Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dracula 2

This second issue of Dracula starts off again with an Enrich cover, this time of a warrior (perhaps Wolff?) holding a partially bloody sword.

Wolff again starts off the issue in "The World of the Witches", drawn by Esteban Maroto. Things continue where they left off the last time, with Wolff seeking revenge upon the witches that slayed his wife Bruma (or captured her? Dialogue here makes it seem like Bruma was captured, not killed, but this could be poor translation in this story or the last one). Wolff calls out to the witches for them to bring forth their best to fight him. They respond by opening up a chasm in front of him which he dives into. Along the way he slays a giant worm then fights Sadya, a whip bearing woman riding a red bird. Wolff is then summoned upward by the sorceress of the red mist, who wants her to battle for him. This second entry for Wolff is already going in odd places and it looks like Wolff will be participating in some strange adventures as this series continues on.

The second Sir Leo story is next, "The End of a Legend" with art by Jose Bea. The story continues where we left off the last time, with Sir Leo firing at the creature from the lake, which keeps changing its shape. This causes the creature to depart. The next day however the body of the innkeeper is found dead by the lake. Leo recalls that those who have perished by the lake were all evil people in someway. Leo reads up on the Necronomicon and realizes that the evil creatures can only materialize through the evil in the minds of men. He confers with some friends of his and assembles a silver bullet which he uses to fire at the creature and destroy it. This story is a bit fast paced and wraps up this storyline after only 2 issues. It seemed fitting to see the Necronomicon, which was frequently referenced in stories by HP Lovecraft, referenced here since the creature was clearly inspired by those in Lovecraft stories.

Third is "The Village in the Sea", the second entry in the Agar-Agar series by Alberto Solsona. Agar-Agar and Aquarius depart from each other, since he can only appear once every 500 years and his time has come to an end, for now. He provides her with a vehicle, which she uses to head into the ocean, the domain of the God Neptune. Agar-Agar finds a submerged city and some sick children. A man named Gandor arrives and says a strange pestilence has infected them. This is due to some white flakes that fell upon the city, causing bubbles to arise which infects those it touches. Agar-Agar discovers that this is due to a crashed oil tanker, and that the government has been using detergent on the ocean to clean things. She casts a spell which causes the bubbles to vanish and saves everyone. She agrees to stay with Gandor for a night as the story ends. Another rather poor story (with Agar-Agar again casting a spell to save the day at the end), and unlike the last issue's story which at least had some good art, it simply isn't as good this time.

Last up is "Krazy" with art by Enric Sio. Whereas Sio's last story had pretty much no dialogue whatsoever, this one is more traditional. It features a pair of young women who are friends with each other. One of the women gets a present for the other, an adorable little white kitten. She then heads off, leaving her friend alone with it. The woman goes to sleep after feeding the kitten some milk. While she sleeps the kitten lets in some other cats from outside. When her friends comes to get her the next day she finds her friend has been killed by the kitten and the other cats it let in. This story doesn't make all that much sense, but at least it is some interesting art again from Sio.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dracula 1

Back after yet another long absense, today's post is the first in hopefully what is 12 entries covering the publication Dracula by Buru Lan and New English Library. Yes, these aren't Warren publications, but if one is a fan of the Spanish artists from Seleciones Illustrada that appeared in the Warren mags, as I am, these are some interesting books worth obtaining.

Readers of Warren magazines in the early 1970's were frequently treated to advertisements for "Dracula", a 120-page, full cover book featuring art from Warren artists such as Esteban Maroto and Jose Bea. This book actually drew upon the Spanish publication Dracula. New English Library issued 12 English-language versions of the publication, which was originally produced by Buru Lan in Spain. The New English Library publication ended after 12 issues, although it continued for many issues afterwards in Spain. Only the first 6 issues were included in the Dracula book produced by Warren, but one can probably track down the remaining 6 english language issues if they try hard enough, as I was able to do.

