Thursday, November 14, 2019

Psycho #13

Today I'm covering Psycho issue 13, cover dated July 1973 and painted by Vicente Segrelles. The cover features the story "The 13 Dead Things", yet that story doesn't appear within! It will appear a couple of issues later in Psycho 15. Is it worth the wait? You'll have to wait until then to find out...

This issue's frontispiece is "Prologue to Horror" by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art).

First up is "The Day That Satan Died" by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). On a small plane traveling towards Calcutta, captain Jack Boivon goes back to speak to his passengers, the large Bob, photographer Herbert and a young woman named Patti who is quickly revealed to be a radical communist and hijacks the plane. When Jack's co-pilot refuses to purposely crash the plane like she demands, she shoots him in the head and the plane promptly crashes into a mountain. Amazingly enough, all four survive. Patti reveals that she made a deal with Satan for her youth and beauty to last hundreds of years in exchange for her soul, but she's running low on time until the deal is up and needs someone else to give up their soul to retain it. She figures her fellow passengers have no choice but to agree to it or freeze to death. But this soon blows up in her face as Bob reveals he's the abominable snowman, Herbert reveals he's a vampire, and Jack reveals he's Satan himself! Patti's body immediately rots away, but Bob and Herbert, angry at having to live as monsters promptly stomp and tear Satan to shreds! I love this story, in fact may consider it my favorite Skywald story so far. Its the perfect representation of Skywald's drastically different style from Warren, where Hewetson is willing to go so over the top, enough so that one doesn't mind at all that the ending is spoiled by the title. Dela Rosa's characters often come off as quite ugly looking but that is in service to a story filled with monsters and villains like this one. The character Herbert makes a reference to working for Pilote magazine, a real magazine based out of France which would feature work from Selecciones Illustrada artists like Luis Garcia.

"The Day That Satan Died"
Second is "Monster, Monster, in the Grave!" by Augustine "Funnell (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). This story is a sequel to "Monster Monster on the Wall!" from Nightmare #12. Our protagonist, a bullied boy who is now grown up, and a werewolf, has killed a few bullies that had attacked him. He next returns to one of his childhood homes where a couple of more men wait. He breaks through and slaughters them. Afterwards he flees, running into the woods and finds a pistol, which he loads with a bullet and shoots himself in the head! I did not expect that ending at all! I figure that's got to spell the end to this series, right?

Third is "Let's All Drink to the Death of a Clown" by Doug Moench (story) and Fernando Rubio (art). A man, Mr. Cade, is pursued by a knife wielding... clown! Flashbacks reveal Cade, owner of a circus, pursuing one of his employees, a young woman named Beth, who is engaged to the clown, Bob. Bob punches out Cade when he continues to go after her, but thinks he and Beth have a secure spot in the circus and Cade won't get rid of them. Cade eventually does kill Bob, then fires all the other clowns in the circus as well. As we return to the present, he continues to flee, pursued by the killer clown, and is eventually confronted by many of them and is stabbed to death... or is he? We find as the story ends that it was actually a novelty knife, so I'm assuming he died of fright? Clowns were always scary to me as a kid, so they fit being used in a horror story such as this.

A werewolf... killing himself?
Fourth is The Heap in "When Dies a Lunatic... Dies a Heap" by Al Hewetson (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). The Heap continues to go on a rampage in the subway, as we had seen at the conclusion of the previous story including killing a little girl. The Heap wanders off but is shot with some serum-infused shotgun shells which cause him to weaken and he is captured and transported via airplane. The Heap is able to break free of his bonds and jumps from the plane, landing coincidentally enough in the farm of his parents! They bring him in and the story concludes with The Heap at a dinner table with the two of them. And that, believe it or not, is the conclusion of The Heap series. Quite the odd and unexpected ending, that is for sure. I've read that Al Hewetson hated The Heap and wanted to get rid of him, which I assume led to these final two stories which were drastically different than those stories that had come before. The Heap was a recurring character that started up before Hewetson had even joined Skywald and didn't really fit the style of the magazines by this point, so I can get him ending it, although I wish he had done so in a manner that fit better with the stories that made up most of the series. The Heap ended up being largely a mindless monster towards the end, which simply wasn't interesting on a long term basis.

Fifth is the two page "A Taste of Human Flesh..." by Ed Fedory (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). Three men are lost at sea and start getting extremely hungry. They soon arrive at an island, only to discover it is full of cannibals! Two of the men are promptly cooked, but the last manages to escape, killing a native on his canoe and paddling away. Soon the hunger returns. When the man is eventually found, he has become a cannibal himself!

