Monday, August 17, 2015

Guest Writer - If I Had a Buck... Do the Monster Mash!

Doug: With apologies to our readers for the lack of a comic review today. I remarked to today's guest writer, the ever-helpful Martinex1 that at some point the speed of life was going to decrease. Not sure when that will be, but I'm looking forward to it whenever that does happen. So, until next Monday when Karen and I hope to have a partner review of the first appearance of the New Teen Titans, you're going to have to get your comics fix by discussing not nine but an even dozen books. And I think it's going to be a fun discussion, as ol' Mike S. has a good topic for us.

Mike S.: It is not Halloween, but it is time to consider the great horror titles of the past.   Enter the ever evolving virtual store for another $1.00 challenge of “If I Had A Buck”.   This time around we’ve got vampires, and werewolves, and ghouls, and monsters. 

Back in my youth, the comic rack seemed to be tipping with twisted tales.  Some were macabre anthologies of fear and suspense.  Others focused on creatures from the unknown.    There was quite a catalog of comics with misunderstood and tragic malcontents lurking about.  Many titles starred classic fiends that were repurposed as super heroes.  

What did you think about the horror heyday of the Bronze Age?   Did you lean toward the archetypal villains, the eerie heroes, or the hair raising tales?   Were any of these series dreadfully executed, or were they shockingly frightful?  Vile?  Ghastly?  Or Horrible?  Were there artists and writers you preferred for these types of tales?  Did the genre leave you cold or did you find balance in the heroic interplay?  How did you spend your dollar and what influenced the choice?  

You have quite a selection today, and like the strikes of midnight there are twelve choices this time around.  In creating the offerings, there were many titles to choose from, so if your favorite is not listed let us know what that is and why.  So if DC’s “House of Secrets” or “Haunted Tank” or Charlton’s “Ghostly Haunts” or “Ghostly Tales” float your boat, share your thoughts.  Heck, if you decide to segue into a discussion of the “Groovy Ghoulies” so be it.  

As always, have fun and spend wisely.  Here are the considerations; just pay the ferryman:

  • Creatures On The Loose featuring Man Wolf (Marvel) No. 33;  $0.25.  1975.  Cover by Gil Kane and Klaus Janson. “Deathgame” by David Anthony Kraft and George Perez.   John Jameson does his modern take on the werewolf tale with great early art by Perez.  I’m howling at the moon!
  • Adventure Into Fear with The Man Called Morbius The Living Vampire (Marvel) No. 29; $0.25 (Yeesh! I’m afraid that cover has more words on it than the entirety of any current issue’s 32 pages from Marvel!) 1975. Cover by Ron Wilson and Mike Esposito.  “Through a Helleye Darkly” by Bill Mantlo and Don Heck.   Another Spider Man villain gets a shot at a solo career.  Terrifying!
  • The Frankenstein Monster (Marvel) No. 6; $0.20 1973. Cover by Mike Ploog.  “In Search of the Last Frankenstein” by Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog.   I like the corner circle but hate the sweater vest.  Chilling!
  • Ghost Rider (Marvel) No. 28; $0.35 1977. Cover by Ernie Chan.  “Evil is the Orb” by Roger McKenzie and Don Perlin.   Keep your eyes open, the Orb is back!
  • The House of Mystery (DC) No. 236; $0.25 1975.   Cover by Bernie Wrightson.  “Death Played a Sideshow” by Coram Nobis and Steve Ditko, and “Deep Sleep” by Jack Oleck and Paul Kirchner.  Much scarier than when Death uses Powerpoint!
  • Man Thing (Marvel) No. 5; $0.25 1974. Cover by Mike Ploog.  “Night of the Laughing Dead” by Steve Gerber and Mike Ploog.   I’m not laughing… I’m screaming!
  • Planet of Vampires (Atlas/Seaboard) No. 2; $0.25 1975.  Cover by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano.  “Quest for Blood” but John Albano and Pat Broderick.  The publisher and title were short lived.   So are the characters!   Fiendish!
  • Supernatural Thrillers featuring The Living Mummy (Marvel) No. 9; $0.25 1974.  Cover by Gil Kane and Allen Milgrom.   “Pyramid of Peril” by Tony Isabella and Val Mayerik.  Cover proves my point that most plumbing problems are caused by too much toilet paper! Bloodcurdling!
  • Saga of Swamp Thing (DC) No.35; $0.75 1985. Cover by Steve Bissette and John Totleben.  “The Nuke Face Papers” by Alan Moore and Steve Bissette.  Intimidating! Daunting! Petrifying! And I’m not talking about the writer!
  • Tomb of Dracula (Marvel) No. 68; $0.35 1978.  Cover by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer.   “The Return to… Transylvania” by Marv Wolfman (wolfman heh, heh) and Gene Colan with inks by Palmer.  All I have to say is wear dark pants when you read this one!
  • Werewolf By Night (Marvel) No. 34; $0.25 1975.  Cover by Gil Kane and Tom Palmer.  “Not All of the Shades of Death, Nor Evil’s Majesty” by Doug Moench and Don Perlin.   Just the cover gave me sleepless nights!
  • Where Monsters Dwell (Marvel) No. 4; $0.15 1970. Cover by Marie Severin and Tom Palmer.  Four tales of monsters and the macabre.   All reprints, but some fine work from Steve Ditko and Don Heck. Don’t go in the basement!


