Monday, November 29, 2021

The Warren Report Issue 73: April 1976



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

Creepy #78

"The Horseman" ★1/2
Story by Bruce Bezaire
Art by Miguel Quesada

"Unreal" ★1/2
Story and Art by Alex Toth

Story by Archie Goodwin
Art by John Severin & Wally Wood

"Lord of Lazarus Castle" 
Story by Gerry Boudreau & Carl Wessler
Art by Jorge Moliterni

"The Nature of the Beast" 
Story by Budd Lewis
Art by Martin Salvador

"God of Fear" 
Story by Jeff Rovin
Art by Vicente Alcazar

During World War I, a Canadian soldier named Springer is wounded and passes out in the forest. A centaur named Brear finds him and sees to his wounds. At first, the soldier is frightened of the magical creature, but then the two strike up something akin to a friendship. While Brear is out hunting for food one day, a group of German soldiers happen upon Springer and begin beating him. Brear returns to save the day and Springer heads back to the front, confident he can kill himself a bunch of Germans. Brear goes back to his long days of sunning himself in the field and hating regular horses for the worthless creatures they are.

Bruce Bezaire's "The Horseman" is a pretentious crock. I knew we were in for a sermon when Springer's opening monologue includes "Let me go back to the front... to learn to kill... to die!" It seems like readers in 1976 were inundated with messages from both sides and the best defense is to close your eyes and ears. Did we really need this much proselytizing in our fantasy funnies? Really, how serious can you take these things when they're packaged along with zombie comics? In the end, "The Horseman" does nothing but annoy.

One of Hollywood's biggest stars of the 1920s, "Baba" Boone somehow manages to pull off crazy stunts for the camera and always comes up ready for more. What's the man's secret? Well, it might be that he's not a man at all. Another of Alex Toth's "quickies" that doesn't have a script to speak of, "Unreal" is more of a clever punchline expanded to six pages. But, as with most of Toth's work, do we really care that much about the words when the graphics are so absorbing? That noir-esque splash is gorgeous.

Lester Finch has a phobia, a particularly crippling one for a man who lives in New York. Lester hates "Creeps." He sees them every day going to and from the office, in the subway, in the alleys, on the streets. When a skid row bum approaches Lester one night for a handout, Lester lashes out in rage and pushes the man in front of an oncoming car.

Shocked by the man's death at first but later overcome with a sense of satisfaction, Lester begins haunting those streets, subways, and alleyways, ridding society of its "Creeps." But when he recognizes his mother for the creep she is and guts her, Lester becomes a man on the run, hiding in the dives he once avoided. Chased by the police, Lester catches a glimpse of himself in a window glass, recognizes himself as the creep he's become, and performs his final service to mankind.

"Creeps" is surely an unsettling experience (witness Jack's reaction below), but then that's the point, isn't it? Though obviously taken to the extreme, Lester's feelings aren't all that hard to empathize with. Who here hasn't eyed that unemployed man standing at the off-ramp with the "I Need Help" sign and thought "Try working!"? As I say, Archie takes the unease and hatred Lester feels to the Nth (Goodwin could just as easily have titled his cautionary tale, Death Wish: OCD) but, to me anyway, Finch's freefall from displeasure to dismemberment is the very definition of Creepy. The art is fascinating; I see the Wood, I see the Severin, and I see some weird form of lovechild in there as well. Did John work from partials provided to him of Wally's roughs? Give me more!

Once a gorgeous castle on the cliffs of Newport, Lazarus Castle now sits decrepit and uncared for, reduced to a tourist trap by the present-day "Lord of Lazarus Castle," Geoffrey. But Geoffrey and his wife, Katrina, have found a profitable sideline to their paltry gift-shop allowance: shooting stray tourists and selling them to nasty ghoul, Malcolm Davies. But when summer arrives and the occasion for an easy kill does not arrive, Geoffrey has no fresh meat for Davies and the client refuses to go home on an empty stomach.