Sixth is "The Horror Within and Without" by Rich Buckler/Chuck McNaughton (story) and Mike Kaluta (art). This story was originally intended for the sci-fi magazine that Skywald cancelled, explaining why we're seeing a few collaborators we haven't seen in a Skywald magazine in a while. A man named J-1001011 (I'll just call him J the rest of the way) awakens in space, ordered to take part in an upcoming attack. J communicates with his ship's computer, which is ordering him to attack a city on a nearby planet. J also questions if there's any news of his parents but doesn't receive any response. J takes part of the attack and is able to successfully destroy the city as ordered, killing its inhabitants. When J returns he is told that his parents were killed in his attack! As the story ends his memory is wiped and he returns to sleep. A rather depressing tale, and I kinda knew from early on what the big twist would be.
The conclusion to "The Heap"

Seventh is the two page feature "The Raven" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Jessica Vogel) and Manuel (art). Even Richard Arndt's Horror Comics in Black and White book doesn't fully identify who "Manuel" is and if that's his first name or last name. This brief story features a man who comes across a raven on a tree branch who can speak! The raven asks him to kiss him and that it is a beautiful woman, transformed by a witch. Once he does so, she actually transforms into a beautiful woman, but he reveals he is a vampire and bites her! She has one last twist though, she has rabies, causing him to die from being unable to breathe. Yet another story in this issue that hammers home twist after twist, this was a pretty good, short feature.

Eighth is "The Taste of Carrion" by Ed Fedory (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). At a funeral, a man bemoans the death of his daughter, Greta, and blames some nearby demons for her death, and the death of other children. When another body is found, a mob gathers, convinced that they will find the monster responsible if they check the local mausoleum and castle. Upon going inside the mausoleum they find millions of flies, which are revealed to be the monster. The townsfolk are soon all killed by them. This story didn't make the most sense to me (It is really hard to follow at times) and also drags on a bit too much towards the end.

We wrap up with "Scream Screen Scene: The Mummy" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). This is the start of a recurring feature in Skywald where they show a brief scene from a famous horror movie, but due to copyright don't exactly adapt the scene but rather use a similar one. In this case its the Mummy and features some archaeologists excavating a mummy, which immediately comes alive and attacks them.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Nightmare #13

Today I am covering Nightmare issue 13, cover dated June 1973. The cover is by Vicente Segrelles, and was also used as the cover for Richard Arndt's Horror Comics in Black and White book.

We first have the one page frontispiece "The Corpse Feast!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). It features a military sergeant who goes into the graveyard to feast on a corpse.

First story is "At Mind's Edge" by Ed Fedory (story) and Jesus Duran (art). A man returns to his apartment to find a hooded figure there. The hooded figure says he is a messenger of peace and upon massaging his forehead our protagonist descends into a dream like world, including one where he is thrown off a cliff, and into a weird portal. The hooded figure reveals himself to actually be the Lord of Insanity and our protagonist is eventually found dead in a sewer drainage pipe. Duran's art looks a bit like Adolfo Abellan's here (and I recall Abellan having a Warren story with a similar looking hooded man). The actual plot is a massively confusing mess.

Next is "Curse of the Werewolf", a one page feature from Ed Fedory (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). Three panels tell about three different werewolf attacks.

Jesus Duran's art here reminds me of Adolfo Abellan
Second story is "...Die Little Spider!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Fernando Rubio (art). A housewife kills some spiders with a knife, and when her husband comes home he reveals he's going to kill her! He bounds and gags her, and puts her in a giant translucent jar, then dumps a number of spiders on her. The spiders consumer her body and he eventually moves the jar to the basement. After fully consuming her, the spiders go hungry and make themselves out of the jar, killing the husband too.After consuming his body they bring his remaining bones to be put in the same jar as his wife.

Next is "The Mad Nightmare World of H.P. Lovecraft", a two page feature from Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). Actually just one giant panel, this shows Lovecraft sleeping and lots of bizarre visions from his dreams.

Third full length story is "...Only the Wretched Die Young..." by Al Hewetson (story, uncredited) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Many centuries ago, Charles seeks to take his brother Doug's wife Brenda and kill him and his son, Jamie. When Doug and Jamie go to an island to fish and hunt, a monster attacks and kills Doug, and then enters into Jamie. Jamie eventually returns to get revenge, but oddly enough the story has moved into the present time. Charles tries to throw him off a skyscraper, but the monster's tentacles save him, then presumably kill Charles and Brenda. Villamonte's art is at times good, at times bad, while again the script is considerably confusing.

"Only the Wretched Die Young"
Next up is "The Corpse" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Francisco Cueto (art). Siegfried is a young man in East Germany and after his lover Anna dies, he works in a graveyard and saves money, seeking to escape, by using cheap material for graves and also killing people to bring in more business. He is eventually found out for his theft of castle material, tries to escape from prison but is killed, then his corpse rises from the dead. He returns to the graveyard where Anna is buried, and the corpses of those he killed also rise. They can't kill him as he's already dead, so they get the corpse of Victor Frankenstein, causing him to become a living corpse! Cueto's art is rather mediocre, but I do like how ridiculous the story gets towards the end.