Humanbelly said...

12 to choose from, and it STILL only scratches the surface, doesn't it?

MX1, your blurbs for each issue are an absolute DELIGHT! Their tone took me right back to those Mighty Marvel Checklist hype bullets!! Breathless with excitement!!! No such thing as too many exclamation points!!!!

In lieu of being able to dive gleefully into what you've offered here (Hmm-- and I do have some of the issues you've provided, it seems), I'm gonna just go directly off-list and grant myself the first three issues each of TOWER OF SHADOWS and CHAMBER OF DARKNESS @ 15 cents, with 10 cents left over for a fudgesicle at the Marina Little Store. Absolutely loved Marvel's high-quality (but sadly low-selling) response to DC's Houses of Secrets & Mystery. Some of those stories have remained vibrantly clear in my memory since I first read them. [And fudgesicles-- wow, always the CHEAPEST of frozen treats, and yet so impossibly delicious!] [!!!!!!!] [That last parenthetical was woefully short on well-earned exclamation points. . . ]


PS-- Leave us not forget such terrific titles as Weird War Tales, Witching Hour, Phantom Stranger, and probably Marvel's B&W "Horror Craze" magazine output, yeah?

Edo Bosnar said...

Back when I was a kid, especially in the 1970s when most of these came out, I avoided horror comics, only learning to appreciate them later.
So my picks here are definitely going to be dictated by stuff I read and liked later, combined with my 'most bang for the buck' philosophy:
Creatures on the Loose #33
Adventure into Fear #29
Man-Thing #5
Supernatural Thrillers #9
- for an even dollar.
The latter two I now have in Essentials reprints, and Man-Thing in particular (right in the thick of Gerber's run with the character) was quite good at the time. The former two include runs that I've always wanted to read in their entirety, and I really, really wish they would get reprinted - esp. the Man-Wolf material with all of that art by the young George Perez!
Honestly, the best single issue here is probably Swamp-Thing #35, but the hefty 75-cent price tag only leaves enough for one more book...

jeirich said...

Tomb of Dracula for Gene Colan, one of the great underappreciated geniuses of the period.

House of Mystery for Ditko, and general weirdness. Could have used a Wrightson interior story, though.

Werewolf by Night, because I loved the series.

Round it out with Frankenstein and Where Monsters Dwell, more bang for the buck, and Ploog was always good.

I loved the Morbius character, but was never a fan of Don Heck, or Bill Mantlo either for that matter.

William said...

I never bought any of the Marvel Monster Comics when they were originally published.

But, if I had a buck and had to spend it on these I'd take:

Ghost Rider. because of these choices he's the closest thing to a superhero.

Werewolf By Night. Because I like werewolves, and because he teamed up once with Spider-Man in MTU #12.

Dracula. Because it was the longest running of the Marvel Monster Comics, so it was probably the best one. Plus Gene Colan art.

And I still have a nickel left over for a pack of gum.

Redartz said...

Martinex1, what a great selection to choose from! And from them, I am dragged kicking and screaming to make the choices:
House of Mystery (for the excellent Wrightson cover, if for no other reason)
Man-Thing (that story is one of Gerber's best; it still graces my collection! And this story leaves you cheering for the clown; this is an accomplishment as clowns themselves are pretty creepy...)
Tomb of Dracula (a classic all around)
Where Monsters Dwell (15 cents left, just enough for an anthology of the macabre; and I love anthologies)

Had I enough coin left during our trip to the spinner rack today, I'd pick up a Gold Key edition of Ripley's Believe it or Not!. These featured some fun surprise endings; a big favorite of 10-year-old Redartz. Also might grab an issue of Marvel's short-lived "Aargh"; a winning combination of humor and horror.

Oh, and I grooved the Groovie Goolies! Thank you, Youtube, for the access to such bits of Saturday morning history...

Garett said...

I'll go with Man-Wolf for the Perez art, then Frankenstein and Man-Thing for Ploog. I'd like Tomb of Dracula but it's 35 cents, so I'll go with...Planet of Vampires for 25 cents! Not the best comic, but a fun idea and something different.

Missing here is Swamp Thing by Wein and Wrightson. I think it has the best art of any horror comic, and great writing as well. Love the short write-ups for the comics, Martinex.

