Monday, September 20, 2021

The Warren Report Issue 68: October-November 1975


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

Eerie #69

(Reprinted from Eerie #52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57)

Jack-With the new "Hunter II" series running in Eerie, it makes sense that they chose to rerun the entire "Hunter I" series as a summer special. Fitting in six stories required Warren to forego some of the usual features, such as the letters column; the six stories total 58 pages and that leaves room for 23 pages of ads.

Looking back at this series I see that I was impressed with its consistency. I gave each story either two and a half or three stars and liked Paul Neary's art. The bang-up final chapter is presented here in color, though the color doesn't add much to its effectiveness. One might question whether it was too soon to reprint stories that ran from November 1973 to June 1974 in the October 1975 issue, but I hope the Hunter II series will continue and keep the story going.

Vampirella #46

"The Origin of Vampirella"
(Reprinted from Vampirella Annual #1, but rewritten by Budd Lewis)

"Death's Dark Angel"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #12)

"Isle of the Huntress!"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #14)

"Monster Called Vampirella" 
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Zesar

The annual, as usual, contains one "new" story, this one made up of stand-alone panels eschewing, for the most part, dialogue and captions. The plot, such as it is, details the events after the shooting of Vampi and Pen at the airport. There's nothing new here so I question why Dube put the effort into crafting a story told entirely out of newspaper reports. "Monster Called Vampirella" would make a lousy newspaper story, I gotta tell you.

There are too many diversions the writer couldn't possibly know; further, why the hell would Adam pretty much confess his sins to the reporter as he does? This kid needs a better lawyer. The art by Zesar (in his Warren debut) is not bad, but the environment is static. There's no flow. Perhaps these panels were the artist's samples sent in to get a job or perhaps Dube's instructions were to read a bunch of back issues and then copy some of the panels. What "Monster Called Vampirella" succeeds at is confusing me even more; this series has no chronology to speak of.-Peter

Jack-Yes, it's an odd format for a new story, but on the whole this is a terrific issue. The cover is suggestive, with Vampi kneeling as a phallic spaceship heads for her nether regions. The interior includes a mere 19 pages of ads (including the back cover), which leaves room for three classic reprints and the new, color story. Budd Lewis rewrote "The Origin of Vampirella" from scratch. I compared the original to this version, and Lewis's story is much better. I gave "Death's Dark Angel" three and a half stars when I first read it and I gave "Isle of the Huntress!" four--both showcase Goodwin's skill as a storyteller and feature gorgeous art by Gonzalez. I'll admit that presenting "Monster Called Vampirella" as, essentially, illustrated captions is a strange way to frame a synopsis of events, but I hope that it means that the continuing story will finally move forward in the next issue. Vampirella's 1975 summer special is easily worth a buck and a quarter.

Creepy #74

"Vampires Fly at Dusk"
(Reprinted from Creepy #1)

"Curse of the Full Moon"
(Reprinted from Creepy #4)

"The Cask of Amontillado"
(Reprinted from Creepy #6)

"Hot Spell"
(Reprinted from Creepy #7)

"The Beast on Bacon Street"
Story by Budd Lewis
Art by Reed Crandall
(Originally appeared--with a different script by Bill Parente--in Eerie #24 as "Wrong Tenant")

(Reprinted from Creepy #11)

"The Squaw"
(Reprinted from Creepy #13)

"Frozen Fear!"
(Reprinted from Creepy #16)

"Keep Your Spirits Up"
(Reprinted from Creepy #25)

A nice package devoted to one of the greatest horror artists of all time, Reed Crandall, who had definitely seen better days (and more respect) in the 1960s Warren universe. His projects were few and far between by the mid-1970s, so it was nice to tip off a new generation that American artists weren't too bad either.

As noted, "The Beast on Bacon Street" has a completely new script and dialogue written by Budd Lewis. I have no idea why Dube decided this should be done since the other eight stories this issue are presented unmolested. Perhaps, with color, the editor thought it needed a more colorful script or maybe he was just pissed at original writer Bill Parente for some reason. Who knows? The art is still great and the story is still so-so.-Peter

Jack-I knew I had seen that story before! The GCD does not list "The Beast on Bacon Street" as a reprint. I got a real Homes & Watson vibe from it and loved the art, but the story wasn't much good either time. The rest of the stories range from mediocre ("Frozen Fear!) to outstanding ("Hot Spell") and I agree that it was great that Warren decided to fill the 1975 Creepy summer special with vintage Crandall.

The Spirit #10

"Heat" (7/15/51)
Story by Jules Feiffer
Art by Will Eisner

"Quiet!" (7/22/51)
Story by Jules Feiffer
Art by Klaus Nordling?