Following that is "Frankenstein 1973" by Al Hewetson (story, credited as Earle Leroy) and Xavier Villanova (art). This story is a continuation of the long since paused Frankenstein Book II series. Where we last left things off, Frankenstein's Monster and the young woman Lilith got transported far away after an experiment gone bad. They find themselves in the year 1973 and meet a group of rotting corpses that were Nazis when they were alive. The Nazi corpses plan to conquer the world and desire Frankenstein to joint them, but he refuses and destroys all but the leader of them. The leader then gets in a plane and fires at them, killing Lilith before crashing. Frankenstein's head starts spinning and he finds himself transported yet again as the story ends. After this brief return, this series goes on yet another hiatus.

Pretty good splash page for the Gargoyles story
Our issue concludes with the latest story in the Gargoyles series, "Only the Strong Shall Survive" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). The gargoyles, Edward and Mina, with their child Andrew make their way to America as illegal immigrants and get off in Manhattan. At first they steal food to survive, but come across a dwarf who brings them to a place he called The Village where they can stay. Yet when they arrive they find it is the Satanists cult once again, who seize them and Edward fights and kills a giant monster. They are taken and brought before a judge, but rather than deport them, he permits them to stay as long as they prove to be a contribution to society. This series is already starting to get old to me as the Satanists cult shows up as the villains for the third straight story. Hopefully we go in another direction next time.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Psycho #12

Today I'm covering issue 12 of Psycho, featuring a cover by Jeff Jones. This issue is cover dated May 1973.

First is "The Mad Doll Man" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Gual (art). Himmer is an old German doll maker, who is visited by men Maas and Spiegel. They had seen some of Himmer's child-like dolls outside and are plotting to escape from East Germany to the west by storing them aboard a train. When they make their way there, Spiegel is revealed a traitor, loyal to the German state. However Himmer's dolls are revealed to actually be child vampires, and they kill him. With the sunlight however, they all perish, and Maas realizes that Himmer is a doll himself, made of wood! A total nonsense out of nowhere ending for this story, but Gual provides some fairly strong artwork, including making the "dolls" scary looking.

Second is "Lunatic Picnic" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). A family goes out for a picnic and the parents decide to go off on their own for a while, leaving the children to play by themselves. While chasing a lost ball, one of the boys falls down into a small chasm. His brothers and sisters come to help him out, but suddenly an earthquake rages. A giant snake comes out of the ground and consumes all the children, to their parent's horror. There's not much plot-wise to this story, but Zesar's art is strong as usual.

"The Mad Doll Man"
Third is "Studies in Horror" by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). This two page story features Rodman Sterling, a man who has painting featuring events from many past Skywald stories such as The Slither Slime Man, The Asylum of Frozen Hell, Beware It... Fear It... It Screams! and The Skull Forest of Old Earth. While quite self-referential, I liked it and wouldn't mind if we see a similar feature in the future.

Fourth is "The Weird Way it Was" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). A man has bizarre images of giant ants, but soon realizes he is an ant himself, sent to plot the takeover of humans, by temporarily taking on their form. He returns to being an ant and travels back to his colony, where we find he has been gone 9 years! He tells his fellow ants of how now is a prime time to take over as humanity is constantly fighting with one another. The ants head to the surface, only to find out it is too late, man has wiped himself out. Then suddenly things go completely out of left field as a giant thumb tears half the page off and the ants realize they are only characters in a story. Then on the final two pages we find this was all the dream of a girl named Alice. I appreciate Hewetson's willingness to go totally bonkers with his ending as we just saw in Nightmare #12 with "I Am Dead: I Am Buried" and this story is much in the same vein.

"Lunatic Picnic"
Fifth is "The Swordsman of Sarn" by Gardner Fox (story) and Jack Katz/Vince Colletta (art). This story was originally intended for a sci-fi magazine Skywald was considering putting out and was an inventory held onto for a while when that didn't come to pass. Alas, I never particularly care for these swordsman/barbarian type stories and this story is much of that. It features an astronaut named Steve Grimm who arrives on another planet and is quickly attacked by a large barbarian with a club. From there he meets the beautiful Suanna, they are captured, he releases another alien captured in a crystal and slays his last enemy only for Suanna to disappear. The ending of this story makes it seem like this will be a multi-part story, but I hope this is the last we see of this.

The Heap on the rampage!
Sixth is The Heap in "And the World Shall Shudder" by Al Hewetson (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). Yet again we have changed the artist for The Heap, but Villanova does a fairly strong job here, albeit a style less cartoonish than that we saw for the series previously. It seems like we've somewhat started anew, the Heap is described as changed, the human side of him is considerably subdued while the monstrous side of him is on the rampage. He attacks a cow, then climbs in a train where he kills some people. Upon making it to New York City he is grabbed by a clamp with a police helicopter, only to be dropped through the Empire State Building, all the way down to the subway where he stops a subway car then attacks a child. It is interesting to see the style of the Heap drastically change, but I'm not sure how long this style of storytelling will be effective.