No need for credits on this one; the purple prose of Carl Wessler would broadcast itself loudly from a detergent ad. Once again, I'm left wondering about local police in these stories. No one wonders what happened to all these missing couples? Malcolm's "special diet" is chalked up to that old chestnut, forced cannibalism during wartime. Wessler even throws in the tidbit that, before Geoffrey and Katrina offered up their special services, Davies was grave-robbing. I gotta ask yet one more time: how long would a human being live after chomping on a corpse? Wouldn't your system shut down after eating diseased, rotting flesh? Do I worry too much about these nitpicks? You betcha. The Moliterni graphics look like the rushed, washed-out Dick Ayers junk we got in the Eerie Publication rags. "Lord of Lazarus Castle" is a predictable, ugly, hunk of crap.

Surely, and hopefully, the bottom of the barrel is in sight through the murky, dream-like existentialism of "The Nature of the Beast," an uber-pretentious stab at college term paper writing by Budd "Just Call Me Nietzsche" Lewis. A professor who looks, appropriately enough, like your typical Martin Salvador simian-human, looks back on his previous lives dating back to prehistoric times. At least that's what I think Budd is trying to get across. You know what? Forget it. Let's just say that, if I could, I'd rate this one the rare "zero" stars and move on to what I hope is a palate (and colon) cleanser.

Archaeologist Ed Harrison has stumbled upon the find of the century in the Adirondacks, Indian symbols that reveal the existence of Uturuncu, the "God of Fear." Once Ed translates the ancient Algonquin symbols and speaks the phrases out loud, he becomes... the Bigfoot from The Six Million Dollar Man! First up on Ed's to-do list as a giant demon is to kill his boss, a sumbitch who's been stealing Ed's limelight for years. After that predictable (if understandable) errand is out of the way, Ed's bucket list grows a little bit fuzzier when he decides he has to destroy the Washington Monument. Okay, Ed, whatever you say. After a long battle with the cops, Uturuncu heads back to Ed's place, where he transforms back into the "puny human" and awaits the next evening, when he can hit the streets and show the city another display of raw power.

Much criticism can be leveled at Jeff Rovin's unfocused and cliched script but, seriously, if you didn't have the words would you know what the hell was going on here? Alcazar's art is a mishmash of lines and blurry images. Ferinstance, when did Uturuncu exit the Washington Monument? He climbs to the top, throws some tourists to their death and, next thing we know, he's on the street fighting back troops. I can't discern any flow from one panel to the next. In the words of one of Rovin's troopers: "Holy hell! What in God's name is going on? Is this some sort of massacre?"-Peter

Jack-I knew we were in trouble when the issue began with a cover focused on a man's naked buttocks. "The Horseman" is an odd fantasy with no clear point but pleasant, harmless art. "Unreal" is a complete disappointment from Toth; a plotless series of incidents about a Harold Lloyd-like silent film star who turns out to be a robot. Things really go downhill fast, though, with "Creeps," which must be an unused file story by Archie Goodwin. It completely wastes the talent of two great artists on a story that is nothing short of disgusting. It is interesting to see how the panels go back and forth between Severin and Wood, though.

"Lord of Lazarus Castle" is even worse, with Gerry Boudreau undoubtedly rewriting Carl Wessler's mess of a story where graphic panels of people getting shot are followed by a story about cannibalism. "The Nature of the Beast" is the usual, ponderous snooze-fest from Budd Lewis, with a gratuitous panel showing a man whose eyes have been plucked out. Salvador's art is mediocre but I really have no idea what this story is about. Finally, we are treated to Alcazar's scratchy, unfocused pages in "God of Fear," with another pointless story by Jeff Rovin. Creepy 78 seems like editor DuBay took all of his worst stories and decided to get rid of them in one smelly package.

