Monday, April 27, 2020

The Warren Report Issue 32: September-November 1971

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

Kenneth Smith
Creepy #41 (September 1971)

"The Thing in Loch Ness" ★1/2
Story and Art by Bruce Jones

"Skipper's Return!"★1/2
Story and Art by Ernie Colon

"The Final Ingredient!"★1/2
Story and Art by Bill DuBay

"Prelude to Armageddon" ★1/2
Story by Nick Cuti and Wally Wood
Art by Wally Wood

"Extra Censory Perception" ★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Gary Kaufman

"A Tangible Hatred" ★★
Story by Don McGregor
Art by Rich Corben

Yep, that's The Beast
From 20,000 Fathoms, all right!
Yankee Jerald starts sniffing around the beautiful bartender at MacLaird's pub on the shore of the Loch Ness. Turns out Gwen isn't exactly happy with her marriage (being married to a very old guy who owns a failing business will do that) and she's open to suggestions. Jerald falls hard for Gwen and, before you know it, he's running the old man down with a car, tying an anchor to the corpse, and dumping it into the Loch. A few months later, Gwen breaks the news that they're broke and Jerald has to come up with a new way to drum up business for the pub.

His bright idea is to lay fake tracks along the shore and craft a phony monster (which he powers underwater by cables!) to attract pub-goers. The trick works and soon the lovers are rolling in enough dough to get them to America. First, for some reason, Jerald decides he has to go to the bottom of the Loch and dismantle his monster gizmo. Unfortunately for the dopey American, the real thing rears its head and, as he's heading for the surface, Jerald becomes entangled in the anchor around the dead guy and gets eaten by Nessie.

"Skipper's Return!"
Let's hope that Warren was paying Bruce Jones by the word rather than the page, since the opening caption holds approximately as much wordage as an average story by itself. The dialogue is mediocre at best, there are lots of plot holes and homages, and the climax makes very little sense, but Jones's art and sense of humor save the day. It's very much like what Roger Corman would come up with if some movie studio told him to "remake Creature From the Haunted Sea, only throw in some Double Indemnity while yer at it, Rog!"

A chimpanzee is sent out into space aboard a rocket ship destined for Jupiter, but it somehow becomes smart enough to return the spacecraft back and get a little revenge on its keeper. The rigors of decoding an Ernie Colon story continue with "Skipper's Return!" I'm not one of these dunderheads that has to have all the art sectioned in nice little panels, but Colon's stories are nigh-unreadable (there are images of dissected frogs intermingled with half-completed human faces) and the text is added almost as an afterthought. The twist, with the intelligent ape returning to Earth, worked much better in Escape From the Planet of the Apes.

"Prelude to Armageddon"
Nomaranda asks her Auntie the witch to whip her up a love potion to nab hunky Romanato. "The Final Ingredient!" to concoct the love potion is a man's head, so Nomaranda sets up a swinging axe in the forest, a contraption that is her undoing in the end. A really lame script but some nice graphics, which is odd since DuBay transformed himself into a pretty good writer later on in his Warren career and the illustrations took a back seat. DuBay tries to inject a healthy dose of humor, but it's just not that funny.

Equinus, messenger of the Gods (who just happens to be a Centaur) is hanging out at the falls one day when he spies a gorgeous (and nekkid) bathing beauty. Suddenly, from out of the skies, come the "winged demen," creatures with bad ideas on their minds, and the Centaur and his new squeeze are forced to flee. The girl is harmed and Equinus snatches her up, barely making it back to the safety of his city of Irith. The babe can't talk, so our hoofed hero christens her "Melody." Equinus explains to the girl that he was on a mission to Cirius Gorgoroth, where dwells the beastly Blud and his right-hand monsters, Karion and Minos Taurus. A lot of battles ensue, Melody is brutally murdered by a zombie (don't ask) and, eventually, the world as Equinus knows it ends.

I've had it up to here trying to synopsize these goofy Sword and Sorcery/Fantasy/Whatsits with their pick-'em-out-of-a-hat character names and endless treks to cities I can't pronounce. Seriously, all you need to know is... Wally! I think the splash page may have been kept under the mattress of more than one pre-teen in the day. Wood's art is simply amazing, his women are beyond gorgeous, but it seems as though each new script is a Xerox of the last. This here guy goes on a trek, meets a babe with big boobs, kills monsters with his big sword (nothing subtle about that), and conquers the evil fiend who's holding the kingdom in his bloody grasp. I will say that "Prelude to Armageddon" has an interesting finish; I won't say that I thought it was satisfying.