"Death is My Destiny" (3/4/51)
Story & Art by Will Eisner

"Help Wanted" (4/29/51)
Story by Jules Feiffer? & Klaus Nordling?
Art by Klaus Nordling & Jim Dixon

"The Origin of the Spirit"
Story by Will Eisner
Art by Will Eisner & Chuck Kramer
(Reprinted from The Spirit #1, Harvey, October 1966)

"Sound" (9/24/50)
Story by Jules Feiffer
Art by Will Eisner & Jules Feiffer

"A Time-Stop!" (1/7/51)
Story & Art by Will Eisner

"The Octopus is Back" (2/11/51)
Story & Art by Will Eisner

"Hobart" (4/22/51)
Story by Jules Feiffer?
Art by Will Eisner & Jim Dixon

"The Meanest Man in the World" (1/28/51)
Story by Jules Feiffer
Art by Will Eisner

I liked the double-whammy of "Heat" and "Quiet!" and wish that Warren would have run these things in chronological order from the get-go. I realize, as a Monday morning quarterback, that we never would have seen the entire run reprinted but I prefer it to the scattershot approach Will was taking. There's not much plot to "Heat/Quiet!" but I liked the whodunit aspect. These stories also reminded me that, as a young Spirit reader, I could never figure out why getting shot when you're already dead (and live in a cemetery) is such a big deal. Come to think of it, I still can't figure out that aspect of the character. He's always getting shot!

Luckily we get a reprinting of "The Origin of Spirit," which comes from the short-lived Harvey Comics version, to answer all my questions. Except that now I have another one: Denny Colt is shot, falls into a puddle of suspended animation juice and is buried alive a few days later. No one thought to embalm his corpse? Did they dig the bullets out of the body before burying him? But most important of all, how did Denny dig his way out of his coffin and then six feet up through a mound of dirt? I say he's really dead and he's a "Spirit!" Only two issues of the Harvey version were published, but each contained a brand-new Eisner Spirit story and seven color reprints, all for two bits!

Jack-Ten stories and 92 pages of Spirit fun for $1.50? A bargain! "Heat" made me think of poor Kitty Genovese, as the Spirit lies bleeding to death in an alley while everyone goes about their business and fails to notice his presence. "Quiet!" shows Eisner's genius for storytelling as it pivots from suspense to humor in the space of one panel. The rest of the stories are at least good, with the origin story getting top marks just because it's an origin story. Eight of the ten stories this time out are from 1951, which means that they were published late in the original newspaper run of the series. I suspect some of the GCD entries that give sole credit to Eisner may be incomplete; Jules Feiffer, Klaus Nordling, et al., seem to have been doing much of the work by this point. Still, the characters and concept are solid and even the most inconsequential stories are worth a look.

Eerie #70 (November)

"The Final Sunrise"★1/2
Story by Budd Lewis
Art by Jose Ortiz

"Goblin Thrust"
Story by Budd Lewis
Art by Paul Neary

"From the Cradle to the Grave"★1/2
Story by Gerry Boudreau
Art by Leopold Sanchez

"Crooked Mouth"
Story by Budd Lewis
Art by Gonzalo Mayo

"Oogie and the Junkers"★1/2
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Esteban Maroto

Coffin staggers into a Kiowa village and collapses. A village elder takes him in and, the next day, the Kiowa prepare for war with the white soldiers who are expected to arrive to remove them to a reservation. Coffin suggests a solution and leads three braves on horseback to meet a cavalry detachment and warn them of a bloodbath if they enter the village. The soldiers assume that the Kiowa braves are chasing Coffin and kill them; the cavalry men tell Coffin that they were not headed for the village and he returns with the trio of dead braves.

Coffin's next attempt to prevent war involves sending a letter warning of war if soldiers attack; the letter is delivered by a ten year old boy to a nearby fort, but the boy is killed and sent back out on horseback to meet Coffin. His efforts at peace having failed, Coffin leads the Kiowa to war against the soldiers. The soldiers are massacred and Coffin writes another letter, this time to a congressman, begging for help for the Kiowa.

Coffin leaves the village and rides to the location of the medicine man who had cursed him, only to find that the man has died. Realizing he has learned to live and respect life and thus can now die, Coffin lies down and lets ants cover his body, finally putting him out of his misery.

"The Final Sunrise" sure looks like the last entry in the Coffin series, and it's overwritten and maudlin. Budd Lewis fills the captions with flowery prose ("Never was Heaven so vacant, a throne so empty, or a man so alone") and the plight of the Kiowa is sad. At least Jose Ortiz delivers solid art, though Coffin looks incredibly haggard, thin, and worn out. I guess he's supposed to. This would've been a good story for John Severin to draw.

Karas is having a hard time righting the toppled-over Exterminator, but when a group of humans happen by, they assume he's a goblin wearing a helmet and capture him. Eventually they realize their error and team up to fight goblins. The Exterminator wipes out a tunnel of goblins, but the blond, hairy humans are all killed when an army of goblins appear. Karas and the Exterminator escape and continue the journey to kill Yaust.

"Goblin Thrust" starts out with an art mistake and never really recovers. On the splash page, Karas is not wearing a helmet and is clearly a human. On page two, he wears a helmet and is thought to be a goblin until someone thinks to remove his helmet. Paul Neary's art is usually better than it appears this time out; his weak spot seems to be drawing human faces and he is at his best when drawing machines or helmets.

