to be attacked by an axe-wielding suit of armor.

Finding Cates in his bed, with blood on the sheets and an axe next to him, Ralph hacks the man to death but suddenly realizes he has not murdered a ghost. The cops arrive and haul Ralph off to the pokey. Once they're gone, Jean takes off her suit of armor and her real lover, the bartender from the pub, explains their devious and complicated plot to get rid of her hubby. Unfortunately, the real ghost of Thomas Cates appears and takes an axe to them both.

Easily the best story so far in this below-average issue of Vampirella, "Won't Get Fooled Again" shows more fine work by Auraleon and demonstrates that Doug Moench, despite a tendency to overwrite at times, can tell a pretty good ghost story. It's a bit more complicated than it needs to be (as one character admits) and Moench really needs to stop showing that he likes rock and roll by borrowing song titles, but at least it's a solid, enjoyable read.

"The Dorian Gray Syndrome"
Freelance writer Barbara Vash investigates Gordon Hatfield, who is rumored to suffer from "The Dorian Gray Syndrome." It's said that he keeps a painting in the attic that ages while he remains youthful. An elderly woman claiming to be Hatfield's daughter gives Barbara a key to Hatfield's house and urges her to destroy the picture, but when the writer enters the man's inner sanctum, he reveals himself to be a vampire! Never mind, says she, destroying the painting and killing him by doing so. She explains that he put his heart and soul into the painting and thus it served as a voodoo-like talisman.

Don Glut throws everything against the wall in this one, hoping something will stick and, because of Mas's fine art, a little bit of it does. The suspense in the story is created by making the reader wonder how Glut will diverge from the Dorian Gray template; having Hatfield turn out to be a vampire is a disappointment, and the whole voodoo explanation is not easy to follow, but at least the story is only six pages long and the pictures look good.-Jack

Paul Newman + Paul Lynde?
Peter-The Vampirella strip isn't horrible, but it sure hasn't grown into something I look forward to reading; certainly nothing like Tomb of Dracula, which became a dynamite strip over time. There's a sense of wheels spinning in mud... nothing seems to be happening, the story does not move forward, characters continue to do the same things. Van Helsing Sr. is a good example: I hate her, I love her, I've got to kill her, she's not too bad. The Dracula mythos here is so messed up I'm not only losing track, I'm losing interest. And I can't help but see Jack Davis in Gonzalez's Dracula. He's a cross between Paul Newman and Paul Lynde, as drawn by Davis.

As with "Horus Tomb of the Gods" in the previous issue, I found "Kali Tomb of the Gods" to be almost unreadable. There's no discernible plot, direction, or sequencing due, I'm sure, to the translation from its original Spanish appearance. Obviously, Warren would have printed Maroto's napkin doodles by this time. Doug Moench delivers the insanely stupid "Won't Get Fooled Again," filled wall-to-wall with inane exposition, loony coincidences, and unbelievable machinations. Wait, so Jean siphoned off the gas, hoped Ralph would be okay with approaching an unknown house, further hoped Ralph would want a drink at just the right moment, and then hoped that Ralph would buy the "ghost story" lock, stock, and barrel and come back to rescue the wife that he hated so much? Seems a stretch but... okay.

The sweet, bitter, acrid, tumultuous,
perfidious, odiferous ramblings of
a tortured artist begging the world to
stand up and take notice of a talent
heretofore unfurled upon the
unworthy masses.
Having solved racism, Don McGregor now turns to... women's lib, with "Song of a Sad-Eyed Sorceress" (wasn't that an Emerson, Lake and Palmer song?). With his usual subtle aplomb, McGregor scolds his audience (you know, the boys who are buying this zine for the boobies) and enlightens us to the humiliation and fear an early 1970s woman was subjected to:

She had heard herself uttering words that were school-girl text, words she had known Betty Friedan would frown upon; and she felt alternate sensations--a mingling of need with a feeling of failure! 

"What whispered hopes enflamed on your covenant washed to dying embers?"

"You would continue to wail your sad-eye symphony: verses rhymed to console only yourself!"

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. No matter whether McGregor considered himself a poet, a teacher, or just a crummy funny book writer who can't get his Faulkneresque masterpiece past the lobby of Dutton, this is pretentious pap that elicits only one emotion: a rolling of the eyes. Oh, Don, with all the turmoil we have in the world, boy do we need you now.