Dracula has both differences and similarities with the Warren magazines. The individual stories here are short, typically only 5 pages long, although there are multiple long running series throughout these issues. The longest running series are "Wolff" by Esteban Maroto" and "Agar Agar" by Solsona, although Jose Bea's "Sir Leo" also appears in several issues. Maroto was a prolific artist for Warren, being only behind Jose Ortiz for most stories drawn. Jose Bea also had a fair amount of stories appear in Warren and appears often here in Dracula. Aside from the page length, the other big difference with Dracula is that it is full color. The quality of the color can vary at times (for example at times there is too much of a single color in a panel) but the color also enhances things quite a bit in some stories.

Enrich Torres provides the issue's cover. A Dracula-themed cover (a rarity, as the titular character of Dracula and vampires in general were pretty rare) and admittingly not in the same league as those cover painting he would later do for Vampirella.

Wolff is very similar in vein to Dax the Warrior, the long running Eerie serial and he begins the issue with his first entry, "The Path of the Dead", drawn by Esteban Maroto. It takes place in a post apocalyptic world where one has to be strong to survive, and Wolff is one of such people. After searching for food, Wolff returns to the caves in which he lives to find only one person still alive, an old man. The old man tells him that wiches came and killed all who were there including his wife Bruma and children. Seeking revenge, Wolff heads out, believing that he can hear Bruma calling his name. He eventually comes upon an ancient temple with the mouth of a large best for an entrance. Inside Wolff is attacked by a troll-like creature, whom he decapitates in combat. The creature's head turns into that of a beautiful woman as the story ends. A short introduction at only 5 pages (one of which is taken up by a splash page), this story nonetheless provides a decent motivator and start to Wolff's quest. This first issue also includes a poster featuring Wolff.

Next is "The Thing from the Lake" by Jose Bea, the first story featuring the character Sir Leo. Sir Leo is heir to a noble family living in the late 1800's who travels the world seeking the bizarre and unexplained. He heads to the Black Lake, an accursed lake where a body was recently found. Sir Leo heads there at night with a couple of men and a bizarre creature steps out of the lake. The creature starts transforming, hundreds of times, and Leo's colleagues seek to leave in fear. Leo is confident in his handgun though and shoots at the creature as the story ends. Bea often provided some very bizarre art in the Warren mags and it is much of the same here. The creature that comes out of the lake is a Lovecraftian monstrosity and I'm looking forward to seeing where things go in the next segment.

Next up is "Rendezvous with Aquarius", the first segment of the series Agar-Agar, by Alberto Solsona. Agar-Agar is a sprite from the star of Xanadu. Chief of Xanadu, Nicron instructs Agar-Agar to determine what is going on with the satellite Mohr, from which all their energy comes from. Heading there, Agar-Agar finds Aquarius, a horned sprite whose powers only arise once every 500 years. Aquarius attempts to capture Agar-Agar, but she makes a copy of herself to trick him. When he creates a creature known as Zagor to attack her, Agar-Agar turns it into a dragon which she rides upon. She then turns Aquarius into a good sprite and they head off together. Solsona has some very surrealistic art here which is all the more enhanced by the color. The character design of Agar-Agar I can recall being swiped in at least one Esteban Maroto story that appeared in a Warren magazine ("Scourge of the Spaceways from 1984 #2). That said, this is a poor and nonscenical at times written story. While most of the material that appears in the Dracula publication could cut it in a Warren magazine, Agar-Agar is too light in nature and it isn't much of a surprise that the artist never made an appearance.

Enric Sio's work is the highlight of the Dracula publications to me. He's got an interesting style, albeit one that is obviously inspired based on photographic reference. Its unfortunate he never did any work for Warren, although the color in these stories certainly helps, maybe it was thought that his work wouldn't have the same effect in black and white? In any case, this first story of his, entitled "Eleaonor" features a young girl who sneaks away from her mother to play with a hoola hoop. She wanders towards the beach where she finds a man that is knocked out. She pokes at the man and snips away at some of his hair, only for him to wake up, revealed as a vampire. He attacks the girl but she flees. He turns into a bat, but she manages to kill him with a stake. Numerous additional bats appear however, and she screams in horror as they capture her upon the story's end. Said stories by Sio will get more interesting in later issues, but this was a decent beginning, in a story featuring no dialogue except for screaming in the final panel.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Review of The Art of Vampirella: The Warren Years

Today's post covers this newly released book which I purchased and quickly devoured this week.

