Monday, August 31, 2020

The Warren Report Issue 41: March/April 1973

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

Eerie 46 (March 1973)

"And An Immortal Died"1/2
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Bill DuBay & Tom Sutton

"The Things in the Dark"
Story by Fred Ott
Art by Jimmy Janes

Story by Bill Warren
Art by Paul Neary

"The Root of Evil"★1/2
Story by Mike Jennings
Art by Martin Salvador

"Planet of the Werewolves!"★1/2
Story by Gerry Boudreau
Art by Reed Crandall

"The Giant"
Story by Esteban Maroto and Steve Englehart
Art by Esteban Maroto

After a recap of the recent events concerning Dracula in Vampirella, the Conjuress drops Drac off on the Barbary Coast in the early 1900s. After the vampire drinks some blood from a couple of would-be tough guys on the docks, he sets his eyes on boarding a ship that will return him to his home in Europe. Meanwhile, a beautiful hooker named Josephine lures a sailor to his doom down a dark alley, where an old witch bashes him over the head before tearing out his heart to eat it raw in a ritual to keep her alive.

An undignified end for the Conjuress
Dracula hypnotizes two men to procure him a comfy coffin for the long voyage and soon meets Josephine, but before she can lure him to the same fate that befell the unfortunate sailor, he goes for her jugular. The Conjuress picks the wrong time to show up and is bonked in the head by the old witch! The Conjuress dies and Dracula turns to the old witch to exact vengeance, but the death of the goddess brings on the big San Francisco earthquake of 1906! Drac grabs Josephine and the witch and manages to board the ship of his choice before everything falls to pieces. He kills the witch and bites Josephine just as the ship sets sail.

I assume that "And an Immortal Died" is the start of a new series, and I have to hand it to Tom Sutton for his terrific art! It may not be as smooth as the work of Jose Gonzalez on the Vampirella series, but it's pretty impressive in its own right. Getting rid of the Conjuress must have been thought to be important to free the story to go its own way, but having her hit over the head with an old witch's stick is a sad end to a goddess. I had no idea that Dracula was involved in the famous earthquake or that the demise of the Conjuress is what brought it on, but I learn something new every day. I'm looking forward to this series, if this first entry is any indication of quality to come!

Did Sutton help out with the smaller man's face?
After little Billy disappears without a trace one night in a spooky graveyard, famous psychic researcher Prof. von Metz visits the cemetery's caretaker, Withers, and announces that he's going to get to the bottom of things. And get to the bottom he does, since "The Things in the Dark" are actually giant worms that feed on corpses. von Metz goes underground with a pistol but quickly discovers that Withers is fond of the critters and is burying von Metz in order to give them a midnight snack.

The start of the story, with the kids in the graveyard, cries out for Tom Sutton, but instead we get Jimmy Janes, who seems to be copying photographs for much of the character work in this story. The tale itself is somewhat Lovecraftian, what with the giant worms eating corpses, but the execution is pedestrian and there are some humorous moments where von Metz acts in unexpected ways. For instance, when Withers suggests that they get out of there, von Metz pulls a gun and insists that he'll investigate whether Withers likes it or not! The panel reproduced here is the highlight of the story and reminds me of something we'd see in one of Peter's Atlas horror comics.

Japanese fisherman are shocked by the sudden appearance of "Garganza!" The dinosaur-like creature was spawned by the A-bomb and goes on a rampage, wiping out much of the Far East and laying eggs that spawn more little monsters. Mankind is wiped out and dinosaurs rule the world. Over time, man is reborn, civilization returns, another atomic bomb is deployed and, to paraphrase Sting, many miles away something stirs at the bottom of a Japanese lake.

Paul Neary's likable art is all but wasted in this mashup of Godzilla and Planet of the Apes. Why did Bill Warren think anyone wanted to read a nearly note for note reboot of Godzilla, followed by yet another warning about the cyclical nature of events? I kept waiting for a surprise--any surprise--but it never came.

Martin Salvador sprinkles a few of these evocative panels
among the pages of "The Root of All Evil" to suggest the
passage of time as the tree-creature grows.
A wino named Abe Rosengarten answers an ad looking for a helper in a plant nursery and agrees to be a guinea pig for an experiment conducted by Prof. T. Thumb and his comely assistant, Miss Mumm. As the days pass, Abe finds himself hitting the bottle less and less, but soon he discovers that a plant is growing to resemble him and he is growing to look like a plant. It's all part of Prof. Thumb's plan for world domination and a date with Miss Mumm; a giant tree creature that looks a bit like Abe briefly menaces New York City until Miss Mumm plunges her garden shears into the real Abe's chest and severs "The Root of All Evil."

Fortunately, there is a profile of writer Mike Jennings in this issue, to prevent me from speculating on the age and experience level of the author of this surprisingly fun little story. Jennings is 40ish and new to writing comics, having worked in publishing and as a radio broadcaster. "The Root of Evil" is heavy on words but, for a change, I preferred the writing to the art. Sure, it's all a bit silly, but the plant-based character names and the puns made me smile. I also liked that the menace was never very menacing.