By 2004, overpopulation has made the world a terrible place, and the U.S. government encourages anything that will result in a decrease in the number of living people. A spy calling himself Marshall Ames is sent to Los Angeles to foment violent revolution and infiltrates a rebel group. In time, the righteousness of their cause wins him over, but it doesn't matter when he and they are attacked and killed by raging cannibals.

Nice art by Leopold Sanchez is wasted on a story that goes nowhere. We've seen the dystopian future many times before at Warren and this seems like it is shaping up to be the first part of a new series until the main character dies on the last page. It's odd that the first page features "Code Name: Slaughter Five," since that name is never used again and the title of the story, "From the Cradle to the Grave," appears on page two. The story tries to shock--one character prefers a lesbian lover to no lover at all, since sex is outlawed; an old woman begs the protagonist to kill her; etc.--but in the end it's just another example of crystal ball gazing in 1975 that thankfully didn't come to pass.

After defeating the Moors in battle, El Cid brings back their leaders and puts them up as honored guests in his home. This angers an old man who thinks the Moors should be put to death. He visits a bar and announces to one and all that he wants to see the king to report El Cid's treachery, but he is quickly beheaded by "Crooked Mouth," who hates El Cid and proceeds to start a campaign of whispered gossip that soon reaches the king's ear. The king summons El Cid, who slays a monster during the journey. Arriving at the king's court, El Cid reveals the treachery of Crooked Mouth and kills the villain before explaining to the king why it's better to have the Moors as allies than enemies.

After an entire issue of El Cid not long ago, I thought we'd seen the last of the Spanish hero, but this new adventure is lavishly illustrated by Gonzalo Mayo and ends up being more enjoyable than I expected it to be. Crooked Mouth is a dastardly villain and does his best to smear El Cid, but our hero wins out in the end. I'm looking forward to more El Cid in future issues as long as Mayo is the artist.

On a salvage ship in outer space, Leroy prefers to spend his time consuming the adventures of Buck Blaster and lusting after Prunie, his beautiful shipmate. They explore a planet for material to salvage but find that it is exactly like a setting out of a Buck Blaster story. The planet is run by a creature that calls itself Oogie and loves the Buck Blaster show; it turns Leroy and Prunie into copies of Buck and his lady love, Thelma Starburst, so that they can act out Buck Blaster adventures for the creature's enjoyment. Leroy discovers that he likes the arrangement and sees it as a new Eden and himself and Prunie as Adam and Eve.

Bill DuBay packs each page of "Oogie and the Junkers" with caption after word-packed caption; there are so many words that I thought this story was much longer than the eight pages it spans. The humor is forced and corny and the Vonnegut reference (Oogie's real name is Kil Gore Trowt) is silly. Maroto gives it the old college try and the pages look good, but the effort expended in reading the whole thing isn't worth the trouble.-Jack

Peter Cushing drops by
the El Cid set.
Several years ago, I read all these Eerie series in order; that is, I read all the Coffins in one sitting, all the Daxes in one sitting, etc. I think that was easier on my brain than this time around when I'm reading whole issues because I can't keep track of where one character is from issue to issue. The Coffin series ends in a highly anticlimactic fashion ("Yeah, I've had enough, so I'll lie down and let the ants pick my bones clean!") but then I was never invested in the character or Lewis's plots anyway. 

I'm glad Jack is the man responsible for synopsizing the "Hunter" series as each new installment becomes more and more vague. I assure you I read the entirety of the latest chapter but I'm damned if I know what it was about. Lots of hip 21st-Century machine lingo and not much else. There's a big battle that wipes everyone out in the climax and, oddly, Budd decides to have it play out "off-panel." 

"From the Cradle to the Grave" is borne from that great science fiction trope of the late 20th Century, overpopulation but, whereas Soylent Green was a scary and thought-provoking nightmare, "From the Cradle" is a schmaltzy and meandering fragment of an idea. Here's this hardened assassin who falls for the female rebel at the drop of a "We really want to help mankind!" Sheesh.

Much better is "Crooked Mouth," a dense and well-plotted mythological gem (and this from a guy who coulda done without that whole issue of Cid) with some stunning art by Mayo. My only problem with Mayo's art is that Cid looks like a Backstreet Boy rather than a fearless warrior. "Oogie and the Junkers" is a dumb sci-fi parody that elicited nary a giggle nor even a half-smile. Dube is awarded the 1975 Warren Award for dopiest title of the year. 

Creepy #75 

"The Escape Chronicle" ★1/2
Story by Budd Lewis
Art by Jose Ortiz

"Phantom of Pleasure Island" ★1/2
Story by Gerry Boudreau
Art by Alex Toth

Story by Bruce Bezaire
Art by Rich Buckler & Wally Wood

"Death Expression" ★1/2
Story by Jim Stenstrum
Art by John Severin

Story by Jim Stenstrum
Art by Neal Adams

In an unspecified future, Bernard Kedward walks home from his job as a "readings inputter" and hears the unmistakable sound of music emanating from a nearby apartment building. Knowing that music is illegal, Bernard is intrigued and investigates. What he finds is a free-wheeling hippie named Charlie Podge, who makes his own wine and dreams of escaping the city in a balloon.