Don Glut decides that if he changes a classic story just a bit, it becomes his own. Here's a character who keeps painting a portrait so that the townsfolk will suspect he's dealt with Satan instead of suspecting vampirism. Can you think of another vampire in literary history who's gone to so much trouble? "The Dorian Gray Syndrome" puts the lid on an all-around lousy issue of Vampirella.

Eerie #41 (August 1972)

Story by Kevin Pagan
Art by Jerry Grandenetti

"West Coast Turnaround"
Story by John Wooley
Art by Tom Sutton

"Heir Pollution!"★1/2
Story by John Wooley
Art by Jose Bea

"The Caterpillars"★1/2
Story by Fred Ott
Art by Luis Garcia

Story by John Thraxis
Art by Paul Neary

"The Safest Way!"★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Jose Gaul

Story and Art by Esteban Maroto

Terribly afraid of death, college student George Markson visits a man named Cahill, who implants a gland in George's chest that will allow him to become immortal. Cahill warns that George may be "Warped" and George finds himself leaping ahead in time, at first in small jumps and soon in larger ones. Eventually, he finds himself an old man in the year 2045. Cahill explains that he is a mutant and that his race uses the glands to punish greedy humans. In the end, George warps back to the beginning and it starts all over again.

Jerry Grandenetti does a nice job with the eyelike immortality gland and the implantation in George's torso, but that's about all. The rest of the story reads like the work of a 22-year-old writer who has read a lot of science fiction and is mixing some classic elements with clunky social commentary. At one point, George finds himself in 1997 as youth riot over the government's invasion of India. Perhaps Kevin Pagan and Don McGregor sat down for a heavy rap session after this issue came out.

"West Coast Turnaround"
Things aren't going so well for Mike Harris, who has a wife and a baby but no good job. When his father writes that there is work in California, he calls Mr. Hall and is assigned to drive a truck to California. Hall gives him a pill that he calls a "West Coast Turnaround" to make sure Hall stays awake for the long haul. Partway there, Mike takes the pill and reaches L.A. without any sign of fatigue. On the drive back home, he begins to hallucinate. He pulls off the road and wanders into a cemetery, where he hears the voices of the dead. Returning to Hall's Trucking, the truck is opened to reveal that Mike dug up corpses and brought them home in the refrigerated truck.

Hey kids, don't do drugs! Sutton is not at his best here, and some of his panels reminded me of Jack Kirby's figures, but not in a good way. The story is silly and the whole thing is designed to get to the final panel, which Sutton draws well but which seems somewhat pointless. Mike dug up graves and brought back the corpses. So what?

When Norman Mayo's father dies, Norman inherits the old man's fertilizer factory and begins to run it like a tyrant, tripling production but causing general unrest and terrible pollution. Ecology professor Jerry Wilham investigates and threatens to report the factory to the government, so Norman kills the teacher by drowning him in the polluted stream near the factory. The strange chemicals in the stream cause Wilham's body to decompose horribly and return to life; it seeks out Mayo and drags him back to the stream, where the two end up joined in decomposition.

"Heir Pollution!"
We've discussed the sheer creepiness of Jose Bea's art before, and "Heir Pollution!" offers another good example of how he can fill even a seemingly innocuous panel with shadowy dread. As in the story right before it, there's nothing surprising or original about John Wooley's narrative, but Bea's panels elevate the expected to something bizarre.

"The Caterpillars"
There's a secret government lab way below the streets of Manhattan, where scientists are working on modern warfare. Just as he's about to give an update, Professor Keys collapses, so Agent Grafton is dispatched from Washington to investigate. Something horrible emerges from the professor's grave and kills the gravedigger and, when another doctor drops dead at the secret lab, a doctor finds that one of "The Caterpillars" had burrowed into and started eating his brain. Soon, Agent Grafton discovers the caterpillars taking over the lab and sets it on fire to try to eliminate them. He manages to escape with his life and return to D.C., but his boss reveals that he sent Grafton to the lab to eliminate him. His boss turns into a giant caterpillar and finishes the job.

The classic pattern is followed in Fred Ott's story and it is surprisingly satisfying, mainly due to Luis Garcia's spooky art--am I starting to repeat myself? Story after story either falls below or just meets the requirements of readability, and their relative success is measured by the quality of the illustration. Garcia draws a great caterpillar and the corpses pile up, but the end is just too much of a cliche.