Fans of Vampirella magazine should enjoy this book a lot. It contains coverage of the original 112 issue run of Vampirella magazine (around 100 covers in total when deducting reprint and montage covers). It also includes coverage of the first Vampirella annual, a Pantha special issue and a few specialties as well, such as the originally intended cover for issue 31 which was replaced by a Frank Frazetta painting for the film Luana. Oddly enough the book covers the back cover for issue 37, but not the Ken Kelly back cover used for issue 40 (the only omission from the book that I'm aware of).

Each issue of the magazine featuring an original cover features two pages of coverage, one showing the original cover painting and another showing how it appeared on the magazine itself. Author David Roach (who was one of the authors of the Warren companion) also provides some basic background information on the cover and the issue itself. The depth of such information varies from issue to issue. Some issues feature only a sentence or two while others feature several paragraphs discussing details about the issue's contents as well. Roach provides a lot of interesting information including background information about the original sources of the covers and even information about the models who posed for the paintings. Roach also provides a roughly 10-page introduction which includes some rarely seen European art from Seleciones Illustrada artists like Jose Gonzalez, Esteban Maroto, Ramon Torrents and others (although unfortunately they are all uncredited).

Some interesting facts I learned from the book that even myself, as a huge Warren fan wasn't aware of included:

  • That the Vampirella poster used for the cover of issue 19 (arguably the most well known Vampirella image and used for the cover of this book), which was credited solely to Jose Gonzalez was actually painted by Enrich Torres. Gonzalez was uncomfortable working with paint, so he drew Vampirella and had Enrich paint it. It was purposely credited only to Gonzalez.
  • Identifying the cover painting artist for issue 22 (which for many years in even well known Warren publications like the Warren companion and Richard Arndt's book was not identified) as Josep Marti Ripoli
  • A painting of Vampirella by Sanjulian originally intended for a poker game was instead taken and used for the cover of issue 36 (later used again for issue 55).
  • The cover to issue 96, which was painted by Jordi Longaron (miscredited to Enrich) was originally intended for issue 39, depicting the story "The Headhunter of London" but was replaced by a Ken Kelly painting instead which had nothing to do with Vampirella.
  • That the Frankenstein-like cover for issue 44 (another rare cover featuring no Vampirella) was originally intended for Famous Monster of Filmland.

The biggest reason one would want to buy this book is the artwork, so how is it? The artwork reproduction here is beautiful and being able to see these cover paintings in their original form enabled me to notice a lot of things I never did before. Spanish artist Enrich Torres was Vampirella's most prolific cover artist and has the most paintings here, but there are also many by other artists such as Manuel Sanjulian, Frank Frazetta, Ken Kelly and others. There's rarely a cover here that isn't beautiful to look at.

In closing, if you are a fan of the Warren years of Vampirella, and the artists that contributed to the magazine, you should enjoy this book quite a lot.

You can purchase the book (and read a shorter version of this review) here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

1984: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Part 2)

A scene from Rex Havoc
Today's post is part 2 in a multi-part series about 1984/1994. Find the previous part here.

Issues 5 through 8 of 1984 continues many of the themes of the first 4 issues of the magazine, while also taking it in new directions (sometimes good, sometimes bad). It should be noted that as a whole these next 4 issues are nowhere as controversial or offensive as the first 4 issues, with no story even close to the racism of issue 3's "The Harvest" (although racism would return later on to the pages of the magazine), and no plagiarism scandals either. The nudity and sex, as well as a general misogynist attitude is present as usual however. That said, in general I'd say the quality of these 4 issues is slightly down in comparison to the first 4.