The Spirit #13

"The Valentine" (2/20/49)
Story by Will Eisner and Jules Feiffer
Art by Will Eisner

"The Robbery" (5/14/50)
"The Curse" (10/16/49)
"Water" (4/2/50)
Story and Art by Will Eisner

"Hangley Hollyer Mansion" (6/22/47)
"Pinhead" (4/6/47)
"Tunnel" (3/21/48)
Story by Will Eisner
Art by Will Eisner & Jerry Grandenetti

"Ten Minutes" (9/11/49)
Story by Will Eisner & Jules Feiffer
Art by Will Eisner

"The Story of Gerhard Shnobble" (9/5/48)
Story by Will Eisner
Art by Will Eisner & Andre LeBlanc

Journeys end in lovers meeting.
("The Valentine")
Jack-After a few issues that had me thinking I might have to reassess my lifelong belief in the brilliance of Eisner and The Spirit, issue #13 roars back with nine stories that are among the best we've seen. Published from 1947 to 1950, they highlight Eisner's strength at focusing on seemingly unimportant characters who quietly live through very important moments.

"The Valentine" turns on a wonderful idea of having post office workers send four undelivered valentines to seemingly random people, who then impress their own feelings onto the cards. Eisner's skill with character and plotting is fully on display. "The Robbery" is an excellent story where Sammy unwittingly hides a robber in the Spirit's underground home while the masked hero is away.

It's astounding how much story Eisner packs into seven pages of "The Curse," where a country boy goes to the big city to make money and falls under the spell of a crooked fight manager. "Water" is another good yarn that focuses on a nobody with big plans, while "Hangley Hollyer Mansion" is a great tale of a woman who turns to violence to try to elicit a marriage proposal; Eisner is never afraid of supernatural elements and here the woman turns out to be a ghost!

"Hangley Hollyer Mansion"
An enormous man/monster is the subject of "Pinhead," where this sensitive soul is more than a match for the Spirit in a fistfight and ends up in jail, happily drawing horror comics! "Tunnel" is the weakest story this time out, as Eisner tries to spice things up with a forced attempt to tell a story using a scientist who is able to project brain waves on a movie screen.

A particularly brutal finish distinguishes "Ten Minutes," about a neighborhood good guy who kills for money; this is one of Eisner's timed stories with a ticking clock. Finally, "The Story of Gerhard Shnobble" is one of the classic Eisner/Spirit stories and I'm surprised it did not appear before now. The titular character is another nobody whom no one notices; he is able to fly but gets shot and killed accidentally by crooks battling the Spirit.

Oddly enough, six of the stories in this issue are misdated, per the Grand Comics Database. Whatever the date, they're classics!

Peter-A mediocre collection at best, with seven of the nine stories rating two stars for me (just about the lowest I can give to a Spirit story).  Don’t get me wrong… the art is still as great as always, it’s just the scripts that don’t hold up. The only standouts this time out are “The Robbery” and “Ten Minutes,” both heavy on the noir atmosphere. This issue emphasizes that Eisner considered the Spirit a supporting character at times, since the dead dick only shows up for a panel or two in several of these adventures. Reader Tom Stein of South Norwalk, CT, and I are clearly on the same page: reprint the Wally Wood Spirit!

Vampirella #50

"Call Me Panther!" 
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Jose Gonzalez

"The High-Gloss Egyptian Junk Peddler" 
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Esteban Maroto

"Granny Goose & the Baby Dealers" 
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Ramon Torrents

"The Final Star of Morning" ★1/2
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Bill DuBay & Jeff Jones

"The Thing in Denny Colt's Grave" ★1/2
Story by Bill DuBay
Art by Jose Ortiz

"Ground Round" ★1/2
Story by Roger McKenzie
Art by Auraleon

Chapter One:
While contemplating life and death in various sexy poses amidst the tombstones of Wildwood Cemetery, Vampirella is attacked by a vicious panther girl. After a short battle, the creature transforms back into its human form, steals Vampi's coat, and runs into the street, where she is run down and killed by a passing trolley car. Vampirella finds and pockets the amulet which gave the girl her powers.

