Sunday, September 22, 2019

Psycho #6

Vicente Segrelles provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, cover dated May 1972. That's a 6 month gap since the prior Skywald issue! From what I've read Skywald had a color comics line that got into a lot of financial trouble around the end of 1971, causing a massive delay in the black and white horror magazines.

This issue is notable for featuring the Skywald premiere of Pablo Marcos, the Peruvian artist who would become quite the dominant artist for the company. By my count, only one other artist, Ricardo Villamonte, draws more stories for them. Marcos also provides a significant number of one page frontispieces/pin-ups as well. He starts off with a bang, having 3 stories here as well as the frontispiece. Marcos did a small amount of work at Warren (including a 2 part Vampirella story), and I can't recall being the biggest fan of him there. Not because he's a bad artist (he's a good one), but he just couldn't live up to the quality of the Spanish and Filipino artists that were dominating the magazines at the time.

We kick off with the one page "Psycho's Supernatural Series: Abrasax", drawn by Pablo Marcos. The Abrasax is a type of chimera, featuring a rooster's head, a humanoid body and the feet of a dragon! He also wields a whip, making it quite the odd sight!

First is "The Vow!" by Pat Boyette (story & art). An aristocrat named Aaron becomes a single father when his wife dies from the plague. The plague ravishing the countryside and the aristocrats being slayed by the common folk, he flees, eventually finding work as an overseer of the disposal of the bodies of those who died from the plague. Aaron soon realizes with horror that his daughter Cassandra thinks dead bodies are real and her friends! Time passes, and Cassandra starts a relationship with a local ruffian named Andrew who is rumored to be the paramour of the Empress. Aaron is scared of what will happen if she finds out about the affair, but Cassandra says she'd rather die than be without him. Aaron comes to a good solution; he rats out Andre to the Emperor, who has Andrew killed, then due to his job collects his body and provides Cassandra his body! Its always a joy to read a Pat Boyette horror story, both this and his story for the most recent Nightmare issue were quite strong. Alas, with just 2 stories done, Boyette will depart Skywald and not do any further work for them.

Jeff Jones' Skywald premiere with "Sleep"
Second is "The Midnight Slasher" by Doug Moench (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). A killer known as the Midnight Slasher haunts the streets, stabbing to death any innocent bystander that comes upon him. A maid, Miss Watts, tends to a young woman she serves, only for her to be the next victim! Watts talks to the local constable, who has raised suspicion for himself due to how quickly he makes it to the murder scenes. He comes across Miss Watts later that night by a bell tower, where Watts is revealed to by the slasher, only for her to be crushed by the bell! This story packs a double twist in the end, with it not being enough for Watts to be revealed as the Slasher (which was pretty predictable anyway).

Next is "Sleep" by Steve Stern (story) and Jeff Jones (art). As mentioned in my coverage for Nightmare #6, Stern may not have actually been real. This is Jones' first story for Skywald, although not his first work, having done the cover for the previous Nightmare issue. This story takes place in space on a space pod where a Doctor Zim hypnotizes his assistant, Robinson. He then has Robinson speak of what he senses an hour from now (at which point Zim expects him to have been dead from an injury) so he can find out about life after death. As the hour approaches, Zim realizes the horrible truth though, that they will both be dead as their space pod has approached the sun! Jones' art is quite good here, and this was a fairly good sci-fi story.

Fourth is The Heap in "Dark Victory" by Ross Andru (story) and Ross Andru/Pablo Marcos (art). Its disappointing to see Mike Esposito, who had been on all the previous Heap stories, no longer contributing. Where we last left off, the Heap was in a cave with some mutated humans fighting the sheriff and one of his men, only for the Heap's hands to start turning back human! The Heap continues to revert back to more of a human, causing the mutants to turn on him. Out of nowhere, a mutated giant spider appears and is also added to the fray but is able to be fought off by a beam holding up the ceiling. this causes the ceiling to collapse. The Heap, now fully back to his human form, Jim, leaves the cave with the Sheriff, and is able to escape from him due to his head injury. Jim returns to see his friend Monty, revealing that the antidote he provided has worked. As Monty leaves, his daughter arrives, who Jim starts kissing, only for him to turn back into the Heap partway through! Horrified, he breaks out of there and flees back into the woods, cursing why this had to happen to him. This series continues to be fairly fun, and we had a pretty great ending to this part.