I'll begin with the continuing series, which start to gain a larger presence in these issues. The Rex Havoc series, which premiered in issue 4, continues with several entries in these next 4 issues. The first story in the series, from issue 4, was terrific, and the first story here, issue 5's "The Spud from another World!" is a good one, parodying the movie "The Thing From Another World". By issue 6 however, the drawn out nature of the stories (which are generally around 20 pages each) becomes quite apparent and the series continues to dip precipitously in its final appearance later on (which will be in my next entry). Speaking of disappointing series, Idi Amin has two additional stories here. They are much like those from the first 4 issues; gorgeous artwork but an aimless story with idiotic dialogue. The series ends with Idi and Dogmeat finding a man even crazier than Idi, with multiple personalities, and Dogmeat runs off, being unable to take it anymore. I felt like doing the same as this series drew to a close! I'll miss the beautiful Esteban Maroto artwork, but not the story. Unfortunately Maroto goes on quite a long hiatus from 1984 after this, possibly as mentioned in the previous article because many of these stories may not have been intended for the magazine in the first place and they ran out of them.

On the other hand, Richard Corben and Jan Strnad provide 4 more fine installments of Mutant World. While its never the most in depth and thought provoking series, this series continues to be a blast to read and has typical quality color artwork from Corben. Unfortunately the final segment would be the last interior comic art Corben ever did for Warren. While I've never been a fan of Rudy Nebres' art style, Twilight's End, for which he provides the art and Jim Stenstrum provides the story is a fairly good one, with a rather apocalyptic and unexpected ending in its final part. Certain Warren series, particularly in the latter years could go on a bit too long, but they did a good job here in keeping the series relatively short and to the point.

The final part of Mutant World

Issue 7 premieres "Ghita of Alizarr", with story and art by Frank Thorne. Thorne had worked on Red Sonja for Marvel and produced the similar Ghita for Warren, albeit with an increased level of nudity and sex. While the sexual themes of the series can be a bit over the top at times (Ghita is a whore and is raped by a reanimated corpse in the first story, for starters), it is generally an entertaining series and a fine addition to the Warren line, appearing in the majority of the remaining issues of 1984/1994. Thorne's artwork is also quite good and a nice contrast to the styles of the Warren regulars.

Also beginning in this run, with issue 8 is "Herma", with art by Jose Gonzalez and story by Bill Dubay. This series was originally published in the publication Cunado El Comic es Arte: Pepe Gonzalez, which came out in Spain the same year as this issue of 1984, although the art had actually been done around 5 years earlier. For this appearance, the color was removed, the panels re sized and Dubay almost certainly rewrote the script. A rather light-hearted comedic series, that similar to Twilight's End is thankfully kept short enough such that it ends before it really goes down in quality. Gonzalez's artwork here is absolutely gorgeous and rereading these stories, this is easily the sexiest artwork to ever appear in a Warren magazine. I'm generally partial to Esteban Maroto's women, but Gonzalez outdoes even him here (and Maroto appears to have swiped several panels from both this initial story and the stories that appear in future issues). Along with the story "Lullaby", mentioned in the previous entry, and some of the latter Vampirella stories, this is the best Jose Gonzalez artwork you'll see in a Warren magazine.

If there's a highlight to these issues, aside from Mutant World, its the Alex Nino stories, of which there are 6 here. Nino's art is ultimately the best thing to come out of the 1984/1994 series as a whole, and he does a good job in all of the stories here. "Teleport 2010" and "Painter's Mountain" are 2 very strong efforts happily lacking the sex-antics that perpetuate throughout much of 1984's stories. "Timothy Sternbach & the Multi-Colored Sunrise!", "Once Upon a Holocaust" and "Zincor and the Fempire" are good efforts as well though, with really only "Liaison Aboard a Skylab" being a weak story where the sex-antics (among aliens in this case) are a bit over the top.