"Extra Censory Perception"
Mr. Stamp, the Comics Code Authority agent, would really love to censor everything that goes against his moral fiber: sex, violence, bad words, Yoko Ono recordings. After a nasty argument with a frustrated funny book artist, Stamp heads out into the streets and is approached by a man seeking a match. Sure that the man is going to accost him, Stamp stabs him to death and then turns his attention to the pretty girl who witnessed the murder. The police find him dipping his "Censored" stamp in the girl's blood.

"Extra Censory (sic) Perception" starts out as an on-the-nose indictment (I've always wanted to use that word) of watchdogs and how they foist their own morals on the populace. I'm sure Steve Skeates had his problems with the funny book censors during his career (he's the closest in vibe I've ever encountered to Michael Fleisher... and that's a huge compliment) and this was a little revenge. For the most part, it works, but its abbreviated length (an extremely rare Warren five-pager) torpedoes the narrative in the end and the exaggerated finale is a little silly.

"A Tangible Hatred"
A creature made of pure hate is killing motorists on its way to a rock festival. David Turner is an incredibly smart and liberal police detective is the only person in the whole world who can put two and two together and figure out what's going on. Grabbing his sadistic colleague, Detective Willis, Turner heads to the rock concert just in time to announce to the crowd that if they hold hands with the cops then the creature will disappear. They do and it does, but only for a while, as recently-out-of-college writer Don McGregor reminds us at the climax.

"Creepy Fan Club"
Next to fantasies about half-crab, half-man warriors, my least favorite reading of the Warren Universe belongs to the "Edjacating Writer" sub-genre. You know, those guys who bought Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's first album, smoked a hell of a lot of weed, and went to college on either our taxes or dad's sweat, and then graduated to become self-important funny book writers. Early on, Don McGregor gave Bill Mantlo and Doug Moench a run for their money as Most Pretentious Writer of the 1970s but, whereas Mantlo and Moench continued on down that path, McGregor became a very nuanced and clever scribe (see Black Panther and Killraven for the proof) later on in his career. "A Tangible Hatred" is McGregor's first published work and it shows. With his hippie-loving lead cop ("So it's gonna have to be love, man! Not just lip service to the word!!!" he proselytizes to the stoned crowd), McGregor seems to be protesting such "fascist" fare as Dirty Harry (in the climax, Eastwood's stand-in, Det. Willis, gets the treatment Callahan used to give to the poor criminals he would bully). Corben is hot and cold here (as he will be for a while), with his "hate demon" suitably creepy but his human protagonists looking a bit boxy at times.-Peter

Jack-Peter, you're right on the money with the Corben story. It seems endless at ten pages and the only thing I liked was Corben's monster. His art style is completely wrong for the sections of the story that are police procedural. "The Thing in Loch Ness" was overly wordy and got off to a slow start, but it gained power as it went along. More a short story with illustrations than a good comic book story, it's the best thing in the issue. Wally Wood's busty women are the highlight of the otherwise nearly unreadable "Prelude to Armageddon," and "Extra-Censory Perception" is heavy-handed but has that striking Gary Kaufman art. Bill DuBay's "The Final Ingredient!" edges out Colon's unfocused "Skipper's Return!" mainly due to the humor in DuBay's narrative.

Vampirella #14 (November 1971)

"Isle of the Huntress!"
Story by Archie Goodwin
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"The Wedding Gift"
Story by Nick Cuti
Art by Mike Ploog

"The Sword of Light"★1/2
Story and Art by Sam Glanzman

"Deadman's Treasure!"
Story by Lynn Marron
Art by Tom Sutton

"Wolf Hunt"★1/2
Story by Joe Wehrle
Art by Esteban Maroto

After spending three days on a raft drifting at sea, Vampirella and Pendragon land on an island, where she tells her companion that she's almost out of serum and so they'd better separate for his own good. They are apart only briefly for, as soon as Pendragon is alone, he is set upon by a werewolf and must be rescued by his scantily-clad gal pal. Also on the island are Jean, a buff, shirtless scientist, and Vivienne, his inamorata, who likes to lounge in bed in her nightie. Hearing the commotion in the jungle, they investigate and find the werewolf dead, Vampi flying off in bat form, and Pendragon left to explain. Just then, a plane crash-lands on the island and out of it steps none other than Adam Van Helsing, searching for shipwreck survivors and one in particular.

"Isle of the Huntress!"
Jean and Vivienne take Pendragon and Van Helsing back to their house, where Jean straps Adam to a table and agrees to release Pendragon. Before you can say "The Most Dangerous Game," Vivienne has transformed into a werewolf and "The Isle of the Huntress!" becomes a very dangerous place for the old magician. Vampi draws the werewolf into a chase and Jean explains to Adam that he bargained with the Cult of Chaos to save Vivienne from leukemia, only to find she was cursed with lycanthropy instead! He now experiments with humans who are unlucky enough to find themselves on the island; his goal appears to be to develop a cure for his wife's furry malady.