Way out in deep space, a ship encounters a "Derelict" and investigates, only to find a big hole blown in the dead ship's hull and nobody on board. One by one, the investigating crew members are picked off and killed by an invisible enemy until the captain flees back to his own ship, where everyone is dead. He does not seem to realize it and thinks they're all missing.

At least, that's what I THINK happens in this story. It's all a bit hard to follow. Once again, I like the art. Paul Neary's work here reminds me of something I'd see at Charlton several years later, perhaps resembling early John Byrne work, with lots of Zip-A-Tone.

"The Safest Way!"
Big, fat, cigar-chomping General Clinton J. Simmons paces back and forth in his office, while idealist Doug Hindley visits representatives of a radical group in the rubble of Detroit, trying to talk them into working with the system rather than against it. General Simmons recalls a similar do-gooder from several years before, who turned into a revolutionary himself, and orders Hindley's death.

Steve Skeates must have been hanging out with Don McGregor and Doug Moench in the Warren cafeteria one day when he got the idea for "The Safest Way!" It's seven pages long but lacks any semblance of plot; instead, it contrasts two cliched characters and ends predictably. Fortunately, the word count is well below one of Don or Doug's preachy efforts, and the art is impressive. I wish some of the hard work these artists were doing was in service of better tales!

It's brain vs. brawn when Dax comes into conflict with the "Chess" Master of the Universe! Dax's pieces are people from his past brought back to life, while the Chess Master's pieces are monsters. As pieces are moved on the board, battles are fought among the flesh and blood representatives. Dax plays poorly and is about to lose when he grabs his sword and intervenes to save his father. The Chess Master has a fit and zaps Dax back to his real world, where he finds his father's severed head on the ground.

Dax needs to read a chess book!
A simple, straightforward story, "Chess" has the usual gorgeous Maroto art and follows the most likely progression of the character Dax, who can't handle a game that requires thinking and thus resorts to violence. I was expecting a corny twist where Dax suddenly outsmarts the Chess Master, so I was pleased that Maroto avoided that outcome. This issue of Eerie features mediocre writing but terrific art, starting with that stunning Sanjulian cover.-Jack

Peter-Until the "hidden message" became apparent and Kevin Pagan decided to preach about the sins of immortality dreams, I was all on board for "Warped." Why couldn't Kevin have fought the urge to make his unnerving trip into something more literate? This is good Grandenetti, with the requisite distorted features and equally distorted panel borders. "West Coast Turnaround" has a meandering, schlocky EC vibe to it but it's not one of Tom Sutton's best. Still, that final panel is a keeper. "Heir Pollution!" works itself up to a 100% predictable solution with its admirable, if a tad too preachy, message.

"The Caterpillars" is a good, old-fashioned Lovecraftian horror story (obviously taking a page from The Tingler as well) that's best when you don't slow down to think things through (how did an infestation that spilled out into the streets of Washington not become news in other cities?), with some decent art by Garcia. Though I dug the way-out art of Paul Neary, I couldn't make heads or tails of the script for "Derelict." What exactly was attacking the crew? Was that the whole point, to keep the reader in the dark? Steve Skeates mines the same abstract territory but, whereas "Derelict" was simply foggy, "The Safest Way!" is obviously trying to say something without actually saying anything. Is General Simons a thinly-disguised Hoover? Or Nixon? He looks more like Agnew, actually. With no proper climax to speak of, this is awful, pretentious crap.

Dax Chapter Three is more of the same. Insanely gorgeous art but not much of a story to speak of. I guess the warrior's chance to bring all of his friends and family back from the dead is an interesting starting point but, once Dax fails, will the psychological ramifications be explored or tossed away?  My question for Esteban would have been: Is Dax heading somewhere? Is there a goal? Or is he just bouncing from one nightmare to the next? I have no problem looking at the pretty pitchers but I sure wouldn't mind reading the words as well.

Ron Cobb
Creepy #47 (September 1972)

"The Land of Bone" ★1/2
Story by Buddy Saunders
Art by Esteban Maroto

"Mark of the Phoenix!" ★1/2
Story by T. Casey Brennan
Art by Reed Crandall

"The Law and Disorder" 
Story by Dennis P. Junot
Art by Luis Garcia

"The Eternity Curse" 
Story by John Thraxis
Art by Martin Salvador

"Point of View" 
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Luis Dominguez

"This Burden--This Responsibility"
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Jerry Grandenetti

"Futurization Computation!" 
Story and Art by Bill DuBay

"The Beginning!" ★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Tom Sutton

"The Land of Bone"
Costan the Warrior (second cousin to Dax) seeks to rescue his beloved Aruna from the dastardly Poxxalt and, along the way, enlists the aid of a living skeleton, Wikkander the Wizard. The Wizard agrees to help the barbarian find his girlfriend in return for the ring that Aruna wears on her finger. Together they fight golems, skeletal bats, and a giant tentacled creature before finally meeting up with and defeating the evil Poxxalt.