Charlie talks Bernard into accompanying him on his journey and the two men build a balloon out of flags, but the cops get wind of the plot and follow Bernie back to Charlie's place. Bernie attempts to board the balloon as it's rising but a cop holds on to his legs and he watches as Charlie sails away on the wind.

"The Escape Chronicle" is entirely too long at 18 pages and continuously seems to sway drunkenly between Elia Kazan drama and Coca-Cola commercial. Despite all its pretension and Bradbury riffs, the story still kept my attention and, in the end, I was entertained. I remember being more touched (and not just in the head) when I was fourteen and read this for the first time. I can picture Budd Lewis, reclining in his plush Warren office, thinking he could win a Warren award if that stupid Eiffel Tower thing won one and pumping out the script for this one. In fact, even though it makes no sense, I think the cover is one of Ken Kelly's more powerful paintings. But how was Charlie able to pump loud music out of his apartment window without getting busted? We'll get to the (as I recall) inferior sequel in a few months.

There's a killer stalking the Pleasure Island amusement park and it's up to private dick Hubb Chapin to catch the menace before another murder. Alas, his first day on the job is not a good one, as Chapin witnesses a little girl catch a bullet between the eyes and park owner, Jonathan Norwood, is less than pleased with the bloodstains in front of the carousel.

Norwood offers up two suspects: competitor Graham Short and former employee (and embezzler) Abel Gerber. Norwood allows how a third suspect might be himself, since the amusement business has seen better days and Norwood is losing his shirt. Norwood's wife concurs. Shortly thereafter, a young couple is found murdered in the Tunnel of Love and Chapin spots Abel Gerber fleeing from the scene. The gumshoe chases the man into a train ride but, after the train emerges from a dark tunnel, Gerber is found dead.

Exiting the train, Chapin bumps into suspect number one, Graham Short, but the businessman explains that he's here at the park to sell out to Norwood. Just then, Norwood approaches and a shot rings out from a neighboring rooftop. Chapin tries to push both men to safety but the bullet catches Norwood in the head and he dies. The detective heads to the roof, where he finds the hooded phantom still waiting. The figure removes its hood, revealing Mrs. Norwood beneath. She explains that the park became a noose around her and her husband's necks and that she began the murder spree to force a closure. Dejected over her husband's death, Mrs. Norwood throws herself off the roof.

Talk about a change of pace. How about a Spicy Mystery pulp story, starring a grizzled old Bogie? "The Phantom of Pleasure Island" is not ground-breaking but it does produce a whole lot of smiles (at least from this grumpy comic book reader), thanks to its noir atmosphere and picture-perfect graphics. No other artist could have pulled off the realization of this era and the unceasing grim atmosphere. Yes, it's grim, but it's also a hoot; a violent Scooby-Doo episode. Since both stories spotlight the actions of a sniper, you could say this is the Yin to the "Thrillkill" Yang. And an extra half-star for Mrs. Norwood's impossibly big bow tie!

After nuclear war "alters" our planet's orbit, Luther and his nephew must contend with the freezing cold, hunger, and the threat of cannibals. When Luther is forced to commit murder, the idea of cannibalism becomes a bit easier to stomach (pun intended). "Snow" is little more than a vignette, with sparse details, but the art is not bad. I don't see much Wood in there but Buckler's always been a dynamic illustrator (see Deathlok the Demolisher for proof). Luther's pose on the splash looks straight out of a Marvel funny book. 

Throughout the revolution, Carlos Perez backed his friend, Major Baccado, and when the tyrant General Benedico was toppled, Carlos accepted the job of "vice-dictator" and swore to protect and serve Baccado, the new dictator. But the mass executions of the local villagers, farmers, and shopkeepers, people who could not pose a threat to the new dictator, cast a shadow of doubt over the new leader. When Baccado captures Benedico and has him dragged to a grand party for a public execution, he demands that his second-in-charge deliver the killing bullet. Sickened by the violence, Carlos refuses and immediately becomes a pariah. 

There's a head-scratching twist right about then that's better read than read about. I'm not sure it works but I'll give writer Jim Stenstrum extra credit for not going the usual route (Don McGregor: "He's the harbinger of pollution!" Doug Moench: "He's a poet!" Carl Wessler: "He's a ghoul disguised as a vampire!") and throwing an EC-esque curveball instead. With "Death Expression," Stenstrum literally writes a novel; the captions are dense but avoid pretension and vacuous thought. Jim's telling an interesting story (or an interesting set-up at least) and I was all in. Until that moment. The Severin art is gorgeous; his detail crowds each panel almost as much as Stenstrum's words.