Jean injects Adam with a serum and Vampi escapes Vivienne. Next morning, the serum has worn off and the lady from Drakulon has a powerful hunger. Pendragon knocks Jean out with a blow from behind and lets Adam loose, just in time for an attack by Vivienne the werewolf. Silver bullets from a handy gun don't faze her, but in flies Vampi and the battle is on! Not surprisingly, Vampirella kills Vivienne and drinks her blood; Jean also turns into a werewolf, having accidentally fallen on his own syringe, and the silver bullets work just fine on him. With his dying words he reveals that he was working on creating a creature able to kill Vivienne, since she wanted to die and end the carnage. Adam and Vampi hope to find peace together, if only his father would back off!

I think I'm enjoying the continuing Vampirella series more than anything else we've read in the Warren mags to date. Goodwin is writing solid, old-fashioned hero comics with a tinge of monsters and horror, and Gonzalez's art is superb. I like the way they pulled bits and pieces from other classic horror stories to cobble together this tale set on a jungle island.

"The Wedding Gift"
In ancient Greece, when Pandora and Regis visit the god Epimetheus before their wedding, Pandora inquires about what the god plans to ship to Hades. She is taken by a jar of horrors, but when the god denies it to her as "The Wedding Gift," she smashes it and releases its contents into the world. Later, she is in chains and tells Zeus that's not how it went down. She claims that Regis and Epithemeus conspired to have her blamed for the act, but Regis denies it and she is locked in a cell. Regis visits her and tells her he will help her escape, so when a Cyclops arrives, Regis kills the monster and he and Pandora escape. She is to be his slave from then on, but she vows that someday women will be liberated.

First, the good--Mike Ploog's art is very pleasing to the eye and he joins the list of Warren artists who can draw sexy women very well. Now, the bad--Nick Cuti's script is a mess and the ending comes out of left field. Still, the art is good enough that I can excuse the flaws in the story.

"The Sword of Light"
The city of Florentosa is under siege from the forces of warrior King Yekkun's magic army and the Florentosa soldiers know they're doomed, so they urge Queen Marinella to flee. Instead, she strips and waits in her bed chamber for Yekkun, offering her own hot blonde bod in exchange for the lives of her people. Fooey, says he, and his army rapes and pillages while he flings the queen in the dungeon. Noble General Callas calls up the witch Tolrah, who turns him into a rat and gives him a magic ring to place on the queen's finger. Callas succeeds but is killed (in rat form) by Yekkun; the queen rises and touches a beam of light that turns into a sword, which she uses to slice Yekkun in two. His magical army falls to pieces.

Incredibly, we survive 7+ years of DC War Comics and countless, dreadful stories by Sam Glanzman, only to encounter him in a Warren Horror Mag! In "The Sword of Light" he plays to his strengths, which do not include depictions of the human face. It's amazing how many ways Glanzman can lay out a page in order to avoid drawing faces as much as possible. When he does, they're ugly, as usual. But he draws a nice queen and the full-page illo (reproduced here) where she slices Yekkun in two is gruesomely cool.

"Deadman's Treasure!"
At a traveling carnival, a hypnotist takes apelike Ernie Johnson back through previous lives, one of which finds him captain of a pirate ship. A man in the audience is thrilled, since he's been searching for lost "Deadman's Treasure!" in the area for years. The greedy city slicker teams up with the hypnotist and they visit Ernie at his shack in the swamp; further hypnotic efforts bring the trio to a long-buried chest of treasure. Unfortunately, Ernie is stuck in his role as pirate captain and kills both his partners rather than share his gold.

I would have given this story four stars back when Tom Sutton was the brightest light at Warren, but with the overall improvement in quality and the presence of the Goodwin-Gonzalez team in this same issue, I used relative grading and awarded it three stars. As a Fredric Brown fan, I'm always up for a good carnival tale, and this one does not disappoint, though Sutton's depiction of Ernie makes him barely human.

"Wolf Hunt"
A beautiful woman named Lupagar transforms into a wolf by the light of the full moon, only to be captured by Torvath, who has been watching her and who locks her in a cell in his castle and has his way with her. Disgusted by him, she finds a way out of her cell and escapes into the castle, but he finds her and tells her she might as well let him have his way with her again. Instead, she turns back into a wolf and attacks him; he had thought she would only attack other animals but his own behavior has made him lower than an animal and thus ripe for a "Wolf Hunt."

