Monday, October 14, 2019

Star Spangled DC War Stories Issue 166: November 1975





The DC War Comics
1959-1976
by Corporals Enfantino and Seabrook


Kubert
G.I. Combat 184

"Battlefield Bundle"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Sam Glanzman

"The Shamed Survivor"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Ric Estrada

Peter: While moving slowly through a French snow storm, the boys of the Jeb Stuart come across a Kraut tank blitzing a half-dozen G.I.s in a small cottage. A few well-placed Allied shells make quick work of the Ratzis and our heroes investigate the rubble of the farmhouse to see if there are any survivors. Sadly, the G.I.s are dead but one survivor, a pregnant woman, is lifted from the debris and placed gingerly in the Haunted Tank. Initial calls for medical advice are met with skepticism and so the boys must deliver the baby on their own, unaware a vengeful Nazi commandant is hot on their tail. In the end, the German tank is kaputzed and mama delivers a bouncing baby... German. The boys muse that the child will grow up to be a goose-stepping, soulless killing machine but Commander Jeb looks on the bright side and reminds his comrades that love conquers all.

"Battlefield Bundle"
Well, "Battlefield Bundle" isn't a smelly dead fish like the last several Tank adventures, but that doesn't mean I enjoyed it. Sam Glanzman's art seems to be getting worse and Kanigher's dialogue is approaching mid-'70s Kirby levels ("Let's hope there won't be any more wars, Jeb... for kids everywhere in the world!").  The sub-plot of the vicious German commander who's hell-bent on roasting the Jeb's metal flesh is built up and built up (the suspense was killin' me, I tells ya) and then Big Bob seems to tire of the story line (or runs out of space) and dispatches the Nazi without fanfare. The other problem I have (and avert your eyes if you've heard this one too many times) is that we have no continuity between issues. The events in this issue clearly take place some time after the events of last issue and a few months before the next. The weather tells me so. I'm playing Monday Morning Quarterback here, I realize, and the kids in 1975 probably couldn't care less about timelines, but it sure nags at me. I'm only going to get grumpier since editor Jack Harris informs us, on the letters page, that very soon the boys will ship out for China!

"The Shamed Survivor"
Kamikaze pilot Iyo Koremitzu and PT Ensign Johnny Benton are on a collision course with destiny. (Stop me if you've heard this one before.) Iyo and his squadron of bombers cripple an American carrier while Johnny's PT is the only one in the area not destroyed. Johnny lets loose a couple of tin fish on a Jap carrier and then turns his sights on Iyo's approaching plane. Iyo crashes in the water but is thrown from the flaming wreckage and Johnny rescues the kamikaze from the drink, carrying his enemy to safety on a nearby island. Benton dies from his wounds and Iyo muses (stop me if you've heard this one before) how the enemy is really "just... like me..." The kamikaze decides he's shamed his country and sits down on the beach, welcoming death.

This is three-quarters (maybe five-sixths) of recycled pap, a gimmick that Bob trots out about every six months (the average life cycle of a mid-'70s comic book reader, I'd guess); the separate but so similar soldiers preparing for battle, thinking the exact same thoughts is a trope that's been run into the ground hereabouts. The only redeeming factor to "The Shamed Survivor" is its final panels, with the pensive Iyo accepting his fate. Those four panels are deserving of a better build-up.

Jack: What a coincidence: an OB/GYN in a batallion aid station laments the lack of babies to deliver and, voila!, here comes the Haunted Tank with a woman in labor! There was some slight suspense with the German tank tracking the HT, but that's about it for this poorly-illustrated entry. "The Shamed Survivor" is yet another parallel story, though there's some unexpected empathy between enemy soldiers and an odd ending.


Kubert
Our Army at War 286

"Firebird"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Ruben Yandoc

"Escape!"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Ric Estrada

Jack: In heavy fog, Easy is assigned the task of checking out the town of Bovais. On the way there, they are attacked by Nazi gunners and prevail in hand to hand combat before reaching an airfield, where they find planes from WWI. Louis Dupres, who had been a mechanic in the Great War, still maintains the planes and tells Rock of an air battle between French Captain Roland and the Enemy Ace, Hans von Hammer, in which the honorable German escorted the dying Frenchman safely home.

Captain Roland's dying wish was for Louis to remain with his plane, and Louis has kept that promise for 26 years. The French mechanic tells Sgt. Rock that Bovais is crammed with Nazis sitting atop a fuel and ammo dump. The fog makes it too dangerous for a conventional attack, so Louis agrees to fly the lovingly-maintained old plane over Bovais, quietly and at a low altitude, with Rock and Little Sure Shot standing on the wings. The plane makes it to Bovais and bombs are dropped, but Louis is fatally injured and barely makes it back to the hangar with his passengers. Their mission accomplished, the men of Easy head off to report that Bovais is clear.

"Firebird" is one of the better Rock tales of late, probably due to the assistance an uncredited Joe Kubert appears to have provided to artist Ruben Yandoc. The story is a mix of art styles, with Kubert drawing the men of Easy Co. and Yandoc drawing the other characters. It all works well, though, and it's great to get a cameo by the Enemy Ace, even if we only see his plane and hear about him in the story told by the loyal mechanic.

The letters column in this issue includes an interesting missive where an unnamed reader lays out Sgt. Rock's family tree, after having pored over back issues.

"Escape!"
On a snow-covered mountain, American soldiers locate a Nazi replacement supply depot but an exploding mortar shell interrupts their attempt to radio the location back to base. Nazi soldiers on skis attack as a soldier tries to get the message through by radio and, while he seems to make a successful "Escape!," it turns out it was all in his head, since he lies dead in the snow.

Despite shaky art by Estrada and one particularly bad panel with Korny Kanigher dialogue ("'That's one .. hard-boiled egg ... they didn't expect!'"), there are enough interesting things in this six-page Gallery of War entry to make it interesting: the snowy setting, the soldiers on skis, and the usual, heightened level of violence and despair that are a hallmark of this series.

Peter: "Firebird" is a solid, entertaining adventure despite its outlandish concept (no, I didn't fly in WWII but I'm quite sure you can't hang onto the wing of a plane and operate a machine gun at the same time); it's like one of the better Big Bob stories of the late 1960s. I can find no data to back me up but I have to believe an uncredited Kubert did a boatload of the artwork. I see flashes of Yandoc here and there but much more Kubert. I'm not sure an artist can ape another's style quite that well. Am I wrong?