Ah, Reed, is this what it's come to?
After a system malfunction, Starship 7 crash-lands on the "Planet of the Werewolves!" A ragged Earthman who has been stranded on the planet explains to the crew that werewolves are on the prowl and, before you know it, the hairy creatures make their way onto the ship and kill the lone female crew member. The ship is repaired and takes off, but the crew is shocked to learn that the Earthman they have picked up is really a vampire, anxious to reach a new planet with plenty of potential victims.

It hurts me to say it, but the Reed Crandall story is the worst (so far) in what has been shaping up to be a fairly good issue of Eerie. Gerry Boudreau's script is awful, from the meandering plot to the always groan-worthy twist of introducing a vampire, and Crandall's art is but a shadow of what he was doing less than a decade before.

The only person prettier than the women in
Maroto's stories is Dax himself.
Held captive in the cave of a cyclops known as "The Giant," a topless beauty named Woona escapes and is chased by monsters until Dax comes to her rescue. She takes up with the blond warrior but is killed when a bat-like creature swoops down on her; Dax takes her to be buried and meets an old man who looks like a wizard. The wizard asks Dax to replace him as master of monsters but Dax isn't interested, so the wizard has the cyclops attack Dax. Dax uses his wits to defeat the giant creature and the wizard disappears.

An uncredited Steve Englehart attempts to write a coherent script for Maroto's latest exercise in drawing pretty pictures, but it's a fool's errand trying to make Esteban's work follow an interesting plot. Here, the wizard reminds me of the Sorcerer Tim from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and I continue to wonder why Dax spends so much of his time wandering around, as well as what shampoo and conditioner he uses.-Jack

"The Things in the Dark"
Peter-Years ago, I did a dissection of all the continuing series to appear in Eerie (not something I'd ever do again voluntarily... oh, wait...), and my summation of the three-chapter "Dracula" series was a resounding "meh." Perhaps I was too hard on the opus since, on a second read, I thought this opening chapter was a hoot. Sutton's clearly off the rails, making everything a dripping delight, and DuBay seems to be finally finding his voice as a writer. The highlight, of course, is the Conjuress taking a knock on the noggin and setting off the 1906 earthquake! The Conjuress was clearly made up of flimsier material than most Warren goddesses.  Fred Ott's "The Things in the Dark" is supremely lame; the whole script is a cheat and the reveal is inane. Why would the dopey caretaker call a professor, who doubtless let on to people he'd be coming down to this cemetery, rather than kill some local streetwalker? Jimmy Janes looks like he was similarly puzzled by Ott's words. Have a look at the panels I've reprinted here and tell me why von Metz is pointing his gun at Withers and, further, why does von Metz say "Look out, Withers! Behind you!" when he's aiming at a completely different spot? Never mind. It's just dumb.

"I am... Groot!"
Looks like Bill Warren (in his final work for Warren Publishing) gave as much thought to the creation of "Garganza" as he did to his other Warren stories. Are we to assume that Garganza's kids are the result of a massive immaculate conception, since there is no proof of Mr. Garganza at any point of the narrative? And why would she give birth to different species of dinosaurs? As perplexing as the script is, I thought Neary's work was aces. Now get Paul someone who can write. "The Root of Evil" contains this month's best line of dialogue, spoken by Professor Tom Thumb: "I won't mince words. I'm a scientist, you're a bum." Damn... now I can't get "Opportunities" by the Pet Shop Boys out of my head. "Let's make lots of money!" Mike Jennings's script is obviously bark-in-cheek, with some genuinely funny one-liners and dialogue, in addition to the aforementioned "Quote of the Week" (Professor: What do you know about ecology? Abe: Not much. You got some you need painted, or unloaded, or raked, or what?") Other random thoughts: I've never, in my life, met a hunchback, but then I also have never met any mad scientists. Oh, and Groot!

Oh, Gerry Boudreau, please don't tell me you're going there. It's not the werewolves we have to worry about, it's the vampires! Bad script, bad art. Reed Crandall is an artist best suited to the Victorian era, not a space opera. His werewolves are just about the least scary lycanthropes we've ever seen. This is Boudreau's first work for Warren and, over the next decade, he'll contribute dozens more scripts. My cheat sheet shows me that Gerry has at least two classics on tap, so it's obvious he won't rely on EC cliches forever. Jack wants to know what conditioner Dax uses; I want to know how his tired one-liners and smelly arm-pits charm the girls with the big boobs. The end of "The Giant" is a tad abrupt, but I think it's the most readable entry yet.

From Eerie #46

Creepy 52 (April 1973)

"A Most Private Terror" 
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Esteban Maroto

"The Last Hero!" ★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Ramon Torrents

"Halve Your Cake and Eat It Two" 
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Adolfo Abellan

"Them Thar Flyin' Things!" 
Story by Greg Potter
Art by Jose Bea

"The Man with the Brain of Gold" 
Story by Alphonse Daudet
Adapted by George Henderson
Art by Reed Crandall

"The Killer" ★1/2
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Felix Mas

"A Most Private Terror"
Hunter Briley Culmen sits freezing in front of his fire, the Canadian snow deep all around him, and ponders the creatures of the dark. Briley remembers a woman he loved, a strange, exotic beauty who, unfortunately, happens to be a werewolf. Briley finds this out when the creature attacks him and he runs it through with his sword. Dead, the monster reverts back to its gorgeous, naked, human identity. Now, years later, Briley is convinced a similar creature is stalking him through the wilderness but, after a long chase and a deadly fall to the bottom of a chasm, the hunter discovers his stalker is a mere bunny rabbit.