Chapter Two: Conrad Van Helsing is awakened after a particularly horrible dream where a naked woman is hung upside down and sliced open for the enjoyment of a gruesome creature. Conrad's screams bring a worried trio of Adam, Vampi, and Pen. When Conrad relates the story of his dream, Vampi compares it to her macabre battle in the cemetery the night before. Conrad sends Vampi and Adam to an expert on occult Egyptian art and when they get there, they realize that just about every woman in town lounges naked. 

Nubia El Amarna identifies the pendant as the Khafra Stone, "the most famous, the most spellbinding artifact in Egyptian lore!" Legend has it that centuries before, a giant named Khafra came from the heavens and was saved by the pharaoh, Khufu. When Khufu died, Khafra ascended the throne and became the most loved pharaoh of all time! The stone that Vampi holds, Nubia claims, was Khafra's power source. She tells her visitors that she must have it but they excuse themselves and head out the door.

When they return to Conrad's home, they tell him the woman's story and the blind man theorizes that Khafra must have been a being from the stars, much like Vampirella. Later, after everyone turns in, Conrad is attacked in his bedroom by a giant panther. This time, Pendragon comes to the rescue and the panther transforms back into ... Nubia. The frightened girl explains she only wanted to touch the stone and never meant to harm anyone. Pen and Conrad laugh and get drunk.

Chapter Three: When another slaughtered girl is found in Wildwood Cemetery, Conrad surmises that his horrific dreams are a key to the mystery. He further opines that a dark force, an evil, malevolent being, lives beneath the tombstones. A search through ancient records kept at police headquarters reveals that, decades before, an evil genius known as Doctor Cobra threatened the entire city with a "suspended animation" drug. Cobra's plan was thwarted by a young cop named Denny Colt, who was found dead in a puddle of the drug. Could Colt have been buried alive and somehow awakened after a 35-year sleep with a thirst for human blood? As Vampi says to Adam: "It sounds awfully far-fetched!"

Pen and Vampi hop a flight to New York to visit an old, reincarnated witch who may be able to answer all the complicated questions. They arrive just in time to see the witch, Fleur (see Vampi #34 and 35), and her partner, Shifter, hustled into a car by black market baby dealer Granny Goose (think Shelley Winters) and one of her thugs. Goose is upset that Fleur has been manhandling her employees. Our heroes follow the car and, upon arriving at Goose's hidey-hole, Adam dons the Khafra stone (becoming a panther) and Vampi changes into a giant bat. The two crash through Goose's picture window and save Fleur and Shifter from a fate worse than death. Once the smoke clears, Vampi asks Fleur if she knows the secret of the Khafra stone and Fleur relates the story told by Nubia in chapter two! But Fleur does help by using her witchy powers to deliver a vision of a beautiful girl crouched in front of a pyramid in Egypt. It's off to Egypt for our weary travelers.

Chapter Four: At last we discover who the real villains are: the Russkies! Yep, a super-secret society of commie scientists has discovered a spaceship inside the pyramids and has also captured (the real) Pantha. The nutty professors intend to dissect both to unlock their secrets, all the better to... wait for it... build better aircraft and sturdier warriors. Next on their list: conquer America! 

Fresh off a plane, Vampi and Adam hoof it to... you guessed it... the Soviet Embassy, where they attempt to find the "panther girl" they saw in Fleur's vision. The scientists are not forthcoming until Vampi produces the amulet and the eggheads gasp and disavow any knowledge of a panther girl. Vampi ain't buying it and she transforms into a bat to explore the underground dungeons. It's there that she finds Pantha locked in a cage. Releasing Pantha, Vampirella explains that the girl is the descendant of Khafra the pharaoh just before the Reds burst in, wielding machine guns. Pantha transforms into her beastly form and Vampi dons the amulet to make it a deadly duo. 

The girls rip and shred through the Russians in no time and, in a moment of peace and clarity, Pantha remembers her childhood, being kidnapped and sold by Granny Goose. (See, it all comes around full circle! What a small world!) There's only one home for her now: the stars. So Pantha climbs into the spaceship and heads for "the final bright star on the horizon." For one moment, Vampirella considers leaving Earth with her new friend, but decides this planet is her home.