I like "Escape!" It's another of Big Bob's darker "Gallery of War" entries and it works, aside from its stale "Owl Creek Bridge" variation twist and the cartoony art by Estrada, because it puts the kibosh on our expectations and desires. We desperately want the good guy to win. One can only wonder what Kubert or Heath could have done with these heavier scripts.


Kubert
Our Fighting Forces 161

"The Major's Dream"
Story by Jack Kirby
Art by Jack Kirby & D. Bruce Berry

Jack: British Major Geoffrey Soames has a recurring nightmare that ends with him being crushed by a many-armed monster. Despite his obvious PTSD, he is assigned to guide the Losers as they seek to establish an observation post to meet a Japanese offensive. A native named Sim shows up as the real guide, and the Losers soon come across the Japanese main force on the march.

Sim leads them on foot to a ruined temple, which happens to be the same place that Soames's prior force was wiped out. The Losers, Sim, and Major Soames take cover in an underground tunnel, but Soames goes batty when he hears Japanese soldiers marching above; his reckless gunfire gives away the Losers' position and Japanese soldiers fill the tunnel. Grenade blasts cause a cave-in and suddenly Soames thinks he's back in his bad dream; he is killed when a giant statue of the many-armed goddess Kali falls on him. The Losers and Sim manage to make their escape.

I wish we could make our escape from any more episodes of Kirby's Losers. I just can't believe that DC reissued this junk in a collection and that people seem to like it. Reading through it issue by issue is sheer torture. The best thing about this issue is Kubert's top-notch cover, though he seems to have forgotten that Captain Storm has a wooden leg.

Peter: An intriguing set-up degenerates into the usual Kirby claptrap where soldiers spout gibberish like "My dogs are barkin' in high 'C'" and Asians are yellow and men have noses longer than their face. In the end, I'm not really sure why The Losers were involved in the first place.


Kubert
Star Spangled War Stories 193

"Save the Children!"
Story by Gerry Conway
Art by Gerry Talaoc

"There Are No Guns on a Showboat"
Story by Arnold Drake
Art by Frank Redondo

Peter: The Unknown Soldier is given his latest impossible mission: board and destroy a train carrying several high-ranking Nazi officers before they get to Berlin. Killing and taking the place of Colonel Ernest Heidak, US boards the train, only to discover Heidak was traveling with wife and children and that the ultimate destination is a pow-wow with Der Führer himself! Unable to kill innocents, the Soldier modifies his plans and decides to eliminate the Nazis once they've reached Berlin. The Soldier makes sure his "wife and children" are safe in a local hotel and then heads for the meet-and-greet but, as usual, plans go awry when the ten officers travel in ten separate cars in order to avoid mass assassination. In a fiery climax, the US detonates a bomb, killing most of the officers, but later discovers that Heidak's family has been taken to a concentration camp as punishment for his "betrayal."

Gerry Conway steps in for one issue, ably filling David Michelinie's very large and detailed shoes, with "Save the Children!," a scorching action saga filled with unexpected twists and a Michelinie-esque downbeat climax. It's ironic that the US risks the entire mission to save three innocents but, in the end, he watches helplessly as the family is marched off to inevitable death. Gerry throws in all sorts of inconsequential, but welcome, distractions to the main plot such as the opening exchange between the Soldier and his arrogant CO, who reminds our hero that he "has no special privileges, no particular prerogatives. You are a soldier and I am your commanding officer. You follow my orders--and no questions!"; a tirade designed, it seems, for no reason other than to stroke the CO's own ego. I wonder if it's this character that brings out the best in writers. Thank goodness DC didn't attempt to test my theory by bringing in Kirby for a stretch.

Drafted comedian Charlie Vines is considered by his CO to be a "showboat" lacking nerve but (of course) in a time of need, Charlie stands up (pun attempted there) and shows the boss he's made of sterner stuff. "There Are No Guns on a Showboat!" is a disastrously predictable short-short by the equally predictable pulp writer Arnold Drake. Redondo's art isn't bad but getting through all the inevitable cliches and the awful one-liners (this guy is a comedian?) is a daunting task.

"Save the Children!"

Jack: One thing I found interesting about "Save the Children" was the decision to have the Unknown Soldier spend most of the story without his bandages; as a result, we get many views of his hideously deformed face. Conway's story is good and Talaoc's art is stellar, as usual, but the end was a bit too "Conway depressing" for my taste. The Vines character in the backup story is drawn to resemble Bob Hope, who had his own DC comic for many years. Drake's story is poor and the twist ending is unconvincing. At least Redondo's art is competent. Kudos again this month to Joe Kubert for four beautifully drawn covers.

Hilarious!
("There Are No Guns on a Showboat")


Next Week
More Sutton Magic
Helps Us Avoid Depression

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Hitchcock Project-Bill S. Ballinger Part Two: Road Hog [5.11]

by Jack Seabrook

Four weeks after "Dry Run," Bill Ballinger's second teleplay for Alfred Hitchcock Presents was another memorable half hour: "Road Hog," which first aired on CBS on Sunday, December 6, 1959.

The episode is adapted from a story of the same title by Harold R. Daniels that was first published in the September 1959 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

The narrative begins as Ed Fratus, a fat and red-faced traveling salesman, arrives at Ben Tulip's bar (or "juke") to restock the supply of lottery tickets and novelties. Especially popular are key rings with racy pictures inside. Fratus spends two hours losing at poker and then leaves, heading off to Lost Creek along a rough, narrow road. Meanwhile, at a farm somewhere along the same road, Old Sam Pine's youngest son, Davey, is gored by a bull and Sam must rush him to the doctor in Lost Creek.

"Road Hog" was first
published here
Davey is bleeding badly in the pickup truck when they come up behind Fratus's panel truck, driving down the middle of the road to avoid the ditches along both sides. Angry about losing at poker, Fratus refuses to move over and let them by. Sam's middle son, Clay, tries to pass Fratus, but the farmer's pickup truck lands in the ditch and precious time is lost digging it out. By the time the Pines reach the doctor it's too late for Davey; the doctor tells Sam that he could have saved the boy if they had arrived sooner.

The Pines search for the driver of the panel truck and Sam tracks him to Ben Tulip's bar, where he learns the driver's identity; Ben tells Sam that Fratus might return in a week. Davey is buried on the family farm and Sam soon takes his place at Tulip's bar, awaiting the return of Ed Fratus. He's still there the next day when Ed arrives. Sam does not even look at the salesman, but outside his sons drain almost all of the gas from the fat man's truck.

