Monday, January 25, 2021

The Warren Report Issue 51: April 1974


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

Basil Gogos
The Spirit #1

"The Last Trolley"
Story by Will Eisner
Art by John Spranger, Bob Palmer, & Will Eisner
(Originally appeared on 3/24/46)

Story by Will Eisner
Art by Will Eisner & Jerry Grandenetti
(Originally appeared on 4/13/47)

"Li'l Adam"
Story by Will Eisner
Art by Will Eisner, Jules Feiffer, & Jerry Grandenetti
(Originally appeared on 7/20/47)

"The Criminal"
Story by Will Eisner
Art by Will Eisner & Jerry Grandenetti
(Originally appeared on 11/2/47)

"El Spirito"
Story by Will Eisner
Art by Will Eisner & Jerry Grandenetti
(Originally appeared on 2/1/48)

"The Last Trolley"
"The Killer"
Story by Will Eisner
Art by John Spranger, Bob Palmer, 
& Will Eisner
(Originally appeared on 12/8/46)

"A Granule of Time"
Story by Will Eisner
Art by Will Eisner & Jerry Grandenetti
(Originally appeared on 3/2/47)

"The Partner"
Story by Will Eisner
Art by Will Eisner & Jerry Grandenetti
(Originally appeared on 1/26/47)

Jack-Rather than summarize each Spirit story, Peter and I decided to write more generally about what is surely one of the greatest comics of all time! Of course, these stories weren't originally in comic books, they were published as color comic sections in Sunday newspapers in the forties and fifties. Instead of covers, they featured incredible splash pages that served the function of covers. The Spirit stories were reprinted in Quality Comics in the forties and then on and off up till 1974, when Warren brought out this wonderful magazine to reprint the best of the post-war Spirit tales.

"El Spirito"
The first issue is marvelous and leads off, oddly enough, with a cover by Basil Gogos rather than Will Eisner! Inside are eight stories, seven pages each, that show the brilliance of Eisner and his occasional ghost artists. In "The Last Trolley," a bank robber and near-killer practically goes mad while trapped on a trolley with what appear to be the Spirit and some dangerous criminals. The Grand Comics Database tells us that, while Eisner wrote every story, he had help with the art--this time, John Spranger and Bob Palmer lent a hand.

"Escape" tells of a jail break and what happens to some of the escaped convicts. It shows Eisner's incredible sense of movement within the panels and we see our first bad girl, who sports an impossible figure. We also meet Ebony, a young Black character who certainly presents a problem in 2020 with his exaggerated lips and dialect speech. 

"The Killer"

"L'il Adam" has some help from the great Jules Feiffer and backgrounds by Jerry Grandenetti; this spoof of popular newspaper comic strips of the day and their creators loses something over 70 years later unless the reader is very familiar with the Sunday funnies being satirized. "The Criminal" has a complex narrative structure that at first seems to be a lesson for some poor kids about idolizing criminals but quickly turns into the Spirit tracking down a dangerous criminal. One thing that becomes clear very quickly in these stories is that characters--including the hero--get beat up, shot, and sometimes die.

"El Spirito" is a triumph of noirish coloring by Richard Corben and includes our first sighting of the Octopus, the Spirit's nemesis whose face is never seen. We also get a Spanish ghost (who is real--not a trick) and another beautiful bad girl. "The Killer" is another complex moral tale of a loser who was a wartime hero but who comes back home to find himself a loser all over again. Eisner's clever use of point of view stands out here as we see some of the events from inside the character's head, framed by his eye sockets.

"The Partner"
Finally, "A Granule of Time" introduces Dr. Silken Floss, a beautiful female scientist who wears glasses and has medium-length hair, while "The Partner" wraps up the issue with another story where the Spirit is seemingly killed.

I remember being an 11-year-old kid in 1974 when these magazines started appearing at Ted's Smoke Shop, one of the places I bought funny books, and they blew my mind. I was lucky enough to see Will Eisner give a slide presentation at the New York Comic Con one year around that time and I have never forgotten it. I am really looking forward to rereading this series!