Issue 5's "I Wonder Who's Squeezing Her Now" is unique for having no science fiction or supernatural related themes in any fashion, rather focusing on how a man's life falls apart when his wife starts having an affair and he decides to do the same. The story was originally intended for the never realized magazine "POW" and sat on the shelves for several years before seeing print in 1984. It featured the last Wally Wood art to appear in a Warren magazine, as well as the first work from Ernie Colon to appear in a Warren magazine since Warren's dark ages.
Frank Thorne's Ghita of Alizarr
Frank Thorne's Ghita of Alizarr

Among the remaining stories, issue 7's "Freeze A Jolly Good Fellow!" is the highlight, with an unexpected yet funny ending. Issue 5's "The Box" was another interesting story, although criticized a bit in the letter pages. Many of the remaining stand-alone stories come off as filler, and uninteresting filler at that. Issue 6's "The Warhawks" lampoons DC's The Blackhawks, yet is way too long and drawn out. "Issue 8's "Madmen and Messiahs", featuring a future where Ted Kennedy is a crazed President and his own nephew fights against him in a revolution is quite ridiculous. Other stories like "Luke the Nuke Brings It In!" "Kaiser Warduke and the Indispensable Jasper Gemstone" come off as boring drivel, there's little to get interested in with these stories.

Overall, there's definitely some interesting aspects to these issues, even with the controversy and general quality down a bit in comparison to the first 4 issues. We'll see both areas heading in different directions as we enter the next phase of issues, to be covered in my next entry.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Vampirella 12

Today in my first individual issue coverage in a long time, I will be going over Vampirella #12. This issue is notable for having the first appearance of Manuel Sanjulian, who did the cover, as well as Jose Gonzalez, who did his first of numerous Vampirella stories. Frank Brunner provides the story and art for this issue's frontis, titled "The Sirens!"

First is "Death's Dark Angel" by Jose Gonzalez (art) and Archie Goodwin (story). This story features Vampirella being captured by an old man, W.W. Wade, who also controls a demon called Skaar. Wade wants to cheat death and thinks he can do so by getting Vampirella to bite him. He captures the Van Helsings as well. Vampirella eventually does bite him, but because she's not a traditional vampire, it kills him for good. Gonzalez's art is so-so here, but over time it would greatly improve.

Next is "Amazonia and the Eye of Ozirios!" by Billy Graham (art) and Gardner Fox (story). Amazonia had previously appeared in a couple of stories in Creepy and Vampirella. The evil Dread Throkklon captures or kills numerous innocents, bringing them to his castle Grimkrag. Queen Amazonia heads to the castle to take him on and finds the eye of ozirios glaring at her. Many men attack her but she defeats them (including an entire page of no dialogue or captions, featuring her hacking away at many foes). Eventually however she is captured by Throkklon and set on a cross, to be burned alive. When more forces arrive, Throkklon is distracted and Amazonia is able to escape, then stab the eye, which causes Throkklon and his men to fade away, as they were actually dead men brought back to life by the eye.

Third is "Quest" by Jeff Jones (story & art). This story features a mere 2 panels per page, with some nice artwork by Jones. The story features a hunter pursuing a woman, who is attacked by another man, then flees using some elephants. She is attacked by a saber tooth tiger, but the hunter arrives, seemingly to save her, but in reality to kill her. The twist at the end reminds me of a little bit of "Yellow Heat", my favorite Warren story.

Fourth, and final story in this issue is "To Kill a God!" by Wally Wood (story & art). This story takes place in Egypt, with the Romans having invaded and taken over. The Roman Governor, Marcus, rescues the Egyptian Princess Cleopatra from reanimated corpses attacking her, summoned by the God Anubis. The two fall in love, but she is later attacked again by Anubis's forces. Cleopatra fears that Anubis will kill Marcus so she heads off to the river Styx give herself to him. Marcus heads there and takes on Anubis himself, who is revealed to be a werewolf. The two, having both been bitten by him, do not return to Egypt, considering themselves monsters, but instead head to Transylvania. I have heard this story was an attempt by Wood to show that he still had it after he had faced some criticism over how much effort he was putting into his work and how much his assistants were providing. Its some of the best and sexiest art you'll ever see from Wood.