Raymond Massey as Sam Pine
Soon, Fratus leaves and drives along the road to Lost Creek, where the Pines find him, out of gas. They push his truck with their own to the Pine farm, where they invite Fratus into the kitchen for a drink. Sam checks the glasses to make sure his son did not accidentally pour poison instead of alcohol, and Fratus finishes his drink while Pine's son fills his gas tank.

Sam slowly reveals Davey's fate and it dawns on Fratus that his refusal to move his truck was the cause of the boy's death. Fratus fears that Pine gave him poison to drink and rushes to his truck. He drives down the same narrow road, in a hurry to reach the doctor, only to find Pine's truck blocking the way, its driver refusing to speed up or move over.

Robert Emhardt as Ed Fratus
Later, Clay Pine returns home to report that Fratus is dead. He drove into the ditch and started to run, then keeled over from a heart attack. Sam drinks his previously-untouched drink, aware that neither glass contained any poison.

"Road Hog" is a wonderful story that pits honest country folk against a cruel salesman and that allows the victims to exact vengeance without resorting to violence. The goings-on at Ben Tulip's juke are seedy: men idly pass the time in gambling, drinking, and looking at racy pictures. Contrast that with the Pine farm, where the father and his three sons work hard and take care of each other.

Ray Teal as Ben Tulip
Fratus's decision not to give way on the narrow road is petty and demonstrates his selfish nature, while Pine's scheme to get revenge on Fratus is worked out carefully and takes advantage of the salesman's poor health and suspicious bent. It is only implied that Fratus drinks poison in the Pine kitchen; Fratus's mind attributes evil intent to an honest man, anticipating the sort of trick that Fratus himself might attempt.

Did Pine expect Fratus to die? It's hard to say. He certainly made a fool of the salesman and was not upset when Fratus suffered the fatal heart attack. A well-told tale of revenge with a satisfying conclusion, "Road Hog" is a short story that was immediately adapted for television: it appeared in a digest cover-dated September 1959 and the TV version aired on December 6, 1959.

Richard Chamberlain as Clay Fratus
In adapting the story for television, Bill Ballinger made very few changes to the source. The show opens with a close up of a butterfly before the camera pulls back to reveal a little girl watching the beautiful insect. Fratus pulls up in his station wagon and walks to the porch of Tulip's bar, where he purposefully crushes the butterfly under his soiled tennis shoe. The little girl tears up and the salesman smiles, pats her on the head, and walks inside. In moments, his cruel streak is established for the viewer, foreshadowing his later decision on the road.

The scenes that follow hew closely to the short story. Fratus's first visit to the bar does not include the poker game, which is briefly summarized in the story although it lasts two hours. The scene at the Pine farm is unchanged, while the scene on the narrow road is altered slightly to make it clear that Fratus knows that there is an emergency unfolding behind him. Clay Pine yells ahead to Fratus and Fratus responds; in the story, one could charitably interpret the situation as one where the salesman assumes wrongly that the truck behind him is driven by someone who is simply in a hurry. In the show, the verbal exchange between drivers makes it clear that Fratus knows at least some of what's at stake and makes a cruel choice anyway.

Brad Weston as Sam Pine, Jr.
If that's not enough, Ballinger then makes Fratus an active participant in the disaster: Pine's truck pulls up alongside Fratus's station wagon and Fratus turns his wheel to force the truck off the road. Visually, the image is arresting, showing Fratus acting intentionally to cause harm and making him seem more deserving of his later fate.

The scene that follows at the doctor's office is in line with that in the story, though Pine's subsequent search for the driver is shortened and he is shown finding the tracks of the station wagon in front of Tulip's bar. When Pine calls to Tulip and Tulip emerges from inside to identify Fratus, the situation recalls an old cowboy summoning someone out of a saloon for a confrontation in a dusty street. Sam then waits inside the bar for Fratus to arrive and the tension reaches a high point when the salesman walks through the door. The subsequent events track those of the story, as the action moves from the bar to the road to the Pine farm.

Roscoe Ates
Robert Emhardt is superb as Fratus, especially in the show's latter scenes; he starts out cocky at Pine's kitchen table, but as the truth of what happened dawns on him he becomes fearful and then frantic. He rushes out, gets in his station wagon, and heads off down the fateful road once again, where he encounters Clay Pine's truck blocking the way. Fratus is desperate, begging the young man to move over. Fratus gets more and more worked up until he runs his car off the road and is killed in a crash. Here, the teleplay differs significantly from the short story. In the story, we don't witness Fratus's death; instead, it is reported by Clay Pine when he returns to his father's farm. Bill Ballinger makes a more visual choice to have the station wagon crash and to show us Fratus's dead body lying halfway out of the car as Pine observes it.

The final twist is also slightly different: back at the Pine kitchen, Clay Pine remarks that his father made up the story about the county agent supplying him with poison and says that there never was any poison. In the Daniels story, there is poison, but Fratus was not served any in a glass.

The overhead shot in the barn
"Road Hog" is a faithful adaptation of the short story that makes a few changes for visual effect. It is directed brilliantly by Stuart Rosenberg (1927-2007), who makes good use of close ups to display moments of emotion on characters' faces. The bull in the barn scene does not seem very menacing, but there is a fine overhead shot that establishes the spatial relationships among the characters as Sam rushes in to find Davey on the ground. The scene on the road that follows is handled particularly well, with great suspense, and the doctor's office scene features shadowy lighting to highlight the gloom of the news of Davey's death. Also well-staged is the climactic kitchen scene with the showdown between Sam Pine and Ed Fratus; Fratus's final panic in the car is convincing, even if the final crash stretches believability. The last scene, back in the Pine farm kitchen, displays similarly shadowy and noirish lighting as the earlier scene in the doctor's office, suggesting that perhaps the Pines are not such innocent country folk after all.

Jack Easton, Jr., as Davey Pine
Rosenberg directed for television from 1957 to 1966 and for film from 1960 to 1991. He taught at the American Film Institute beginning in 1993. He won an Emmy in 1963 for directing an episode of The Defenders, and he also directed three episodes of The Twilight Zone as well as the films, Cool Hand Luke (1967) and The Amityville Horror (1979).

Top billing among the cast goes to Raymond Massey (1896-1983) as Sam Pine. Born in Ontario, he fought in both World Wars and began his stage career in 1922. He began appearing on screen in 1929 and on TV in 1948; his last credit was in 1973. Massey has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for movies and another for television. His many film roles include The Old Dark House (1932), Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), The Woman in the Window (1944), and East of Eden (1955). "Road Hog" was his only appearance on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but he was on Night Gallery twice and co-starred on the TV series, Dr. Kildare, from 1961 to 1966. In "Road Hog," Massey is like an Old Testament figure, strong and silent as he sits waiting for Ed Fratus to return to Ben Tulip's bar, planing to dole out justice to the wicked.