The issue concludes with "Welcome to My Asylum" by Al Hewetson (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). Villanova uses a bit of a different style here, I actually thought that this story was drawn by Fernando Rubio when I first read it. We meet an old man who shows us through his asylum, meeting a witch, a room with a madman laughing, a skeleton chained to a wall, and a basketball game played by corpses! The perspective of the story is such that at the end, you the reader are dragged into the game! Not much of a plot, but this is a fun way to end the issue.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Nightmare #12

Today I cover Nightmare 12, cover dated April 1973 and featuring a cover by Vicente Segrelles.

First is "Nightmare in the House of Poe" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). Rodney Serle is staying in New Orleans yet finds the partying there out of control. He goes to stay at a local rooming house only to find some small humanoid monsters grabbing him out of his bed and forcing him down some creepy stairways then into another party. Rodney awakens, revealing it to be a dream, but strange things continue to happen to him over and over again as he continues to experience bizarre dreams that come to life. This lengthy story at 15 pages is quite surrealistic and features some strong art by Sostres. It reminds me a lot of the type of stories we'd see from Jose Bea at Warren, such as the "Picture of Death" which also featured a man in a rooming house/inn who gets seized by strange monsters.

Next is "Premature Burial" by Al Hewetson (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). With the last story being named after Edgar Allen Poe, this story is an actual Poe adaption, the first we have seen in Skywald (but not the last by a long shot as it will get quite common eventually). The first few pages of the story tell us of various situations where people were mistakenly buried alive or thought dead but really weren't. Our protagonist is afraid of this happening to him and arranges several ways for him to escape his coffin such as a bell and a way out of the coffin should he be declared dead. Yet when he strikes his head while on a boat, he awakens horrified to find himself in a coffin on said boat, and not his specially made one. After calling out people realize he's alive, although the final panel reveals that he was never in a coffin after all, just a tight bunk bed. A fairly good story here (this is a Poe story I'm not too familiar with so I don't know how faithful it is) and some excellent art from Xirinius.

Things get weird in "Nightmare in the House of Poe"
Third is "Kiss of the Vampires" by Chic Stone (story & art). Chic Stone hadn't done a story for Skywald in a while, having been pushed out by the Selecciones Illustrada artists and I suspect this was an inventory story held onto for a while before publication. Our story begins with Marisa, Priestess of the Undead chopping off the head of a man so she and her followers can drink his blood. The narrative then switches to Philip and Thatcher, a pair of men that have come to the town. Thatcher actually specializes in killing vampires and was called to the town to help with the recent incidents. Meanwhile Philip meets Marissa, not realizing she is a vampire and becomes her latest victim. Thatcher, after slaying a vampire himself is able to find the tomb where Marisa's followers sleep, slaying each of them with a stake. Marisa then arrives and she tries to possess him with her beauty, then stabs him with his own stake. She walks into a bear trap however and when the sun rises it kills her. Story-wise nothing too outstanding here but it was good to see Stone doing another story.

Next is "I am Dead: I Am Buried!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). Prisoner Ed Warton travels through the swamps in Arkansas but is captured, then is whipped and thrown in a pit as an example to the other prisoners. To the guard's surprise, he dies. Warton's corpse rises from the pit, slays several guards then escapes into the swamp. From here on the story takes a pretty big left turn as we see the point of view of the writer of the story, trying to figure out how to conclude things. Suddenly Warton's corpse appears for real, demanding him to figure out a way to get him out of the swamps. He then requests a nearby kid to tell him how to end the story. From there the narrative returns to a few days earlier, where Warton is revealed to be dead for good and never rises as a corpse. Although oddly enough the body of a man and kid are now in the pit with him. I quite liked the left turn this story took, which made what would have been otherwise a typical corpse rising from the dead story into something more interesting.
Skywald's first Poe adaption, "Premature Burial"

Fifth is "The Night of the Corpse-Bride" by Doug Moench (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). Frank Tanner is surprised to find that his uncle Phineas has left him five million dollars in his will when he passed away.The will includes a strange requirement though, Frank must get married in three days to get the money! Frank didn't even know his uncle that well, who had been married himself but his wife died on his wedding night. Frank meets a young woman named Barbara and asks her to marry him and she surprisingly accepts! When she discovers the true reason though, she flees from him, even though Frank has fallen in love with her for real. Barbara runs from him in a stormy night, getting struck by a car, but continues going until she reaches a graveyard. There Frank realizes she is just a corpse and was actually the long dead wife of his uncle Phineas! This story had a pretty good twist to wrap things up. Still bewilders me why his dead uncle would care about him getting married that quick though.