As impressed as I am with the art of Jose Gonzalez on the Vampirella series, I'm even more dazzled by this story drawn by Esteban Maroto, whose pages are tremendous. His style has echoes of that of Ernie Colon, but he's a better storyteller and less prone to confusing page designs. Peter and the people who comment on our posts have long promised good things from the Spanish artists and I'm thrilled to see it coming true.-Jack

Peter-"Isle of the Huntress!" is a boatload of coincidences. What are the odds Vampi ends up on the same island as a werewolf? And then, how the heck did Adam find that little island? But, most of all, I want to know... did the Crimson Chronicles make the bestseller list in 1971? Seems like everybody and their hunchbacked henchman read this one. I love Archie Goodwin and I'm liking the Vampi character, so I really want to get into this series, but it's not working yet. "The Sword of Light" answers the question no one asked: Does Sam Glanzman, belittled by your hosts so many times over on the DC War posts, draw a nekkid woman with the same efficiency he does a haunted tank? Well, I do have to say I like Sam's stuff here better than over there, but it still isn't fantastic. The story is confused and boring.

Cuti's "The Wedding Gift" seems almost unfinished but, no worries, Mike Ploog makes the tiny words negligible. "Deadman's Treasure!" is a lot of fun (and yes, I know it's a bit choppy and makes very little sense), the kind of swamp story EC would run (in fact, big Ernie Johnson sure looks like a nod to Jack Davis) and Tom Sutton is aces here. Esteban Maroto makes a stunning debut with "Wolf Hunt," a gorgeous feast for the eyes. Overall, another attractive package from Vampirella.

Enrich Torres
Eerie #36 (November 1971)

"Bad Moon on the Rise!"★1/2
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Tom Sutton

"The Silence and the Sleep"
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Jose Rubio

Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Bruce Jones

"Look What They've Done!"
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Esteban Maroto

Story by Don Glut
Art by Jose Antonio Perez Mascaro

"The Trap"
Story by Greg Potter
Art by L.M. Roca

"Oh, Brother!"★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Dave Cockrum

A young woman walking alone through the Louisiana swamp one night is set upon and torn to pieces by a werewolf! Looks like there's a "Bad Moon on the Rise!" Kain Kincaid awakens the next morning, having had a bad dream and finding himself covered in blood. Another young gal named Susie Q(uentin) agrees to meet Kane for a date that night at Green River and, meanwhile, state homicide cop Lawrence Tyler shows up to investigate the murder. He visits the girl's father just as Kincaid is once again transforming into a werewolf by the light of the full moon. Susie Q is murdered and, the next morning, Tyler finds her mutilated body. A tip that she had been on her way to a date with Kincaid leads the detective to search for the young man and, that night, Tyler finds the werewolf. Shooting him with regular bullets does nothing, but a sudden lunar eclipse causes wolf to revert to human form, and some more bullets finish him off.

In spite of the corny CCR references, this story is kind of fun, and Tom Sutton's entertaining art helps a great deal. The tale ends on a question: Cousin Eerie suspects that the werewolf will return to life at the next full moon but, if that's true, what about in an hour when the lunar eclipse is over? I need to know!

Concert pianist John shoots and kills the man his girlfriend Joyce is two-timing him with. Joyce goes into shock and is admitted to a mental institution, while John has a nightmare in which police grab him and take him to a concert hall, where he plays random notes on a piano. Later, the police show up at his door and find his typed confession; it seems that, when he thought he was playing his piano in the dream, he was really typing out a detailed account of the murder.

("The Silence and the Sleep")

If this story weren't credited to Jose Rubio, I'd think it was the work of Ernie Colon, with a little bit of Jerry Grandenetti weirdness thrown in for good measure. Unlike many of Colon's stories, though, the narrative is fairly coherent, even if the whole thing is a bit dumb.

Prince Targo of Atlantis is swimming home when an earthquake shakes the ocean floor and an avalanche of rocks drive him too deep, causing him to black out. Way down below, he is found by gnomes, who use him as a "Prototype" to build a replica that they can use to attack another kingdom. Back in Atlantis, Targo suffers from bad dreams every time his replica is killing gnomes. When he gets in a fight, he discovers that he has more aggression than usual. Finally, his replica is killed in battle and the nightmares come to an end.

Not a bad story, but Jeff Jones's art looks unfinished, as if Warren published pencils that were never inked.

In "Look What They've Done," a hippie revolutionary realizes he's trapped in a comic book story and refuses to fight the space monsters sent to take over his planet.

"Look What They've Done!"
It's a shame that Esteban Maroto's stellar artwork is utterly wasted on this Steve Skeates talk-fest. The author refers to himself as a hack and criticizes comic books and their readers, but the whole thing is very hard to take.

In the jungles of Brazil, natives kill crocodiles both for the purse and luggage trade and for crazy Dr. Kracilik, who is trying to create a missing link by injecting crocodile serum into unfortunate natives. When the doctor decides to use a native named Jose as his next subject, Jose turns the tables and injects the doctor, who quickly turns into a "Crocodile." He slithers into the swamp, where he is soon killed by natives to make another purse.