As Jack noted, we're doing something completely different with The Spirit. After all, how do you summarize the plots of these vignettes? "The Spirit gets in a jam and must punch his way out of odd situations with really weird but fascinating guest stars?" The first thing you notice (duh!) is the insanely imaginative splash pages, a then-unique facet of Eisner's story-telling that was borrowed down through the ages by a myriad of other "storytellers," notably Jim Steranko. Doesn't it seem as though Eisner's splash imagery actually moves while you gaze? And how about the fact that the star is usually the support act? The Spirit hardly even makes an appearance in "Escape!" If I had to pick a favorite from the eight stories in this debut, the nod would have to go to "El Spirito" for the Corben color, but then there's the goofy Mad Magazine-esque parody of fellow comic strips in "L'il Adam" and the bizarre POV panels of "The Killer" and... it's a buffet, is what it is. The only negative, to me, is that there's nary a trace of the classic Wally Wood run over the magazine's 16-issue life span. You'll have to dip into the Kitchen Sink years to get a look at those.

Vampirella #32

"The Running Red" ★1/2
Story by Mike Butterworth (as Flaxman Loew)
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"Black on White"★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Rafael Auraleon

"Harry" ★1/2
"Dead Run" ★1/2
Story and Art by Jeff Jones

"The Man Whose Soul Was Spoiling!"
Story and Art by Fernando Fernandez

"Just Like Old Times!" ★1/2
Story by Rich Margopoulos
Art by Ramon Torrents

After watching wheelchair-bound evil arms dealer Jabez Kruger ruin a man (and drive that man to suicide) at the roulette wheel, Vampirella sets a goal of bringing Kruger down. The next night, at the Village Rouge et Noir, Vampi meets a strange and attractive man known only as "The Traveller" and the two swiftly fall in love (as is our vampiress's wont in life). Vampi lets on that she has a yen to watch Kruger fail and "The Traveller" insists he will grant her this wish.

Turns out the stranger has made a "bargain" (it's never really clear whether this deal is with Satan or not, but let's assume...), several years prior, for his soul, and he's been given the gift of always winning at gambling. "The Traveller" sits down at the table and the cocky Kruger quickly challenges him to a game of "Red Against Black." Ten games later and Kruger has lost his entire fortune. He offers up his gorgeous assistant, Droga, in a last-ditch attempt to recoup his losses but, again, the stranger wins. As Vampi and her new beau leave the table, the angry weapons magnate orders his thugs to kill both of them and the hoods ambush the couple in an alley. Vampi drains them dry but not before "The Traveller" has been fatally stabbed. 

Droga, being a very high-strung woman, steers Kruger's wheelchair to a nearby spiked gate and officially ends their relationship. As he is dying, "The Traveller" explains to Vampi that his bargain did not include winning for "other than self-indulgence" and since he made it personal, the deal is done. He begins to age and begs his lover to drag him to his yacht. Vampirella sighs, pouts, and maybe sheds some tears as the man sets fire to his ship and goes up in flames. I can't stress this enough to those of you out there who would just love to get to know Vampirella better: not a good idea. This is issue 32, which means Vampi has probably had 32 "great loves," and most of them have been reduced to ashes. I really enjoyed this goofy adventure, despite some plot holes (where did Pen disappear to halfway through the story?) and the fact that nothing really happens. Like last issue's installment, "The Running Red" is all just purple prose and entertainment; nothing too strenuous. I also want to point out, yet again, how much Gonzalez's supporting cast look as though they were ghost-penciled by Mort Drucker.

A young man is convinced the stripper he's become obsessed with can change into a panther. And he's right. But, despite being warned off, the man continues investigating and soon ends up like similar interested parties: torn to shreds and lying dead in a festering suckhole of a city. Meanwhile, Pantha keeps changing back and forth, losing her clothes now and then, until she finally decides that it's a good idea to keep your clothes in a bus depot locker if you're going to transform into a killer panther. 