Sixth is "The Assassin-Bug" by Al Hewetson (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). We see a giant bug attacking a woman on the splash panel, then go back in time to a soldier in Asia. In exchange for saving a girl, her father gives the soldier an assassin bug, a small bug in a tiny cage that he says has special powers. Our protagonist returns to America where he becomes a hired assassin, and in a difficult jam on how to kill a prisoner, uses the bug on him. He continues to use the bug to kill people, yet finds that the bug is growing while he is shrinking with each successive murder. Eventually the bug turns on him. As the story ends however we see this is all his imagination, he never actually saved the girl and has been laying in a cell having lost his mind. The final panel also reveals that before going to war he was a bug exterminator.

"I Am Dead I Am Buried" completely breaks the fourth wall
The issue concludes with "Monster Monster on the Wall!" by Augustine Funnell (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). This story is Funnel's Skywald debut; he would go on to become an oft recurring writer for them. A mere four pages, this story features a kid who is bullied and beat up as a kid for being ugly. Now an adult, he returns to his hometown where some of the bullies find him. Yet it being the full moon, he transforms into a werewolf and kills them! Although originally intended as a stand alone, this story would become a recurring series and we'll see more in the series soon.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Nightmare 1973 Winter Special

Today I cover the Nightmare 1973 Winter Special, which has a cover date of March 1973 and a cover by Ken Kelly.

First is "Die Mummy!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art). 74 year old Vanessa is an aged movie actress with no roles for her until her manager finds a man named Scott Henders who is doing cheap horror movies who will take her. Vanessa is cast to be a mummy and as the movie films she is fake stabbed then wrapped up in bandages for real. Vanessa suddenly feels young and strong again and starts going on a rampage, killing many of her costars until they are finally able to take her down. Upon removing the bandages from her face they find just a mummified corpse within! I gotta say, I'm not a fan of mummy stories, but this story was considerably better than I expected going in.

Second is "I Left My Heart in the Burial Pit, I Had No Choice" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Gual (art). Mobster Romeo Puccino wants to go straight due to his girlfriend Juliet, but instead his mobster colleagues grab a hold of both of them and stab Romeo. Left alone with him, the distraught Julet then stabs herself. From here the story gets considerably confusing as we see both Romeo and Juliet rise on their own multiple times and cut their own heart out, I'm not sure if they were supposed to be literally alive or this was just supposed to be their ghosts. As the story ends their heartless spirits depart. This story is obviously influenced by William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, with a more modern twist, and Gual's art is good, but the second half of the story is considerably confusing.

Vanessa goes on a rampage in "Die Mummy!"
Third is "Beyond the Walls!" a one page feature from Ed Fedory (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). It tells how in the city of Bruges an ancient stone house was purchased and it had an unnameable stench. Upon breaking down one of the walls, inside was found the skeleton of a winged humanoid creature.

Fourth is "Mephisto's Brand" another one pager from Ed Fedory (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). The Mephisto Brand is a mark found on an accused witch to prove she is doing the devil's work. It could appear in various forms, such as a hand, bat or spider.  We then are shown how those without any such mark are declared to have invisible marks, so they can be killed anyway.

Fifth is "The Horror Tub" by Al Hewetson (story) and Fernando Rubio (art). Harlan Huck is an obsessed collector of the macabre and seeks to purchase a painting from a man named Anders. Anders refuses to sell at any price, so Huck resorts to some ruffians who set Anders' home on fire, steal the painting and then kill him before Huck. Huck awakens that night to find his own home in flames and is confronted by the rotted corpse of Anders. The next day people find a hole where the home used to be. We are shown that in another place Huck and Anders battle each other in a room showing Huck's collection.

Sixth is "The Event in the Night?" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). A man named Henry White is in a car accident on a curving cliff road. A man comes out to attend to him and brings him to his nearby home to stay with him, meeting there his beautiful and far younger wife Mary. When Henry later arrives at the convention he was going to, he is told he was gone an entire year! Believing it to be connected to the house he stayed at, he goes there, finding only ashes in its place. He then starts remembering what happened, in particular Mary attacking him, being brought before Satanists in the basement where Mary is about to sacrifice him, then being able to shove her into a fire and escape. Henry suddenly wakes up, and it being revealed to all be a dream. He then again gets in the car accident and things start anew. I never care for the "it was all a dream" ending, which seems to me to just be the writer running out of ideas. Marcos' art in this story reminds me a lot of that of Jose Gonzalez.

"Beware It... Fear It... It Screams!"