Chapter Five:
Meanwhile, Conrad and Pen have been staking out Denny Colt's grave, waiting for the corpse to rise and claim another victim. A scream emanates from a nearby mausoleum and they barely arrive in time to save a damsel in distress from becoming the latest victim of the Wildwood Cemetery "monster." Using his insanely keen brain, Conrad deduces that Denny Colt would use an above-ground tomb as his lair instead of climbing in and out of a grave every night (and packing down that dirt as well?) and they investigate the crypt, discovering an underground passageway! 

Leaving the blind Conrad behind (I'm sure he was much more useful at the stakeout!), Pendragon climbs down into the tunnel and discovers that the hole connects with the city's sewer system. There, Pen is attacked by the "monster" and barely escapes death by conjuring an illusion to frighten the creature. He returns to the surface with the trussed-up creature, explaining to Conrad that his captive is no monster, but rather a psychopath named Elmer Dungfoot. Conrad also has some surprising news: the girl they rescued has led them to a hidden spacecraft, one with a panther emblem on its side. When Conrad finally gets around to asking Pen how he managed to capture Elmer, the old drunk magician laughs and tells his friend he conjured up an illusion of a "big ugly brute in a frightening blue mask." As he finishes his explanation, Pen sees the same masked figure waving at him from behind one of the tombstones and hoofs it.

"Ground Round" is this issue's only story to exclude Vampirella as a character. Butcher Martin Chinn murders his shrewish wife, Shirley, chops her up, and sells her in his deli. Complications arise when his dead wife's friend comes sniffing around and Martin has to add more meat to the freezer. Unfortunately, Shirley picks this time to pull what's left of herself off a meat hook and get just desserts. 

It's hard to believe this jumbled mess of impressive art and not-so-impressive writing was sold on the cover as a cohesive whole. Nothing about this "book-length blockbuster" could be deemed "cohesive." It's like one of those elaborate jungle gyms you buy for the kids at Christmas and discover too late that the damned thing came without instructions. No problem, you put it together anyway, but at the end of the day you're left with several dozen extra nuts and bolts. You're fairly sure the thing will hold together, but who knows? Dube must have either thought his "Book Length Blockbuster" would hold together or couldn't give a damn as he rose from the Editor's chair one last time.

As dopey as the execution might be, the concept intrigued me and, in the end, kept me entertained and turning pages. Pulling Vampi into the Spirit world might not be everyone's idea of a winner but at least it's a novel idea, something completely lacking from the obvious EC-swipe, "Ground Round." In a special issue devoted to stories starring everyone's favorite vampiress, "Ground Round" is the kid in a KISS t-shirt sitting front row at the Bob Dylan concert. Everything about this issue is a puzzle.

I'm dying to know why that final panel on page 8 (left) is an unfinished sketch. Was that intentional or an oversight? I'm sure Dube would tell us it was an artistic choice. In the second chapter, there's a panel of Vampi by Conrad's bedside dressed in a see-through negligee, but in the following panel she's miraculously clad in her skimpy uniform. And does anyone at Warren know how to spell the word "pharaoh?"

"Granny Goose and the Baby Dealers" might well be the most perplexing of the "chapters" in that it introduces a nauseating subject, baby-nappers (further opening with the death of one of the infants, falling from a high-rise window), and then inexplicably tosses that to the side in order to further the "plot" of the Khafru stone. Other than the pyramid reveal that closes the chapter and the jaw-dropper that Granny just happened to have stolen Pantha as a child, there was no real reason to get into Fleur and her mission to rid the world of Granny Goose.

I declare a moratorium on Adam calling Vampi "lover." Is the Jeff Jones/Bill Dubay splash of "The Final Star of Morning" (right) the worst depiction of Vampirella yet? Is she naked? Pants pulled halfway down? Rocking the Joey Heatherton look? In what universe is this the Vampirella we've grown up with? "The Final Star" adds even more confusion by presenting a real, live Pantha. Obviously, the "Pantha" who was run down by a trolley car was another girl altogether. Right? Well, no, as we find out in a later chapter, there were multiple panther girls! Extra points for the first new Comics Commie Bad Guy since Stan Lee created the Crimson Dynamo! 