There's not much of substance to the script for "A Most Private Terror," but Maroto does his job well enough (some truly amazing work here). This story, again, brings to mind the Marvel Way, with Doug's captions doing little more than describing the action that's going on in the panels, throwing to the side anything deep. Are we to believe this little bunny is the frightening menace that stalks Culmen across the miles? Or should we, instead, assume that the guy is nuts and the rabbit shows up at the last second? Not really sure which to believe.

Too much Moench and Skeates will do this to ya
In the distant future, machines do everything for man, but a radical group known as the Baldies cause mayhem in order to throw a monkey wrench into what they believe is a broken system. But one man, who is perfectly happy doing nothing but studying mysticism and music, fights back, dressed as a superhero named "Freeman." Unfortunately, the Baldies outnumber "The Last Hero!" and, after a certain 1970s drug is administered, "Freeman" is brainwashed into the Baldies' culture. What a mess this is; there's no real reason for our unnamed protagonist to don a Zorro mask (especially when you have the only samurai 'stache in the city) and his fantastic powers (including some kind of ray beam that he emits, I think, from his eyes, but who can tell from the Torrents art) are never quite explained. I'm officially tired of the Warren "computers take over" sub-genre.

Roger wakes up to find he might be the only man left alive after nuclear devastation. He wanders the streets, looking for food and companionship, finally stumbling into a scrawny dog, which he names Caliph. The duo take to the road and, very soon, they find a pretty girl in a ditch. Roger gives her mouth-to-mouth and she awakens, falling in love with her savior immediately. Roger, Brenda, and Caliph live in relative happiness until their food supply begins to dwindle. That, and an attack by some form of mutant-human, have the couple on edge.

Roger drives to a local town for food, leaving Brenda with Caliph, but the car runs out of gas and it takes him three days (!) to walk back. When he gets back to their cave, there's no Brenda or Caliph, and he's set upon by a mutant. He kills the thing, surmising that it murdered and ate Brenda and the dog. Starving, he cooks and eats the mutant (as anyone would) but, very soon, a change takes place and Roger becomes a mutant himself. It's then that he realizes he cooked and ate Brenda. I absolutely hated everything about "Halve Your Cake and Eat It Two": the script, the art, the semicolons, everything. Doug Moench's special brand of sermonizing and way with an adjective (a desperate arm, strength fiercely surging through its vein-corded length, bludgeons the repulsive monstrosity in a spraying wash of scarlet (as opposed to green, I guess) blood and murky putrescence...) are well-documented and mocked in this blog so I'll just sum up... yeccch.

Sheriff Rip Diggerman and his deputy, Sam Dream, can't wait to get over ta Rip's Ma's place; she's cookin' up her famous apple pie. When the boys get there, Rip notices his sister Betty-Ann ain't around, and Ma tells him the girl is off lookin' for a man. The girl can't wait ta get herself hitched. Meanwhile, down at the crick, Betty-Ann has latched onto a new man, a stranger named Ronald who seems to be more interested in latchin' onta a fish than makin' whoop with Betty-Ann. Back at Ma's, deputy Fife tells Andy that they should be goin'; he heard tell there was another sightin' of a UFO out yonder near that crick where Betty-Ann is courtin'. The boys hop in their patrol car and head out of Dodge. Betty-Ann has had enough of Ronald's plum ignorin' her and she heads off through the woods, where she stumbles on four bald, antennae'd aliens exiting their spacecraft.

She hightails it back to Ronald, who is, understandably, skeptical, but he agrees to investigate the girl's claims. A while later, Rip and Sam come upon Roger fishing at the crick and ask him about Betty-Ann. The man sarcastically replies that, in his opinion, "she got kidnapped by one of them thar flyin' things... she got kidnapped by spacemen and they used her bones in their atomic generators like a truck diver (sic) uses a can of gasoline!" Rip pops him one and the sheriff and deputy march off to find Betty-Ann. In the brush lies the skeleton of Betty-Ann and Ronald confesses to himself that he sure was sorry he had to kill Betty-Ann and use her bones for rocket fuel but no one on Earth must know that his friends have landed.

Ah, thank you, Greg Potter, for this bright ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismally dark issue. Jose Bea's pencils are perfect and Potter's script is hilarious and, in the climax, pretty darn dark. Poor Betty-Ann just wanted a man and she had to go pester a Martian.

Roger is "The Man with the Brain of Gold," a unique attribute that becomes both gift and curse. Ever since he was young, all Roger had to do was pull a nugget or two from his head (ostensibly by unzipping the back of his neck?) and all those around him would profit. Then Roger meets the love of his life, a woman who has very expensive tastes, and his joy knows no measure. Alas, the girl dies and Roger goes to pieces, buying one last small treasure, a pair of shoes his wife would have loved, on the way home from her funeral. When Roger goes to the counter to pay, all that comes out in his hand is clotted blood.

