Thursday, December 5, 2019

Psycho #15

Vicente Segrelles provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, cover dated November 1973.The cover identifies this as an all ghoul issue, although the cover is a man turning into a werewolf! In fact, not all stories are ghoul related, although most are.

The frontispiece for this issue is "How to Make a Mummy" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). It features what else, but directions on how to make a Mummy.

We kick the issue off with "The 13 Dead Things" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art). This story was originally intended for issue 13, and was the cover feature for that issue, but due to a delay in the artwork wasn't published until now. It was certainly worth the wait! This is the most over the top, hilarious Skywald story yet. In the 1600s, the Count of Monte Godo lays chained in the black cells of an asylum, with rats for company. When an old man in the fellow cell dies, our protagonist gets an idea, about how he can fake his death and escape the asylum when they toss a sack with his "dead" body into the moat outside. He imagines how he will get his revenge on the 13 who wronged him. We are treated to panel after panel, for three full pages of our protagonist brutally murdering people one after another. He strangles his wife and her lover. He stabs people through the chest, he cuts their heads off. He bashes a banker's head in, he shoves a knife through the head of his lawyer, he smashes a judge in the face with an ax, on and on, and collects everyone's heads to feed to the rats in the cells. Our protagonist then realizes the downside of his plan, what if the sack is tied too tight, and he drowns? He swears that won't stop him though, and we once again are treated to panel after panel, page after page as our protagonist, now a rotting corpse, brutally slaughters the 13 people all over again. Back in reality, our protagonist decides to set his plan in motion and play dead. But when he realizes he can't move, he discovers that most of his body has been consumed by the rats! This story is such a perfect representation of the Skywald style. There's not much of a plot to this story, but wow, across 12 pages we are treated to about as much over the top mayhem one can possibly get in a short story. Just when you think page after page of our protagonist brutally murdering people is as ridiculous as you can get, we go through it all over again, even more ridiculously as his corpse does it! This was such a blast to read, the best Skywald story thus far.
"The 13 Dead Things"

Second is "When the Bad Moon Rises... I Am a Ghoul!" by Rodion Eis (story) and Maro Nava (story). Got no idea who Rodion Eis is; it wouldn't surprise me if its one of Skywald's usual authors under a pseudonym. This story features a couple of newlyweds, Peter and Tina who are on their honeymoon. When Peter gets asked by his employer to take photos of the Andes for a travel feature, they decide to go ahead with it and hire a bush pilot, Stein. Stein is a drunk and due to the plane's battery being dead they are forced to touch down in the Andes, then travel through them, making their way into the mountains where they are attacked by ghoul bats. Eventually Stein is killed and Tina reveals that she is a ghoul herself, desiring to eat his body. Nava's style here is drastically different than that which he used in his prior story, where he looked a lot like Jerry Grandenetti. None of that here. Also the art style is really grimy and dark throughout, at times making it hard to read.

Third is "The Ghoul" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). The passenger ship S.S. Captain Cook makes a trip across the Atlantic. One of its passengers is killed by a beastly ghoul. The passengers of the ship start questioning the captain, even offering their own thoughts on what it could be (a werewolf, a homicidal maniac, a vampire, etc...). The captain is hesitant to believe any of them and soon there are more victims. Because they can't find the killer, the captain believes it must be one of them doing it and orders everyone to stay in their cabins. Eventually though we realize why they couldn't find the killer, the ghouls have actually been coming aboard through nearby icebergs! Soon a group of them jump on board and kill everyone on the ship.

"When the Bad Moon Rises... I Am a Ghoul!"
Fourth is "The House of Demons" by Chic Stone (story) and Amador Garcia (art). Vincent and his wife Melanie go to visit his dying uncle Sinclair. There they meet his nurse, Christine and she leads them up to him. Sinclair tells off Vincent, saying he knows he is here because he is dying and has been foolhardy since his parents died. He nonetheless lets them stay the night. Behind closed doors Vincent and Melanie fight with one another. Meanwhile a stranger watches them, then Christine, as she goes to the basement to feast on something. A scream emits out, waking Vincent, who heads downstairs and starts coming onto Christine. She tells him of a ghoul, a being with a rare disease which eats away at its cells unless it consumes new flesh, which will in turn make it younger and more powerful. Just then we realize that both Sinclair and Christine are ghouls, and Sinclair has been able to restore his youth by eating a local visitor. Vince is killed, but Melanie and the stranger come upon them. The stranger says by shattering the reflection of a ghoul he can kill them and he does so, causing both Sinclair and Christine to age to death. The stranger reveals himself to be Sinclair's son, but then reveals that he is a ghoul as well and strangles Melanie. This story is a bit over complicated and it is hard to tell the male characters apart because they look so much alike (granted, they are related).