Next is "Of a Sudden is Thy Death!" by Gus St. Anthony (story & art). This is a very quick story at a mere 2 pages. A young woman named Margo finds herself dead, but completely rejects it. Satan reveals that it is true, she isn't really dead, but she had been bitten by a vampire and now has become one herself. A very predictable ending to this rather pointless story.

Sixth is Frankenstein in "The Phantom of the Opera" by Tom Sutton (story and art). This story is unfortunately the last contribution we will get from Tom Sutton to Skywald. He was likely pushed out by the soon dominance we'll get from the Selecciones Illustrada artists, although was able to work at Warren for a couple more years despite the S.I. artists also dominating there. In any case this finale from him is quite a lot of fun! We continue where we left off the last time, with the Frankenstein monster and Lilith in a dead end in the sewers, the octopus-like Le Suub attacking them. Suddenly the wall behind them collapses, causing them to fall into a pit where they come upon the Phantom of the Opera! The Phantom explains how his pipe organ also permits the transmitting and receiving of inanimate objects, but this has caused issues with living specimens. Suddenly Dr. Pretorius arrives, with Henry Frankenstein's head, and they get to work on trying to transmit his brain into the monster's body! Lilith interferes though, causing the monster to become even more powerful than ever, causing a massive explosion! The monster is brought through time due to the power of the pipe organ, where the story ends. With Sutton's departure I believe this is the last story for a while in the Frankenstein series, although it does return later on.
Craziness in this issue's Frankenstein entry

Our last story for this issue is "Sand Castles" by Ed Fedory (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). Fedory makes his premiere here and would become one of the mainstay writers at Skywald when Al Hewetson becomes editor. For a short time he had also been contributing stories to Warren. A pilot is transporting two criminals, Benny and Tony, to Mexico, when their plane's engine explodes, forcing them down to the desert sands below. Thus starts a long journey to civilization. With their water running out, the pilot kills Tony, then fills the canteens with his blood. So it probably shouldn't come as that big a surprise pages later when the pilot reveals to Benny that he is a vampire! He kills Benny, filling his canteen with his blood but the days continue to pass and the blood congeals, becoming undrinkable. The pilot eventually finds a castle however and makes his way inside, finding Benny and Tony's ghosts waiting and they throw him down a chasm into hell. Yet again a Skywald story has a rather confusing ending though as our last panel shows their destroyed plane, with several skeletons there making one wonder if any of what happened was real. This was a fairly good story (although a bit too drawn out) and I don't mind them mixing things up at the end, I just wish it was more definitive on what was real.

The issue wraps up with the one page "Werewolf Pin-Up" by Bill Everett.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Nightmare #6

Jeff Jones makes his Skywald debut painting the cover for this issue of Nightmare, cover dated December 1971 and featuring the Love Witch character.

The one page frontispiece for this issue is "Medea" by Michael Kaluta.

We start with "Love Witch and the Battle of the Livng Dead" by Marv Wolfman (story) and Ernie Colon/Jack Abel (art). Well, I speculated at the end of the previous Love Witch story that this may be a continuing storyline and that appears to be the case here as the Love Witch is young again, and we even have her pet lizard Friji alive. This story is even more of a confusing mess than the previous one. The Stonehedge priests rise from the dead the hag Atulak to battle Burnick the Love Witch. At some point Atulak succeeds in slaying Burnick, but her spirit rises from her body and the fighting continues, with Burnick eventually winning. The story concludes saying this is only the beginning, but I really hope that is not the case as these Love Witch stories have been awful. The only redeeming part is the Ernie Colon art.

Next is "The Living Gargoyle" by Jerry Siegal (story) and Carlos Garzon (art). The ugly, bald, malformed Julio is angry at the world and the people who mistreat him solely because he is ugly. He gets assaulted on the street merely for looking at a woman. Julio makes his way into a museum where he stands before the Gargoyle Shrazzgoth. He asks for two wishes, both of which the gargoyle grants. First, he is made incredibly handsome, and second everyone else is made ugly. He goes outside to taunt people and they kill him. The ending for this story was quite easy to guess once Julio wishes everyone else ugly. The role of the Gargoyle in this story is a rather odd one as it is just there to grant wishes, something I didn't know gargoyles could even do. Skywald would eventually have gargoyles as one of its more well known continuing characters, but this appears to be an unrelated story.