Alas, Aruna is nothing more than a pile of bones. When Costan removes the ring from Aruna's finger, he disintegrates into a skeleton and Wikkander becomes a handsome young man once again. He explains to the warrior's skeleton that the ring is magical and that it kept Costan alive and searching for Aruna for three hundred years. Aruna rises from the slab, a gorgeous babe in chain-mail. Other than a downbeat ending, this is nothing more than a Dax story, written by Buddy Saunders rather than Maroto. 90% of these fantasy tales have the same set-up and the same beats and "The Land of Bone" is no different in that aspect, so let's just be happy that it was assigned to Esteban so that we can at least have something vibrant and exciting to gaze at. It's no worse nor better than Dax. It just is.

"Act now and receive, completely free,
a set of Ginsu steak knives!"
Matt Worthing is shot in a drug deal gone bad and the doctor delivers the bad news: Matt has only months to live. Unable to give up that easily, Matt searches for alternatives to death and finds one in an old book (the Crimson Chronicles, perhaps?); he calls to the great Phoenix for help. The bird appears, informs him that he can have eternal life, but there is a price: every ten years the Phoenix will reappear and conduct a trial by fire. The big bird explains that the ritual is quite painful, but Matt only hears the words "eternal life" and agrees. The Phoenix swoops down on the young man and burns his body to a crisp; Matt rises a while later, thinking that was a heck of a lot more painful than he thought it would be.

The eternal dope then spends the next ten years of his life dreading what's to come and, on the tenth anniversary of his deal, imagines the bird winging its way toward him. He runs into a factory and falls into a vat of molten steel, effectively ending his bargain with the Phoenix. A laborer snickers and wonders why a simple pigeon scared the dead man so much. T. Casey dispenses with the usual moral (unless you read between the lines and see that eternal life ain't all it's cracked up to be and we should be happy with the time we have...) and simply turns the "dopey" spigot on full blast. My favorite part of this dirge is when the Phoenix outlines his/her rules of the bargain. I imagined the monologue delivered at 100 mph like the "legal fine print" delivered at the end of a radio commercial. That was the only smile I managed during this mess. This is not vintage Reed Crandall, by the way. A lot of it looks rushed, which is a shame, since it's been quite a while since we saw Crandall in these parts.

"The Eternity Curse"
To avenge the "murder" of his father by the board of directors of "Whatever" University, Chuck Cohen crafts a "disintegrator beam" weapon he's convinced the board will learn about and use. They do. "The Law and Disorder" is just about the most indecipherable script we've read in a long, long time. There's no real flow to the narrative and it doesn't help that Luis Garcia's graphics seem to be telling a different story at times.

In ancient Egypt, King Set-Dak is the victim of a coup of sorts and is cursed with wandering through eternity, sucking the souls from the unfortunate who make their way into the desert. Five thousand years later, an American bomber crew crashes in that desert and the survivors are picked off, one by one. As each victim is claimed, the cadaverous Set-Dak regains his handsome features and heads for Egypt in search of more food.

"Point of View"
"The Eternity Curse" has a familiar plot but both writer John Thraxis and artist Martin Salvador seem to ignore that they're treading old ground and attempt to add a new coat to the peeling paint. The sight of Set-Dak shambling through the sand is truly creepy and the helplessness of the crew is palpable. Heck, maybe after the first three stories, I was just looking for anything readable. "The Eternity Curse" might be an apt label for what Jack and I do around here. The mysterious John Thraxis penned only two scripts for Warren, this one and "Derelict" in Eerie #41.

In "Point of View," Steve Skeates posits that there is a "secret figure" who plots accidents and occurrences and only the insane can see him. Our main protagonist attempts to stave off a fatal hit-and-run but draws the ire of the "secret figure" (in the guise of a kindly old woman). There's the germ of an interesting idea buried here, but the brevity of the story prevents Skeates from exploring further. The finale is abrupt (there's not even the obligatory Uncle Creepy sign-off), giving me the impression that Skeates was told he had a six-page slot to fill and that was that.

