Monday, November 7, 2022

The Warren Report Issue 97: September 1978



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

Creepy #101

"In Deep"
(Reprinted from Creepy #83, October 1976)

"In Deep Part II" ★1/2
Story by Bruce Jones
Art by Leo Duranona

"A Boy and His Thing" 
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Alex Nino

"Water Babies"
Story by Louise Jones
Art by Pablo Marcos

"The Seven Sisters of the Sea" ★1/2
Story by Gerry Boudreau
Art by Alfredo Alcala

"Alternate Paths" ★1/2
Story by Chris Adames
Art by Pepe Moreno 

On behalf of the Museum of Natural History in New York, Kelly Forest tracks down Peter Brock, who’s been living in Australia since the tragic death of his wife. The Museum wants a Great White (you know, like the one in “Peter Benchly’s [sic] book”?) and they believe Brock, who’s become an expert on the creatures since one of them ate his wife years before, is the perfect man to nab them their Carcharodon carcharias. 

Brock agrees to help the woman find her fish and the two set out into the Australian waters. It’s not long before trouble (in the form of a whale) comes calling and the pair find their boat sinking fast. Brock gets a Mayday call out but the craft is very soon surrounded by teeth. Kelly is pulled under by one of the monsters, but Brock is determined that, damn it all, this will not be “In Deep Two” and he saves her. The exertion takes its toll and he passes out but wakes up in the hospital just fine. A helicopter has rescued them both and Kelly’s heart now belongs to him… in the proper fashion.

If Hallmark Television had existed in 1975, they might have given young Steve Spielberg a call and the pitch might have been: “Hey, that shark movie you made seems to be doing good business, so we want to make a sequel, but we don’t have the dough Universal gave you to make the first one. You write and direct it, but we can’t show any blood, you can’t have the guy who ran the camera--too expensive now--and, most importantly NO BLOOD! We have lots of liquored-up housewives who watch our channel in the middle of the afternoon while waiting for their rugrats to get home and we can’t have them upset by any floating body parts. Oh, and it definitely has to have a happy ending. Oh, and do you think Universal would loan us a copy of Jaws to run before the sequel?”

Sounds ludicrous, but then that’s pretty much what we’re handed with “In Deep II,” a slipshod remake of a pretty darn good Jones/Corben collaboration which first surfaced in Creepy #83 (and is reprinted here as well). It was odd that it took Jim Warren a full year to cash in on the Jaws craze, but the timing of the crappy sequel was perfect, since Jaws II had just hit theaters in Summer of ’78. It appears Bruce (no relation to the shark in the first film) had about twenty minutes to craft his follow-up and Corben probably needed a lot more than that, so the decidedly less-talented Leo Duranona was drafted.

The result is a tedious, sloppy mess. The shark “attack” scenes are tame and tepid. There is no chemistry between Peter and Kelly, so the final scene, where the two seem to have found love in a hospital bed, is perplexing. The entirety seems to exist only to reimagine that final panel of “In Deep.” If you’re crafting an homage to what had already become a pop culture icon, you could at least take the time to look up the correct spelling of its creator, right? Peter Benchley, who read Creepy fersure, must have been mortified to see his surname misspelled not once but twice. 

We didn’t need a sequel but, with a little care, we might have at least gotten something readable. The cherry on top is a black-and-white version of “In Deep” as a prologue. By this time, Warren was too cheap to reprint the story in color. 

Little "Stinky" loves to run down to the docks when Captain Howdy has returned from a voyage to sea. The captain always has great tales of adventure and danger and seems to draw energy from the boy's excitement. Today is no different. Howdy tells Stinky all about the giant, multi-tentacled monster that threatened to sink his great ship until the captain sunk a harpoon in the thing's brain. Sinking deep with the creature, Howdy sees the spaceship it used to travel to Earth. 

Saved by his crew, the captain prepares to set sail and return after a particularly grueling voyage when a startling sight appears before his eyes: a smaller version of the tentacled creature, surely the monster's offspring, floating in the sea. The crew rescues the baby and, back in the present, Howdy hands it over to Stinky as a souvenir of his strangest adventure.