Gordon Wynn as the doctor
Robert Emhardt (1914-1994) plays Ed Fratus. He may get second billing to Raymond Massey, but he steals the show; whiny and seedy, fat and sweaty, he's perfect as the amoral salesman. His descent into panic at the end is a display of great acting, shown in tight close ups on Emhardt's face. The actor was Sydney Greenstreet's understudy on Broadway in the 1930s and a founding member of the Actors Studio; he appeared onscreen from 1949 to 1982. Emhardt was seen in six episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "De Mortuis," one unforgettable episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour ("Return of Verge Likens"), and episodes of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.

Strong and steady as Ben Tulip is Ray Teal (1902-1976); he knows Ed Fratus is a creep but understands that they must do business together. Teal's long screen career stretched from 1937 to 1974 and he was very busy as a character actor in the 1930s and 1940s. He appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents eight times, including a role in "Revenge," the first episode; he was also seen on The Twilight Zone and Thriller.

Betsy Hale
The very first credit for Richard Chamberlain (1934- ) on IMDb is "Road Hog," in which the young actor plays Clay Pine. Chamberlain is still acting today. He began appearing on film in 1960 and has worked in both TV and the movies ever since. He was in an episode of Thriller and became a star as the lead on Dr. Kildare (1961-1966), in which his co-star was Raymond Massey. He also starred in the popular 1973 film adaptation of The Three Musketeers. Chamberlain was a fixture in TV mini-series in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including Centennial (1978-1979), Shogun (1980), and The Thorn Birds (1983). In "Road Hog," he is effective if perhaps too handsome for the part of a hardworking young farmer.

In smaller roles:
  • Brad Weston (1928-1999) as Sam Pine Jr.; he was on screen from 1958 to 1991, appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents three times, and was also seen on an episode of Star Trek.
  • Roscoe Ates (1895-1962) as the man in the bar who is enthusiastic about the racy pictures in Ed Fratus's key rings; he started out in vaudeville and then was on film from 1929 to 1961 and on TV from 1950 to 1961. Among the many films in which he had small roles were Freaks (1932), King Kong (1933), and Gone With the Wind (1939). He was in six episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "The Jokester."
  • Jack Easton, Jr. (1943- ), as Davey Pine; he had nine credits on TV from 1959 to 1964 and this was his only role on the Hitchcock show.
  • Gordon Wynn (1914-1966) as the doctor; he played small parts on film and TV from 1942 to 1964 and was in four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, including "Together."
  • Betsy Hale (1952- ) as the little girl at the beginning who watches the butterfly; like Richard Chamberlain, this is her first credit on IMDb and she only appeared in a single episode of the Hitchcock series. In her short screen career, from 1959 to 1965, she was in an episode of Thriller, played a small part in Hitchcock's The Birds (1963), appeared in an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and had a small role in 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.
Harold R. Daniels (1919-1980), who wrote the short story on which the TV show was based, was nominated for an Edgar for his first novel, In His Blood (1955), and wrote five more novels after that, as well as 10 short stories, according to the FictionMags Index. He was also editor of the magazine, Metalworking, from 1958 to 1972 and wrote non-fiction books on that topic. In addition to "Road Hog," which was filmed in 1959 and 1986, his novel, House on Greenapple Road, was filmed in 1970 as a TV movie.

The final scene in the kitchen
The remake of "Road Hog," broadcast on May 1, 1986, as part of the 1980s reboot of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, is a disappointment. Updated and in color, the show stars Burt Young as Ed Fratus, and his performance is hard to watch. The Pines, renamed the Medwicks, work on an oil rig, and the son is injured in a fall from high atop an oil derrick. The Medwicks' truck tries to pass Fratus's Cadillac on a wide desert road without success; the scene goes on too long and is unconvincing, not to mention the terrible '80s music playing loudly on the soundtrack. Ben Tulip is replaced by an attractive woman who is revealed to be Medwick's wife and the mother of the boy who was killed; the final confrontation occurs in the bar, rather than back at the farmhouse, and features Mrs. Medwick crushing aspirin tablets and putting them in Fratus's drink; of course, he thinks it's poison. The show is available to watch free online here but I don't recommend it.

The original version of "Road Hog" may be viewed online here, or you can order the DVD here. Read the GenreSnaps take on this episode here. Listen to a podcast about this episode here. Like "Dry Run," "Road Hog" was selected for the PBS series, The Best of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, that ran in 1981-82. Thanks to Peter Enfantino for providing a copy of the short story!

Sources:
Daniels, Harold R. “Road Hog.” Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Sept. 1959, pp. 37–46.
The FictionMags Index, www.philsp.com/homeville/FMI/0start.htm.
Find in a Library with WorldCat, www.worldcat.org/.
Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. OTR Pub., 2001.
“Harold R. Daniels.” Goodreads, goodreads.com/author/show/1898147.Harold_R_Daniels.
IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/.
Kelly, George. “The Crime Novels of Harold Daniels.” Mystery File, 14 Jan. 2009, mysteryfile.com/blog/?p=971.
“Road Hog.” Alfred Hitchcock Presents, season 5, episode 11, CBS, 6 Dec. 1959.
Stephensen-Payne, Phil. Galactic Central, philsp.com/.
Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Sept. 2019, www.wikipedia.org/.

In two weeks: "The Hero," starring Eric Portman and Oscar Homolka!

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Warren Report Issue 18: November 1968-April 1969


The Critical Guide to 
the Warren Illustrated Magazines
1964-1983
by Uncle Jack
& Cousin Peter


Tom Sutton
Eerie #18 (November 1968)

"Hard Luck"
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Moe Marcus & Sal Trapani

"Cry Fear, Cry Phantom"
(Reprinted from Eerie #7)

"A Change of Pace!"
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Tom Sutton

"The Jungle" 
(Reprinted from Eerie #5)

"Vampire Slayer!"
(Reprinted from Eerie #5)

"Trial by Fire!"
(Reprinted from Eerie #6)

"Side Show"★1/2
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Bill Fraccio & Tony Tallarico


"Hard Luck"
Gordon Shockley thinks he's found the location of the Fountain of Youth in the Florida Everglades. One of his fellow explorers drowns in quicksand; Gordon knifes the other in the back when they reach the fountain. Gordon drinks from the fountain, hoping to gain eternal youth, but instead turns into a granite statute.