Third is "Broken Sparrow" by Larry Todd (story and art). Kenzor is a tiny alien who looks somewhat like a humanoid bird. His ship explodes and he crashes on Earth, where he is found by some boys who take him and bring him home in a glass jar. Kenzor is kept there as a pet, who fascinates the family, aside from the mother, who wants him to get rid of him. Kenzor can understand everything being said but can't communicate until he fixes a translation device he has with him. He is finally able to do so and calls out to the mother, who freaks out, and flushes him down the toilet!  This was one of my favorite Skywald stories yet; I feel quite bad for Kenzor and his fate though!
Kenzor in "Broken Sparrow"

Next is "Corpse by Computer!" by Robert Kanigher (story) and Doug Wildey (art). Millionaire inventor Phillip Talbot has created the supercomputer Debbie, which operates many things in his mansion. Upon bringing a woman home with him, Debbie kills her with a mechanically controlled knight. Debbie desires Phillip as her companion and won't let him have anyone else. When Phillip starts a relationship with the psychiatrist Karen Benton, Debbie kills her too. Phillip has had enough and tries to delete Debbie's memory, only for her to electrocute him to death. Another more sci-fi type story, although not as good as the previous one.

Fifth is "The Cosmos Strain" by Steve Stern (story) and Mike Kaluta (art). Richard Arndt, in his book "Horror Comics in Black and White" speculates that Stern isn't a real person, but rather a pseudonym for Kaluta. The story features the starship Parnassus, which travels the universe, studying a contagion that has destroyed all life on the planet Medallion. The scientist Broome, his assistant Zork and the robot Darukk investigate, heading to the planet where Zork mistakenly lets out the contagion and Broome is killed. Zork and Darukk realize the only thing to do is use the Sterilibomb, blowing up the planet, and killing them. Kaluta's art is good but I wasn't the biggest fan of the story. This is now three sci-fi stories in a row! Surprising to see in what is supposed to be a horror magazine.

The Geek
The issue concludes with "The Geek" by Pat Boyette (story and art) making his Skywald debut. Its great to see some work here from Boyette, he was an artist I enjoyed quite a lot at Warren, although he didn't do too much work for them (maybe 10 stories or so). Max Schuller finds the bizarre Geek during the winter, eating one of his hens raw. Max, whose wife had died, leaving him alone, takes in the Geek. Eventually word of the Geek spreads and the local Baron has him seized, brought to his castle where he can amuse him. One day the Baron strikes the Geek, and the Geek in retaliation kills him, putting his head up on the tower with some stone ones. The Geek then flees, returning to Max's home where he seems him one last time. The Geek disappears, and is never seen again, but Max finds that he did him one final act of kindness, digging up his wife's body so he wouldn't be alone. Boyette doesn't disappoint as this is quite a strong Skywald debut for him, both the story and art.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Psycho #5

Boris Vallejo provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, covering the interior story "Dreamer Beware!". This issue is cover dated November 1971.

The frontispiece for this issue is "A Psycho Scene" by Bill Everett. This is a pretty good piece of work, showing a humanoid earth-worm monster!

First story is "Let the Dreamer Beware" by Jerry Siegel (story) and Ralph Reese (art). Alex's wife Florence makes his life absolute hell and refuses a divorce. Alex dreams of being in another realm filled with beautiful people. One of them, Dileeth, says she loves him, but he is suddenly whisked back to reality. Dileeth tells Alex he can return by killing his wife, so he poisons her with rat poison. Upon falling asleep he is back in the realm, but now the facade is gone and all the beautiful people are now demons, including Dileeth! Alex wakes and tries his hardest to not fall asleep, even after being arrested and brought to jail for Florence's murder. Eventually he does fall asleep and the demons throw him in acid, which also affects his body in the real world. Not being able to go to sleep is quite a scary thing! Especially since it is so easy to unintentionally fall asleep when tired.

Next is "Power of the Pen" by Doug Moench (story) and Doug Wildley (art). The author Jeff Dennings is working on a new book, having already written a few characters. Having named his lead character after his friend George, Jeff is shocked to find that what he writes actually happens to George in real life! George is sent to the hospital, having been struck by a car and is investigating a drug ring under cover, but Jeff decides to write things such that he forgets about all of this and decides to change the name of his character to someone else to prevent any future events from occurring. He then smashes his typewriter, thinking it is responsible for this. Jeff soon realizes he named a character in another story of his after his friend Sandy. He goes to her apartment, to find hers trapped in a mirror, and gets trapped there himself, much like in his story.