Even if the script for "A Boy and His Thing" needs a little work (if the captain loves the kid so much, why would he gift him with a thing that might grow up with a voracious appetite?), the joy to be found here is in Alex Nino's other-worldly visions. His monster seems to go on forever, with tentacles that stream through the clouds and into the vast horizon. Whereas the two-page spreads might seem almost pretentious with other artists, Nino breathes with the extra room. It's obvious this guy grew up on a steady diet of Lovecraft. An extra half-star credit to Bill DuBay, who decided to rip off Ellison with his title and avoided the obvious "Stinky and Howdy and the Slimy Ditch-Witch of the Sea!"

In the future, creatures are genetically crafted to toil in undersea mines. Devoid of emotions, they are the perfect slaves, but something goes wrong and one of the "Water Babies," known as Belt, escapes and takes his family with him. A group of troubleshooters are sent into the deep to destroy Belt and his followers before they can derail the mining project. A very skimpy summary, but then perfectly apt since the plot itself is pretty skimpy. With an overly complicated story, Pablo Marcos's Marvel-style art (gladiators and scantily clad chicks in backbreaking poses) and Jim Warren's new cheapie color, "Water Babies" is like a blast of Deja vu, as if the protagonists of last issue's "The Pit at the Center of the Earth!" somehow survived the apocalypse and changed vocations.

As a strange mist approaches, the captain of a small smuggling boat tells his two companions he smells evil in the wind and tells them the story of "The Seven Sisters of the Sea." Two centuries before, a pirate named Horatio Cutlass ruled the seas, raping and pillaging anything that was unlucky to cross paths with him. Cutlass boards a ship named Lady Claire and his pirates murder the entire crew, save an old man. Before Cutlass runs the man through, he is told that the treasure within the bowels of the ship is intended to buy back the freedom of his seven daughters, kidnapped by pirates. 

Cutlass and his men steal the treasure and burn the Lady Claire, setting off for more plunder. Very soon after, they come across a life raft carrying seven women and happily take the drifters aboard. One of the women explains that they were on a ship attacked by pirates and they, all sisters, are the only survivors. Cutlass warns his crew that the women are not to be touched, since they will fetch a high price if unmarked. The crew, feeling a little randy and egged on by first mate Lemoine, do not agree with their captain's rule and they make short work of him, tossing his corpse over the side and dubbing Lemoine their new Captain. After having their fun with the seven sisters, the pirates toss them back on their life raft and wish them luck at sea. The sisters curse the pirates with death "before the sun sets" and a singularly nasty fate for Lemoine, as the life raft drifts away.

Sure enough, very quickly the ship is attacked by a giant octopus and the entire crew perishes. Only Lemoine survives and, as he is clinging to a bit of driftwood, he sees an approaching ship. Eerily, the ship carries the name Lady Claire, and Lemoine has no choice but to board her. There, waiting for him on deck, is the skeletal pirate crew he once commanded. They explain that their spirits cannot rest until Lemoine is given his due. Days later, the ship drifts onto the beach of a nearby island, a dying Lemoine crucified on its mast. He tells the story before he takes his last breath and a legend is born. Back in the present, the three drug smugglers see a life raft with seven women aboard, emerging from the mist.

A fabulous ghost story with spectacular art (would you expect me to say otherwise about an Alcala contribution?), "The Seven Sisters of the Sea" is a lot like "Tale of a Fox" from last issue, a simple but well told and crafty tale. Why do these seven women possess the power to summon sea beasts? It was only upon a second reading that it occurred to me that the old man knew his daughters were already dead and had willed the seven sisters back as vengeful spirits. Ironic that their loving father would essentially curse these poor girls to drift forever. The devil is definitely in the details, quite a few nice little twists and turns. Just as Cutlass seems to be the focus of the narrative, he's dispatched and Lemoine takes center stage. Is drug smuggling such a sin that the sisters will rain down revenge on the trio? It would seem so.

In an underwater society, Dr. Radzil has created a time machine that he dubs the Chronus I, but the rest of the scientific community condemns this new invention, forbidding Radzil to test the machine. They fear that if Radzil travels to the past, he might create a rift in the time/space whatchamajig and cause a temporal shift in reality or some such nonsense. Radzil, ignoring his comrades, launches the Chronus I and heads back into the Silurian Age, 400 million years in the past. There, sure enough, the dopey egghead runs into trouble and has to blast a giant Manta Ray, thus screwing up the future. Atlantis never exists.