"The House of Demons"
Fifth is "Ghouls Walk Among Us" by Augustine Funnell (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). A trio of ghouls kills a man in a graveyard. The next day the police, Bill and Carl, find the body. They report to the police chief who refuses to believe anything supernatural is going on and thinks it is just a clever insane man. The ghouls continue to find victims, including Bill and Carl. As the story ends we find that the police chief was one of the ghouls and has been wearing a mask. Sostres' art is fairly strong here, helping make up for a story which is only so-so.

Sixth is "The Town That Crumbled" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). This one pager talks about corrupt, dead places on Earth, such as a ghost corpse in the wild west and a corpse in Atlantis, underneath the ocean depths.

Seventh is "I Laugh the Laugh of the Graceful Dead!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). Suzette is a ballerina dancer, jealous of her rival Monique who gets all the accolades. She kills Monique by stabbing her with a knife then hides her body in a coffin. When Monique fails to show for a dance, Suzette is able to take her place as she had hoped. Yet suddenly Monique appears on the stage with her and gets everyone's applause. After it is over Suzette chases after Monique, finding her in the coffin where she left her. Monique rises from the coffin and strangles her, telling her she can't kill someone who is already dead. I'm not used to seeing a Dela Rosa story with predominantly female characters. There's no indication that Monique is a ghoul, she just as easily could be a vampire or a body risen from the dead.
"I Laugh the Laugh of the Graceful Dead!"

The issue concludes with a one page advertisement for Scream, featuring some strong art from Zesar Lopez.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Scream #2

Jose Miralles provides the cover for this issue of Scream, featuring the character Lady Satan. It is cover dated October 1973.

First is Lady Satan in "The Macabre Beginning" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). A young woman, Anne Jason, is brought by friends to a tourist attraction in Salem, but is then grabbed by some Satanists, who claim she's the Black Queen of Salem Witches, returned from the dead. Anne shocks them by revealing that she is in possessed by her. The Satanists reveal it was all an act, but she considers things real and calls forth for Satan, to marry him. Around this time Anne is able to repossess her body and not wanting to be married to Satan, flees and jumps off a cliff to her death. This is a bit of a confusing origin story, and VIllamonte's art is rather mediocre

Next is "I Was a Vampire for Hire" by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). A man named Watson comes across an advertisement for Stanley, a pretend vampire for hire! Watson hires him to dress up as a vampire and smash through a window at an upcoming party he is holding. Stanley does as he was hired, but it has horrendous results as people freak out and Watson's father in law dies of a heart attack! Stanley finds out that it was all a plot schemed by Watson though, as he is set to inherit money due to his father in law's death. Stanley decides to get revenge, putting on a mask of the father in law and pretending to be him at the funeral, then reveals himself to be alive during it. This causes Watson to blab out that this was all a scheme both he and his father in law cooked up to enable them to easily transfer some holdings. Watson and the others demand to know where the father in law is, as he was only unconscious. Stanley reveals that he hid him in a frozen body compartment in the morgue, and he's now dead for real. Some pretty good twists in this story, A rare Skywald story that ends up not having any actual supernatural element to it.

"I Was a Vampire for Hire"
Next is "Gothic Fairy Tales: The Thing in the Black Dress" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). This may be the first in a series, perhaps modeled after EC Comic's Grim Fairy Tales? We get another brief feature in this series at the end of the issue. In this story, an aging woman, angry that she can no longer compete with younger women decides to move to the village of Garg in Transylvania, hoping there she can regain a powerful position in society. She gets a bit of attention, but not as much as another, far younger and more attractive woman. Our protagonist decides she wants to get rid of her and starts telling everyone her rival is a vampire, including showing everyone a dead body with bite marks. A mob forms, and grabs the rival, then pulls her outside, where our protagonist is shocked to find the rival is in fact a vampire and is killed due to exposure to sunlight. Upon her death she calls out our protagonist as a witch. The mob quickly changes their focus, believing it, and our protagonist ends the story bound in a public stock in the middle of town. How volatile the mob was in this story was pretty ridiculous, but Suso's art is quite strong.

Fourth is an Edgar Allen Poe adaption, "The Pit and the Pendulum" with adaption by Al Hewetson and art by Ricardo Villamonte. This classic Poe story features a man who is sentenced to death and is jailed in a cell which contains a large pit in the middle. He avoids the pit, but drinks a drugged cup and later awakens bound on a board, with a pendulum swinging above him and slowly lowering. Our protagonist is able to escape by rubbing food on the ropes binding him, causing rats to bite at them until he is loose. Our protagonist is once again faced with the pit, but now the walls are moving in, forcing him closer and closer to it. But suddenly he hears voices and is freed by a friend. This is a fairly decent story, but I'll admit that Villamonte can't really hold a candle to Jose Ortiz, who also drew an adaption of this story for Warren.

A "Gothic Fairy Tale"
Fifth is "The Phantom of the Opera", a two page feature from Al Hewetson (story) and Maro Nava (art). The first page of this features us seeing how Lon Chaney put on his makeup for the titular role. The second page features a short scene from the movie, of his unmasking. Makes me wonder if this was originally intended for the "Scream Scene" feature we recently saw in some other Skywald issues.