Seventh is "Beware It... Fear It... It Screams!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). Anton Werner is a European immigrant living in a town named Amsterdam ranch. He keeps a mysterious pit on his property and angers the locals when Annabel Lee, the most beautiful woman there falls in love with and marries him. Annabel finds Anton to not be a good husband, he has tremendous self pity and starts accusing her of having relationships with the ranch hands. When she falls off her horse and is saved from a snake by one of the ranch hands, Anton thinks she is having an affair, shoots the man in the face and then ties her up and throws her in the pit. He pours honey over her and the horrific creatures in the pit consume her. Annabel still loves Anton however and rises from the pit to return to him, only a skeleton. The next day the ranch hands find the shredded corpse of Anton handing from the rafters with Annabel nowhere to be seen and the pit is filled in. Some pretty good art here from Borrell and a great story title. The panel when Annabel returns to Anton, now just a skeleton is quite effective. At the same time, Anton is an incredibly unlikable protagonist and it is quite absurd that he killed his wife over his own delusions.

Eight is "The Night of the Mutant-Eaters" by Al Hewetson (story) and Dennis Fujitake (art). A group of astronauts land on a planet in order to repair their ship. While the planet is occupied by humans, they are savages and the planet is incredibly overpopulated. One of the astronauts, Lt. Niw becomes enraptured with a young woman named Ula and the two make love to each other. When the ship is repaired and takes off, he takes Ula with him, who is pregnant. He reveals this to the others which makes them incredibly upset. When Ula gives birth, it is to 43 babies and kills her. The crew desire to kill the children in order to survive, but the children rapidly grow, suck up all the oxygen and then eat the crew, eventually dying themselves of starvation. It was good to see another story from Fujitake, who I presume is yet another artist pushed out by the Selecionnes Illustrada artists.

Perry just can't win. From "Whether Man or Scarecrow"
Ninth is another one page feature, "The Last Witch!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). This brief story tells of how in the Mexican town of Qjinaga, a woman is accused as a witch and is burned at the stake.

Tenth is "Whether Man or Scarecrow" by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipa Dela Rosa (art). The protagonist of this story is a scarecrow named Perry. One day an old man appears before him, saying he is his fairy godmother and can grant him 3 wishes. His first wish enables Perry to speak. He tells him he can have two wishes, but should make them soon as he is an old man and can die at any minute. Perry uses his second wish to become human. Unfortunately things soon go south for him. He stumbles into an apple cart, meets up with Judy, the daughter of the local farmer who he is in love with, but when her father sees them together he shoots him and accidentally kills Judy as well. Perry is then stomped on by a cow, hit by a car and repeatedly shot while riding a tractor and trying to escape. Perry tries to make his last wish, that this all never happened, but it is too late, the old man already died. As does Perry, whose tractor crashes and he is impaled on some wooden fencing. This story is hilariously over the top with how unlucky Perry gets once becoming human, and is quite entertaining as a result.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Psycho #11

Today I cover Psycho 11, with a cover by Fernando Fernandez, for the interior story "The Thing in Horror-Swamp!". This issue is cover dated March 1973.

First is "...And It Whispered... And It Wept... And it Did Shudder... And it Did Die..." by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe De la Rosa (art). In Greenwich Village a scientist has created life, a large bizarre tentacled monster and in order to feed it has his hunchbacked assistant kill people to feed to it. The monster thinks the doctor is his daddy and happily eats it. The assistant grows angry at the doctor for not changing him to a more attractive form, so he kills him with an ax to the face! But when he brings the doctor's body to the creature, it grows angry and strangles the assistant. It then starts crying over the death of its father and the narrator tells of how it will soon die without food. A fairly decent way to start the issue and a good example of how over the top Skywald story titles can get!

Second is the two pager "...Make Mephisto's Child Burn..." by Ed Fedory (story) and Felipe De la Rosa (art). This is the most horrifying Skywald story yet! In Jersey England, a pregnant woman is burned at the stake, being called bride of the damned by the angry mob. While burning alive she gives birth, being able to push the baby out of herself to safety, just beyond the edge of the flames. One of the women in the crowd promptly grabs the baby and throws it into the flames to die along with its mother.

The horrifying "Make Mephisto's Child Burn"
Third is the latest in The Heap series, "A Ship of Fiends" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). Where we last left Jim Roberts, he was on a n island with no way to make it home. However a pirate ship soon arrives with a number of pirates burying their treasure. They capture Jim and tie him up on the mast of the ship. Jim hopes to turn into The Heap so he can escape, but when night comes, he doesn't transform! Suddenly a giant squid (guessed by Jim to be the one from the story in Psycho #7) appears and destroys the ship. The Heap is tossed ashore in the Everglades where he comes across Darkkos Mansion (which is explained to be the mansion from the story "The Beast Within" from Nightmare #9). There werewolf from that story is still around and does battle with The Heap, with them falling into quicksand and only The Heap making it out. Marcos' art looks considerably weaker in this story, as if he was rushing it.