By this time, we've had approximately 453 versions of Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" (or roughly one per every magazine Jim has published) but, happily, "Alternate Paths" provides a clever variation on the typical reality shift. If there's a weakness here, it's definitely with Moreno's art, which looks half-finished in spots. I've seen good Moreno, so this might be just a case of deadline doom. The story is interesting enough to distract us.-Peter

Jack-My favorite new story this time out was "The Seven Sisters of the Sea," which features fine work by Alcala along with seven beautiful sisters, an attack by a giant squid, and a ship's crew comprised of the walking dead! Nino's art is the highlight of "A Boy and His Thing"; he still likes his two-page spreads, but at least they're not sideways. "Water Babies" looks like a Marvel or DC story, with the muscular art Marcos art and the coloring. How does Jennifer not run out of air when she becomes a water baby?

"In Deep Part II" suffers by comparison with the original. Duranona's art looks terrible right after Corben's and the story seems pointless. What are the chances the same guy would end up shipwrecked with another blonde in shark-infested waters? "Alternate Paths" suffers from amateurish writing and art. "Borrowing" a plot point from Ray Bradbury is not excused by throwing in a random curveball at the end with the ruin of Atlantis.

Eerie #95

"Warriors From the Stars"
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Luis Bermejo

"Willie's Super-Magic Basketball"★1/2
Story by Jim Stenstrum
Art by Carmine Infantino & Rudy Nebres

"Faster Than a Speeding Whozit"
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Alex Nino

Story by Nicola Cuti
Art by Pablo Marcos & Alfredo Alcala

"Harrow House"
Story by Bruce Jones
Art by Jose Ortiz

"Caucus on Rara Avis"★1/2
Story by Jim Stenstrum
Art by Pepe Moreno

Vampi, Restin Dane, and crew have arrived in prehistoric times and already a T-Rex is munching on the Time Castle that houses Vampirella and Manners! Restin blows away the beast with a machine gun and Vampi is saved. Just over a rise, they find the Breeze army and are immediately kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to its leader.

In present day, the U.S. Army has cornered Bishop Dane, while back in time, Croton ships attack the Breeze army from the sky. Vampi and crew help the Breeze fight them off, but not without the Breeze sustaining heavy casualties. Fortunately, Quark can communicate with the aliens, who give Manners a key that will shut down the Annihilator. That's useful, since it turns out that the Breeze planted a dozen of the doomsday machines around the world, and they're set to go off when Crotons approach.

Vampi, Restin, and the others return to the present by means of the Time Castles and tell everyone the good news that the Earth is saved.

I'll admit that I get confused sometimes by the Warren stories, but when did Restin Dane become known as the Rook and the time machine become known as the Time Castle? I thought the time machine was the Rook. Can anyone help me out with this? It certainly resembles a rook from chess. I guess the Rook series and the Vampi series are now intertwined in the pages of Eerie. Pantha is essentially superfluous this time around, but the sight of Vampi blowing away aliens with a machine gun does get the pulse pounding, doesn't it? That's probably why they used that for the cover, which looks very nice.

Young Willie Reeves lives on the south side of Chicago (the baddest part of town) and loves to play basketball. He is rather humble and attributes his success to "Willie's Super-Magic Basketball." He hopes to go to college someday on a sports scholarship, but he finds classes too hard and leaves school to join the Army in 1964 and head to Vietnam. He survives his time in the service, but a bullet in his leg causes pain and the pain turns him into a morphine addict. Back in Chicago, a run-in with his drug dealer turns fatal, and Willie flees from the cop who was his friend when he was young. Willie returns to his apartment and sees his favorite old basketball; a mighty wish makes him young again, and he's back on the street as a boy, no longer sought by the cops.

Jim Stenstrum's story is gentle and effective, merging poverty, hope, and sports with the all-too-familiar trajectory of poor young men who signed up to fight in Vietnam. The art by Infantino and Nebres fits the narrative well, and Nebres doesn't bury Infantino's pencils with too much black ink. If it were a little more smooth, I'd give it four stars. This story stands in sharp contrast to the urban efforts of Bill DuBay.