Huh? What was that ending? Why did Gordon turn into a statue and why should we care? If that was supposed to be a surprise twist or some sort of justice, it was lost on me. Also lost on me was the appeal of the art by Moe Marcus and Sal Trapani. It's passable but that's about all.

"Cry Fear, Cry Phantom" wasn't much good the first time around, and here it is again less than two years since it premiered.

Scientists Raymond and Felix invent a Time Modulator that successfully transports objects back in time. Before you know it, the intrepid scientists go back in time themselves, but Felix is killed. Raymond finds himself reverting to behavior of prehistoric man when the machine fails to bring him back to the present; unexpectedly, he suddenly pops back into 1968 and must tell another scientist all that occurred. It seems Raymond can't avoid transforming into a gorilla!

Grodd? No! Grooch!
("A Change of Pace!")
That's the second story by Bill Parente in this issue that meanders its way toward an incomprehensible conclusion. Why exactly did Raymond turn into a gorilla after traveling back in time? Is that supposed to represent an earlier stage of human evolution? I think that, by 1968, it was pretty clear to anyone who went to school that man did not descend from gorilla. Maybe Parente was angling for a job at DC and wanted to showcase his gorilla chops?

At least "The Jungle" is a little older than the first reprint. If the story is weak, we can still enjoy Al Williamson's art. I can't say the same for "Vampire Slayer!," from the same issue of Eerie as "The Jungle." When we read it the first time, I called it bottom of the barrel. It hasn't risen any higher. "Trial By Fire!" is the third reprint in a row in this issue; while I love Johnny Craig's work, I called this one a "stinker."

When a man is murdered at a carnival "Side Show," Sarno and his snake are blamed. The corpse has two puncture wounds on its neck and lost a lot of blood. Bimbo the clown is killed in the same fashion, so the other carnies set fire to Sarno's tent and kill him and his snake. Lt. Novak thinks the real culprit is Magnus, the magician, but when the lieutenant pulls out a mirror, Magnus's reflection is clear as day. But wait! Magnus has a midget twin brother who's a vampire and who rides around on his back and hides under his cape!

Probably the best panel in the new stories this time out.
("Side Show")

Is this what we have to look forward to at Warren in the near future from writer/editor Bill Parente? This is the third of three new stories he contributed to this issue, and all are awful, with twists that come out of nowhere and make no sense. The art by Fraccio and Tallarico is nothing special, even though there are a few passable panels here and there. This has to be one of the poorest issues of Eerie to date. Eighteen pages of new stories for forty cents. Not a bargain.-Jack

Peter-Bill Parente opens his magic bag and pulls out more cliches... the explorers; the time travelers; and the freak show. Amidst all the swill is a glimmer of quality in "A Change of Pace!" but that is quickly extinguished and we're left with a hopelessly convoluted climax (wait, so Dubarton screwed up time but, unlike in all the Bradbury stories, he didn't screw up the future, only his own evolution,
but the powers-that-be allowed him to come back and be human long enough to tell his story and then turn into a monkey... ooooookay) and more proof that Tom Sutton should stick to eldritch tales of old men who wander through dark hallways and keep shoggoths in their cellars. "Side Show" is a complete disaster and "Hard Luck" shows off even more editorial screw-ups when Uncle Creepy makes an appearance on page 9!


Monteiro
Creepy #24 (December 1968)

"Black Magic"
(Reprinted from Eerie #5)

"You Do Something to Me" ★1/2
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Tom Sutton

"The Day After Doomsday"
(Reprinted from Eerie #8)

"Room for a Guest" 
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Reed Crandall

"Type Cast!"
(Reprinted from Eerie #8)

"A Silver Dread Among the Gold" 
Story by George Hagenauer & Bill Parente
Art by Tony Tallarico


Three years after a gruesome car crash that left his wife, Cyndy, paralyzed, Carter is convinced his wife is out for revenge. She's been addicted to black magic since the accident (which, miraculously, Carter walked away from without a scratch) and lately she's been acting really weird. The nervous ninny finds an incantation he believes is meant to bring on his untimely death and burns it in front of his wife. As Carter's skin begins to burn, Cyndy explains that he actually died in the crash and her voodoo spell brought him back from the dead. For "You Do Something to Me," Bill Parente pumps out another predictable script, but that could have been overlooked with some good graphics. Alas, this was an off day for Tom Sutton, whose art here looks rushed and a far cry from his usual drippy, atmospheric Warren work. The whole "Cyndy gets into black magic" time-frame is a bit jumbled as well; it seems as though her obsession only takes hold after the accident but then how did she resurrect hubby and keep his death quiet? I'm so confused.

"Room for a Guest"
Obsessed with musty old tomes filled with incantations and demonic biographies, Julian Thatcher travels to the castle of the Marquis Boussac, whose library is filled with collectors' items. Only one book is missing from the Marquis's incredible collection and that is the one-of-a-kind Black Missal, rumored to have been written by Satan himself in his spare time. Boussac invites his guest to a wild party that night and, after the gala winds down, disappears into a reading room. Thatcher follows and discovers his host relaxing in his armchair, enjoying a perusal of... The Black Missal! Thatcher's excitement turns to terror when the Marquis explains that he came into possession of the tome because... he wrote it! Surprise! Well, no one will be surprised by the climax of "Room for a Guest," a truly disappointing capper to what began as an intriguing Lovecraftian melodrama. There's really no reasoning given for the devil's elaborate ploy; just take the guy's soul already. Reed Crandall seems to have rediscovered his Jones for this type of work as the graphics are top-notch (though that final panel looks awfully familiar). Heck, I'll take this one. It's better than anything else Warren has been serving up lately.

"A Silver Dread
Among the Gold"
Fortune seekers Gunther, Eric, and Gustav have climbed to the top of a high mountain during a blizzard to search for the treasure of... Bjorn, Prince of Vikings! Relaxing after the treacherous climb, the trio discuss the legend of Bjorn, Prince of Vikings and his fabled clash with the undying Sven, the Immortal! In a scene vaguely reminiscent of (and just as hilarious as) an infamous segment of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Bjorn dices Sven to small pieces only to discover the scum won't die! Bjorn discovers that Sven has been blessed with eternal life by a wizard located in the "dead lands," and heads off to find said wizard. He disappears and then shows up on the doorstep of one his comrades months later, only to fall into a deep sleep. His body is entombed in a cave, covered in two shrouds, one silver and one gold. Legend complete, Gunther, Gleban, and Glauben stumble over the body of Bjorn, Prince of Vikings! in perfect suspended animation. They remove the two shrouds and discover the Viking's secret... he's a werewolf!