This is just so much dumb rolled into one ball. I almost feel like recently-crowned "All-Around Best Writer of the Year," Steve Skeates, wants to put Pantha on a "Year of the Feminist" poster and show what a hip dude he is. Problem is, while he's giving us a strong, independent woman (who likes to rip the throats out of anyone who shows interest), he's also playing the other side as well: A woman... no, more a girl... eighteen or nineteen... a piece of over-obvious beauty who had had just enough to drink so that her top-heaviness was getting the best of her... But put aside the hazy politics, "Black on White" is a chore to wade through. There's no obvious direction (Surprise! from the writer of Werewolf, Mummy, and Were-Mummy!) and the climax, where the unnamed pursuer imagines himself an African warrior (then you prepare for the fight, just as you have prepared for similar fights for century upon century...) and meets his obligatory end, would be comical if it wasn't borderline racist. The bread crumbs Skeates dropped in the previous chapter must have been eaten up by the slovenly rats that dwell within the cesspool of the city because they lead us nowhere in "Black on White." 

A pair of color quickies, both written and drawn by Jeff Jones, give a perfect example of why Jones was considered one of the masters of comic art (and later, paperback cover art) in the 1970s. "Harry" is the stuffed rabbit toy that a small girl lugs around with her through a forest. The girl delivers a monologue about bad parenting and winding up in a garbage can, with the aforementioned parents evidently burned to a crisp inside their home. The little girl jumps off a cliff, becomes a vulture ( I think), and then another little girl comes along to pick up "Harry." The protagonist of "Dead Run" races through a forest with an air hose attached to his face. In the final panel, we discover he's actually a space pilot, drifting, just before his air gives out.

Though the story in "Harry" is beyond my brain capacity and "Dead Run" has a climax we've seen before, both contain some stunning art. It's obvious why Jones didn't stick around comics very long. He (and later she) probably spent way too much time on craft to meet deadlines. Our loss. It says something about Warren's capacity to spot a real one of a kind talent that the color section was given over to two stories this issue by the same artist. I would assume Jones turned in the six-page "Harry" and was told to come up with a couple more pages to fill the eight-page slot, thus the much-too-short "Dead Run."

When all his men around him begin to complain of a really bad stench, mobster hit man Dino Armani realizes he's become "The Man Whose Soul Was Spoiling!" So, what to do when you're a powerful killing machine straight out of a Fernando Di Leo flick, but you smell like last week's socks that were left out in the rain and then pooped on by your neighbor's cat? Of course, you spend the remainder of your twelve pages of space rubbing out everyone who insults you, then kill yourself. Once again, Fernando Fernandez proves what a master craftsman he is as far as the art goes. The layout on some of the pages (the splash to the left, for instance) is astonishing, absolutely glorious. And then... there's his scripting. The plot is almost laughable, considering the hook of an assassin whose soul takes on a physical odor, but then FF has to throw in the pretentious nonsense in the final panels about how the smells all around him, of the corruption, the garbage, the futility of any but the bleakest of futures, become too much for a guy who's blown his girlfriend away for perceived adultery. And how come the other mafia goons don't reek? 

Doug comes home early from a business trip and finds his best friend Ritchie's car in his driveway. Jumping to the conclusion that Ritchie is not helping Doug's wife, Susan, bake a cake, Doug decides to kill both adulterers. He stabs his wife and buries her in the garden, then lures Ritchie to the Pine Barrens with a story of weird happenings. Unfortunately for Doug, the scary stuff going on is the work of an ancient demon known as Ta-Ra-Ka, who resides in the Barrens and is just itching for human sacrifices to get him back in the spirit of things. Ritchie's murder fills that need and Ta-Ra-Ka rises, claiming Doug as his latest victim. "Just Like Old Times!" is an apt title for a Margo script that's meandering and silly. Why plot an elaborate murder/disposal for Ritchie and then stab Susan to death in the kitchen, with a hasty burial under the tomatoes and green beans? Why not dump both out in the vast wasteland of the Barrens? Yet again, we're graced with lots of pretty pitchers with no energy left for the story.-Peter

Jack-In a weak issue of Vampirella, the Jones stories stand out as the best, almost entirely due to the art and the colors, which look to me like watercolors. In "The Running Red," Vampirella again falls hard for a handsome guy at first sight. What is with her? First there was Alastair, then the Sun God, and now this. She needs to be more discerning. And since when does her blood-lust break out in times of extreme stress? Flaxman Loew is changing the rules as it suits him and it's not welcome.