Monday, September 2, 2013

1984: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Part 1)

Today's post is the first in a multi-part series covering 1984/1994 magazine, a part of the Warren publishing family that tends to get a lot less play than the other Warren magazines. This first post mainly focuses on the first 4 issues of the magazine.

1984 is kind of like the black sheep of the Warren publishing family. When one thinks of Warren, they think of Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, but 1984 doesn't get much mention. All 3 of these titles are in the process of being reprinted in fine, hard covered volumes but we don't see that for 1984 and likely won't. 1984 will probably be most remembered for being way too over the top in its presentation and causing controversy after controversy.

1984 premiered in the summer of 1978, during an era when Warren's titles were on a slow decline from their heights during the mid-70s. 1984 ended up being the one concept for an "adult" Warren magazine that actually saw print. Seven years before, there had been plans to publish a magazine called "POW!", and there had even been a cover prepared by Frank Frazetta (which eventually saw print in Eerie #81), but it never came to fruition. In 1976 Josef Toutain of Selecionnes Illustrada attempted to develop an adult science-fiction style magazine called "Yesterday... Today, Tomorrow" which also never saw print. By 1978 however the competitor magazine Heavy Metal had come out and was extremely successful. I think it’s not much of a coincidence that Warren's adult science fiction magazine, edited by Bill Dubay, finally premiered not long afterwards.

Unfortunately for the readers of 1984, "adult" meant not necessarily mature storytelling, but rather a heavy reliance on sex. In fact a letter sent in and published in the fifth issue put it across pretty well, calling it "Bill Dubay's Future Sex Fantasies". Sex acts and misogyny is quite apparent through these early issues of 1984 and would remain so through its run. The very first story published in 1984, "Last of the Really Great, All-American Joy Juice" features a spaceship carrying all the semen left in the world whose pilots are soon come upon by some brutally ugly but sex crazed women. Ludicrous and bizarre plots like these fill the early issues of 1984. You've got men or women knowingly having sex with aliens or monsters ("Momma, Can You Hear Me" from issue 1, "Bring Me the Head of Omar Barsidian" from issue 3 and "Mondo Megillah" from issue 4). Issue 2's "Messiah" features a sex scientist who describes for pages on end the research he has done into the sex of numerous alien worlds. Oversized genitalia caused by radiation (which we thankfully do not see) is featured in both "Quick Cut" from issue 1 and "The Last Of the Red Hot Lovers" from issue 2. Radioactive semen which causes women to explode is also featured in the latter story. "Scourge of the Spaceways" from issue 2 features a plot point where anyone having sex with a woman will have their penis rot away and fall off. The big twist of "Lullaby" from issue 4 is a man having sex with his mother. Need I go on? This is just some of the craziness you get to see in these first 4 issues.