Oh boy! I don't know what Jim Warren was more embarrassed about when he sat down in his office to read "A Silver Dread Among the Gold"; was it the awful script, the amateurish scribbles, or the breakdown in the proofreading department? There are fans in every artist's camp, I get that, but can someone out there defend Tony Tallarico? Though we may have softened our stance on Grandenetti, I can lay money down you'll find nothing of the sort in the future when it comes to my appraisal  of Tony the T's talent. The artist's idea of scary was bulging eyes and irregular teeth. Of course, he's got nothing to work with when it comes to the confusing and meandering script Hagenauer and Parente have laid on his desk. None of it makes a lick of sense.-Peter

Jack-I'm in full agreement, Peter. The best things about this issue are the cool cover and the six pages of Crandall art. Once again, we get only 18 new pages for our four dimes, way less than we'd get from a DC or Marvel comic in 1968. "Black Magic" and "Type Cast!" are reprints of good stories, while "The Day After Doomsday" is not, and two of the three are from just 21 months earlier, so readers were sure to recall them. I am very concerned about Bill Parente's inability to tell a coherent or interesting story, and his reliance on stupid twist endings is troubling. Sutton seems overworked if "You Do Something to Me" is any indication.


Alan Willow
Eerie #19 (December 1968)

"Tomorrow's Reminder"
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Bill Fraccio & Tony Tallarico

"Dark Kingdom!"
(Reprinted from Creepy #9)

"Dark House of Dreams"
(Reprinted from Creepy #12)

"Monstrous Mistake"
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Barry Rockwell

"The Squaw!"
(Reprinted from Creepy #13)

"Unfeeling Heart"★1/2
Story by James Haggenmiller
Art by Ernie Colon
An uninspired page from
"Tomorrow's Reminder"

A malfunction forces astronauts to land on Atura, an uncharted planet that they explore while their ship's battery recharges. They find a metropolis that seems to have been destroyed recently and a group of what look like prehistoric men destroy their ship. They decide to blow up themselves and the aliens to alter the fate of the universe for the better. But wait! A scientist just died on the operating table from a cerebral hemorrhage. Was the whole thing in his mind? I have absolutely no idea. "Tomorrow's Reminder" makes no sense whatsoever and is perhaps the worst Parente script we've read yet. The art by Fraccio and Tallarico is inexcusable.

Much better is "Dark Kingdom!," but, of course, it's a reprint. "Dark House of Dreams" is not nearly as good, though my rating probably would be higher now in comparison with the new material in these issues.

They all laughed at bald Dr. Spool, didn't they! The idea of keeping a dead body viable so that a brain could be transplanted into it successfully? Poppycock! Forget that successful trial with a monkey--let's see it work on a human! Dr. Spool murdered Professor Von Eron and has kept his brain alive, waiting for a suitable body. He and his hunchbacked assistant, Benjamin, steal a decomposed corpse from the graveyard and plop Von Eron's brain in the skull cavity. Add a little electric juice and bingo! Another grunting, groaning monster that must do Dr. Spool's bidding is created! All goes well at first, as the monster commits murder for Dr. Spool, but here comes the full moon! Something's wrong! The monster no longer obeys! It killed Benjamin and now advances on Dr. Spool! Too bad Dr. Spool dug up a body that turned into a werewolf and no longer had to obey his commands! What a "Monstrous Mistake"!
Groan, just groan
("Monstrous Mistake")

Hoo boy, this is some Godawful writing. How many doggone times will we read the "surprise" ending where a character is a werewolf or a vampire? At least Barry Rockwell's art is pretty cool, looking like something from underground comix with interesting shading.

The best art in the issue, once again, comes from the great Reed Crandall, who illustrates a reprinted adaptation of "The Squaw" that suffers from Goodwin's dialogue.

A dumpy, middle-aged scientist falls hard for a hot young chick who only has eyes for body builders, so he builds a sexy, male android and installs in it a heart that will transmit every feeling to be shared by his own heart. Lovely Lori really digs Duke Armstrong (the android's moniker), but when the scientist has Duke dump Lori, she reacts badly, drinking poison and stabbing Duke in the heart. Unfortunately for the scientist, the wound kills him as well.

"Unfeeling Heart"
I count a grand total of six stories by James Haggenmiller for Warren. "Unfeeling Heart" isn't terrible, but it's not very good, either. I do like Ernie Colon's spare art style here; it reminds me of the cover of many a DC Romance Comic.-Jack

Peter-"Tomorrow's Reminder" is very similar to "Completely Cured" in Creepy #26. They're both unnecessarily complicated and laden with bad art. The twist is an obvious rip-off of Fantastic Voyage, which had hit screens a couple summers prior to this issue's release. I like Barry Rockwell's art a lot; it's unconventional and has an energy to it that livens up a tale... at least until Parente throws in a "Monstrous Mistake" of a climax. Groan, just Groan. But the trophy for the most inane story of the issue goes to "Unfeeling Heart," in which a lovestruck scientist whips up a handsome android so he'll get Lori's love and then switches gears without warning and decides the robot should be used as revenge for the girl ignoring his advances. Deadly dumb.


Richard Conway
Creepy #25 (February 1969)

"Keep Your Spirits Up"  ★1/2
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Reed Crandall

"Witches' Tide"
(Reprinted from Eerie #7)

"Their Journey's End" 
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Ernie Colon

"It That Lurks"
(Reprinted from Eerie #7)

"Deep Ruby"
(Reprinted from Eerie #6)

"An Unlikely Visitor" 
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Tony Tallarico

"Keep Your Spirits Up"
Dante, a struggling artist, hits on a novel approach for inspiration after normal methods have left him dry. With the help of seer, Madame Nona, Dante enters the spirit world, absorbs all the oddball visions around him, and makes the trip back to our world to paint what he saw. Very soon, Dante is selling his paintings for top prices and the art world is abuzz. Problem is, the spirits don't take kindly to a non-dead force in their world and, after one trip too many, they decide Dante should hang around for (quite) a bit longer.

For seven pages, it's almost as though Archie never left. Parente finds his muse (even if he is using yet another horror story standby- the starving artist) and Crandall seems invigorated by a script that actually makes some sense (well, I'm a little puzzled by Dante's appearance in that final panel, but...) amidst the jibber-jabber foisted on him lately. Easily the best story to appear in a Warren mag in ages and Parente's most satisfying script yet.