The Pantha series is yet another waste of space by Skeates, much like the Werewolf and Mummy series. The only thing worthwhile about it is the gorgeous art by Auraleon, who not only draws Pantha beautifully but also draws very funny faces for his background characters. It's almost a mix of naturalism and caricature. The story has almost no plot but at least Pantha leaves her clothes in a convenient place when she changes.

Fernando Fernandez makes "The Man Whose Soul Was Spoiling!" go on too long, and the story is one-note, more impressive to look at than easy to follow. This is the problem with a number of the Warren artists--they can draw nice pictures and interesting pages but their ability to tell a story in images is sometimes lacking. Finally, "Just Like Old Times!" is wretched; I wonder if Margopoulos was given the pages already illustrated and had to make up words that fit. I don't think he succeeded.

Eerie #56

"...There Was a Were-Mummy"★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Martin Salvador

Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Paul Neary

"Wizard Wagstaff"★1/2
Story by Jack Butterworth
Art by Richard Corben

"It Returns!"★1/2
Story  by Carl Wessler
Art by Enrique Badia Romero

"The Night of the Red Death"
Story by Gerry Boudreau
Art by Isidro Mones

Those ears are kind of cute.

Arthur Lemming's mind is now in a mummy's body, so he carries his human form over his shoulder and makes his way to America, where a group of men attack him and take his unconscious human body to an old wizard, who plans to transfer his own consciousness into the much-younger form. Perhaps he did not realize that "...There Was a Were-Mummy" on the loose, because said were-mummy interferes with the process just as the moon grows full and little furry ears pop out from under his wrappings. In all the confusion, it is not the wizard's consciousness that ends up in Arthur's body, but rather the consciousness of the wizard's hunchbacked servant, Throgmore, who taunts the mummy before riding away on horseback.

After two pages of recap, Skeates seems to suggest that the Mummy series and the Werewolf series are going to merge, but then he drops the thread of the other Mummy series and proceeds to make the Werewolf series even more ridiculous. It's not easy to keep up with all of the body and mind transferences here, but I'll try. The problem with every mummy story and movie has always been that mummies are slow and shambling and thus easy to outrun. How will the Mummy catch up with Throgmore? We will have to wait and see.

Hunter is wandering around, hoping to find his father and kill him, when he comes upon a castle. While investigating the dungeon, a demon stabs him with an infected spear and he awakens in a cell with a talkative old man and a couple of corpses. The old man reveals that there are not many demons left, Hunter's father is on the premises, and there is a ghost there by the name of the Blood Princess. Oh, and the old man's identity? He's the legendary demon hunter known as Schreck! A demon is killed outside the cell, the door opens, and Hunter and Schreck discover the Blood Princess and a nuclear missile!

Get outta here!

It's rare that a Warren story is better than its art, but that's the case in this installment of Hunter. Neary is aces at drawing backgrounds and at depicting Hunter with his space helmet on but not so hot at drawing human faces. No matter, the revelation that the old man is Schreck knocked my socks off! The discovery of the castle and its dungeon was intriguing and I'm looking forward to the next installment, though I wish Warren writers would quit relying on nuclear bombs so often.

Albert Tusk's dreams of becoming a rich dog food magnate are crushed when he is bitten by a were-poodle and turns into a big were-dog. He seeks a cure from "Wizard Wagstaff," who succeeds in turning him human again with a potion. Better still, Tusk discovered that were-dogs love his brand of dog food!

I wonder how much of this story was Jack Butterworth's script and how much was Richard Corben's fancy. The art is the usual goofy fun and the color is vivid, though the reproduction is not the best. In all, it's entertaining, but it seems a bit like Butterworth was trying to write like Corben but didn't quite have the same sense of humor.