Lotsadough University has spent a gazillion dollars on its all-new computer system, but the change is paying off in dividends. The students are showing up to their classes in droves, unaware that the gorgeous new teachers are actually... the new computers! "Futurization Computation" is a harmless and cute three-pager (a page length that's unheard of in a Warren comic) with a very funny final panel, but I really want to know what Don McGregor thought of it.

In a futuristic, computer-driven world, a businessman must contend with mind-numbing office work, connected to hard drives and secretaries who take dictation through thought waves, while his wife wastes her day tripping out. "This Burden--This Responsibility" is an extremely hard story to synopsize; it's got weird, Philip K-Dick-esque nuances that really can't be described. Most Warren science fiction leaves me cold, but Skeates's clever horror story caught my attention fast and never let up. I would like to know what's going on in that last panel, though. Is the character pictured supposed to be Uncle Creepy? If so, why is the Creep's closing word balloon pointing outside the panel? Love love love Grandenetti's eccentric choreography and the wife's vacant smile; the fact that this woman has given up is written all over her face.

In a Dystopian future, war is no longer fought but soldiers police the streets, searching for and destroying monstrous mutants, creatures who were once human but became diseased, tentacled things after eating contaminated food. One soldier happens upon a striking woman and follows her back to her place, not realizing, until too late, that she's one of the mutations. Blahblahblah, never mind the noggin-scratching and predictable set-up, just revel in the Tom Sutton-penciled fungoid blobs with eyes.

On the "Creepy Book Reviews" page, Bill DuBay has a look in the rear-view mirror at the biggest influence on Warren comics, EC, with his review of Nostalgia Press's seminal Horror Comics of the 1950s, a book that kicked off the 1970s EC craze.

There's an odd story behind the cover, a reprinting of Ron Cobb's cover for Famous Monsters #43 (see below). Sanjulian's painting didn't arrive before the deadline and, in a mad scramble, Jim Warren evidently played "eenie meenie miney mo" with a stack of back issues. The Sanjulian piece would finally see the light of day on Eerie #123 but, oddly enough, you can catch a glimpse of it on the subscription page this issue! -Peter

Jack-Reading this issue of Creepy, and also this post's issues of Vampirella and Eerie, made me realize something with a pleasant twinge of nostalgia: the non-story parts of these mags are beginning to be more fun and interesting than the stories! The ads are filled with items that I would've wanted then and still want now, the letters page and fan pages are starting to include pieces where the writers and artists either speak directly to the readers, and the total effect is to start building a community of fans. As a result, one would be compelled to buy the magazine to find out what's happening with one's "friends," both fellow readers and creators.

The stories themselves continue to show much more talent in the art than the writing. I liked "The Land of Bone" best, mainly due to the team-up of the warrior and the skeletal sorcerer. "The Eternity Curse" was good until the letdown of an ending; I would have liked to see what Jose Bea would have done with this material. "The Beginning!" made me wonder if Sutton was becoming Warren's answer to Ghastly: his gross, decrepit creatures are unlike any other.

The rest of the bunch are forgettable. I agree that "Mark of the Phoenix!" features surprisingly poor work from the great Reed Crandall, while "The Law and Disorder" is an off-day for Luis Garcia. I kept looking for the missing last page in "Point of View," while the two computer stories were fairly interesting but nothing special. The most troubling thing about "This Burden" was the secretary's outfit, which made me wonder what Grandenetti would do with Vampirella.

Creepy 47

The original Cobb from Famous Monsters #43

Vampirella 18

Eerie 41

Next Week...
The exciting team-up that
just about no one requested!


Quiddity said...

I wouldn't be too worried about being in for a long haul with Brennan as the Vampirella writer; I think he only does 2 more stories before they find a replacement? "Kali" was at least a littler better than "Horus", but the Tomb of the Gods series continues to be a total mess story-wise. "Song of a Sad Eyed Sorceress" is for all intents and purposes McGregor (and Garcia) revisiting the story "Welcome to the Witches Coven" from a mere 3 issues ago. Both have this really odd take from McGregor where he takes feminism/male-female relations, goes to extremes by having a man killed, and then punishes the woman and has her killed or her body stolen. Absolutely awesome, spectacular art by Garcia here, but McGregor's driving me even more crazy here since he is now repeating the same general plot. "Won't Get Fooled Again", with its various twists and turns makes me think much of the type of stories that Bruce Jones will write (and Auraleon will draw many of) during the Louise Jones era in the late 70s.