The Heap returns in "Cavern of Doom" by Ross Andru (story) and Ross Andru/Mike Esposito (art). Having been absorbed by quicksand, the Heap finds himself in an underground cavern with some mutated humans. He fights one of them, beating it to death, then is declared their new leader. This enables him to leave the cavern to recruit others to join them. He returns to his friend Monty Elliot's house where Monty tries an experimental antidote on him. Suddenly the police sheriff and one of his men arrive. They chase the Heap back to the caverns, where the mutated humans are waiting to grab them. As the story ends, we find that the antidote at least partially works as the Heap's hands turn back to human!

"The Unholy Satanists"
Next is "The Unholy Satanists" by Al Hewetson (story) and Serg Moren (art). The story begins with the burying of a woman named Lorna. We flashback to her husband being killed in an accident and Lorna moving to the country with her son. She is approached by some women worshiping Satan who get her to join their cult. She is permitted to ask for something, and asks for her husband back from the dead. Yet, similar to the classic story the Monkey's Paw, her husband returns as a rotting corpse! He attacks her and her brother beats the corpse to bits. Lorna is then mistaken for dead and buried alive! A rather confusing ending, but Moren provides some good art at least.

Next is "Out of Chaos... A New Beginning" by Marv Wolfman (story) and Rich Buckler (art). This is the conclusion of the story started up in the previous issue. This story is more confusing nonsense as we have the convergence of two worlds, a giant battle between the forces of Satan and the Procreators of Eternity, and it ends with a baby named Sage becoming God! Total absurdity.

The issue concludes with the latest story in the Frankenstein Book II series, "The Sewer Tomb of Le Suub!" by Tom Sutton (story) and Tom Sutton/Jack Abel (art). Where we last left off, Frankenstein's monster fell down a bell tower in a fight with Quasimodo in Notre Dame cathedral. The monster finds himself in the sewers, where he is brought before Le Suub, a giant octopus-like monster that tries to take over his mind. The monster instead fights against this and is reunited with Lilith by story's end as they find themselves in a dead end. Meanwhile, Henry Frankenstein's head is convinced by Dr. Pretorius to show him how to bring someone back from the life and he does, but the creation runs amok, attacking him with a cleaver. Yet due to being immortal, Henry is still alive, even with a cleaver in his head! This series continues to get more and more ridiculous, which I love!

Things get crazy in this issue's Frankenstein installment
Aside from the horrible Out of Chaos story, this is a fairly strong issue. The Heap and Frankenstein monster serials continue to be a lot of fun. I hadn't realized that Skywald had successfully utilized the serialized storytelling format a few years before Warren would start using it in Eerie. Although the smart thing Warren did was (for the most part) give these continuing storylines endings and not dragging them out; I do wonder if we will get that here with Skywald.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Psycho #4

Today I'm covering Psycho #4, cover dated September 1971. This cover is handled by Ken Kelly, the prolific cover illustrator for Warren.

The one page "Innsmouth Apparition" frontispiece is provided by Larry Todd.

First story is The Heap in "Night of Evil" by Ross Andru (story) and Ross Andru/Mike Esposito (art). The Heap watches as the authorities bring bodies of corpses from the last story, including Hitler, to his friend Monty Elliot to investigate. After they leave The Heap reveals itself and through writing to him, Monty realizes it is his friend Jim and agrees to help him try and turn back to human. When Monty's daughter arrives, The Heap hides and leaves. He comes across some thieves who have kidnapped a woman and had witnessed him fighting zombies in the previous story. He attacks them and frees the woman, but falls into quicksand, sinking as the story ends. A big cliffhanger to end the story, but I'm sure the Heap will make it out okay and this storyline will continue.

Next is "Out of Chaos... A New Beginning" by Marv Wolfman (story) and Rich Buckler (art). This story is quite the mess, the weakest of the issue. The universe is being destroyed, and Satan is upset. He summons an Oracle whose face shocks him any time he looks upon it. Satan leads an army to the surface where they battle forces led by a man named Hyperion, who Satan slays. Meanwhile a group calling themselves the Procreators of Eternity are creating a universe in the shape of a fetus. The ending of the story says it will be continued in the next issue, so looks like we'll get at least one more segment for this, which I'm sad to see!