17-year-old Bobby Lang climbs to the top of a Seattle rooftop and begins picking off pedestrians below. After nine kills, Bobby surrenders to a hail of bullets. Ever since beginning this journey, there were a few stops along the way I wasn't looking forward to. One of them was "Thrillkill." It's been a couple decades since I last read Jim Stenstrum's and Neal Adams's acclaimed commentary on society. Would it hold up? Was it like a lot of these old Warren stories and better left to memories? 

I can safely (and sadly) say that "Thrillkill" is even more relevant in the 21st Century than it was in the last. This has become old hat. The only difference between Stenstrum's gripping and frightening plot and today's weekly mass shootings is that the author provides some kind of motive for Lang's actions (true, those motives have been hijacked by lots of nuts since 1975) rather than the rote "He was just an angry guy" excuses we get today.

"Forget it, Jake, it's Pleasure Island"

I'm not here, though, to provide social commentary; I'm just here to rate the stories. "Thrillkill" has always been at or near the top of any "Best Warren Stories of All Time" list and I'd put it in the top five at least on mine (we've got a ways to go before I can put these things in order). Neal Adams (in his final contribution to the Warren mags) provides dazzling graphics that avoid the sensational aspects of a mass killing; no brains splattered on the sidewalk. Yep, it's similar to Peter Bogdanovich's classic Targets but not a rip-off. "Thrillkill" provides even more proof, to me, that Jim Stenstrum might have been the best writer Jim Warren ever hired -Peter

Jack-I thought "Thrillkill" was bleak, nihilistic, and a waste of the talents of Neal Adams. It reads like a catalog of mid-'70s malaise. My favorite story in the issue is "Phantom of Pleasure Island," for all of the reasons you mentioned. The '30s setting, the private eye, Toth's always-creative page design--even the lettering and word balloons are good! This is above-average storytelling for a Warren mag. I saw more Wood than Buckler in "Snow," but I guess that's just me seeking Wally Wood wherever I can find him. The storytelling was weak in this story and in most of this issue. "The Escape Chronicle" was long but interesting and too wordy, just like "Thrillkill." There were so many words in "Death Expression" that they overwhelmed the fine art by John Severin, who doesn't seem to have lost his touch in the 20-plus years since he was drawing for EC. For a special issue #75 this wasn't bad--it really sums up most of the run of Creepy with not great writing and much better art.

Corben & Wrightson
Comix International #2

"The Raven"
(Reprinted from Creepy #67)

(Reprinted from Creepy #68)

"Forgive Us Our Trespasses"
(Reprinted from Eerie #62)

"The Circus of King Carnival"
(reprinted from Vampirella #39)

"The Winged Shaft of Fate"
(Reprinted from Vampirella #40)

"The Manhunters"
(Reprinted from Eerie #60)

(Reprinted from Creepy #73)

(Reprinted from Vampirella #45)

"The Beast on Bacon Street"
(Reprinted from Creepy #74)

"The Muck Monster"
(Reprinted from Eerie #68)

Jack-Yet another all-reprint issue! It looks great, the entire thing in full color, but the quality of the stories is inconsistent and some of them were just published a month or two before. We get three by Corben, the best being "Forgive Us Our Trespasses," a couple of duds by Maroto, some fine work by the great Wally Wood, a beautiful story by Wrightson, and miscellaneous tales by Ortiz, Garcia, and Crandall. The oldest is from September 1974, so it seems like Warren scooped up ten color stories from the last year or so and put out another magazine to make completists part with ... how much? I don't see a price anywhere!

Next Week...
The lady means business!


Anonymous said...

This batch of issues are special to me, for nostalgia reasons. The Hunter Reprint Special was the first issue of EERIE I’d seen in the wild since the Dax Summer Special a year before. I hadn’t read any of the Hunter stories originally, so getting them all in one pop (with the finale in garish WarrenColor) was a Summer Treat.

I had NEVER seen an issue of CREEPY in the wild, but had acquired two earlier issues (#3 and #9) in a trade with a school chum. So this was my first ‘Current’ issue — kinda. I hadn’t seen any of the stories in the All Crandall Special before and while liked his art in general, I found this issue a little too much of a good thing.

I HAD managed to buy a few issues of VAMPI in the months leading up to this group, and #46 starts off well, with one of Kelly’s few covers featuring the character, but as with the All Crandall CREEPY, I thought an entire comic filled with Gonzales art (and one weak Zesar job) got a bit monotonous. The art on the ‘re-told’ Origin story was noticeably superior to the earlier stories, to my 14-year-old eyes, at least.

More in a bit (my Wi-if has been cutting out unexpectedly lately, don’t wanna have to re-type this whole thing)…


Anonymous said...

I bought EERIE 70 and CREEPY 75 at my beloved Cork N Bib Liquor store on two consecutive weeks, my first current, non-reprint issues of either title, so they’re always joined as a pair in my memory. Also, they both have gorgeous covers, and I appreciated that though each was only 68 pages, they had square spines like the oversize Summer Specials, which gave them an extra little touch of class.