Dribs and drabs of a
meandering mess
A very odd, very creepy little story based on a 19th century French tale by Alphonse Daudet (how George Henderson happened upon this little-known tale would make for interesting reading). "The Man With the Brain of Gold" holds a special place in my heart as one of those that gave me more than a few nightmares, thanks to that final panel of the titular character leaned over a display case, blood running from his hands and his head sickeningly sinking in. Big time credit must go to Reed Crandall for the disconcerting graphics. Hopefully, this marks a comeback for Crandall, whose art lately has not been up to his usual standards. Roger is a truly tragic character; he's not a Scrooge, nor a penny-pincher, nor a cold-hearted beast, as are so many of the funny book characters who earn their nasty demise. He's just a freak of nature who tries to make the best of it.

In the finale, "The Killer," Arthur finds a gorgeous girl, marries her, watches as the marriage collapses under the weight of his boring lifestyle, and then wakes up next to her naked, gorgeous corpse. Did Arthur stab his wife to death for stepping out on him? Why can't he remember the time leading up to her death? Did Steve Skeates change the script on Felix Mas after the art came in (the wife is described as "fat-cheeked and far from beautiful" in the captions but Mas presents us with Twiggy's twin sister)? Is there a message to be gleaned from all the psychoanalytical baloney served up? Not one that I recognize.-Peter

Jack-Creepy 52 is an average issue across the board. "The Killer" wins best story by a hair because I like the crime theme and the art by Felix Mas is decent, though I had to wonder if he read the script that called the girl fat and far from beautiful. Skeates also contributes "The Last Hero," which features warmed-over sci-fi mixed with counter-cultural cliches. The story is heavy-handed and obvious but, again, the art is pretty good. I agree with you, Peter, about "A Most Private Terror"--it reads as if Maroto drew it and then it was handed to Moench to write captions to explain what's going on. Maroto's method of telling a story seems to me to be to put on paper a series of impressions rather than a linear narrative. Unfortunately, this one is boring and the end is absurd.

Moench's other contribution, "Halve Your Cake and Eat it Two," seems at first like "Time Enough at Last" done Creepy-style, with horny hippies. Doug's determination to toss in random rock song titles in his stories is annoying, and Abellan's scratchy art recalls that of Jack Sparling in a few places. The story meanders along but the ending isn't bad. Greg Potter and Jose Bea's "Them Thar Flyin' Things!" has that usual weird feeling I get from everything Bea touches but, again, the art doesn't seem to match the script, since Ronald surmises that the aliens used Betty Ann's bones for rocket fuel but we see that her bones are all that's left of her! Finally, "The Man with the Brain of Gold" is an adaptation of a French story from circa 1865; Crandall's work here is a bit better than that of his story in last month's Eerie, but the effect is still flat.

Vampirella 23 (April 1973)

"The Blood Queen of Bayou Parish!"★1/2
Story by Steve Englehart
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"Cobra Queen"
Story by Don Glut
Art by Esteban Maroto

"Call It Companionship!"
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Ramon Torrents

"The Accursed!"
Story by Kevin Pagan
Art by Jose Bea

"The Witch's Promise"★1/2
Story by Gerry Boudreau
Art by Rafael Auraleon

"Won't Eddie Ever Learn"
Story by Jim Stenstrum
Art by Felix Mas

Vampi & Co.'s ski vacation in Maine (which gives Jose Gonzalez an excuse to draw our bikini-clad heroine on skis) is interrupted when van Helsing's review of diaries from Father Jonas's church reveals that there is a second base of Darkling Disciples in New Orleans. Meanwhile, in Bayou Parish, a jerk named Gary smacks around and dumps his girlfriend Sally Sue, who fatally stabs herself. A Darkling Disciple approaches her dead body, which lies prone in the swamp water, and declares that she is now "The Blood Queen of Bayou Parish!" Arriving in the Big Easy, Conrad van Helsing introduces his comrades to an old friend, and Pendragon quickly retires to a nearby tavern, where he picks up none other than the late Sally Sue, who is looking amazingly hale and hearty.

After Pendragon and Sally Sue head off to do some bar-hopping, Vampirella realizes that each of her friends saw Sally Sue with a different appearance, so there must be magic at work. The sexy vampiress tracks down Pendragon but, when she challenges Sally Sue, the former country gal summons the power of water, and the next thing we know, Vampirella and Pendragon are strapped to a couple of tables. Gloating over them are the revived Father Jonas, the revived Sally Sue, and Gary, who stands nearby in a zombie-like daze. Father Jonas has a master plan but Adam van Helsing appears on the scene. Father Jonas reveals that he now has big spidery-claw legs and knocks down Adam with ease, but Gary (like most readers) focuses on Vampirella's hotness and approaches her.

Sally Sue becomes jealous and, for some reason, Gary is able to see her as the rotting corpse she really is. He attacks her, Father Jonas sets him on fire, and he falls on Vampi, melting her bonds and setting her free. Father Jonas's fire power and Sally Sue's water power cancel each other out and the good guys make their escape.

I am rather proud of myself for being able to make some sense of this mess of a story. I am surprised that Steve Englehart wrote something so weak, though Jose Gonzalez, being my favorite Warren artist at this point, can salvage just about anything that pops out of a typewriter. The splash page, of Vampirella on skis, is both alluring and ridiculous--at least she has traded in her high-heeled boots for snow boots! The rest of the story is a disaster, with some good ideas thrown into a pot and stirred to make something that jumps from incident to incident and ends up wholly unsatisfying.