Third is "Museum Piece" by Len Wein (story) and Serg Moren (art). Andre Lamont owns and manages a House of Wax. His son Louis had been in a car accident years before and is quite ugly and a hunchback as a result. At the time of the accident, the doctors thought he was done for, but Andre was able to help him recover through unrevealed means. The arrogant Louis wants to go to America to form his own Wax Museum when the opportunity arrives, but Andrew refuses and Louis attacks him. Louis decides to set the place aflame and start anew in America, but finds he is made of wax himself and melts!

The Heap on a rampage!

Fourth is "Comes the Stalking Monster!" by Tom Sutton (story) and Tom Sutton/Syd Shores (art). The story is credited to Larry Todd, and Sutton goes under the pseudonym David Cook here. Usually Sutton dominates in any collaborative efforts, but not here: I hadn't realized he even worked on this story until I looked up the credits. Dr. Aleister Kohner is obsessed with the occult and along with his girlfriend Erica summons the demon Asmodeus in a pentagram. Asmodeus agrees to teach him the knowledge of the ancients, which he does. However over several weeks Al finds himself growing weaker, his hair losing color and falling out. He summons Asmodeus who reveals that radiation has been emitting from the pentagram. Erica, having worn a pentagram necklace is unharmed and at story end is revealed to be the master of Asmodeus.

Fifth is "Escape" by Dennis Fujitake (story and art). This is a brief 2 page story. The evil Baron Renphrew is captured and chained to a wall in a dungeon. He plans on getting away by having men he paid for dig him out. They are able to dig into the dungeon, but break their way through a stone above the Baron's head, which crushes him! A brief, fun story. Fujitake's art reminds me a lot of Jeff Jones. We'll be getting more quality work from him in the future.

Sixth is "Plague of Jewels" by Bruce Jones (story and art). A pair of men, Gary and Wayne, make their way through the jungle with some jewels they have stolen. They find an Incan idol which upon touching causes them to fall into a chasm. Wayne has broken his leg and needs some help from Gary. They make their way to a massive pile of treasures and the two fight each other, with Gary killing Wayne. Suddenly a group of walking skeletons come before Gary and bring him to a chamber where a beautiful woman awaits, her face masked. She claims to be Princess R-Shann, last of the Incan nobles and wants to marry him, his blonde hair matching that of the legends of those she was to marry. Upon marrying her though, she removes her mask, revealing a rotted face. Gary flees, but trips over Wayne's grave. The Princess tears his eyes out and he remains there beside her. This story kinda goes all over the place, but I particularly liked the last few pages. Jones provides quite a strong art job.

"Plague of Jewels"

Seventh is Frankenstein in "Freaks of Fear!" by Tom Sutton (story) and Tom Sutton/Jack Abel (art). Frankenstein's monster desires to learn about his past before he became a monster. He comes across a group of freaks and stays with them, covering his face. One of them is a beautiful woman, Lilith, who is blind but can see the past and future. The monster has her look into his past, but he is then drugged by the head of the Freak Show, who removes his mask and puts him on display at Notre Dame cathedral. There, Quasimodo the hunchback, steals Lilith, causing the monster to go after them. The monster falls as the story concludes. Meanwhile, Dr. Victor Frankenstein (his name now changed to Henry) finds himself revived by his own teacher, Dr. Pretorius, but only his head! Unlike Sutton's earlier collaboration with Shores, this is quite obviously his story, and it looks a lot like a solo effort, even though Abel is credited for the inks. Henry's face seems totally restored at story's end, which is odd, as he had a freakish appearance in the prior story.

The issue concludes with a one page pin-up of The Heap by Bill Everett.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Nightmare #5

The cover for this issue's story is provided by Boris Vallejo, illustrating the interior story "Creature of the Deep!". This issue is cover dated August 1971. Oddly enough, issue 5 of Nightmare came out before issue 4 of Psycho!

First is "Slime World" by Chuck McNaughton (story) and Ralph Reese (art). A couple, Sidney and Susan, make their way into the Parisian sewers after a mysterious man tells them to follow them. Underground they find a race of people who have been mutated by the slime in the sewers. They capture and mutate people, either joining their forces, or serving them as food. Sidney and Susan escape their bonds and split up, and after a few weeks Sidney starts transforming into one of the mutants, both physically and mentally. Eventually he is permitted to become someone who tricks people into following him into the sewers, much like what originally happened to him. A strong way to kick off the issue, Reese also provides some good artwork.