Re-reading them both recently, CREEPY 75 holds up much better than EERIE 70. Coffin never lived up to his potential, IMHO, and this last story was kind of a anticlimactic downer, par for the course with this character. Hunter II was a rather ho-hum sequel to the original series, with a bland replacement lead character. Teaming him up with the Exterminator helps a bit, but not enough. Neary’s art was getting a little clunkier by this point too. ‘Slaughter Five’ was typical 70s downbeat dystopia, with nice Sanchez art. Not a fan of Gonzo Mayo, I can’t be arsed to try to re-read the El Cid stories. ‘Oogie and the Whatevers’ is typical of Dubay at low boil, and Maroto clearly wasn’t terribly inspired by the script. I still have fond memories of this issue, but they do tend to fade when I actually re-read it.

Next: CREEPY 75….


Quiddity99 said...

Wow, I don't think I've ever seen you cover so many issues in one post (granted most of these are all reprint issues). Two of these three all reprint issues of Eerie/Vampi/Creepy were among the earliest Warren mags I owned, so they were all new material to me, the all Hunter issue and the all Reed Crandall issue. As a continuing series, getting all of Hunter in a single issue worked out quite well for me; I continue to think it is a decent series, albeit a bit overrated. I was a big fan of Reed Crandall going back to his EC days so seeing an entire issue full of his work pleased me greatly. I think at the time I hadn't even realized it was an all reprint issue, as Warren "conveniently" didn't always mention that about these "special issues". Almost all of these are from the early days of Warren and they wisely don't include any of his 70s work where his artwork has deteriorated considerably.

On the Vampi reprint issue, it was good to get a Ken Kelly Vampi cover has he hardly ever does them (I am quite fond of his back cover for issue 40 at least). I am very pleased to see Zesar make his Warren debut. I saw a lot of this guy when I went through the entire Skywald library and he was my favorite artist to work for that company. I had discovered him first with his Warren work, but he was a lot more prolific at Skywald, and frankly, I think they made better use of him than Warren did. He has some stories for them where he pulls off the atmosphere and mood so perfectly, as well as a lot of horrific stuff, but his Warren work seems a lot more down to Earth in subject matter. As for the story itself, while I'm happy we are finally moving along with the storyline started in issue 43, it was a horrible decision to tell the story in this news story type fashion; it does service neither to the reader or the artist. I've got to assume it was done in this fashion in order to cram it into 8 pages, as they refused to do any color story longer than that length. As has been the case pretty much from the beginning for Vampirella, read her stories for the art, not the quality of the writing, because you'll almost always be disappointed there.

Quiddity99 said...


The Coffin series ends, and with it in my eyes, the golden age of Eerie's continuing serials. There are still some quality series coming, like "The Gaffer" and some others I can't put a name on at the moment, but with Coffin concluding, those I am most fond of are now behind us. It is a good conclusion, with Coffin being able to redeem his past misdeed and be put to rest. This is a series I think easily could have had more entries to it, but I am happy that they didn't drag it out to a point where it would have lost the quality. While I do like Hunter II more than Hunter I, I think its around this point in the series where the individual stories start to meld with each other in my head and I can't remember much details unless I've immediately read it (I think its been at least 3 - 4 weeks since I reread this issue). Likewise I don't remember much about the El Cid story although I had enjoyed it. I liked "From the Cradle to the Grave" quite a bit, although the fact that it has a continuing series label on it and clearly is over after a single story is rather mystifying. My only guess is that they did it to fool the reader. The "Oogie" series has some nice, surreal Esteban Maroto art, but this story reads much like Dubay/Maroto's later work in 1984 where it is quite obvious that Dubay completely rewrote the story after the art was done (or perhaps took art from a story Maroto had done elsewhere). Way too overwritten and a mess of a way to kick off this new series.

Beyond being too long, I do like "The Escape Chronicle", although I will admit its a story that loses some of the luster upon multiple re-readings, and if only because these whole dystopian futures where you can't be an individual stories are so common. I am not looking forward to the sequel which I recall considering completely pointless, and was probably not originally intended as this would have run in Eerie otherwise. "The Phantom of Pleasure Island" isn't a horror story at all (something that may have fit better in the adventure themed Rook magazine years later), but can't say I mind it as we get some high quality Alex Toth art here. If I remember correctly, "Snow" had been at least written and partially drawn years before; it comes off as a story that would have better fit in Warren years earlier. In any case, while he didn't do it all himself, always good to get some more Wally Wood work. "Death Expression" is a terrific job by both Severin and Stenstrum; I was really interested in things up to the big twist, and even after that, although I can't deny how ridiculous it was. "Thrillkill" is undeniably one of Warren's all time greats. It was ranked the best Warren story of all time in the Warren Companion. I included it in my top 5 as well when I ranked Warren's best stories on my blog a number of years back. Perhaps because I've read it so many times, or so many have praised it, I can say there are a number of stories that I'm more personally interested in, and I can't say I have all that much to say about it, but I can't deny its important place in Warren history. Overall a pretty high quality issue of Creepy, and this may be the issue with the most American artists (4 out of 5 stories) that we've had in years for Warren.

Peter Enfantino said...