Abelmar Jones and Jiggsy are back, this time arguing about whether there are any real Supermen in New York City. They climb through an open window into an apartment, where they find a set of very heavy barbells. The apartment's tenant comes home and introduces them to Bertha, a super-strong robot that he keeps as a companion. Abelmar and Jiggsy are out the window "Faster Than a Speeding Whozit," convinced that the search for supermen is a waste of time, unaware that they are being watched by Ratman and Rodent, a couple of Black superheroes perched on top of a nearby building.

How convenient it is to put this story right after the prior one, so we readers can compare a sensitive treatment of Black characters to an insensitive one. Once again, DuBay's characters are offensive caricatures, and Nino draws them just as DuBay writes them. There's not much to the story; Abelmar and Jiggsy once again climb into someone else's apartment (as DuBay seems to think Black people do as a matter of course) and find something weird. That's about it. I hope this series is over.

Hunky space jockey Rexox is assigned to travel to the planet Jabberwok in a mini transport with battle troops who have been reduced and dehydrated, their organs packed separately and disguised as toys and foodstuffs. Accompanied by beautiful, blonde engineer Babs O'Toole, Rexox passes the time on the journey by eating lots of "Nuts!" from cans he finds on the ship.

As it approaches the planet, Rexox's ship is boarded by angry Jabberwoks, whose lustful behavior toward Babs is met with fatal shots from a ray gun-like device strapped to her shapely hips. They land on Jabberwok after a blast from an enemy patrol ship and find themselves right in the middle of a battle between Jabberwok guerillas and colonists. The colonists are thrilled to see Rexox's ship arrive, but when they unload the shrunken troops, they discover that the brains are seems Rexox mistook shrunken brains for tasty walnuts.

Cuti's satire of pulp sci-fi isn't bad, and it's helped a great deal by the muscular pencils by Marcos. Alcala is an odd choice to ink him, though, resulting in some mediocre panels. As we've said before, Marcos is better suited for hero comics, so Rexox and Babs are right up his alley, while Alcala does best with the aliens.

In 1954, Abigail Whiting hires a ghost hunter named Richards to investigate "Harrow House," where her niece Gretchen died horribly, eight years ago. Ever since then, the house has been haunted. Richards approaches the old house, recording his observations on a tape recorder. The door swings open to admit him and the interior is unexpectedly neat and clean. Richards goes to sleep in the big bed and awakens after midnight, sensing the presence of someone else. His flashlight goes out and he feels someone sit down next to him on the bed. The lights come back on and he's alone.

Richards makes his report to Mrs. Whiting and insists that he has never before sensed such a clear, supernatural presence. Returning to the house for a second night, he enters and sees a ghostly presence at the top of the stairs. Is it Gretchen?

Jones and Ortiz do a great job of creating a spooky atmosphere, and I realized as I read this story that it's the first one in this issue to merit the description, Eerie! I enjoyed all ten pages of it and was looking forward to seeing what happened. It's rare in a Warren mag that a ten-page tale is not too long, and it's even more rare that I'm anticipating the ending. I was surprised to see that the story is continued in the next issue and I hope Jones can make it worth the wait!

A galactic celebrity named Mac Tavish is lolling about in his spaceship when he's invited to a "Caucus on Rara Avis," where he stands to make a few quick bucks at a speaking engagement. Arriving on the planet, he finds a mix of aliens and humans, along with a warning regarding a terrorist named Spider Andromeda, who leads a gang of murderous robots. At the caucus, High Governor Tagus is murdered by one of those robots, and Tagus is nominated to replace him.

Just as, earlier in this issue, a very good story was followed by a very bad one, this space epic seems much longer than its ten-page length and is continued in the next issue, though I couldn't care less what happens. It's all a Star Wars rip off, with characters resembling those from the movie and the movie's logo featured in one panel. No wonder Jim Stenstrum put an alias on this one!-Jack

Peter- If there was ever time to use a three-page prologue to catch us up on what’s happening, it’s in the Vampi/Rook cross-over. I have no idea (nor do I really care) what’s going on here. Something about the planet being destroyed by things who are fighting other things but thank goodness Vampi gets the key to vanquish the bad guys and something something something. As is usually the case, the only reason for turning these pages is the Bermejo art. 