"Cobra Queen!"
A trio of British explorers search the jungles of India for the lost Temple of the Cobra and the "Cobra Queen"! After witnessing a giant cobra kill a huge tiger, one of the men is killed by the poisonous bite of a snake, leaving the other two to make their way to the temple and confront the queen herself. She turns into a giant cobra and menaces them, but one of the explorers turns into a giant cobra himself! Now the Cobra Queen finally has a Cobra King, and their first shared meal will be the third explorer.

Surprisingly, the team of Glut and Maroto turn out an entertaining, exciting story with an ending that both surprised me and made me groan. Unlike the other Maroto efforts we've discussed in this post, this one seems to have been written first by Glut, since it actually follows a narrative and is not just a series of pretty pictures. This is a good time to mention the dynamite cover by Sanjulian, which is even more eye-catching than Maroto's work on the interior. All three of Sanjulian's covers this time out are stunning.

"Call it Companionship!"
When a beautiful woman named Cheryl spies a dead rat on her breakfast plate, she is horrified, but then she digs in and takes a big bite. She has just stabbed her lover to death, and thinks back to her recent purchase of a cat at a pet shop. Why did she want a feline? "Call it Companionship!" When her boyfriend Les pushes her for sex, she resists, but soon she finds that she is tearing up the sofa cushions, begging Les for intercourse, and licking her own shoulder. Les notices a change in her behavior and visits her apartment to get rid of the cat, but Cheryl goes wild and stabs him to death. Now she and her furry best pal can be together.

When a story is only six pages long, and the first page and a half lead to a three-page flashback that ends with us right back where we started, you know you're in trouble. This tale of a cat-lover really goes nowhere fast and doesn't end with a surprise twist, since we've just seen Cheryl murder Les a few pages before. The art by Raymond Torrents is adequate, but no more.

"The Accursed!"
Joseph Trask enters a graveyard at night, determined to dig up Grey Arkham's grave! He fights off a werewolf and vampire bats, recalling a priest's words a day before, when the man of God said that Arkham's burial in the town cemetery meant that anyone else buried there would be "The Accursed!" Trask digs up Arkham's grave and is set upon by rats, but eventually he opens the coffin and destroys the dead body. With his dying breath, Joseph Trask crawls to a nearby grave marker and tells his recently-buried father that he may now rest in peace.

I liked this story the first time through, but I was confused by the ending. On the second go-round, it became clear that Joseph had to destroy the corpse of Arkham to ensure that his dead father would know peace in the same graveyard. Jose Bea gives the proceedings just the right amount of "yuck" and the parade of creatures that confront Trask are not too overdone, so the story works well.

Happens every day--
("The Witch's Promise")
In 17th-century Germany, Helga Starknein is hanged as a witch, leaving her daughter Mircalla to fend for herself. This being a Warren comic, she grows up to be a super-hottie, living in the Black Forest alone and cavorting in the nude until a cad named Wilhelm Brandt happens by. They spend the night together and she falls in love, but the army captain scorns her and she makes "The Witch's Promise" that, one day, he'll regret his actions. Sure enough, the next time he's in the Black Forest, his coach, horse, and companions are wiped out and he is killed by the limbs of a living tree as Mircalla observes with glee.

Much as I love Jose Gonzalez and his work on the Vampirella series, if he is ever unable to continue, I nominate Rafael Auraleon for the job. Every time I come across one of the stories he has illustrated I marvel at his work. I don't think anyone else at Warren is doing such detailed, beautiful art or can tell a story quite as cleanly. And, of course, he can draw gorgeous women!

Eddie Kelch is a drifter and a thief, wanted in five states and looking to steal a truck to drive to his next destination. Eddie comes upon a farm where he meets a pretty, blind girl named Mary. Her father doesn't have any work for Eddie but invites him to stay for dinner, and Eddie sees that the old man has a wad of cash stashed in a heavy box with some cigars. That night, Eddie climbs in a window and is caught in the act; he bashes Dad over the head with the money box and kills him, but when Eddie hears Mary coming he sits the old man's corpse up in his favorite chair. Mary is none the wiser but Eddie, dope that he is, trips and falls out of a window, landing right in the pig trough. Next morning, Mary feeds the pigs, who begin to feast on poor Eddie.

"Won't Eddie Ever Learn"

A tale well told, though the ending is slightly confusing: is Eddie dead? Or just so knocked out that he doesn't wake up when the piggies begin to gnaw on him? Either way, this is a decent way to end a pretty good issue of Vampirella. For a change, the back-up stories outshine the main feature.-Jack

Peter-Though "The Blood Queen..." seemed unfocused and rambling, I did like several aspects and it's certainly more entertaining than the TCB entries (or is that my Stainless bias coming through?). The "Queen" appearing as different lust objects to each of the cast was a brilliant move, but why didn't we get a spotlight on who Vampi saw while looking at the witch? "Of course, with her brown hair..." was the only tantalizing clue we got as to whether our Drakulonian darling swings both ways. I also liked the Cthulhuian appearance of the defrocked Father Jonas (even if the giant claw never seems to exhibit an unsightly bulge in his robe at other times). But I want some backstory on this evil Dark Ducklings coven real quick; the last super duper evil cult fell by the wayside before we got much 411.