Second is "Whence Stalks the Werewolf" by Len Brown (story) and Carlos Garzon (art). Dr. Allan Bund has found a way to transport is patient's consciousness to the past. Using this ability, he has him go back further in time, including military battles and even a werewolf appearance! His colleague Dr. Tracy wants this to stop and leaves to get the police. However once he has come back, we find the patient has turned into a werewolf for real and goes on a rampage! Garzon provides some good art here, reminding me somewhat of Eugene Colan, but I didn't particularly care for the story, nor its predictable ending.

A strong start to the issue with "Slime World"
Third is "The Doom Star!" by Chuck McNaughton (story) and Tom Sutton, Dan Adkins and Ralph Reese (art). It is the year 1000 A.D., and many are in fear of the doom star, a comet that crosses the skies. As chaos reigns supreme, the knight Berthold carries a diplomatic message with him, hoping it will unite Europe. Eventually upon seeing a woman being burned at a stake, he slays those doing it and brings her with her, treating her as his property. Suddenly a bizarre group of humanoid animal-like knights attack him. They eventually reveal they are aliens, and that the doom star comet is actually their spaceship. In the stars, alien races live in peace, but they have found that isn't the case here on Earth. Berthold will need to bring peace among man and animals; Earth can be welcomed into the fold if he succeeds, or destroyed if things get worse. Berthold rides off, eager to spread the message, only to get immediately shot and killed by some burglars. This story took a bizarre turn in the second half, but is quite good, despite the downer ending.

Fourth is Creature of the Deep" by Chuck McNaughton (story) and Jack Katz/Jack Abel (art). The oceans have become dreadfully polluted, and a Professor Daniels is given grant money to fight said pollution. Daniels' team released radioactive material into the ocean, thinking it may help bring more things to life, but instead it results in horrifying mutations. Mutated sea creatures terrorize the world, forcing military intervention and even the Russians dropping nukes on them! As the story ends, Daniels heads to the hospital where his wife has given birth to his son, who was born a mutant due to the polluted water.

Fifth is "Nazi Death Rattle" by Al Hewetson (story) and Serg Moren (art). A Nazi boot camp in 1943 is plagued with several deaths. The commander, Snookler, brings in an S.S. officer to help them find the person responsible. Said S.S. officer immediately turns on Snookler as he was born in Austria, not Germany, and starts purging the camp of anyone not German. Eventually he tortures a man who claims Snookler is behind it all, and Snookler is executed. The S.S. officer knows this is all a ruse though and demands the man show him where the real killer is. The man leads him to a cabin where hidden rebels kill all the officer's men, then Snookler, revealed to be a vampire, kills him.
Things get weird in "The Doom Star"

Sixth is "Within the Torture Chamber" by Kevin Pagan (story) and Doug Wildey (art). Wildey does a good job here, providing artwork that reminds me of Angelo Torres. The story takes place in Spain in the 16th century, where a woman is executed by torture, after having had her tongue torn out. The judge and executioners leave only for a noble, Don Alexander to come down, and speak to her body, revealing he falsely had her accused because she spurned him, resulting in her execution. The judge, who had heard it all fights Alexander but is slain by his sword. Alexander flees, but goes back for his sword, not wanting evidence left behind. He starts getting quite nervous however, and the judge rises, tearing out his tongue and chaining him to the wall. The ending to this story was somewhat confusing (I have included my interpretation here). I fear that these confusing endings will just get more and more common as I make my way through these Skywald issues...

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Nightmare #4

Harry Rosenbaum provides the cover for this issue of Nightmare, cover dated June 1971.

First is "Phantom of the Rock Era" by Chuck McNaughton (story) and Ralph Reese (art). A young woman, Lala, sees Roddy Skeane, a guitarist and singer perform at a club and decides to hook her ride to his, thinking he will eventually become famous and she can take advantage of his fame and fortune. Lala is rather disgusted by his ugly face, but is convinced he will become famous and loves the lavish lifestyle she is hoping to get for them. Eventually Roddy reveals the rest of his band to Lala, and she finds out they all had died in a witchcraft ceremony and have been resurrected from the dead! Roddy wants her to join them permanently and sacrifices her so she can come back from the dead like them. I wasn't the biggest fan of this story, but Reese does a great job with the art. I am not the most familiar with him, he did one Warren story from around this time and had another printed many years later, but that was it for him. He'll do some more strong work coming up.