"Their Journey's End"
In the distant future, free-thinking and experimentation are forbidden and citizens are controlled by the Ministry. Betha secretly studies chemistry but when he's discovered he's sent to prison. There he meets free-thinkers Orin and his gorgeous daughter, Lanu. The three are sentenced to death for their crimes but the Ministry offers them freedom if they agree to be brain-washed. After a scuffle, Orin is taken into a lab and given a futuristic lobotomy but Betha and Lanu manage to escape into another part of the building, a room housing a time machine. Hoping they can have a better life in the past, they pull the switch and end up in... oh, how ironic... Nazi Germany!

"Their Journey's End" reminds me of those cockamamie science fiction stories Marvel would run in their black-and-whites, written by young would-be savants itching to change the world. Problem was, most of those silly yarns came off just like "Journey," as pretentious microwaved Ellison rather than brain food. Ernie Colon's art is just awful; Lanu seems to swerve from Natalie Wood to Carol Burnett (no, seriously, check out the panel reproduced here for the proof) and the panel placement is confusing and just plain boring.

The "Williamsune" trademark
Stephan Wingate returns to Wingate Manor, after an absence of years, when his father passes away. Stephan had left the estate after the murder of a young girl and his father's babbling of a curse. His surviving relatives greet him but Stephan knows there's a sinister secret hidden deep within the walls of Wingate Manor. Oh, heck, I'll just tell you what the secret is. The young girl was murdered by Stephan because he's a monster! One that looks exactly like  Bjorn, Prince of Vikings! without his helmet. No surprise there since Tony Tallarico is responsible for the abysmal "art" on "An Unlikely Visitor" and all his monsters look like wild boar. Bill Parente's story is Gothic Poe tripe with a really lame twist. Did Parente consider this stuff original or was it just a paycheck?-Peter

Jack-I think it was just a paycheck. I enjoyed most of "Keep Your Spirits Up"  and love Crandall's pictorial interpretation, but does Bill Parente have a clue how to end a story effectively? And why is Dante nude in the spirit world? No one else is! "Their Journey's End" is weak sci-fi with an "oh brother" ending. I like Colon's art better than you do, Peter; I think it looks like Neal Adams lite. "An Unlikely Visitor" is not only incoherent of plot, it's also ugly to look at. I assumed that creature in the last panel was yet another werewolf, since that seems to be Parente's favorite way to end a tale. As for this issue's reprints, "Witches' Tide" is not among Colan's best, but "It That Lurks" and "Deep Ruby" demonstrate fine efforts by Adkins and Ditko, respectively.


H.B. Harris
Eerie #20 (March 1969)

"Round Trip"
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Bill Fraccio & Tony Tallarico

"A Cloak of Darkness"
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Reed Crandall

"Cave of the Druids!"
(Reprinted from Eerie #6)

"The Fall of the House of Usher"
Story by Edgar Allan Poe
Adaptation and Art by Tom Sutton

"Dark Rider!"
(Reprinted from Eerie #8)


We didn't!
("Round Trip")
One rainy night in the big city, taxi driver Harry recalls one recent passenger, a deluded old woman who lives in squalor but imagines she's in high society. He picks up a mysterious man who asks to be driven to a place along the river. As he drives, Harry recalls another fare: a priest rushing to catch a train. His current passenger reveals himself to be Death just as Harry's cab suffers a fatal crash with a truck. Harry awakens--or does he?--and now both he and his latest passenger are dead.

I think that's a relatively cogent summary of what happens in the six meandering pages that make up Bill Parente's confusing story titled "Round Trip." What does the old woman have to do with anything, much less the priest? The last page makes no sense at all--after Harry's taxi crashes, he wakes up and is driving again, but he's dead? Or his passenger is dead? Or they're both dead? And who's being loaded in an ambulance? I only put this much thought into it because Peter pays so handsomely.

A powerful wizard named Xanthus summons up a demon spirit who tells him that, to rival Satan's power, he must steal Satan's cloak! The demon guides Xanthus to Hell, where the wizard makes his way to Satan's throne room and steals the cloak. Returning to Earth, Xanthus soon is hailed as emperor among sorcerers, wearing "A Cloak of Darkness." When Satan shows up to demand that his cloak be returned, Xanthus kills him, only to learn that he now must take Satan's place as ruler in Hell!
Satanic cheesecake from "A Cloak of Darkness"

Leave it to Reed Crandall to transform a Bill Parente script into an engaging and beautifully rendered tale. There's nothing complex or surprising in the plot or the ending, but at least it makes sense, and Crandall's art is superb.

Perhaps realizing that he has his hands on at least one great artist, editor Parente follows the new Crandall story with a reprint of a classic Goodwin/Crandall tale from late 1966.

A man visits his old friend, Roderick Usher, at his gloomy home and encounters a sad scene: Usher is overly sensitive and thinks his own house is holding him prisoner! His sister has it worse and soon dies of an unknown disease. Usher buries her in a basement vault but she returns, having been prematurely entombed, and takes him with her beyond the grave. The visitor barely escapes the house before he sees it rent in two!

Wow! Tom Sutton comes through with a stunning, eleven-page tour de force adaptation of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." Each page is a delight to look at and Sutton wisely writes it in Poe-like language that keeps the gloomy, nineteenth century mood intact. This is as good as it gets at this point in Warren's history and I'm thrilled to find this gem among the reprints and often terrible new stories.-Jack

Just one of many beautiful panels from Sutton's
adaptation of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher"!
Peter-More proof, with "Round Trip," that Bill Parente really couldn't write. This one makes no sense whatsoever and, ultimately, falls back on the "Death Takes a Ride" cliche. It's as bad as one of the fan-written prose stories found on the Creepy or Eerie Fan Pages, which makes me wonder why Warren didn't simply use those little fillers for stories during the "Dark Age." And yet... Parente actually produces a decent script (granted, it's got a weak ending) yet again for Reed Crandall just as he did for "Keep Your Spirits Up" in Creepy #25. Must be the allure of working with one of the EC masters that elbows Parente to do good. Tom Sutton was graced with a few more pages than usual and classic Poe to work from and he does not disappoint. This absolutely gorgeous tale holds its own with such classic Warren adaptations as Crandall's "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Body-Snatcher." You can see how Sutton's work has improved over the course of a year. Nowhere to go but up!