Fourth is "...Rast Their Evil Bones..." a one pager from Ed Fedory (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). Fedory brings us a second burned at the stake story in the same issue! It features the burning of witches in Sweden and that those killed included children. Considering what we just got earlier in the issue this seems completely pointless to me. Thankfully it is only one page, and Borrell's art is pretty good.

Fifth is another one pager, "Her Majesty - The Corpse" by Ed Fedory (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). It tells of the queen Inez De Castro who was the target of assassins. Her husband Dom Pedro brings her corpse onto the throne where her subjects are still forced to kneel before her and kiss her feet.

Suso's debut in "Don't Die Up There, Stanley"
Sixth is "Hit and Run: Miss and Die" by Doug Moench (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). A night watchman is knocked out when some mobsters come to steal some drugs from the pharmaceutical company he works for. When they meet up with their boss, he angrily tells them to take out the watchman as he could identify them. They capture him and bring him before their boss, now angry that they have brought the watchman to him , as well as the fact that the drugs stolen were useless. The mobsters create cement shoes and also dump in the drugs into it. Our protagonist is tossed into the water where he drowns and his body starts to decompose. However the drugs are able to somehow revive him. He bites off his feet at the ankles, then pursues the three mobster, tying them up and causing them to drown from their own bootlegged liquor. A typical rising corpse type story, but the incompetence of the mobsters was pretty funny.

Seventh is "Don't Die Up There, Stanley" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). This is Suso's Skywald debut. While he doesn't do the most outstanding job on this story, Suso is quite a strong artist. After having done a couple of stories for Warren he comes to Skywald where he becomes a pretty prolific artist and one of their best. This story features a comedian, Stanley, who comes to a club in Staten Island to perform. He soon discovers from his manager that he is going to be performing in front of freaks, which causes him to panic because that is exactly what his act is about! He tries to get out of it, but is unable to. Rather than hold back, he goes full force and the freaks love it, asking him to joke more and more. Stanley then wakes up and thinking it was all a dream goes on a rampage. In the final panel however we find that his performance was real. He is now in a loony bin, while the freaks look on at him sadly, as he was the one person to treat him like everyone else. Apparently Stanley was based on a real person that Hewetson knew.

Eight is "The Thing in Horror-Swamp!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). This story is described as the origin story for Darkkos Mansion, which was previously utilized in The Heap story from this issue and "The Beast Within" from Nightmare #9. Edwin Gunn comes to the swamps of New Orleans to visit his friend Eldridge Harlowe. Along the way some locals try to stop him, saying he is going towards the house of voodoo. When he arrives at the mansion, Edwin meets up with Eldridge, as well as his wheel chair bound father Register and beautiful sister Mayline. Edwin starts talking about the voodoo and finds out from Eldridge that his father is the local voodoo priest! From here on things take a crazy turn. Mayline runs for some unknown reason and falls into the quicksand to her death. Angry about it, Register is able to cause Edwin to fall in as well. But the voodoo practitioners revive Edwin as a rotting corpse and he attacks the mansion, first strangling Eldridge then attacks Register who is able to drive Edwin back into the quicksand, but the remaining locals are able to throw Eldridge into the quicksand as well, killing him and ending the local voodoo practice. Marcos' art is a lot better here and this story is quite good once it hits the bloodbath of the second half.

Edwin's corpse rises from the swamp in "The Thing in Horror Swamp"
Ninth is "A Bag of Fleas" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Gual (art). This is Jose Gual's Skywald debut. He was a pretty good artist who did a fair amount of work for Warren as well, including one issue that was exclusively stories from him. Reggie Whyte is an old custodian who watches as the apartment building he has lived in nearly 30 years is destroyed by a wrecking ball. In flashbacks we see his brief marriage including the conflict with his wife that led to her leaving, and the landlord coming in to tell Reggie that the building is being destroyed to make room for a parking lot. To try and stop this, Reggie kills his landlord with an ax and also arranges it so the wrecking ball falls off and kills several people. Reggie is found in the wreckage near the body of his wife, and we find this is the real reason why he din't want the building destroyed, as he killed her and walled up her body in the wall. But on the final page as he is brought into a police car we find out hat there were several other skeletons in the building. He was not the only murderer! A fairly decent story and debut here for Gual.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Nightmare #11

Today I cover issue 11 of Nightmare, cover dated February 1973, with a cover by Jose Antonio Domingo.

The two-page table of contents features art by Pablo Marcos, and the character Mr. Pook.

First story is "The Wetness in the Pit" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). Our protagonist, a homicidal maniac is on the run from the police and flees underground, finding himself in a wet pit filled with numerous corpse monsters. Another monster, with a horn on its head approaches him and stabs him. On the final page we find out that the man had simply gone into a fun house of horrors tunnel at an amusement part and was stabbed by the horn on a railway cart.