I liked the twist in the tail of Jim Stenstrum’s “Magic Basketball” but found it, overall, a bit too maudlin for my tastes. It does continue the trend of assigning Carmine Infantino to sports-oriented stories and the art is customarily excellent. I did wonder what would become of Willie after his time/space continuum change. Who will care for this orphaned street urchin? Was this another of those stories slated for a sports-themed special issue but left out for some reason? Paging Jim Stenstrum!

My patience for Bill DuBay and his borderline-racist characters and dialogue has long since vanished (if it was ever there), and Abelmar Jones continues Bill's perception of African Americans as looters, pimps, and simpletons. Abelmar's buddy's name is Jiggs, ferchrissakes! Praise be to Huggy Bear, we don' havta see no mo Abelmar after dis hear chapta, but Bill done hung 'round a whole lot past his sell date!

The Pablo Marcos art for "Nuts!" is virtually the same as his work on "Water Babies" and "Pit at the Center of the Earth!" His chicks always wear little gold breast cones and his heroes look like Killraven from Marvel's "War of the Worlds" series. Enough already! The script, as Jack noted, is not bad, but I did manage a giggle at the twist ending.

Despite its obvious derivative nature (the title ain't the only thing Bruce borrows from Matheson), I really liked the first half of "Harrow House" and hope the second doesn't let me down. The dialogue is a bit melodramatic, but then what Gothic horror isn't? The last time Louise gave Bruce 20 pages to work his magic, he dropped the ball with the abysmal "Francesca." Please... please... please... no repeats. The continuing series onslaught continues with "Mac Tavish," a science fiction yarn obviously "inspired" by Star Wars (with a hint of 2001: A Space Odyssey tossed in for good measure). "Mac" only furthers my belief that Warren should avoid SF at all costs, if only to lessen the pressure on my cranium.

Vampirella #72

"The Beauty and the Behemoth"
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"The Eyes Have It"
Story and Art by Auraleon

Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Azpiri

Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Esteban Maroto

"Invasion of the Cyclops Monsters"
Story by Nicola Cuti
Art by Jose Ortiz

"A Nightmare for Mrs. Agatha"★1/2
Story by Guillermo Saccomanno
Art by Leo Duranona

Super-agent Pantha has scored a coup: parts for Vampirella and Pendragon in a new movie! Vampi plays the sexy heroine, while Pen is supposed to climb into a giant robot and play the villain. Love-starved Orville Paxton Cranberry III, who is in charge of special effects, has other ideas, however, and sticks Pen in a backup robot while he climbs into the real thing and makes off with the sexy Drakulonian in his mechanical arms, intent on wooing and winning her. Pantha changes into a giant cat and pads to the rescue, but Orville soon confesses his true identity and his love/lust for our heroine. When he is spurned, he jumps to his death in the robot costume, but when he hears Vampi and Pantha lamenting his demise and remarking that they could make him happy if only he were alive, he reveals that he exited the robot costume just before the big fall. Pantha is as good as her word and heads off to get to know Orville a little bit better.

Whew! If I thought Jose Gonzalez had drawn a sexy Vampi before, this story may reach new heights of beauty for the scantily clad one. She eschews her usual costume for a very revealing movie outfit and she's a real knockout. Pantha's not bad, either! For some reason, I found the DuBay script entertaining, although Orville's flowery dialogue is predictably over the top. It all worked for me for a change, and the cover is impressive as well.

Ignoring a warning about what happened to the last man who rented Bestville Manor, Ted moves into the rustic home with his wife, insisting on dinner before quenching her desire to hop into bed. Marsha slips into a nightgown while Ted is transfixed by a stone wall that happens to feature a big, talking face in its middle. The face has hypnotic eyes that captivate Ted and, before you know it, the face has sucked the youth and vitality from the couple.

“The Eyes Have It” starts out like a run of the mill haunted house story, but when Ted and Marsha reach Bestville Manor, nothing much happens. She wants him to join her in bed, but he’s enraptured by the talking stone face. The story ends suddenly on page seven and I thought more was coming. Auraleon’s art is up and down and often looks like he’s copying from photos.