Edo Bosnar said...

Garett, Planet of Vampires is actually a solid choice if you're focusing on art, because it features some early work by Pat Broderick. You can take a look at that very issue at Diversions of the Groovy Kind (it seems like I'm providing links to that post every week...)

Martinex1 said...

Thanks all for playing along. And Edo, thanks for the link (again); that is a great cover and a decent issue in my opinion. Maybe someday I will have to design an Atlas Seaboard shopping challenge.

For my choices, I would load up on Ghost Rider (the Orb is one of my favorites from long ago; like a wayward maniacal member of the Residents), Werewolf by Night, Planet of Vampires, and Where Monsters Dwell. There is a Ditko Medusa tale in the latter that sticks with me to this day; gave me the heebie jeebies when I was six (one of the few horror issues my cousin gave me). That’s an even buck, so no sugar fix or fudgcicles for me.

Honestly, I owned very few of these. As HB pointed out, the number of titles of this genre back in the early 70s was astounding. I don’t think many last in the modern era; horror seems to have gone the way of westerns and romance. But I think there is a place for it and would love to see an anthology series again. It is kind of surprising with cinema horror being such a constant that comics wouldn’t follow the trend. Personally I liked the genre crossover with the heroic ghouls like Ghost Rider and Werewolf by Night. Son of Satan and Satanna never held any interest for me, but over the years I have been curious about Colan’s Dracula, Ploog’s Frankenstein, and some of the other horror tales. The House and Chamber and Tomb and Tower books always had a creepiness that I enjoyed when I did read them… though they were not ever first on my pull list.

I realized in reading through my post, that in my “bulletins” I totally messed up on the DC House of Mystery notes; Death doesn’t play a “slideshow”, he plays a “SIDESHOW”! Oh well, those type of errors in the checklists were common back in the day… so let’s just pretend I am emulating the editorial pressures of the past.

Doug said...

I just corrected the post, Mike! That would have been a good slideshow, though!


Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, I agree with Doug: Death's slideshow would probably be pretty awesome - unless it's just vacation pics (don't think I'd want to see Death at Miami Beach wearing a Speedo...)

Martinex, I agree with your point about crossovers. While, as noted, I initially wasn't a fan of horror comics, I didn't mind guest appearances by Werewolf or Drac in other comics. And I've always like Dr. Strange, and his stories often went into horror territory.

Garett said...

Hey you're right Edo, that Broderick/McLaughlin art combo is quite good. I did have a couple of these issues, and remember them being ok. Wish some of those Atlas comics had lasted longer!

Anonymous said...

I was never big into horror stuff--things like Morbius and Man Wolf always bored me--so I'd probably go for Werewolf by Night (I like Moench's writing), Man-Thing (Ploog and Gerber, why not?), and Tomb of Drac, since I've been meaning to check it out but never seem to get around to it.

Mike Wilson

Martinex1 said...

Edo makes a good point about Dr. Strange. At one point I considered adding a cover as his stories could be fairly macabre but felt he was more superhero than madman. But was he? Is Dr. Strange the first crossover horror/hero? Particularly in his appearances in Premiere and his second (or was it 3rd series?) did he venture more into the “strange”? And did the early Defenders follow suit? Phantom Stranger was previously mentioned. How about the Spectre? He sure had a twisted sense of justice. And sometimes the stories bordered on the Twilight Zone stye of twists. Deadman? Creeper? Dr. Fate? Demon? There seems to be a fine line sometimes. I think Marvel played more clearly with the Universal Monsters, but DC had some strange stories out there also.

Humanbelly said...

Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, I agree with Doug: Death's slideshow would probably be pretty awesome - unless it's just vacation pics (don't think I'd want to see Death at Miami Beach wearing a Speedo...)

Mike, edo, Doug--- somehow you guys are completely oblivious to the fact that the story is cuh-LEARLY a sequel to that perennial old saw, "Death Takes a Holiday". Right? Right??


Humanbelly said...

Also, am I remembering right that Walt Simonson did a LOT of early work in books like GHOSTS and HoM and HoS?


Anonymous said...

OK alrighty now lessee here .... I'd take Tomb of Dracula for 35 cents, Werewolf by Night for 25, hmm that's 60 cents, you gotta have some Morbius in the mix, add in another 25 cents, that's 85 cents, so I guess I'll round it off to an even buck with Where Monsters Dwell for 15 cents! Whew, who knew virtual comics shopping was so exhausting! :)

- Mike 'until Morbius gets dentures' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Edo Bosnar said...

Martinex, as far as the Spectre goes, I think the stories by Michael Fleischer (and drawn by Aparo) from the '70s certainly count as horror.

HB, I'm not sure if Simonson did any work in the horror books, but he did draw a few stories in Weird War Tales (which were more SF than horror).

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