Clunky Exposition of the Year award goes to Dube for the final three pages of "The Thing in Denny Colt's Grave," which is supposed to tie all those loose ends together and bring us our own moment of clarity. I'm by no means saying the light bulb went on for me after those twenty panels of elucidation (in fact, just the opposite, it led to eye-rolling) but the sight of the Spirit waving at Pen brought a smile to my face. That's worth something.-Peter

Jack-With every issue that we review, I rate the stories independently and then compare my ratings to yours. This time out, they matched exactly, with one exception. I liked the opening splash page of "Call Me Panther!" where Vampi stands at the entrance to Wildwood Cemetery, but what followed was not much of a story and surprisingly unfinished art from Jose Gonzalez. By "The High-Gloss Egyptian Junk Peddler," I had already given up on noting the misspelled words by Warren's unfortunate letterer. This time, even the big, artistic title is misspelled! Once again, the art is below-average Maroto, which makes me wonder if this whole issue was a rush job.

The best things about "Granny Goose" are all the references to the Spirit mythos; DuBay lines like "freezing their sweet n' tenders behind a cold marble headstone" make me glad that he announced his exit as Warren's editor in this issue's letters column. Another possible source for Granny Goose is Kirby's Fourth World baddie, Granny Goodness. "The Final Star of Morning" has what is surely the worst Jeff Jones art we've ever seen, or else a kid took a pen and colored in my copy of this mag. Oh, and wasn't the planet Drakulon destroyed after Kal-El Vampi took off in a spaceship?

"The Thing in Denny Colt's Grave" has what is easily the best art of this 50th anniversary mess; the story makes little sense but I, like you, welcomed a cameo by the Spirit.

I think "Ground Round" saves the issue! Auraleon's big, bald heads and cross-hatching make it look great and the plot is straight from EC Comics, with a healthy dash of Warren's explicit violence. I'm surprised you didn't like it!

Next Week...


Anonymous said...

Toth’s ‘Unreal’ is, once again, not much of an actual story. Day in the life of a silent movie star who turns out to be a robot (from outer space, yet). Still all kinds of awesome, though! Toth often complained about the scripts he was given to illustrate, and with some justification, certainly. But left to his own devices, he often came up short himself. As long as he was drawing things he was interested in (rugged mountain wilderness at sunset with aviator, bi-plane and UFO in ‘Tibor Miko’, silent era Hollywood with Harold Lloyd/Buster Keaton gags in ‘Unreal’) the end result was usually 6 to 8 pages of lightly plotted but gorgeous, evocative b/w art and I’m totally OK with that.

Ah, ‘Creeps’. I love this one. For me, this is Archie ‘doing ‘Updated EC’ just exactly right. NYC really WAS a blighted hellscape in the 70s, and the story captures I the danger and squalor of it perfectly . Art-wise, I never would have imagined that Wood and Severin would make such an effective art-team, but Lordy, their styles mesh perfectly here. One of my favorite stories from one of my favorite periods of the Warren mags.

‘God of Fear’ is a mess, no doubt, but I kinda like Alcazar’s art here. It’s dark and spooky and I dig that gnarly man-beast. The busy page layouts remind me a little of that handful of shockers Bill Payne drew for the DC ‘Mystery’ mags in the early 70s. A bit more coherence in the compositional structure would be nice tho.

Don’t have a lot to say about the Vampi ish.


Quiddity99 said...