Two older women think a young boy is a “Fruitcake” because he seems to see visions of past horrors everywhere he goes. If it’s not the ghost of Old Lady Willis, who fell down the stairs and broke her neck, it’s the Johnson boy, who was knifed, or perhaps Old Man Rafe, who hanged himself from a bedsheet. Is it because the lad was born with a caul? The poor kid sees a dead, naked woman’s corpse in the tub, a corpse stumbling through the alley, and various dead bodies shambling along with axes in their skulls. Good thing ghosts and spirits are harmless!

There’s no plot to this story, which consists of a series of horrible visions seen by a boy and commented on by two women. I knew right away we were in DuBay-land when the characters were Black and one of the women referred to the “chile.” Still, the striking thing about “Fruitcake” is the art by Alfonso Azpiri, who draws a series of stunning corpses. This is his first appearance in an American publication, and it’s too bad he won’t draw much more for Warren. His corpses are quite impressive. By the way, would DuBay have read The Shining by this point, and is the nude old woman in the tub a reference to the famous scene from that movie? I read the novel so long ago that I don’t recall if that scene was in the book as well.

Long ago, a sultan caught his wife with another man and slew them both. He went to visit the kingdom of his brother and saw that his wife and her concubines were also unfaithful. Believing that all women were treacherous, both kings went on a long journey and met a beautiful woman, the companion of a powerful genie; even she was unfaithful. The king went home and embarked on a practice of sleeping with a different woman each night and having her slain in the morning. This went on for three years until “Scheherazade” came up with a solution. She gave herself to the king one night and entertained the king with a story that reached an exciting moment right at dawn. The king, anxious to hear the next part of the story, let her live another day. This went on for 1001 nights and, by then, the king no longer desired to kill his companion.

Maroto outdoes himself illustrating the classic story, and DuBay manages to avoid screwing it up, so “Scheherazade” is one of the more delightful flights of fancy we’ve read recently. The color is lovely and reminds me of the way Prince Valiant used to look in the Sunday newspaper comic section.

After exploring space for 100 years, Mal and Cleve return to Earth. Mal dies in a crash landing and Cleve finds that there is no one there to welcome him home. New Phoenix appears deserted; Cleve finds a working helicopter and explores. He finds a store of food and is suddenly greeted by a gorgeous, naked woman, who tells him he can have her. Another woman, wearing clothes, tells Cleve that it's a trap, and they get away safely.

The woman's name is Karna and she explains that Earth was invaded by Bojoms, who have enslaved humans and forced them to act out old TV shows over and over. Cleve is determined to resist and, with Karna at his side, he takes a shot at one of the towers built by the Bojoms. Flying saucers attack the pair and shoot ray beams at them; Cleve makes a run for it and hides inside a structure, where he discovers that Karna has gone over to the enemy camp. Cleve is captured and forced to watch bad TV shows.

"Invasion of the Cyclops Monsters" is all over the place, and I have to hand it to Jose Ortiz for trying to draw pages that make some sense of Cuti's discombobulated story. The moment when Karna suddenly appears to Cleve, having been taken over by the aliens, is straight out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the title characters only appear in a single panel. I think Cuti was trying to say something about our addiction to TV, but it gets lost in all of the mayhem.

On a dark and stormy night, old Mrs. Agatha lies tucked in bed, alone in her big house and reading a mystery. In a nearby pub, Trug and Barney agree that the storm gives them the perfect cover to break into the old lady's house and steal her silver. As the storm rages, Mrs. Agatha grows increasingly nervous; when Trug and Barney enter the house, she hears them and grabs her shotgun. The duo head for the attic and Mrs. Agatha shoots Barney in the back. They return fire and she pretends to be wounded in order to draw them closer. Barney approaches and she blows him away, but her double-barreled shotgun is out of shells and Trug approaches with knife drawn.

But wait! It was all "A Nightmare for Mrs. Agatha," who has been safely in bed the whole time, having a bad dream after reading a mystery. Hold on! She hears the door slam on the first floor. It's Trug and Barney. She grabs her shotgun and waits for them to come upstairs.

The old "it was only a dream" until it repeats bit again, nicely told but without much originality. What is new is the art technique by Duranona, who has become our bi-weekly whipping boy. There are some interesting panels and page designs here, though at other times he resorts to his usual line drawings and, like so many Warren artists, faces are a challenge. Still, I didn't hate it, which is saying something for a story drawn by Leo.-Jack

Peter- I too found Bill's script for the latest Vampi adventure to be a cute timewaster, though I did wonder why Vampi simply didn't change into a bat to escape her giant captor and the "Behemoth" certainly didn't look like he fit the bill as a "Slime Beast." A Frankenstein Monster, perhaps, but he's a little too clean to have crawled from a bog. "The Eyes Have It" seems like a story outline that never got finished.