I think "Thrillkill" was much more powerful before it became an everyday event on the news but I think it's still a potent read. There's a story coming up soon that I put very close to the top of Best Warren Ever twenty-five years ago when I read all these things for the Scream Factory and I'm very worried that the 60 year old nerd won't feel the same about it that the 35 year old nerd felt.

Which, off-topic, reminds me of an argument I recently had with Scoleri about Rolling Stone's 500 (Supposedly) Greatest Songs of All Time list where they dropped whole chunks and elevated stuff no one paid any attention to the first time 'round. It occurs to me that that list is tantamount to my feelings on the Greatest Warren Stories of All Time given a second reading.

I hate when Scoleri is right so please don't tell him I said so.

John Scoleri said...

Good thing he doesn't read these posts...

Quiddity99 said...

Peter -

Yeah, I can admit that as someone who grew up with stuff like Columbine in the news that "Thrillkill" comes off like a story that's occurred before; in 1975, long before I was even born it was surely a much rarer or at least less reported event and probably was a lot more powerful. Still very strong story; worthy of the praise, but it just doesn't have the same effect for me.

Ooh, another best ever story coming up? Now I have to start guessing what that would be. My guess would be "Shadow of the Axe" from Creepy #79, a very strong Russ Heath art effort written by Dave Sim in I think his only Warren story. I think we've got a couple of really outstanding stories coming up, "Gamal and the Cockatrice" and "Mordecai Moondog" in the next issues of Vampi and Eerie respectively but knowing your tastes you probably won't like them as much as I did.

I also think we have a contender for an all time worst story in the next issue of Creepy, a story really over the top offensive that for some reason I had completely forgotten about until rereading recently.

andydecker said...

The only memories I have of these issues is the issue of Comix International, which I still have today. "The Raven" has not lost its appeal, it is a wonderful adaption.

It is strange, when I think of Warren I think horror comics. But it has been replaced mostly by SF and Fantasy. The Fantasy is mostly truly terrible. Even the nice art can't change this.

I won't miss "Coffin". I like the Weird Western, but this series never worked as well as it should have. I have to confess that not one of the serials worked for me.

Back then "Thrillkill" was an important story. But I doubt it would have been without the Adams art.

Peter Enfantino said...


I doubt the story I'm referring to ended up on anyone else's list. The climax is what killed me. I just had a gander at your blog to see what you had to say about it and I noticed that I left a comment about the story. It's still about a year and a half away.

Quiddity99 said...

Andy - "Thrillkill" is absolutely helped by Neal Adams' art; the story wouldn't have been as powerful with a lesser artist handling it. As much criticism as Bill Dubay rightfully deserves for his work as editor, I will give him credit on this one. My recollection is he sat on this story for at least 2 years before publishing it (as I recall Jim Stenstrum mentioning on this blog that Dubay ripped off the dual narrative concept for a story published back in Creepy #59), presumably waiting until the right type of artist to draw it became available. I can't recall where I heard this, but I thought I saw somewhere that they had at one point planned on making it a Richard Corben color story, which would have been a terrible decision; Corben's art as great as it is does not fit this story at all. However they came to the decision to have Adams do it, it was the perfect call.

Peter - Ah okay, I'm pretty sure I know what story you're talking about as I remember that comment (unlike your blog, mine had very few comments so easy for me to remember them!). It was a pretty good story from my recollection, although not one I'd rate high enough to rank in a best of list. Looking forward to revisiting it.

Anonymous said...

One thing I appreciate about CREEPY 75 is the variety of art styles on display. I like almost all all of the Spanish ‘Usual Suspects’ but they do tend to look a bit same-y at times. It was smart to break it up with some good ol’ American Masters.

‘Escape Chronicle’ is more depressing 70s Dystopia, with a big scoop of Maudlin on top. But y’know, not bad. A bit long, a bit ‘Been There Done That’ but mildly enjoyable. Ortiz’ art is really sharp.

‘Phantom of Pleasure Island’ is a decent suspense / mystery tale, but what really makes it is Toth’s stunning art. Lordy, these are some great pages. And yes, Joan Crawford’s CRAZY big bow tie — what is THAT about :)

‘Snow’ is a trifle, but a nice lookin’ trifle. Quiddity is right, I think — we saw a panel or two from this story a year or so ago on one of their ‘Behind the Scenes’ type filler pages, so it obviously sat in inventory for awhile before someone assigned it to Woody to finish.

‘Death Expression’ — well, yeah, that twist is something, ain’t it tho? It’s SO out of left field — and so SPECIFICALLY so — that one has to wonder if it was intended to be humorous? Or did Severin maybe somehow get his wires crossed and drew THAT when the writer intended something else? Maybe Jim will pop in himself and we can ask him. Anyhow, I’ve always liked this one.