This isn't a bad story, it just doesn't go anywhere particularly surprising. The doctor wants to make a missing link? Why? When he gets his just desserts, it's as expected, and there is no suspense created between when he loses his human form and when he is butchered.

"The Trap"
A man named Adams finds himself in "The Trap," a tomb where he shares space among the cobwebs with Windsor Stockbridge, a former detective who was fired after botching three murder cases in a row. Stockbridge gives Adams a knife and asks the man to kill him quickly, explaining that he wants to die and that the key to get out of the tomb is hidden on his person. Eventually, Adams complies and stabs Stockbridge but, to his dismay, there is no key! It turns out Stockbridge was desperate to catch and trap a murderer and he was willing to sacrifice his life to succeed.

It's rare that I read an Eerie story and wish it were longer, but that was the case with "The Trap." The influx of artists from overseas is wonderful and Roca's style is impressive, with his use of deep blacks and grays. The end was a surprise as well, which is equally rare.

"Oh, Brother!"
Two alien creatures land their spaceship in Manhattan and cause a panic. Cops shoot and kill them. End of story? Not quite! The aliens had come from Earth and traveled back in time to collect samples, but when one shot and killed a T-Rex, the act altered the future and the Earth they returned to was the one we inhabit, not the one they left.

"Oh, Brother!" is a good title for another hokey tale by Steve Skeates, who seems to have a talent for stating the obvious. Fortunately, Dave Cockrum's art is sharp and he's already showing signs of growth. I wonder how serious things would have gotten in 1971 if you put Doug Moench, Steve Skeates, and Don McGregor together in the same room for a rap session. Heavy, man.-Jack

Peter-Well, that's a pretty cool cover, but it doesn't look like a wolf's paw to me. "Bad Moon on the Rise!" is a cute and gimmicky bit of nonsense and those of us old enough to remember Creedence will smile at all the references (although Susie Q dropping John Fogerty's name in the swamp made no sense at all to me). The twist at the climax is a good one as well. Heck, anytime Doug Moench can write a werewolf tale and not make it some metaphor for the Republican Party is all right by me. "The Silence and the Sleep" is just awful, another script that makes very little sense coupled with barely-average graphics. "Prototype" comes off like a failed Sub-Mariner TV pilot and Bruce Jones's usually fine work looks like a portfolio rather than a cohesive whole.

I love meta funny book stories and "Look What They've Done!" starts off on the right foot but very quickly decides it needs to right the wrongs of the world. Skeates lost me after that. Don Glut's "Crocodile" is dumb, harmless fun, obviously "inspired" by the equally dumb and harmless The Alligator People, starring Lon Chaney, but the art by Mascaro (in his one and only Warren appearance) is strictly amateur hour. Glut nails all the rote aspects of a Universal-International production, including the awkward explanation as to why this loony scientist is doing what he's doing in the first place. It's not art, but at least I can finish the story without nodding off. And, hey, if Stan Lee could do it, why not Glut? "The Trap" is a tedium-filled dumpster with an incredibly dopey climax. And, finally, Skeates (who went 0 fer four at bat this issue) takes a gander at Glut's "homage" and says, "Hey, if Don gets paid for ripping off other material, I can do it too!" and does. Problem is, "Oh, Brother!" was done at least fifty times before 1971 by Bradbury and EC and every one of those was certainly more coherent.

Creepy #42 (November 1971)

"The Quaking Horror" ★1/2
Story by Gardner Fox
Art by Rafael Auraleon

"A Change of Identity!"★1/2
Story by Don Glut
Art by Dave Cockrum

"The Amazing Money-Making Wallet"
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Joe Staton

"Spacial Delivery" 
Story by R. Michael Rosen
Art by Larry Todd

"A Chronicle!"
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Jorge Badia Romero

"Escape From Nowhere World"
Story by T. Casey Brennan
Art by Jerry Grandenetti

"Ice Wolf" 
Story and Art by Gary Kaufman

"The Quaking Horror"
"The Quaking Horror" is a decent, Lovecraft-inspired tale about a house on a hill that seemingly eats the nearby villagers for sustenance.  Or so the villagers think. In actuality, the creature, a tentacled oddity summoned from another dimension by a centuries-dead seaman, lives deep below the house and sends its feelers out for food. The Fox script is (surprise! surprise!) high on purple prose and the climax peters out, a la a Lovecraft story, rather than shocks, but the Auraleon work is fabulous, perfect for its eldritch subject.