I wasn't as enamored as Jack was of "Fruitcake" and, for once, it didn't have to do with Dube's addle-brained dialogue or his questionable story title. Azpiri (David Horne, in his indispensable Gathering Horror, guesses that the artist's first name is Alfonso) has one of those styles quite like Duranona, heavy on the inks and cartoony faces. Not my cup. There is an interesting concept that would be explored much better years later in The Sixth Sense

Sans annoying word balloons, "Scheherazade" is definitely a thing of beauty, what has to be Maroto's finest hour, adorned by a lush color that's absent from most of Warren's recent magazines. It's a throwback to the care Warren used to apply to his color strips; it couldn't be mistaken for a Marvel newsprint title. Nick Cuti is very obviously proselytizing about the dangers of sitcom TV but perhaps he should be a little more self-reflective and go after pretentious funny book writers. Jack's right, this script is unfocused and confusing. As for "A Nightmare for Mrs. Agatha," I thought this was Leo Duranona's finest moment. We give the artist a lot of crap (and rightfully so), but I'll be the first to say "Good job, Leo" this time around. And I'm going to give Saccomanno (who contributes this and a long strip in Eerie next month and then disappears altogether) the benefit of the doubt and say that the cliched climactic twist was meant as a nod to that old trope. At least, I hope so.

Future World Comix

(Reprinted from Eerie #33, May 1971)

(Reprinted from Creepy #64, August 1974)

"Incident in the Beyond!"
(Reprinted from Creepy #3, 1965)

"Behold the Cybernite!"
(Reprinted from Creepy #46, July 1972)

"Taking of Queen Bovine"
(Reprinted from Eerie #81, February 1977)

"Hunter III"
(Reprinted from Eerie #87, October 1977)

"Within You... Without You"
(Reprinted from Eerie #77, September 1976)

"The Argo Standing By!"
(Reprinted from Creepy #73, August 1975)

The never-ending series of reprints continues to roll off the Warren presses, this time relying on Future Worlds (more like Kinda Like Star Wars Worlds Comix) as a hook. There are only a couple of outstanding tales here, most ripped from the pages of recent Warren zines. Bizarrely, "Incident in the Beyond" is included despite being at least a half-decade older than any of its comrades. Maybe the story sticks out like a sore thumb because back in the glory days, Warren didn't run much sci-fi. A trend I'd like to see in 1978 Warren zines.-Peter

Jack-A whole issue of reprints of sci fi stories is not something I'd buy. Looking back at my comments when these first ran, I liked "Behold the Cybernite," with art by Sutton, and the humorous "Hunter III" by Stenstrum and Nino. The rest were middle of the road. Jim Warren sure knew how to flood the market with product to cash in on a fad!

Next Week...
Forget The Dark Knight Returns
Get ready for the most influential
Batman reimagining of all time!


Quiddity99 said...

The theory I have heard on this issue of Creepy is that Richard Corben originally did that cover for Creepy #83 two years before, the issue In Deep was originally published in, but it didn't get finished in time and went on the inventory shelf. That's why that issue instead reprinted an old Frazetta cover, the first time that was done, which unfortunately gave Warren the idea to do it over and over again. A couple of years later, going after the "Jaws" craze and using the opportunity to publish a long ago paid for Corben cover, this issue gets put together. It is so obvious that cover was done for In Deep that they reprint the story, then slap together a really lackluster and pointless sequel. The original In Deep was one of my top 10 favorite Warren stories of all time. This sequel story doesn't even rate as an average story overall. By this point I think the only work Corben was doing for Warren was the Mutant World series in 1984, which I think was creator owned, so they weren't gonna get him back to do the sequel. But the choice to use Duranona, even if I am far higher on him than you are, as the artist was mind boggling. He doesn't fit at all.