"Idi Amin", gorgeous art, horrible story

To its credit, 1984 has some amazing artwork, and for a while didn't feature any advertisements, so you've got a magazine full of it. Esteban Maroto in particular puts in an amazing job on his stories in these issues, although his story in issue 4 features some notable swipes from Jeff Jones' "Idyll". Richard Corben has 5 color stories in these issues, all of which are impressive. Alex Nino was the most featured 1984 artist throughout its run and he has  five stories here as well, all which look great. Jose Gonzalez's work in issue 4's "The Lullaby" is about as beautiful an art job as you'll ever see from him in a Warren magazine. The one unfortunate thing about this is it shows just how much better 1984 could have been. I think it’s very clear in a lot of these cases that these stories weren't originally supposed to be as over the top sex-centric as they ended up being. Many stories in these issues have plot and dialogue that hardly correspond with the artwork. The already mentioned "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" is a prime offender. None of the written storyline about the "Hungs", brutes with oversized genitalia taking on the "Glows", for whom having sexual intercourse with a woman will cause her to explode appears in the artwork. The art for this story was in all likelihood about a medieval battle between two armies. "Messiah" to a smaller extent comes off the same way. The "Idi Amin" series, which has its first 2 stories here in the first 4 issues comes off as a bit depressing to me as I so much would have liked to see what this story was originally about. The artwork, featuring an Egyptian queen and her brutish companion in a post-apocalyptic Egypt is just gorgeous. Unfortunately it’s overlaid with a story about how Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin was turned into a woman by the US Government's "Department of Dirty Tricks". This is a series where pages go by with the exact same story and concepts being rammed down our throats over and over again. The majority of dialogue from Idi is horrendously stupid. Only a few pages into the story there is blatant contradictions abound where it is said that Idi Amin was too well guarded to assassinate, yet the DDT was still able to gain access to him to change him into a woman? It’s absurd. No official source that I am aware of pegs down where these Idi Amin stories were originally from, but I would suspect they (or at least the first one) were intended for the "Yesterday... Today, Tomorrow" magazine, which was supposed to have a story featuring a Sphinx, which does appear in the first story. "Lullaby" likely was originally from somewhere else as well, as I can't see Warren having Jose Gonzalez do a non-Vampirella story when he was in so much demand on that title (and writer Jim Stenstrum is credited as "Alabaster Redzone" which was done when he would rewrite stories). Speaking of poor storylines, two back to back stories in issue 2 feature one of the most overplayed plot twists in science fiction when it is revealed that the planet where everything bad is happening or is about to happen is... Earth! This is a lame plot twist, but to see it used in back to back stories (both by the same author, Dubay) is quite ridiculous.

Wood's "The End" becomes a nonsensical tale about a TV writer
Continuing to focus on rewritten stories, the first 2 issues of 1984 feature a butchered Wally Wood story titled "The End" which was split up into 2 heavily rewritten stories titled "Quick Cut" and "One Night, Down on the Funny Farm!" Both rewritten stories are idiotic. Dubay's obsession with oversized genitalia is a major plot point of the first story which is pretty brutal in its treatment of women. While the second story is not as offensive, it’s just as stupid, featuring a nonsensical story about a network TV writer that appears in a fantasy world. None of which makes sense when you look at the artwork of course. Wally Wood was so upset at what Dubay did that he'd never do any work for Warren again.

Of course no article about the early issues of 1984 should be told without the story of "Mondo Megillah", the story that arguably caused the end of Warren Publishing. This story goes back to the very beginning of 1984, before it was turned into the sleazy magazine that it became. At one point in its development, 1984 was supposed to feature adaptions of science fiction stories from well-known authors (which unfortunately never came to pass). Writer Gerry Boudreau had convinced Bill Dubay that he could get permission from Harlan Ellison to do a comic book adaption of his story "A Boy and His Dog". Dubay gave him permission to write the story, but Boudreau was never successful in getting permission from Ellison, who refused to allow any such adaption to appear in a Warren magazine. Desperate for stories for the speedy Alex Nino to illustrate however, Dubay gave him the script that Boudreau had written, swapping out "boy" for "girl" and "dog" for
"monster". With the art being finished, there was no way Dubay could simply bury the story and not publish it. He handed it off to Jim Stenstrum, who rewrote the story as best he could and rearranged panels. Despite this, the story still came off as plagiarism and was later discovered by a writer from the Comics Journal, who had tipped off Ellison. Ellison sued Warren and the company went bankrupt not long after a settlement was made.