Second is "Shoot-Out in Satan's Coffin" by Mike Jennings (story) and Jack Abel (art). Newlyweds Holly and Keith find themselves in the desert out west on their honeymoon, spotting some ghosts playing a poker game in a tavern. Holly ventures out in the desert where she is captured by some prospectors who have found uranium, as well as a mutated Gila monster lizard who has grown to giant size! Keith had followed Holly and gets captured as well. They eventually flee to an abandoned town where they come across the ghosts playing poker again who save them from the prospectors. But the Gila Monster and other creatures are still around, leading to our protagonist's demise. I didn't particularly care for this story, the weakest of the issue.
Lila meets her end in "Phantom of the Rock Era"

Next is "The Mad Mind Doctor!" by Chuck McNaughton (story) and Dick Ayers/Mike Esposito (art). Dr. Streichman is a psychiatrist with a unique method of treatment, beating on his patients, which include a man who thinks he is a werewolf and a woman who thinks she is a vampire. A young colleague of his, Moran, tells him he's going to report him, causing Streichman to kill him and dump his body in the ocean! He soon is confronted by Moran's resurrected corpse, the werewolf, the vampire and another cleaver wielding patient. It was good to see Streichman get what was coming to him, but the structure of this story is rather odd in that the ending is revealed on the splash page!

Next is "A Nightmare Pin-Up #3". After being absent from Psycho #3, the one page feature returns, drawn here by Bill Everett. This features a beast like man with a bat like face attacking several people. Everett's work on these one page features have been quite strong.

Fifth is "Hag of the Blood Basket"!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Tom Sutton (art, credited by Sean Todd). The Hag of the title appears visually inspired by the Old Witch, one of the 3 hosts from EC's 1950s horror comics. Sutton was obviously a fan, and would eventually do a story for Warren that was a tribute to Graham Ingels, the artist primarily responsible for drawing her. Anyway, this lengthy story (a whopping 16 pages!) tells the journey of the Hag of the title as she is initially executed during the french revolution, with her head chopped off in the guillotine. We witness her lengthy journey into hell, the various creatures and monsters she encounters there and her desire to escape, only for the story to end with her headless body being chained up in an insane asylum. This story didn't always make the most sense, but the journey was worth it, and Sutton does a great job with the art work. I also felt kinda bad for the hag, she got a bit of a raw deal.

Next is "A Living Death" by Gary Friedrich (story) and Tom Palmer (art). A woman, Lauren Barker, dies after an encounter with her boyfriend, Derek. Lauren's brother Sam blames Derek for her death and gets upset when he attends the funeral. In reality, Derek is leading several possessed women whom he has brought under his thumb and has doing evil deeds for him like stabbing people or shooting them. Sam gets his lover Sandy to go undercover and try and become Derek's girlfriend, but she puts off his advances long enough for Sam to show up. Derek is revealed to be a vampire and is staked to death. Derek and his group of women kinda remind me of Charles Manson, making me wonder if this story was inspired by the real life events that would have happened not too long before this issue came out. The fact that Derek was a vampire I could see from a mile away.
A page from "Hag of the Blood Basket!"

Last is "The Horror on the Chapel Well" by Gardner Fox (story) and Serg Moren (art). A young man, Orsino, summons the devil due to the Duke seizing his lover, Isabella. Orsino is eventually brought before the duke and finds Isabella has killed herself due to only loving Orsino. The Duke tells Orsino that he will spare his life if he can paint the entire wall of a large wall with holy scenes, in just a single day, believing it to be an impossible task that will give him an excuse to kill him. With the help of the devil, Orsino paints the entire wall, although with monsters and demons. The devil has painted one creature in particular that will come to life if Orsino dies. Orsino is killed on orders of the duke, and the monster comes out of the wall, killing him. Every night there after, the monster comes out of the wall and the screams of the Duke can be heard again. The concept of this story reminds me a lot of the Clive Barker novel "Coldheart Canyon" which involved a painted mural whose monstrous inhabitants would come to life.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Psycho #3

Boris Vallejo provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, featuring Frankenstein's Monster. This issue is cover dated May 1971. Gone are the text story and the one page gallery feature this time, with the Frankenstein and Heap stories being longer than usual.