Nothing special for me with "The Horseman". This is Quesada's sole story for Warren, with him kinda coming off like a low rent Jose Ortiz. Not much of a story to "Unreal" but as with you I'll happily take an Alex Toth drawn story even if there's not much of a plot. "Creeps" is the highlight of the issue, a particularly strong and effective story from Goodwin and a rare Wood - Severin team up. Since its been well over a year since Goodwin departed Warren I'm wondering if this is a a story that Wood penciled, then never finished, sitting in the inventory pile for a while until Severin completed it? Just speculation on my part. Art-wise, "Lord of Lazarus Castle" kinda comes off like the type of story I'd expect from Skywald rather than Warren; like Quesada, Moliterni does this single story for Warren then never appears again. Don't really have anything to say about "The Nature of the Beast". I fell asleep multiple times trying to read "God of War" which goes to show how memorable that story was for me! The story seems to just stop midway at an odd point, failing to give us much of a climax. Alcazar's art is quite scary at times but similar to you I struggle to figure out what is going on for much of it. As Dubay's final issue as editor of Creepy perhaps there is some truth to Jack's speculation, did he dump a lot of lackluster stories in this last issue of his so Louise Jones wouldn't have to deal with them? Or more likely, because James Warren demanded they print all these stories he already paid for?

We get here the first attempt to provide a lengthy issue long Vampirella story (although they still had space to fit in one non-Vampi one); does it work? Unfortunately I only had the chance to read the first 2 stories before today so I don't recall all the intricacies off the top of my head, but I'd say no, and I continue to greatly prefer the non-Vampi stories in Vampirella magazine. Dubay continues to over complicate things and is trying here to meld all of the Vampirella magazine backup heroines (Pantha, Fleur) into the Vampi storyline. I don't particularly care what happens to Vampi or any of them, especially as we just saw with the previous issue that they are never going to actually kill off any of these characters. They are hence never in any real danger. That said, I did very much enjoy that for the first and only time we get a Vampi issue filled with a bunch of different artists trying their hand at drawing her (Gonzalez, Maroto, Torrents, Dubay and Jones). It does provide a nice amount of variety that we tend to lack in future issues of Vampi that are entirely focused on her, and to my knowledge is the only time that Torrents, Dubay and Jones draw her. "Ground Round" is a rather icky story but perfectly suited for Auraleon's style. I agree that it very much comes off like an EC story.

No "Best Of" feature for Dubay's era as editor? I do continue to look fondly upon his era running the show here, although having now gone through it again, I will not deny that much of the writing during this era is flawed. The art is for the most part is outstanding throughout this era, including amazing work from the Spanish artists, numerous color stories from Richard Corben and the majority of the output Berni Wrightson will provide for Warren. This era has a few of my all time favorite stories ("Jenifer", "The Other Side of Heaven", "Rendezvous"), but a lot of them are still to come in the Louise Jones era, where I think the writing takes a big step forward, primarily due to Bruce Jones, and the artwork starts to take a step back.

Peter Enfantino said...


We don't tend to do "Best of Eras" but, rather, a Best of Every Two Years. 1975-76's Best will run on March 14. Buy your advance tickets now!

Anonymous said...

Hey, speaking of ‘Creeps’…

You all been following the ‘Warrant Publishing’ saga, this guy Richard Sala (no, not THAT Richard Sala) and his remarkable Warren lookalike mag THE CREEPS, and how he finally ran afoul of the current rights-holders of the CREEPY and EERIE trademarks and as part of a settlement has agreed to change the name of his mag and even stop selling his back issues by May 2022?

I’ve been impulse-buying them whenever I see them on the magazine rack at Barnes and Noble — I see those Sanjulian and Ken Kelly covers (and occasional Frazetta reprints) with spot-on vintage fonts and trade dress and I can’t help myself. I always find the interior stories and art to be somewhat underwhelming — generally ‘pretty good’ but rarely outstanding. A few weeks ago, I saw the first issue of the re-titled SHUDDER magazine at B and N, and strangely found it fairly easy to pass up.


Peter Enfantino said...

I've seen Creeps at the local Barnes and Noble and I've also seen the magazine there too (b-dum!). Anyway, I've thumbed through it and it just seems like a really low rent rip-off of Warren (which, to me, equals Skywald). The guy was only asking for trouble, wasn't he? Warrant Publishing. Was his in-house sales department called Caption Company? Where was the sister pub, Earrie?