In "A Change of Identity," Gradvitz the werewolf is hunted down and shot with silver bullets but, just to make sure he doesn't return from the dead as a vampire (or so the local legends say), the villagers run him through with a stake for good measure. Enter Trogg, the local put-upon hunchback, who's tired of being whipped and beaten simply because he's different. He unspikes Gradvitz and makes him an offer: turn the hunchback into a strong werewolf in order that he may wreak havoc on his tormentors and he, in turn, will safeguard the new vampire's coffin. Gradvitz agrees and Trogg sets up house, but the vampire has an ace up his sleeve. He pulls out a voodoo doll and strangles Trogg, transforming him into a zombie. Hoo-Ha, got us, didn't he? Ol' Don Glut pulled a switcheroo on us... the werewolf is actually a vampire and the hunchback is actually a zombie! Cockrum's monsters and the fact that this type of tale is preferable to fairies and unicorns is all that kept my interest.

"Spacial Delivery"
A pickpocket steals a magical wallet that seemingly makes money but also reduces its owner to ashes. I think. "The Amazing Money-Making Wallet" really is that simple. In fact, it comes off as a Skeates script that was dropped off at the Warren office before it was finished. The only reason we know the wallet makes money is because the title says so. The reason why the owners burn up and turn to ash is never explained. The story just ends and we're none the better for it. Jack will, no doubt, be excited that Joe Staton made a visit, but this is definitely one to skip.

An alien crash-lands in the swamp adjoining a small European village and begins his search for an element needed to fix his vehicle. Unfortunately for the hapless outer-space man (who can change shapes at will), he's become stranded in a village full of religious fanatics convinced their little town has a werewolf problem. One of them sees him transform into a wolf in the forest and hilarity ensues. "Spacial Delivery" is a fun little romp with a sharp sense of humor and some stirring graphics by Larry Todd, moonlighting (for the second and final time in Warren history) from the Todd/Bode duo. Check out the detail in that panel above! This comes off as a prelude to the nuttiness Rich Corben would very soon provide on an almost-monthly basis.

An inspiration for half of
Bruce Springsteen's material, perhaps?
Peter is working on research but his wife keeps pestering him to ask for a raise at work. Peter keeps forgetting because he's so into his research. Then, one day, while reading the newspaper, Peter discovers that someone else has invented what he was working on for years. Depressed, he asks his boss for a raise and is fired, so he does what any downtrodden early 1970s' guy who isn't in Vietnam would do: he buys a gun at a pawn shop and robs a bank. Peter is shot by police. The End. What the heck is this doing in a zine called Creepy? There's nothing original here; you could change eras and it's the same old story (though it is set to a quasi-poem written by Anonymous, which would give Skeates more street cred at Don McGregor's BBQ). So just what is Steve Skeates trying to tell us in "A Chronicle?" That he understands what his brother is going through in 1971 America? That he wants that Warren Award for Best Story? Next!

Perhaps still gripping the bowling trophy he won for "On the Wings of a Bird" (way back in Creepy #36), T. Casey Brennan settled in front of his typewriter with a heavy sigh and attempted to write a sequel of equal if not heavier breadth. "How can I possibly top (admittedly) a masterpiece?" sighed Brennan. "Perhaps I should do what I did the first time and not give it much thought!" And so was born "Escape From Nowhere World," a tale that somehow achieves an even greater apex of pretension than its predecessor. Back are Ahzid and his stone friend in the middle of the desert. Joining them this time is a pretty maiden who happens upon the pair just as Ahzid is awakening from a two-centuries' long nap. What follows is a string of psychobabble dialogue and a directionless plot.

Ahzid: No! Please, great statue! There has to be some other way! There has to be! Please!

Statue: If I must die let it be as a man who can feel and love and care and hope--not as a great cold stone monstrosity! And if I must die, let it be for the ideals for which I once lived! Let it be my final victory over the forces of oppression...

It boggles my mind that anyone could have read either Brennan story and mistaken it for great literature. As David Lee Roth once famously said, "There's a sucker born every minute!"

"Death, where is thy release?"

The strange and ancient saga of hunter Night Fang, "Ice Wolf" is a tough one to wrap your head around. At its heart, it's the simple story of a man who grows to believe he's a wolf and becomes fond of human flesh, but there are other levels to the narrative as well. Of the four Gary Kaufman solo stories to appear in Warren (and this would be his last), "Ice Wolf" is the weakest story-wise; Kaufman's graphics remain sparse but effective. I have no idea what became of Kaufman after his Warren stint but we'll certainly miss him around here.-Peter

Jack-Best in Show this time around goes to Rosen & Todd's "Spacial Delivery," a clever and enjoyable mix of Gothic and alien themes. Next is "The Quaking Horror," in which Auraleon's fine art elevates another tired Fox story. "A Chronicle!" wastes four pages of sharp art by Romero on a terrible script, while "Ice Wolf" is ten pages long and well-drawn but, again, weak on the story front. I'm sensing a trend with Warren. I like Dave Cockrum's art so didn't mind "A Change of Identity," despite another mediocre Glut story, while my excitement at seeing one of Joe Staton's first pro credits in "The Amazing Money-Making Wallet" is dampened by more poor work from Skeates. Gotta love Staton's hippie chick, though, as well as the depiction of the melting man. Worst of all is "Escape from Nowhere World," which has uninspired graphics by Jerry G. and pretentious claptrap trying to pass for a narrative.