"Whatcha Gonna Do When She Says Goodbye?"

Unlike Jack, I didn't find much substance in "Cobra Queen," aside from Maroto's (insert synonym for "fabulous" here) graphics. It neither entertained nor excited me, but I did groan. The only surprise to me, was a Glut script that didn't call for more boobies. Even worse, though, is "Call It Companionship," an inexplicable mess from panel one. The only plus I can pull out of this one is that, to me, this is the best Torrents work we've seen. Yes, even that panel where Les suddenly becomes a member of Pablo Cruise and tries to kill the cat (above). Stunning work, and Cheryl is very sexy, even if she is only a cartoon. My favorite part is where Les whines on a bar stool, after getting the sack time he's been begging for, about Cheryl's cat and her messy apartment. "Yesterday... she tried to lick her own shoulder!"

"The Accursed" is a fun-filled monster story and I enjoyed the heck out of it, especially Arkham's rise from his coffin. As did Jack, I had to re-read the final panels to "get" the ending. It's not a twist, but Trask's motives are effective. There's not much sense to "The Witch's Promise," unless I'm missing something. It's pretty to look at, sure, but the script meanders and Mircalla doesn't really avenge her mother, does she? Is she striking a blow for Women's Lib? The opening reminded me of "The Third Night of Mourning." On the other hand, we get the best story this issue, the simple but unnerving "Won't Eddie Ever Learn." I thought Jim Stenstrum was taking us down that boring path of telekinesis when pretty Mary answers Eddie's thought when they first meet. But, glory be, Jim takes us down a different road altogether. My guess, Jack, is that Eddie is already dead from the blow to his head. Felix Mas's art is stark and brilliant. A great way to end an otherwise mediocre issue of Vampi.

Next Week...
The return absolutely
no one clamored for...
Sterling Silversmith!


Quiddity said...

I'm not the biggest fan of the new Dracula series, but agree that Sutton's art is quite good. Jimmy Janes appears for this one story, doing a fairly good job, then vanishes for a number of years but eventually returns, although oddly enough he only does the pencils and someone else always inks for him. Which is too bad as I don't think the results are ever as good as the art was on this story. "The Root of All Evil" I enjoyed although this will be Jennings' final Warren story. Reed Crandall's art continues to disappoint considerably on "Planet of the Werewolves", although the story is notable for the premiere of Gerry Boudreau, who will be a very prolific writer for Warren with around 140 stories. Thankfully most of his work is considerably better than this one.

"A Most Private Terror" is miscredited to Moench, it is actually written by Budd Lewis, the premiere of another extremely prolific writer for Warren. Really amazing art by Maroto here. Another sci-fi story for Torrents, but "The Last Hero" I found considerably better than "Star Slaughter". "Halve Your Cake and Eat it Too" I liked as well. Abellan really seems to be channeling Luis Garcia in several panels here, making me wonder why he couldn't have spent more time on his art as it often looks quite ugly and rushed. Or perhaps Garcia helped him with this story. I really enjoyed "The Man with the Brain of Gold" as well. A pretty good story to wrap up the issue too with "The Killer" although I'd probably be more down on it if it was done by a lesser artist. Drawing beautiful women is Felix Mas' specialty, must be hard for him to do otherwise even if the script calls for it.

A so-so Vampi story for me, but "Cobra Queen" picks things up and is the highly of the issue for me. "Call it Companionship" is a rather mediocre story although is a better fit of a story for Torrents than the sci-fi stories he had been doing thus far. I'm a big fan of Auraleon's work as well, although I don't think he would really fit for Vampirella. I don't think he'd be able to pull off the light heartedness that Vampi's strips often have. In any case, while we will eventually see other Spanish artists try their hand at Vampirella, Auraleon is not one of them. I have always had the same question about the ending of "Won't Eddie Ever Learn"!

Anonymous said...

Fellas, c’mon — it’s 1973. Dax was obviously a Prell guy.

Poor Reed Crandall. IIRC, he’d had a series of debilitating health issues (and maybe some problems with alcohol?) and the quality of his work took a sudden nose-dive. When I first acquired EERIE 46 as a back issue (from the good old Captain Company) I was startled to see how odd and distorted his stuff had become. He lived for almost another decade after this, but he has only drew a tiny handful of stories after these two. He’s almost forgotten these days, but decades before his classic early Warren stories, he was considered one of the absolute best artists in the business, if not THE best. He’s even name-checked as such in a certain Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Jim Janes’ story this issue reminds me a bit of Dubay’s own work from this specific period (see Dube’s two-page Prologue for the Dracula strip) — clearly much inspired by the rendering techniques of the Spanish artists, but he ends up with a kinda / sorta ‘pastiche’ look that feels far from organic. And as noted, his storytelling was not great. He goes away for awhile before getting some pencilling work at DC in the late 70s, but he didn’t really set the world on fire then, either.