I was a bit higher than you on "West Coast Turnaround" with its hilarious ending. "The Caterpillars" is essentially a redo of the story "Spiders Are Revolting" from an earlier issue of Eerie, which also had pretty good art by Tom Sutton, although hard to outdo the greatness of Luis Garcia whose art alone makes this story worth it. "Derelict" is just a so-so story but is notable for being Paul Neary's debut; he will do a ton of work for Warren including the well known "Hunter" series and is primarily used for sci-fi stories. I wonder why "The Safest Way" is even included in a Warren magazine as it has no horror element associated with it. "Chess" is one of the more well known Dax stories, and if I remember correctly is the one that gets the color treatment when most of the series is later reprinted in Eerie. Like you I'm quite happy that Dax sticks to character and doesn't do well at the game.

I agree that "The Land of Bone" comes off like a Dax story, but I really enjoyed it and found it quite a bit superior to the type of story we'll get from that series. "Mark of the Phoenix" reminds me of one of my favorite EC stories, "The Automaton" where a man repeatedly kills himself to escape an oppressive government only for the government to revive him time and time again, so he jumps into a vat of molted metal (only to get revived yet again, this time as a robot!). Unfortunately by this time Reed Crandall's art quality has deteriorated tremendously, if I remember correctly due to drinking problems. He'll do another half a dozen or so stories for Warren over the next year or two but none will have the quality we used to be able to expect from him. "The Law and Disorder" featuring campus rioting seems rather fitting considering the times we are in, but agreed, horrible story, and largely repeating themes we just saw in "The Safest Way". A real treat to have 3 stories drawn by Luis Garcia this time though. "This Burden This Responsibility" was a total mess storywise that I couldn't make sense of at all. I agree that it comes off as very much Philip K. Dick inspired. I think the intention for the last page was for them to paste in an Uncle Creepy image but they somehow forgot to do it before the issue went to the printers. "The Beginning" has always remained with me as a very memorable story, its hard to get out of my head the continuous flashbacks to our protagonist as a little kid wanting a spoon and that amazing final panel by Sutton.

The next issues are all reprints with the exception of a brief new Vampi story, as I read ahead, safe to assume you'll be covering the following issues as well next time?

Peter Enfantino said...

Yep, we'll do "double duty" or "time and a half." Typing out all those title names and "Reprinted from..." is a whole lot of work but someone's got to do it.

andydecker said...

Vampirella 18 is an unreadable mess. You know something is wrong if a Glut story becomes well told and straightforward. (Not that the conclusion makes sense, but still). TCB doesn't write dialogue, everybody only does speeches. The characters are all mentally imbalanced, every second page they do a 180 change. I love him, I hate him, I despair, no, I love him. A seemingly endless tale starring a deus ex machina. But the artwork is gorgeous.

Still it reads like a thriller compared to the really endless pretentious nonsense McGregor delivers. How a writer can sink a story like that if he has such nuanced artwork to work with is beyond me. What masterworks could have the Spanish artists have delivered if they had competent material to illustrate?

I thought the Moench tale also crap which didn't made any sense until I saw your scan. The folks at Dynamite managed to omit the page where the guys hacks Cates into pieces in their expensive reprint. Well done! Still it is a murder-plot which makes Coyote Ralph seem like a master strategist.

Love the Enrich cover though. It was used in Europe as a promo piece back then. It captures a potential of Vampirella only few stories could deliver.

The same could be said of the Sanjulian cover. It's breathtaking. Compared to the garbage on contemporary commercial covers this is a work of Art. I envy the guy who has the original on his wall.

Glowworm said...

I actually really love "The Land of Bone" because it brings a clever twist on the old chestnut "The main character was dead the entire time." The thing is, it's not the ring that brought Costan back to life, it's the sorcerer himself who's a descendant of Costan's brother. The ring was what was keeping Costan's beloved in an eternal slumber until he came to take the ring off her finger. Yet I digress, what makes it clever is that everybody in the story except for Costan is alive, it's just that we're looking through the long dead eyes of Costan who sees everyone as living skeletons because that's what he actually is.

Grant said...

The girl in "The Beginning" has a real Dolly Parton look, at least as far as the hair.