Sex filled, ruining what could have been fine stories, even committing plagiarism. Could it get any worse? It does! Issue 3 of 1984 features the single most offensive story in Warren history, "The Harvest". This story features a future where the corporations have set up various gaming preserves. A father and his son go to one of these preserves and go hunting where it is revealed that they are hunting black people. In fact all black people in the world have been gathered up and put in these preserves, treated as animals, and are brutally murdered to provide food for the white protagonists. Could it get even worse than that? It does! The ending of the story features the boy shooting a pregnant woman, with the father tearing her baby out of her and talking about serving it as veal. Responses in the letter column published in a later issue tries to explain this story as bringing the problem of racism to its extreme and to teach a lesson. But it truly has no redeemable value to it and is for all intents and purposes just trash. When you consider some other things that would appear in Warren's magazines (some more which will see in later issues of 1984), how does Bill Dubay not come off as a racist?

Richard Corben's "Ogre"
So is 1984 completely bad? I'd say no. I know I've spent a lot of time in this article on the bad things about 1984, but there is some good work here. I've already praised a lot of the artwork earlier. As misogynistic as it comes off, I do think "Scourge of the Spaceways" from issue 2 is a fairly good and unique story. "Mutant World" and "Ogre", the Richard Corben stories are all entertaining. All of the Alex Nino stories are fairly strong, admittingly with sex or gross out humor attached. "Rex Havoc and the Asskickers of the Fantastic" has a good start in issue 4, with a genuinely funny story about the Asskickers of the title and the monsters such as vampires and the like seeking the same rights as humans.

Anyway, that's my views on the first 4 issues of 1984. Please stay tuned for a follow up at some point in the future covering future issues.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Warren Publishing Statistics (Part 3)

Today's feature covers Warren's most prolific cover artists. These stats include Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, 1984/1994, The Rook, Blazing Combat and The Goblin. It also features any annuals of these magazines. These totals do not include any reprints of previous covers (reprints from external sources, which were particularly apparent during Warren's last couple of years are included). Likewise, any covers that were created by reprinting and coloring internal panels are also not included. I have included back covers as well when they were formal covers (as opposed to ads or reprinted material).

Warren's Most Prolific Cover Artists (in aggregate):
1. Manuel sanjulian - 62 covers
1. Enrich Torres - 62
3. Ken Kelly - 52
4. Frank Frazetta - 30
5. Richard Corben - 14
5. Jordi Penalva - 14
7. Bob Larkin - 12
8. Jim Laurier - 10
9. Patrick Woodroffe - 9
10. Gray Morrow - 7
10. Don Maitz - 7
10. Rudy Nebres - 7
10. Vaughn Bode - 7
10. Barbara Leigh (photographs) - 7

Creepy's Most Prolific Cover Artists:
1. Ken Kelly - 25 covers
2. Manuel Sanjulian - 19
3. Frank Frazetta - 14
4. Gray Morrow - 4
4. Vic Prezio - 4
4. Enrich Torres - 4
4. RIchard Corben - 4
4. Kenneth Smith - 4
4. Richard Courtney - 4

Eerie's Most Prolific Cover Artists:
1. Manuel Sanjulian - 26 covers
2. Ken Kelly - 20
3. Frank Frazetta - 7
4. Vic Prezio - 6
4. Richard Corben - 6
4. Jordi Penalva - 6
7. Luis Dominguez - 5
7. Jim Laurier - 5

Vampirella's Most Prolific Cover Artists:
1. Enrich Torres - 52 covers
2. Manuel Sanjulian - 14
3. Ken Kelly - 7
3. Barbara Leigh (photographs) - 7
5. Frank Frazetta - 5
6. Jose Gonzalez - 4
7. Kim McQuaite - 3

1984's Most Prolific Cover Artists:
1. Patrick Woodroffe - 6 covers
2. Alex Nino - 4
3. Richard Corben - 3
3. Steve Fastner - 3
3. Rich Larson - 3
6. Jim Laurier - 2
6. Jordi Penalva - 2
6. Manuel Sanjulian - 2

The Rook's Most Prolific Cover Artists:
1. Bob Larkin - 7 covers
2. Jordi Penalva - 5

Frank Frazetta was responsible for all 4 Blazing Combat covers.