Second is "Taw!!!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). An expedition occurs in the Himalayas where the abominable snowman-like creatures known as Taw rage. The expedition finds its way to a temple who warns them that they will find death and the Taw upon the mountain. Many Taws soon attack them during a storm and most of the men are killed. The leader of the expedition returns to the temple where he discovers that the men there transform into the Taw, and kill him. This story is Borrel's Skywald debut; he'll also get the final story of the issue. His art is fair, similar in nature to that of Pablo Marcos, at least for this story.

Next up is the one page "Lon Chaney Sr. in the Phantom of the Opera" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). It features who else, but the phantom of the opera terrorizing a woman.

Third story is the latest in the Nightmare World series, "The Beasts of Tomb Beach!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Wayne Howard (art), based on a dream by reader Mike Black. Sitting down, reading a book, Mike suddenly finds that a large slime is traveling across the ground and starts grabbing a hold of him. He grabs onto a tree branch and is able to climb up it, then to a cliff, fleeing from the slime. These Nightmare World features are usually pretty out there, but this one isn't as so. It's just okay.
"Corridors of Caricature" by Jesus Duran

Fourth is "Where Gods Once Stood" by T. Casey Brennan (story) and Carlos Garzon (art). The city of Olympus lies in ruins, and the high priest Serbius finds himself deserted by all his fellow priests. Only the woman Electra remains to tell him of this. She begs him to stop considering himself a god, but a man, and yet he refuses. A harsh storm strikes the city and his attempts to stop it do no good. Lightning strikes the temple, destroying it and Serbius is quite injured, but makes his way to his alter, admitting to Electra that he is a man. Then the storm fades away. Brennan did a number of stories for Warren, often confusing hippie messes and this story is quite like one of them. I hope this is his only Skywald story! Garzon appeared to have deserted Skywald by this point so I wonder if this is an inventory story.

Next is "Corridors of Caricature" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art). A group known as the Sanctum Club gathers at a mansion and talks about a Miss Ingels, a schoolteacher in Cleveland whose students were extremely unruly and she discovered to be vampires! Ingels talks to them then they investigate, and are told she was a nut who was about to be fired. Since a new teacher took over everything has been perfectly normal. The Club is then revealed to be a group of vampires themselves. The principal at the school reveals that he had them investigated and has discovered this and brings them to join a feast with the children, who are indeed vampires. Duran's art is pretty effective here, for a story that would have come off as a bit foolish perhaps with someone else drawing it. I assume Miss Ingels is named after Graham Ingels, the famous EC horror artist.

Next we have the one-page feature "Man Bat" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). It features what else, but the half-man, half-bat creature biting a man's neck.

Zesar brings the bizarre with "Where Are the Inhabitants of Earth"

Sixth story is "Where Are the Inhabitants of Earth?" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). This story appears to be a part of the Shoggoths series for which Zesar had previously drawn another story for (although aside from the Shoggoths there appears to be no relation to the plots in these two stories). A man named Crawford who has lived in outer space on his own returns to Earth, finding Manhattan largely destroyed and sinking into the ocean. He heads to his hometown of Arkham in New England where he is attacked by a Shoggoth which accidentally electrocutes itself. He comes across a hiding woman named Francine who claims that the Shoggoths have killed all the humans including her husband Joseph, and that she is pregnant. Crawford and Francine are able to make their way to a space ship and escape the Earth, but when she gives birth, it is a baby Shoggoth! Crawford shoots the baby into space as the story ends. Zesar's art continues to be quite strong and this is a pretty decent story, including the shocking ending.

Seventh is "Titan Weep" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). During a play in ancient Rome, an actor playing Flavius Titan stabs himself. A couple of men in the crowd talk about the true story, how a few months ago Titan led his men into Sicily and due to the plague all but one of them perished. They notice a hooded man nearby in the audience. When he gets up to leave, the man reveals that he was the one who led the men to Sicily and that it wasn't a plague that got them, but rather the leprosy he had that spread to all his colleagues. A pretty decent short 3 page story, although the leprosy angle was just tackled in the latest issue of Psycho as well with "The Transplant".

The Horror War stars.... Richard Nixon!?!?
We wrap up the issue with "The Horror War" by Al Hewetson (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). Planet Earth is contacted by another planet whose children have revolted and are attacking the adults, wielding not only traditional weapons, but even flying beasts. Edward Dixon, the planet of Earth offers his assistance and tells the leader of the other planet to invite in the leader of the children, feigning surrender, but to kill him once he's in their clutches and that without the leaders the revolution will fall. This all goes according to plan and the other planet succeeds. As the story ends we find the same thing had happened on Earth, with their children crushed under a similar rebellion and either locked up or dead. I question what the future will be for both Earth and the other planet with the children of their society dead or locked up. The present rulers will get old and die eventually. President Edward Dixon in this story is modeled after then US President Richard Nixon, even including what appears to be a super imposed photo of his head on one of the panels.