The Best of Creepy
(Tempo Books, .75c)
164 pages

"Sand Doom"
(Reprinted from Creepy #5)

(Reprinted from Creepy #2)

"Untimely Tomb"
(Reprinted from Creepy #5)

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

(Reprinted from Creepy #1)

"Grave Undertaking"
(Reprinted from Creepy #5)

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

"Collector's Edition"
(Reprinted from Creepy #10)

Though promised as the first in a series, Tempo Books' The Best of Creepy was the one and only mass-market paperback of Warren comic material to appear while the company existed. I found mine in a B. Dalton's in late 1971 before the ads started appearing in the zines. Back in the day, it was actually possible to be surprised about something you found at the bookstore (of course, now there aren't any bookstores left) and I was thrilled by my discovery and snapped it up immediately. The reproduction isn't that great and (in the tradition of the EC paperbacks published by Ballantine in the 1960s) two or three panels sideways per page isn't the ideal way to read something like Frazetta's "Werewolf."-Peter

From Vampirella 14

From Eerie 36

From Creepy 42

Next Week...
Don't look now but...
Here Come the 80s!


Quiddity said...

On Creepy 41:
I'm pretty high on Bruce Jones's artwork in the few stories he draws for Warren. He also does around a half dozen or so for Skywald. His writing is just so-so here, but Jones will go on to become in my opinion the best writer to ever work at Warren. We will have to wait a very long time for him to be prolific though, not until Louise Jones is editor. He does do one great story while Dubay is editor, the famous "Jenifer" drawn by Berni Wrightson. In reading the Ernie Colon story a couple of days ago, I gotta admit, I really like his style and think he's improved pretty well as an artist during his time at Warren. His story here is rather bonkers, but I enjoyed the art quite a bit. As with many artists we've seen during Warren's dark ages though, the Spanish artists will push him out and we don't have much more of him. In fact I think this is his final Creepy story.

A great art job by Wood; at least among the American artists working for Warren he is probably the best at drawing women (several of the Spanish artists have him beat). I too am kinda sick of these fantasy stories though. I'll miss Gary Kaufman, he only did 4 stories for Warren, but they were all expertly drawn and as I mentioned last time, "Eye of the Beholder" is one of the truly great Warren stories for me.

Don McGregor absolutely is the most pretentious writer to work at Warren in my opinion. He is lecturing to the reader non-stop in stories such as in "A Tangible Hatred" and I feel that a large majority of his Warren stories do that to the reader. He's lucky he often has strong artists doing his stories or else there would be no point in reading them.

On Vampirella 14:
I'm so happy that we have finally reached the point where we will be getting Esteban Maroto drawn stories. My second favorite artist to ever work for Warren (we will see my #1 soon). He's got the perfect balance of fine detail without going overboard with it and is really impressive at drawing practically any genre. He also is really effective at drawing surreal stories (albeit not as much so as Jose Bea). And finally, Jose Gonzalez is really the only other Warren artist on the same level as him in terms of drawing beautiful women. He is also really prolific, by my count drawing 100 stories for Warren; only one other artist draws more for them (Jose Ortiz, who is still a few years away at this point).

On Eerie 36:
It is actually Fernando Rubio, not Jose Rubio (perhaps a misprint), I'd agree with the similarity of his work to Jerry Grandenetti. Rubio only does a few stories for Warren, but I saw a decent amount from him when I recently went through the entire line of Skywald. "Oh Brother" seems influenced considerably by Ray Bradbury's famous short story "A Sound of Thunder"

On Creepy 42:
Great to see the debut of Rafael Auraleon, another very prolific artist who will do 70+ stories for Warren, in their top 5 all time. His style is perfectly suited for horror, perhaps more so than any other artist who works for Warren. Also memorable for me because my first ever Warren issue I owned was Creepy #56 which he drew the first story for. We'll be seeing him a lot all the way until Warren goes bankrupt. I believe "A Chronicle" is actually drawn by Jorge Galvez, who was Badia Romero's cousin, and shares a very similar style to his. I haven't had a chance to reread this issue yet (weren't expecting you to tackle it until 2 weeks from now) but my recollection is "Escape from Nowhere World" is absolute garbage, as nonsensical as "On the Wings of a Bird" was. The big question is, who is a worse writer, T. Casey Brennan, or Don McGregor?

Peter Enfantino said...