God, do I love Sutton’s work on this first Dracula story! One of my absolute favorites of his. With this short-lived series, the utterly bonkers ‘Frankenstein Book II’ series he wrote and drew for Skywald a year or two before this, and then the two stunning issues of WEREWOLF BY NIGHT he drew later in ‘73, Sutton cemented his place as my all-time favorite ‘Classic Monster’ comics artist, just edging out Ploog and even Wrightson.

Auraleon never may never have drawn a Vampi story, but he DID draw several installments of the Pantha series. For some reason, the Good Girl Art aspects of that series were never as accentuated as they were in the Vampi strip. Even her outfit just looked like sexy but off-the-rack 70s street clothes rather than any kind of stylized uniform.

Hey Quiddity — you mentioned having a Warren blog of your own. Is it still online somewheres?

- b.t.

andydecker said...

Glad to see the goddess gone, a character which never made any sense in her agenda. But her death was lame beyond belief. She can hop through time and space, kill monsters with a gesture, but a knock on her head is enough to kill her? Even for Warren this is lame.

The rest of Eerie is not great either. "Garganza" is a shameless re-telling of Godzilla, and I think the reproduction of Neary's art is bad. Even in digital it is much too bright. "Planet of the Werewolves" is groanworthy, but not in a good way. Best story is "Root of Evil". Clear storytelling, dumb but fun.

Best thing in Vampi is the cover. Another winner from Sanjulian.

"Cobra Queen" is a few pages too long and needed a tighter script, still I liked it better as you guys. There were a few nice ideas in this. The rest of the issue gets a throughly "meh" from me. "Mircalla" and "Arkham"? I like nods to horror fiction or movies as much as everybody, but here they were just wasted. The script for "Call for Companionship" had a few funny parts, the reversal of the cliches from "She does it with everybody, why not with me" to "I am just her boy toy and her apartment is a mess" was hilarious. But the rest of the story didn't work well. "The Accursed" is a disappointment. Bea's art is too vague, too many talking heads, not enough grave.

The ending of "Witch's Promise" lacked serious bite, this could have been much better. Same goes for "Won't Eddie ever learn". Lots of potential, even restraint in the script. I liked the dark humour – she doesn't get that her father is dead? -, but the end called for some spectacular gore which Mas seriously didn't deliver. Why do I have this recollection that Warren put horror and gruesomeness on the page? Graham Ingels 2.0? This is all so tame.

Also the sameness of the material makes for dull reading. Out of 5 stories we get 4 variations of bitchy woman and their dumb guys who get their more or less just ends. And Vampi went the same road with Sally Sue and Gary, come to think of it.

Quiddity said...

b.t. - Yes, its at I covered practically every issue of Creepy, Eerie and Vampi, plus 1984/1994 and Blazing Combat, aside from maybe half a dozen or so issues that I don't posses. Also did the entire run of Skywald as well as the 12 issues of Buru Lan's Dracula magazine which Warren was heavily promoting around this time. Although I didn't cover things as in depth as Jack and Peter do here.

andydecker - Yeah, that "Won't Eddie Ever Learn" ending doesn't deliver the gore you'd expect from such an ending. I do recall hearing somewhere (can't remember where) that this story was originally intended for another artist; if you look at the preview panel of it from Vampi #22 it looks a bit different. Maybe its just something Mas wasn't good at portraying. Stabbings, which is in both "The Killer" and his story in the next Vampi seem to be more up his alley.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, 410 euros seems pretty reasonable for magic mojo to get a guy to stop cheating on his wife. If I ever have a problem with that, maybe I’ll drop Lord Zakuza a line at his WhatsApp address. Thanks for the tip, Alfonso.

Quiddity: awesome, I will for sure check out your site, right away. And all the Skywald books too — groovy!


Peter Enfantino said...

As usual, my Monday morning would not be complete without you guys and your talk-backs. Can Jack and I just put the covers up every other week and let you guys tell all about them? Seems a fair trade-off to me. This blog is starting to exhaust me. I will attest to the quality of quiddity's blog, which is one of my favorite reads of all time. His Skywald coverage is much better than the zines themselves. I'm trying to talk Jack into a Skywald blog after Warren but the funny thing is, usually about a year into these things, Jack is more enthusiastic about reaching the finish line than I am... and I'm the one who suggested it!

One thing quiddity's blog will provide is an overview of 1984/94, a title you will not find being discussed when we get that far. Sorry, boys, I value my sanity.

turafish said...

Have I told you guys how much I absolutely love reading these Warren Stories posts? Talk about a hoot and a holler! (And a blood-curdling scream...)

turafish said...

I meant Report, not Stories.... sorry bout dat

Peter Enfantino said...

Professor Joe-
Welcome to the treehouse!

Quiddity said...

Can't say I'm surprised you're skipping 1984/1994, a considerable portion of its content is extremely offensive and poorly written, among the worst material Warren would ever publish (although the last couple of years of Eerie magazine are also down there in quality, for different reasons).

There is at least some good content in it though, such as the 8 part full color Richard Corben series "Mutant World", some spectacular art by Esteban Maroto in the first half a doze or so issues (although many of those stories are marred by a horrendously bad story that was clearly not what the original artwork was based off of), and really amazing work by Alex Nino; the strangest and most out of this world artwork Warren would ever publish. Most stuff published in it is garbage, but its worth checking out those stories at least.

Grant said...