Chet Keller appears at the home of his pretty cousin, Jan Foley, intent on marrying her and inheriting the fortune of her late Aunt Nora. He gets too pushy and she knees him in the groin. Just then "It Returns!" It is a walking corpse that appears whenever Jan is threatened. Chet is back the next evening; he knocks Jan out and whisks her off to a ship docked nearby, pursued by It. The corrupt captain performs a shipboard wedding ceremony and Chet tosses Jan in the drink before returning to her house. Soon, there is a knock at the door, and It brings Jan back alive, a little wet but otherwise okay. It drags Chet to the cemetery and he is dead by the time It returns to its grave. It was Jan's cousin Timothy and It is determined to protect her.

Everything is relative, and for a Carl Wessler story, this is not bad. Romero's art is above average and keeps coming close to matching the style of one of the EC masters. My only concern is that the big surprise at the end falls flat, since the fact that It is Jan's cousin doesn't mean much. Still, the shambling corpse is well-drawn and welcome in these pages.

Richard Longmire, another of the jurors who convicted Dr. Archaeus, is a shabby character who likes to participate in illegal cockfights. Archaeus gets careless when he is watching Longmire in a pub and Inspector Sanford figures out his next target, but when the evil doctor is determined to get his victim, there's no stopping him! This time, the murder method involves a gift of flowers poisoned with drops of cholera. Sanford may not have saved Longmire, but he thinks he's discerned a pattern to the killings.

The Dr. Archaeus series is fun! I like Mones's photo-realistic art and I enjoy the different methods of killing off the jurors in each issue.

What I would really like to read is a discussion/history of the Warren mail order business, since I can't resist looking at the pages and pages of ads for books, posters, etc. in every issue. Does anyone know if there has ever been a detailed article about that?-Jack

Peter- "My mind can't take much more of this. It's too much like an endless maze with pitfalls and double-starts everywhere...!" Brotha, I feel ya. The problem with the Werewolf/Mummy/Were-Mummy series is that it's become so ludicrous and laughable that the genuine bits of clever humor are lost in the detritus (after his human body is stolen, Lemming-Mummy muses, "Well. Well... they're heading in the same direction I was going... alright! Let them carry the damned thing for a while!"). What are the chances that someone out there just happens to be looking for a body to transfer his (whatever) into and along comes a mummy carrying a body he hopes to transfer his (whatever) into? Extra half-star credit to Skeates for stealing the plot of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf-Man, complete with werewolf and hunchback, and making it just as lucid as that Universal feature.

This issue's Hunter is not bad but I question the Marvel-style Schreck cross-over. Isn't there enough confusion going on in this series? "Wizard Wagstaff" doesn't measure up to the previous Corben Creature Comedies but that's probably due to the fact that Rich didn't write this one. The humor is strained and the one-liners are groan-worthy but the art is Corben and Warren seems to have worked out the color problems for now. "It Returns!," an unnecessary sequel to Tom Sutton's classic "It!" (from Creepy #53), is missing both Sutton's humor and his art. Badia Romero's splash is fine and dandy but the rest of the strip looks as though it was ghosted by Jack Sparling. The latest Doctor Archaeus is slow-paced but still entertaining. Since there are only four more installments to be published (and nine jurors to kill), either the Doc will have to start dispatching his victims a little more rapidly or the series will leave us hanging. Stay tuned.

Next Week...
This ain't no Arthur Lemming!


Anonymous said...

Jack: i agree 100 percent about the Captain Co. ads. When I first discovered the Warren mags, the ads in the back pages had nearly as much impact as the art and stories. Unlike the ads in Marvel’s black and white mags (I’d bought an issue or two of PLANET OF THE APES and DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU before stumbling upon a copy of the mighty EERIE #59 at the neighborhood grocery store) the Captain Co. pages were a rich, tantalizing, intoxicating catalog of wonders. It was a stroke of genius on Jim Warren’s part to take a ‘bespoke’ approach to the advertising pages, rightly guessing that fans who liked the creative content in his mags would also be likely be inclined to spend money on similar items featuring monsters and superheroes and pretty girls — monster masks, model kits, books, posters, Super 8 movies, record albums, etc.