First is "Frankenstein, Book II: Chapter One by Tom Sutton (story) and Tom Sutton/Dan Adkins (art). Sutton is again credited as Sean Todd. The story continues on from the original Frankeinstein novel, although it uses the famous Frankenstein Universal monster movie look for the monster character. The monster, finding the body of Victor Frankenstein is dedicated to bringing him back to life as had been done to him. He eventually returns to Victor's laboratory and with help from Egor (who if I remember correctly wasn't in the original novel) tries to bring Victor back to life. The castle is struck by lightning, destroying it, but causing Victor to return to life. Upon heading to the village asking for help, he is instead hacked to pieces by the townsfolk! Victor's old teacher, Dr. Pretorius desires to bring him back again, and the story ends with the Frankenstein monster revealed to be still alive under the castle's rubble. A fun kick off to what will become a recurring series; I particularly like the scene when Victor realizes what's happened to him and flees from the townsfolk.

Next is "A Coffin for Captain Cutlass" by Gardner Fox (story) and Serg Moren (art). The captain Don Miguel Fuentes De Cordoba seeks to take down the titular Captain Cutlass, carrying a sealed coffin with him. Upon coming across Cutlass, he binds him, and opens the coffin, revealing a giant monster. Cutlass's lover Marian sets him free and he is able to get the monster back in its cabin. He seeks an alchemist, who enables the monster to speak and tell its tale. Cutlass eventually finds the ship of Don Miguel's and sets the monster loose on him, then sets the ship aflame, destroying the monster for good as well.

Famous corpses in this issue's installment of The Heap
Third is "The Heap Meets the Horror Master!" by Chuck McNaughton (story) and Ross Andru/Mike Esposito (art). Where we last left the Heap, he was trying to find his old friend Monty Elliot, hoping he could turn him back human. While traveling through the woods, The Heap frees a deer he was initially thinking of eating, then comes across a cabin where he slobbers down a dead rat and garbage. He is soon found by a man calling himself the Horrormaster, who has found the ability to raise the dead. The Heap is brought into his lair, where the corpses of some of the most famous evil people in history are, such as Attila the Hun, Rasputin, Caligula, Giles de Rais and others. The Heap defeats many of them and breaks free, finding the Horrormaster now resurrecting Hitler! The Horrormaster sends him to grab a family with two corpses, but the Heap rebels, getting into a big battle with numerous corpses and eventually breaking the horrormaster's staff and following him up a mountain where an avalanche crashes on the both of them. The Heap is revealed to be alive and continues on his quest to find Monty.

Fourth is "Gruesome Crewcut!" by Chic Stone (story & art). This hilarious (albeit quite gruesome) 3-page story is my favorite of the issue. A young boy named Jeff has girly long blonde hair. His father is angry at him, demanding he get a haircut. Jeff instead runs away from home. After several hours, he decides to go asleep under a tree. A mysterious pair of ghouls, Arnie and Rufus appear. Arnie has a bald, corpse-like head and desires Jeff's hair. As the story ends, Jeff has returned home, his entire scalp torn off and Arnie happily displays his new hair.

Jeff gets a haircut in "Gruesome Crewcut"
Fifth is "The Man Who Stole Eternity" by Gardner Fox (story) and Bill Everett (art). A thief named Mike kills a man in an alley and steals a pearl necklace from his wife. He hears that he can make a lot of dough by stealing from a Magic Museum. However upon going there he finds a variety of monsters that draw him into a realm of even more monsters! Eventually he sees the woman he stole from, revealed to be a sorceress. She demands he steal her the elixir of life which he agrees to, especially after she sends some monsters after him while he sleeps. He successfully steals the elixir, and wanting eternal life, drinks some before giving it to her. A couple of days later, Mike finds himself completely unable to move. He is declared dead and is buried, alive! While he has eternal life, he has to spend the rest of it in a coffin!

The issue concludes with "The Love Witch" by Marv Wolfman (story) and Ernie Colon (art). Colon, one of Warren's most commonly appearing artists during its down period of the late 60's and early 70's is credited here as Jack Purcell. The titular witch, Burnick kills numerous priests at Stonehedge and rides the giant lizard Friji. She dreams of a warrior killing Friji and sucking up her youth, turning her into an old lady. Eventually the warrior appears for real, killing Friji and she finds herself aged due to fearing his arrival. The warrior reveals himself to be Morpheus, God of Dreams. Then suddenly, in the final page things become a confusing mess, Burnick is young again, Morpheus flies away but she suddenly causes him to burst into flames, or at least that is my interpretation of what happened. I wonder if this is intended to continue into a future story as that would help this make more sense.