Speaking of Warren's habit of throwing around song titles (not that I really dislike that), "Witch's Promise" is the title of a pretty spooky Jethro Tull song.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, 1984/1994 is INSANE. It’s as if Dubay flipped thru a couple issues of HEAVY METAL, saw all the naked ladies and boilerplate sci-fi/fantasy imagery, said “Oh hell, I can do THAT!” , and added an unpleasant snickering, ‘naughty adolescent’ tone.

Of course, I own every single issue! :)

As Quiddity notes, there ARE some nice things in the mag — Corben’s MUTANT WORLD serial, Alex Nino Unleashed, etc. I quite like Frank Thorne’s GHITA, too.

Dubay’s notorious chainsaw re-write / re-edit of Wood’s KING OF THE WORLD material was shockingly disrespectful. And God only knows what Maroto’s serial was SUPPOSED to be about originally but it had to have been better than that racist, misogynist , batsh*t ADVENTURES OF IDI AMIN thing Dubay turned it into. Seriously WTF.

- b.t.

Peter Enfantino said...

You guys are making me reconsider the ban on 1984. This sounds too good to pass up!
We do have plans to tackle The Spirit (which happens to be Jack's favorite strip of all time, I believe) and the other short runs to come at the end of the 70s.

Anonymous said...

Oh Peter, I think you and Jack owe it to yourselves to give 1984 another peek. If only to put All Things Warren in their proper perspective. Next time you read one of those early Moench or McGregor jobs and say to yourselves, ‘It can’t get any worse than this’, you’ll know that OMG YES IT SURELY CAN.

Maybe Dubay was in the grip of some kind of previously undiagnosed Comic Book Tourettes Syndrome? It takes some Unholy High Grade Alchemy to take page after lovely page of Maroto art featuring one of his patented T*ts Out Beauties and render them into something absolutely un-erotic, but Dubay pulls off that boner-killing trick without breaking a sweat. And why Dubay felt compelled to leave a stinky brown skid-mark on Wood’s mildly sexed-up, relatively harmless LOTR pastiche, we may never know.

So— maybe a one-off retrospective like you guys used to do at Marvel University? How can you resist?

At the other end of the spectrum, every single issue of Warren’s SPIRIT mag is a gem. So, looking forward to you guys covering that.

I’ve never quite understood the appeal of Dubay’s bland Cowboy Dr. Who. But there are some nice back-up strips in there. As for THE GOBLIN, I have no idea what audience Warren and Dubay were aiming that thing at. It’s truly baffling.

- b.t.

Jack Seabrook said...

b.t., your comment cracked me up. You must know by now that I only do what my master (Peter) tells me to do. If I complain, the whip comes out and the dungeon is locked.

Quiddity said...

With 1984/1994 I feel that Bill Dubay was reaching for what he thought would be a mature, adult magazine, in the vein of Heavy Metal, but rather than equating "adult" with actual mature storytelling, he equated "adult" with sex and pushed it in heavily. Some of the most ridiculous concepts I have ever read in a comic. And a lot of the time you don't actually see any of it, its just in the captions as they clearly had commissioned many of these stories to be something else before Dubay decided to completely rewrite them into what they became. That Esteban Maroto Egyptian-style serial that Dubay turned into a story about Ugandan dictator Idi Amin being the best example, but there were many others too. There's also the infamous time that Dubay had Harlan Ellison's "A Boy and His Dog" adapted, without permission, then had Alex Nino change them into a girl and monster, rearranged the panels, and still got caught for plagiarism which was a key factor in Warren going bankrupt.

And holy crap, the racism. Its bad. Its really, really bad. Very blatant and over the top, quite possibly the most horrifically disgusting comics material I have ever read. Even if you do change your mind and end up covering it some day all I can say is strongly consider skipping those stories entirely.

b.t. - I've never gotten the appeal of The Rook either. While I did ultimately read all of the stories of his that were in Eerie, I typically have skipped all but the first few every other time I've gone through my Warren collection. That's around the era where Warren was starting to get into the superhero craze and it just was not their specialty at all.

Jim Stenstrum said...

Quiddity speaks truth. 1984/1994 is a rolling dumpster fire. The only thing going for it was the work of some amazing artists at the top of their game, including Maroto, Thorne, Corben, and the always astonishing Alex Nino.

Bill DuBay wanted a book that "teenage boys could whack off to." (His exact words to me.) No one could talk any sense into him on this matter. A horrible waste of talent. I hope these stories are never reprinted.

Quick note on WON'T EDDIE EVER LEARN? I have Xeroxes of this story drawn by another artist. I believe it was originally assigned to this fellow, and Josep Toutain insisted the script go to one of his clients, Felix Mas, instead. Some behind-the-scenes drama I never did understand...

So two complete versions of this story exist. If you send me your email address, Peter, I can send you jpgs. Maybe somebody can recognize the artist's style and give him proper credit. It looks kinda like Lee Elias, Ramon Fradon and Jordi Bernet all smooshed together. Much more powerful than the published Felix Mas version. The story is almost 50 years old now, so I doubt there will be any problem in printing these unpublished pages.

Peter Enfantino said...

You can reach me at
Thanks very much. I'd love to see (and exhibit) the alternate art. And I'm sure everyone else would dig it as well.