The reproduction quality was just good enough that the tiny postage-stamp sized images had enough clarity to make a vivid impression. I would spend hours just staring at the Back Issue pages — holy cow, a teensy-weensy little thumbnail of EVERY SINGLE PREVIOUS ISSUE — oh how I coveted them!

Even the ads for other Warren mags on the inside and back covers are glorious. I’m looking at the ads in VAMPI #32 announcing the SPIRIT mag. It’s lavishly illustrated with Eisner panels, nicely laid out, and with excellent use of stylish typography and color. Sure beats the crap out of the usual ads for Body-building and Kung Fu/Karate mail-in courses! Whatever other faults Bill Dubay may have had, the man definitely had an eye for upscale graphic design. Marvel’s House Ads usually looked like they were assembled at the eleventh hour by whoever happened to be in the Bullpen that day.


Quiddity99 said...

Alas, the Spirit is one of the rare Warren mags I never got into and don't own any copy of so I'm unable to offer any commentary!

Can never take Vampi's stories that seriously, but this one ain't a bad one; Flaxman Loew continues to write Vampi stories that fit her pretty well even if they aren't great stories. Auraleon's art continues to be great, but Pantha is already starting to run a bit stale with its premise. On the bright side I'm pretty sure next time is its last entry until the series is revived in a year or so. Some great art from Jeff Jones and we're fortunate enough to have some more work from him coming up. "The Man Whose Soul Was Spoiling" is more Fernandez quality work and shows he can pull off comedy as well as seen by a few segments in the story where people start smelling the odd stench coming off our protagonist. A little bit pretentious yes, but still great stuff in my eyes. He takes the next couple of issues off before returning with his best story (one of Warren's best stories, period). "Just Like Old Times" is a rather iffy story, but some great scary artwork from Torrents. A weaker than usual cover for this issue although I think the original painting it was taken from was a lot smaller than Enrich's usual work.

The Werewolf series continues to get more and more ridiculous with Arthur's body being stolen and riding away. On the bright side, Skeates has indeed merged the Mummy and Werewolf series at this point and this completely absurd series takes several more issues off before returning. As Hunter starts nearing its conclusion we have a fairly strong story, and what is, along with the Werewolf/Mummy series the earliest attempt at making the various Eerie series part of a shared continuity. "Wizard Wagstaff" is a bit too goofy for my tastes, but great Corben art as always. "It", originally a stand-alone story, gets revived here as a series with not much continuity with the original (where all "It" wanted was its teddy bear!). Romero's art is quite good although I think this is his only Warren story. Dr. Archeus continues to be the best thing in Eerie with another solid story and great art from Mones. The closest I can think of to a discussion of Warren's Captain Company stuff is an interview with Flo Steinberg in The Warren Companion, she was responsible for running the day to day operations of it for a few years.

andydecker said...

Is this the Flo Steinberg of Marvel fame, Stan Lee's secretary? She worked for Warren later? Who would have thought.

I have fond memories of the Captain Company. Not one thing was avaiable here in Europe at the time and just browsing the pages was a treat. The goods ranged from ridiculous – Battlestar Galactica bedsheets – to the great, books and posters. I ordered a few paperbacks of the Dracula Horror Series which I still own today and the unforgettable Vampirella poster which I sold a decade later (which was idiotic and I still can't believe I did it). It was the first time I ordered internationally. That was a gamble at the end of the 70s and complicated. You had to send a international money order which took 6 to 8 weeks to arrive at the foreign address. After three months the parcel arrived. (And it still cost less than today's prohibitive postage which killed any foreign ordering as far as I am concerned.) After that nice experience I ordered often in the US, from the Pinnacle Book Service to Mile High Comics or Mark Ziesing. Good times.