Thanks so much for all your comments. Brennan or McGregor? Starland Vocal Band or Rick Dees?
I would actually place McGregor in first place if I have to pick between the two for the simple fact that, between Warren and Marvel, there's just so many more garbage cans full of "enlightening material" out there. But, for my money, the worst offender has to be Doug Moench and his roulette wheel of important issues.

Quiddity said...

The more I think of it, McGregor clearly is the better writer; I get the point he is trying to get at, I just dislike the fact that practically every story he writes is lecturing to the reader about some social ill. Horror comics is not the place for this, or at the very least not the place to do it in every single story you write. Brennan on the other hand writes as if he is high on drugs most of the time. So many of his stories are absolute nonsense and pointless. We'll eventually get a story from him where the entire plot of the story is a pair of guys running up stairs. It blows my mind that the editors at Warren let so many of his stories go through. I feel bad for Jack, after rating the Vampirella story so highly; as eventually Brennan will take over as writer for her. Yikes!

Doug Moench pumps out a lot of stuff for Warren but I never recall his works bothering me as much as McGregor and Brennan's did. Maybe because when Moench does a bad story I just forget it ever existed while the other two write stories that are so memorably bad I just can't forget them. Steve Skeates gets a lot of criticism around this time, which he totally deserves, but he eventually improves into a fairly strong writer for Warren who does several very memorable stories.

andydecker said...

Count me in for not being a McGregor fan. His Marvel work for the magazines is equally unreadable, pretentious and overwritten, always three words where one would have been enough. Being overly purple was kind of a trademark of Warren, especially in the later years. And yes, Brennan's stories are mostly nonsense.

I am on the fence with Maroto. His artwork is undoubtly beautiful, he drew so well, you can loose yourself in his art. But the production standard of Warren often didn't do him a favour, and a lot of his tales are hard to follow. Especially his later fantasy stories. The editorial I guess re-wrote his texts (or embellished the translations) didn't help either.

Btw, does anybody knows if the print novel Doug Moench speaks of in his profile, some S&S, ever see the light of the day? I own one of Gerry Conway's early SF novels, but that Moench also did one is news to me. It seems to be in no bibliografy.

Peter Enfantino said...

I'd have to go back and pore through the files of Marvel University for actual titles, but my recollection is that Moench wrote a whole lot of pretentious crap for the Marvel B&Ws (of course, so did Steve Gerber but no one seems to deduct points for pretension from Gerber's work). McGregor had that Black Panther run that elevated his name into the high echelon. Who knows why anyone thought highly of Brennan (perhaps they were equally high?). And Skeates is an interesting case. I remembered him as being a stellar writer (and he's got a whopper coming up in, I believe, Creepy #60) but his stuff so far has failed to ring my buzzer. I'l have a very funny story to tell about Skeates and me (well, i think it's funny) when we get to that issue of Creepy.
Skeates and McGregor start out awful but do eventually produce memorable work. I'm not sure if that's better or worse than a case like Denny O'Neil, who clearly emptied his tanks in the 70s and then cruised the rest of the way down hill.

I can't find any mention of the novel anywhere so I assume it never sold. We are a better nation for that.

Anonymous said...

Re-reading these issues, my one big takeaway is how awesome that Auraleon story looks. Without the credit, I’d have had no idea this story was drawn by him. By the time I started buying the Warren mags in 1974, his style had changed drastically, with much heavier inks, almost oppressive, and his panel layouts had become less adventurous. Every story looked pretty much the same. In ‘The Quaking Horror’, there is so much variety, both in his page designs and inking techniques. Very delicate line-work contrasts with areas of heavy black, and that is just about the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen from him. The whole think looks like a weird cross between Esteban Maroto and Jose Bea and it’s magical. Kinda breaks my heart that he didn’t stick with this style.

- b.t.

Grant said...

I'm in the minority here, but I can't help liking T. Casey Brennan's items and a lot of other self-consciously "arty" stories.
I just wonder what the comments will be about "The Climber of the Tower" in Creepy # 50. Maybe it's so different from "On The Wings Of A Bird" and "Nowhere World"that that's a bad comparison, but I don't know.

Jack Seabrook said...

b.t.: I really liked Auraleon's art as well and it's too bad to hear he won't hold up over time.

Grant: I admit I like the DC early '70s "preachy" stories, but (for me) Denny O'Neil was a better writer that what we're seeing at Warren.

Quiddity said...

Grant: "The Climber of the Tower" was the very Brennan story I was thinking about. How an editor let that story go through, I'll never know. I'm sure I'll have more to say once we get to it and I (painfully) re-read it.

Auraleon's quality absolutely goes down over time which is unfortunate. I don't think the level of detail he puts in changes so much but I agree he isn't as adventurous as he is in this earlier stories of his.

Jack Seabrook said...

Thanks, Quiddity. I am enjoying Auraleon's work so far!