Gogos
Creepy #26 (April 1969)

"Stranger in Town" 
Story and Art by Tom Sutton

"Second Chance"
(Reprinted from Creepy #13)

"Completely Cured" 
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Bill Fraccio & Tony Tallarico

"Untimely Meeting" ★1/2
Story by Bill Parente
Art by Ernie Colon

"Backfire"
(Reprinted from Creepy #10)

"Voodoo Doll"
(Reprinted from Creepy #12)

John Randolph becomes lost on the desolate road to Prides Crossing, a village with an eerie reputation, and must pull his car to the side to wait out the choking fog. A man approaches Randolph from out of the fog to tell him that Pride's Crossing is no more; the town has vanished. He then tells John a strange and fantastic story about a Eliza Mapes and his deformed son, Wilfred. Mapes had been experimenting with "sentient vegetable life" and created a literal monster in his garden. When Wilfred grows up to be a young man, he goes sweet on the local beauty and gives her a bouquet of flowers from his pop's garden. Unfortunately, the plants eat the girl and the townsfolk, in a rage, burn Mapes's house to the ground, with the botanist still inside. Their anger unabated, they shoot Wilfred and dump him in the swamps.

"Stranger in Town"
Obviously, the villagers had never read the Heap or they would have known what happens when you mix weird chemicals with a stinking, fetid swamp. Time passes and, finally, Wilfred-Thing rises and heads for town, destroying everything and everyone in its path (including the entire town). Story finished, the stranger explains to John Randolph how he knows so much about the legend.

No one was fooled by the Bill Parente/Reed Crandall credit on page one. This was a Tom Sutton production all the way! If I had to point to one comic book story where Sutton first displayed that all-out Tom Sutton style he'd become famous for, I'd say it was "Stranger in Town." The wild flourishes, the creepy old men, the detailed backgrounds, the Lovecraft influence... it's all here. Sutton still had problems with delineating "normal folk," but his depiction of other-worldly beasties was without peer. It's as though the entire world in a Sutton story is rotting and oozing nasty secretions. The pay-off isn't the cliche of the stranger exclaiming "I know everything because I'm Wilfred!" but the amazing full-page pin-up of Wilfred-Thing wrapping the villagers in his vegetal tentacles (the first full-pager in a Warren?).

Andrew boards a train to his home, Fallsburg, but the train goes no further than Grimsdale. Leaving the station, Andrew is struck by how desolate the town is. Moving further in, he runs into some creepy characters in robes, who grab the frightened man and take him to a graveyard where he discovers his name etched on a tombstone. The lid falls on his coffin and we discover that Andrew was actually an inmate at Grimsdale Sanitarium, who has died and is en route to his final resting place.

"Untimely Meeting"
Granger, a ruthless convict, murders a guard and escapes his prison on the edge of the swamp. The sadistic warden isn't about to let the killer go free, so he grabs his dogs and goes a-hunting. Meanwhile, Granger stumbles upon a highway on the other side of the swamp, where he meets a man dressed in vintage clothing, attempting to fix his jalopy. Granger kills the man and motors on but discovers the further down the highway he travels, the older he gets. Suddenly a light bulb goes on over his addled head: if he ages heading this way, perhaps the other lane will take him to youth. Unfortunately, the dope doesn't figure on running right into himself, coming down the highway minutes before.

"Completely Cured" and "Untimely Meeting" continue Bill Parente's shameless pillaging of old EC scripts. We've seen both plots umpteen times before (usually done better), but maybe Bill figured no one was paying attention. The only plus to "Completely Cured" is that this is the first instance where Tallarico/Fraccio don't trot out the saber-toothed troglodyte creature they're so fond of. Aside from that, the narrative makes no sense. Is Andrew dead the entire time? Is he dreaming about his trip to Fallsburg? Why is he terrorized by the hooded figures? The same sort of problems sink "Untimely Meeting." One perplexing sequence has the warden falling back once Granger enters the deep part of the swamp and commenting, "One thing's sure, deputy--if our man went in that way--he ain't never comin' out!" after several panels of the guy proclaiming he was gonna get his man no matter what. Didn't the warden know about the highway? Or is this a secret highway only Granger would stumble on? None of this makes sense but I'll give the writer one-half star for an interesting (if cliched) twist. Another cover reprint, by the way, this one from Famous Monsters of Filmland #20.-Peter

Jack-That cover may be a reprint, but I still love it and anything having to do with London After Midnight! As we move through the "dark ages," trends start to pop up. Generally, we're getting three reprints and three new stories per issue, though this time we get 22 new pages, an improvement over the 18 we had been getting. Sutton is doing fine work, as is Crandall, with Colon's art decent and Fraccio/Tallarico's not so hot.

I agree that "Stranger in Town" is a fine piece of work by Tom Sutton, though I don't think it's as impressive as "The Fall of the House of Usher." I like the pun on the last page, where the monster uses "protean" rather than "protein"; I think it's a clever pun and not a misspelling, though we see plenty of those in the Warren mags. "Completely Cured" is not the first Parente tale that seems to be over and then goes on one more page. The art here is passable and reminds me that we saw some pretty bad work by Joe Orlando back in the glory days. Colon is certainly better than Fraccio and Tallarico and his art in "Untimely Meeting" has a kind of Alex Toth feel to it, though not anywhere near as good. The muddled time paradox story is poor. The three reprints are all fair to fairly good; none of them was great the first time out.


H. B. Harris
Creepy 1969 Yearbook

"Scream Test!"
(From #13)

"The Doorway!"
(from #11)

"Monster!"
(from #10)

"Overworked!"
(from #9)

"Curse of the Vampire!"
(from #14)

"The Beckoning Beyond!"
(from #14)

"Midnight Sail"
(from #10)

One only has to look at the inside front cover of this "1969 Yearbook" to see just how lazy Warren had gotten. It's an illo of Uncle Creepy hyping the contents of this "Collector's Edition," explaining that it contains the very best in illustrated terror and suspense from the first seven issues. Only problem is that the present volume highlights highlights from #9-14 and, yep, that illo is the exact same one that appeared in the 1968 Yearbook! Uh-oh. One wonders what Warren could possibly do to fill a 1970 Yearbook but we'll find out in good time. The cover is based on a still from an old Mexi-monster movie called Ladrón de Cadáveres. -Peter

Jack-I went back over our coverage of these seven stories and saw that we gave two stars to four of them, 2.5 stars to two of them, and three stars to "The Doorway." Hardly the very best! Still, a mag that collects work by Angelo Torres, Dan Adkins, Wally Wood, Neal Adams, and Johnny Craig can't be all bad!

Next Issue...
Can Yandoc succeed where Wildey and Evans failed?