Flaxman Loew is a cheeky pseudonym. Naming himself after the stuffy occult detektive Flaxman Low of the Heron's from the 1890s, either a novel idea or the finger. I am not a big fan of his work, but compared to many of the later stories it is not great but professional work. But the Vampirella falls in love between two panel borders has become tiresome. Without Gonzalez this would just be terrible.

I still like "Pantha" more than you guys. Maybe it is the well-done art again which has this gritty 70s New York feel. One expects Popeye Doyle just lurking behind the next streetcorner. The rest of the art in this issue is excellent as well. Even if the stories are weak.

Again I am no fan of this month Eerie. To incorporate Schreck into Hunter makes as much sense as does the were-mummy. Dr.Archileus still does nothing for me. But I had to smile about Corben's story. Seeing him doing a Warner Brother cartoon is fun.

Jack Seabrook said...

I look forward to the Mondays when the Warren posts go live so I can read all of the great comments! Those Captain Company ads are STILL tempting.

Quiddity99 said...

Yes, the same Flo Steinberg who worked for Marvel! She was at Warren for around 10 years or so running all the day to day for Captain Company, starting in 1972.

It is still a very long way away (not until Louise Jones is editor), but Jim Stenstrum will eventually do a hilarious story drawn by John Severin that is for all intents and purposes a parody of the Captain Company stuff, it is called "The Super-Abnormal Phenomena Survival Kit!". It comes off like the type of story you'd see in Mad (or Cracked, which Severin did a lot of work for). Supposedly Jim Warren wasn't too happy at them making fun of their own stuff but still let it see print.

The Captain Company stuff always looked fascinating to me and would be right up my alley but I'm too young to have experienced it, not having been born until Warren was about to go bankrupt.

Anonymous said...

Quiddity : Oh, rub it in, why dont’cha! Well, you’ve got good taste in comics for a wee tyke ;) And yes, the Stenstrum / Severin ‘S.A.P.S. Kit’ story is a gem.

I’d forgotten that Flo was in charge of running the Captain Co. for awhile. For whatever reason, I still have in my possession a typed postcard informing me that the HOUSE OF MYSTERY paperback i ordered from them was out of stock and asking if I could pick a substitute of equal value. Now I’m wondering if Flo herself typed it up — that would be kinda neat, if so.


Peter Enfantino said...

I had a subscription to Famous Monsters for about three or fours years (woulda been issues 81-125, thereabouts)but in all that time I only ordered once from Captain Company. It was a humdinger though. My mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas circa 1973 and I showed her the back issues page and explained I was missing everything pre-#68. She ordered them all for me! They didn't show up for three months but when I got that big white box (I still have it around here somewhere),full of something like 35 FMs, it was like Indiana Jones reaching for that statue in the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark! Did I mention it took them three months to ship it out? Better track record than Calvin Beck over at Castle of Frankenstein. I'm still waiting for the damn back issues I ordered in 1974.

Grant said...

I wonder if I'm the only one, but to me the cover of # 33 makes Vampirella look a lot like Marlo Thomas! I can almost hear her saying "Oh, Donald!"

I have a copy of The Spirit # 4, and judging by the letters page, "Ebony" caused a lot of controversy then as well.

The first thing I associate The Spirit with is an unsuccessful TV pilot from 1987 with the actor Sam Jones. Like so many superhero movies and shows and pilots, it took the Adam West BATMAN route, and made him a comical straight-laced kind of hero, fighting a lot of witty villains. That might not sound original, but it turned out to be pretty well-done.
(They solved the problem of Ebony by making him over into a wisecracking black kid in the Gary Coleman vein.)

Jack Seabrook said...

You're right, Grant, the way the eyes are drawn does make her look like That Girl, though I don't recall Marlo Thomas ever wearing a skimpy one-piece bathing suit quite like that. Thanks for alerting us to the letters page in Spirit 4. I'll keep an eye out for that.

Grant said...

I'm glad to help with that.

And if it can be found on YouTube (where I found it once) or elsewhere, that Spirit TV pilot is pretty entertaining. Again, it's entertaining in the Adam West BATMAN tradition (which not everyone goes for).