I somehow didn't pick up on the obvious Ellison title swipe for "A Boy and His Thing"; I think this is around the time when the whole "A Boy and His Dog" plagiarism stuff was happening with 1984 (a topic I've written about several times on my Warren blog). Dubay was really playing with fire here, ripping off the story title here while ripping off the story itself in the other magazine. It disappoints me considerably that they are wasting the color story on Pablo Marcos, who doesn't fit Warren at all. Especially since they gave him another color story this month too! On the bright side the last two stories of this issue were both fairly strong for me.

These Vampi in Hollywood stories continue to be rather light hearted, but I don't particular mind it, at least as long as Jose Gonzalez is drawing them. I'll absolutely take this over the more super hero type role she is currently taking in The Rook storyline. The Eyes Have It was an odd story that didn't have much of a point to it. I guess this shows why we typically don't have Auraleon writing his own stories. I was half expecting/hoping for the end twist of Fruitcake to be that those two women were ghosts themselves, but it didn't come. Scheherazade is just the latest example of Dubay writing a story over art Maroto had already done for another publication, although it works pretty well here and I assume that Dubay didn't change that much, or at least did a good job ensuring the writing fit the artwork. A far better color story than the others we get this month. A disappointing ending for A Nightmare for Mrs. Agatha, but Duranona does a great job with the art here, making me think of Alberto Breccia at times.

Still working my way through Eerie #95!

Jim Stenstrum said...

I will make a couple notes here and then return to my comfortable hermitage.

First off, I adore Louise Simonson. She is a top-notch editor/writer and I wish I could have worked for her exclusively, but we did butt heads on rare occasions. And MAC TAVISH (aka ZUD KAMISH) was a real head-banger.

Now I haven’t re-read many of my Warren stories in forty years, so MAC TAVISH is probably just as shitty as you lads say, but I cannot take the fall for the story looking like a STAR WARS ripoff. That was entirely due to the artist trying to be cute, or lazy, or both, and I was furious about it.

What really burned my biscuits was the artist was allowed to get away with these swipes, which does both the story and the artist a huge disservice. The story suffers and the artist is denied a valuable lesson – that is: Don’t do shit like that.

So I pulled out of the series and took the name ZUD KAMISH with me, intending to redo the series at a later date (which also became a shitty series, but I blame that on the gypsy curse I carry rather than admit to any problem with my writing skills).

Anyway, the series continued without me, weirdly renamed MAC TAVISH, and without any attempt to delete any of the obvious STAR WARS swipes. There is more, but this stuff is giving me a chemical headache, so I’ll move on.

Oh, and Louise and I are cool these days. In my imagination, she has admitted I was right and apologized. And my being right is all that matters.

Elsewise, yes, WILLIE is an orphan from one of those all-sports issues. Nothing else to report here.

And, yes, HUNTER 3 was written to burn down the House of Hunter. I could never make sense of the damn series. Why is Hunter wearing a stupid Air Force helmet all the time? It’s hot, it impedes his vision, and is a serious handicap in a fight. It was hardly the worst series in EERIE, but damn, it could have been so much better.

So when Budd Lewis told me he was thinking of bringing back HUNTER 2, I guess I snapped. So I quickly cobbled up HUNTER 3, which was so silly I thought nobody will ever take Hunter seriously again and that will vanquish the Top Gun Demon Fighter forever.

So what happened? The readers wanted more HUNTER 3! What the hell! I swear, like Jason, there’s no killing this character!

So the upshot, of course, is that Budd Lewis brought back Hunter 2 and the character went on to become one of the most popular heroes on the Warren bench. Sigh.

So let this be a lesson to all of you who think you can change destiny: It can’t be done. The Fates will always find a workaround and invariably bite you in the ass.

Life is hard.

Quiddity99 said...

Thanks for the info on the origin of Mac Tavish! Interestingly enough in reading the story I caught an instance where they slipped up with the editing and he was still called "Zud". I do recall the Zud Kamish series eventually appearing, although it was illustrated by my all time least favorite Warren artist, E.R. Cruz. I'm quite a fan of Pepe Moreno but the clear ripping off of Star Wars with the artwork for Mac Tavish was a disappointment.

Peter Enfantino said...

Thanks for jumping in Jim and, I'm sorry, I hope we interrupt your hermitage again at some point. The behind-the-scenes is always enlightening especially coming from a Warren writer I have so much respect for.