‘Thrillkill’ — is it a little overrated? Maybe, a bit. Is it depressing AF that random senseless killings have become so commonplace that we barely even pay attention to them anymore? ABSOLUTELY. ‘Thrillkill’ is still pretty damn great. Some of Neal’s best art, ever, and Jim’s conversational narration is pitch-perfect. It walks a fine line: it explains the killer’sactions, but doesn’t excuse them. Brilliant. This one is definitely keeping ‘Jenifer’ company in my personal Warren Top Five.

Peter, I’m guessing that story you’re talking about, with a whopper of a climax, is one of two different Jones/ Heath collaborations (I know which one would get MY vote)….


Jim Stenstrum said...

This is Rumor Control. Here are the facts:

Severin’s art on DEATH EXPRESSION is goddamn gorgeous. The writing is a mess. It was written under deadline, which is why it is so damn wordy (no time to make it shorter) and I don’t know what the ending is supposed to mean. Was it a dream? I dunno. Chalk it up to a young, inexperienced writer still trying to figure out how to put a cohesive sentence together.

THRILLKILL is brilliantly illustrated by Neal Adams and is the sole reason the story is still remembered today, almost 50 years later. The story was written in 1973 – only my fifth comic script ever – and had to be compressed into eight pages because it was originally supposed to appear in color. I could have used a couple more pages to clarify Lang’s background and smooth out some of the preachy stuff, but I did what I could with the canvas I was given. It was one of my many experiments in storytelling – this one benefitting immensely from Neal’s superb and (still) shocking artwork. And no, DuBay did not sit on the script for two years. Neal got it promptly but it took a year and a half for him to finish it.

And catching up from previous editions of The Warren Report...

THE HOUSE ON THE SEA was a decent yarn but way too long, and my decision not to use any captions hindered the story. Beautiful artwork by Auraleon, however. (Hmm, I seem to get the best artists when my stories go tits up.) Oh, and Peter is right. The house moves through time and space and appears at moments of great tragedy. That’s why the wagon says CALIFORNIA OR BUST at the end; for these unfortunate travelers, it proved to be the latter. (I suppose a caption would have really helped here, but oh well.)

And last of all, DEEP BROWN AND JORUM. Another experiment, this time presenting the ENTIRE careers of two adventurers in a single story, from the moment of their first meeting as young swashbucklers to the end of their lives. Wordy? You bet. But I was covering a LOT of history. Interesting experiment? Sure. Successful as a story? No, not as written. I probably should have just done another Were-Mummy series...

Grant said...

I don't know if it's mentioned here, but the cover of Eerie # 70 seems to show their version of a WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST movie poster.
There's a lot of controversy about comics using actors' images, but considering the Coffin character's appearance, I guess that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Jim, with the utmost respect : you’re wrong, sir! ;)

I think you’re selling yourself way too short. Neal Adams’ contribution to THRILLKILL’s effectiveness is HUGE, without a doubt. Would this story have gotten the same amount of attention over these past (mumble-ty) years if it had been drawn by Martin Salvador or Paul Neary or Auraleon instead? Mmm, maybe not. The setting and people in the story might not have seemed as ‘real’, the pacing and ‘cutting’ not as cinematic, the carnage not as painful to look at (God,that one woman shot though the lower belly and falling to her knees). But it still would have been a damn fine story, regardless of who drew it. It’s told PROPERLY. There is a slightly detached ‘Matter of Fact / After the Fact’ quality to the narrative ‘transcript’, coolly counter-balancing the horror of the event that we see happening in ‘Real Time’. Also, the priest and reporter both sound very much like real people, their dialogue has a verisimilitude unlike anything I can remember seeing in other comics of the period.

Anyhow. I could go on and on. I think it’s genuinely brilliant, so there.

‘Death Expression’ is, obviously, not up to the same level as ‘Thrillkill’, but i think it’s at least entertainingly odd, as I said earlier. And yes, Severin’s artwork is terrific.

As for the other stories you mention — sorry to say the only one I can remember reading is ‘Deep Brown and Jorum’, and that one only because i thought it had the weakest Maroto art I’d ever seen at that point. So poor that I was honestly worried the artist had had a stroke or something. So poor that Dubay had someone on the staff try to ‘Plus’ it by adding murky ink-wash tones (which didn’t help all that much). I’m sure it was just the result of a too-tight deadline or something. Of the actual story itself, sadly, I don’t really remember a thing.

b.t. (a fan)

turafish said...

I so love these posts… you guys really crack me up, while also educating on the pros and cons of these macabre mags.

Peter Enfantino said...

I'm with b.t., Jim, you're selling yourself way too short but it's extremely refreshing to find a writer wiling to discuss shortcomings, whether they're real or not (smile emoji placed right here). B.t. also remarks on another remarkable aspect of "Thrillkill" that I had in my notes (no, really!) but forgot to mention and that's the "yeah, we're just telling the story" calmness of the whole thing. No histrionics at all. I also noted in my little notebook that, as a young lad, I couldn't not think of "Thrillkil" every time I listened to Elton John's "Ticking."

Peter Enfantino said...

Professor Joe Turafish-

We crack you up? You think we're funny? Like funny ha-ha?
I'm here to tell you that I take my job of edjiccating seriously.