John Scoleri said...

Get with the program, Peter! The 'sister' pub from Warrant is VAMPIRESS CARMILLA.

Anonymous said...

I TOTALLY admire the guy’s chutzpah, but yeah, definitely asking for trouble. With ‘Warrant’ as the name of the company, the transparent pseudonym ‘Artie Godwin’ credited with writing many of the stories, the mag’s mascot a blatant tracing of old Jack Davis Uncle Creepy drawings, etc — the legal trademark owners seemingly had him dead to rights in terms of infringement, taking advantage of the goodwill towards the original IP, etc.

I’ll continue to flip through it (and VAMPIRESS CARMILLA) at the magazine rack and if the art catches my eye, i may be in inclined to purchase.


Quiddity99 said...

The "Warrant" stuff comes off to me about as obvious a trademark infringement as possible; the guy is aping the Warren magazines in every way, beyond simply the extremely similar titles and hosts the guy is having many covers produced that are really similar to original Warren ones, often using the same artist too. To a level where if you were just purchasing based on a picture rather than reading things in detail you could accidentally buy one of his mags thinking it was an original Warren one.

I've never checked them out because beyond the covers (where credit to him, he's been able to get some really good ones from star artists like Frazetta, Corben, Jeff Jones, Sanjulian, etc...) much of the creative talent that draws me to the Warren magazines aren't there. The guy can boast about how he has all these former Warren creatives working for the magazine, but its people like Don Glut or Lynn Marron, who contributed mediocre material during Warren's dark ages. I'd change my tune if I saw that the magazines had people working on it that really draw me to the original Warren magazines (ex. Esteban Maroto, Bruce Jones, Alex Nino, etc...). Unfortunately the sad fact is that many of the great talents have already passed away.

Anonymous said...

I love the Warrant magazines, myself. Vampiress Carmilla, Shudder AND The Creeps. Those books are the only way to get true Warren styled entertainment in today's world. Obviously, that frivolous lawsuit hasn't stopped Sala from continuing with the Warrant name, or even the magazine for that matter, which simply changed it's name to Shudder, which Sala claims he only did to avoid the cost of a multi-million dollar lawsuit that he would have ultimately won, since Dark Horse let the "Creepy" trademark registration lapse over a decade ago. I actually like the name Shudder better than The Creeps and Shudder magazine has actually stepped it up a notch over The Creeps with the addition of some remarkable cover art and interior work from one of my favorite Wrightson inspired artists, Kelley Jones. I'm also a fan of Don Glut's writing, not just for Warren, but for Marvel, DC and Gold Key as well. Glut took over as the associate editor of both Warrant magazines after Nicola Cuti passed away a couple years ago. Cuti, a long time Warren writer and editor, did some of his best work for Warrant. I'm glad that Sala had the balls to grab the reigns of the black and white horror magazine genre, especially after Dark Horse screwed the pooch with their lack-luster reboot attempts. Say what you will, but Sala managed to round up interior work from some of Warren's best artists, in my opinion. It's hard to argue with credits inside those books from Frank Brunner, Rich Corben, Ralph Reese, Vicente Alcazar, Isidore Mones, Alex Nino, Neal Adams, Rich Buckler, Alan Weiss and dozens of others. I have every book that Warrant has released so far. I also read a piece on Sala's Facebook group a couple days ago saying that the great Angelo Torres is working on a new story for Shudder right now. No one else has had the guts to do what Rich Sala is doing and I appreciate his efforts. I'll be buying his books as long as he's able to produce them. Judging from the apparent success of all of his Warrant magazines and the tens of thousands of followers on his Facebook pages, I'm far from alone. LONG LIVE WARRANT! THE RIGHTIOUS SUCCESSOR TO THE WARREN THRONE!

Jack Seabrook said...

I have not read any of them, so I can't comment, but you make them sound good!

Peter Enfantino said...

Thanks for stopping by, Rich!