Next is the one page "The Vampire Hunters" by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). It features, what else, but some vampire hunters, who come across a crypt with 8 open coffins and stake all the bodies within.

Seventh is "The Vampire Letters" by Al Hewetson (story) and Emilio Bernardo (art). An editor as a newspaper (Howie Anderson, a pseudonym for Al Hewetson, for whom the character is modeled after) publishes a classified ad from a vampiress wanting to meet up with a male vampire. Some bizarre vampire photos start coming into the paper and after he publishes them some actual vampire killings start occurring. Howie investigates and finds the source of the ad, and meets up with the vampiress, the beautiful Anne, who claims it was all a joke. As they embrace and start to kiss he realizes he really is a vampire though. Anne is in love with Howie for real, but he leaves. She chases after him, outside, and the sunlight starts immediately decaying her body. Howie changes his mind, turns around, bites her on the neck and changes into a vampire himself... then instantly dies as well. A somewhat decent story, its always fun to see Hewetson involved in the story in some fashion. Bernardo's art is just okay, but he at least provides a rather gruesome final page.

Another one pager is next, "The Thing That Left No Fingerprints" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). This story features a rabid dog that was shot by its owner come back to life and kill him!

Ninth is "The Fetid Belle of the Mississippi" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). This story is told in interesting fashion; the caption show lines from a screenplay while the word balloons include narration. A steamboat, the Robert E. Lee travels down the Mississippi river in Tennessee. Things are initially calm, but then chaos ensues. The body of a woman is found in the wheel of the boat. Then another boat, occupied by corpses bears down on the Robert E. Lee, crashing into it. Then a giant Loch Ness Monster type beats rises from the sea and attacks! It is here where the captain of the Robert E. Lee loses it, shouting out that the script is all wrong. He beats the monster into submission, then grabs an ax and starts chopping away at the captions and says he will rewrite the screenplay. Another one of those crazy, break the fourth wall Skywald stories, which helps what may have otherwise been a rather dull story.

"The Vampire Letters"
Tenth is another entry in the Nosferatu series, "The Name is Sinner Cane... And the Name Means Evil!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). Similar in fashion to the prior story in this series, the titular Nosferatu has summoned various hooded fiends to eat dinner with him. He calls upon one of them, Sinner Cane, who was a voodoo priest in Haiti. We flash back to his conflict with a man named Papa General, and how he would curse him with unexplained pain. The general starts having Cane's followers murdered, but Cane rises them up as zombies and comes to the General's home. The general is revealed to be holding a doll through which he is able to control Cane's actions, and causes him to burn and mutilate his own body. Cane eventually jumps out of a window and the general causes him to shoot himself in the head. We return to the present and Cane removes his hood, revealing his mutilated corpse body. Zesar's art and atmosphere is quite strong, helping hold up an only slightly better than average story.

The issue concludes with the one page "A Gothic Fairy Tale: A Tale of 2 Macabre Snakes" by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). Despite being credited to Dela Rosa, this doesn't really look like his artwork. This is a very simple feature, two snakes attack and eat each other.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Nightmare #15

Happy black Friday, everyone! We've got another Ken Kelly cover for this issue of Nightmare, cover dated October 1973.

The frontispiece for this issue is "How They Killed the Chicago Vampiress" by Ed Fedory (story) and Emilio Bernardo (art). It features a dead young woman having her body burned due to feat of her being a vampire. In what may have been a production error, an image from the story "15 Dead Things" which was originally intended for Psycho #15 appears on the table of contents page, rather than an actual story from this issue. That story will finally appear soon in Psycho #15.

First story is "Dracula Did Not Die!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). The first few pages of this story act as a historical account for the real life Dracula, Vlad the impaler. It was thought he was dead, but when his coffin is dug up only a horse's skeleton is found inside. Vlad/Dracula laughs at being able to fake his own death, but does regret that he'll have to hide himself and not be able to take advantage of his wealth, influence and power. Dracula explains how he was able to fake his death and killed any witnesses. He heads towards his castle, finding it on fire and swears those doing so will pay. The story suddenly stops here, implying that his will be the start of a multi-part series. Some pretty good art from Borrell here, although this is much more of just an introduction than a full story.

"Dracula Did Not Die!"
Next is "The Gargoyle Who Went to War", a two page feature from Al Hewetson (story) and Fernando Rubio (art). This brief story takes place in Paris France where some people gather to look at the gargoyle statue on the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Natzis arrive and take over the city, lining up people to be shot. Then suddenly, the gargoyle comes to life and kills the soldiers. This story is unrelated to the long running Gargoyles series.

Third is another two pager, "The Truth Behind the Myths About Bats... Particularly Vampire Bats" by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). Rather than being a typical story, this is rather a two page feature providing factual information about different types of bats.

Following this is "The Kid and the Killer and the Bum Rap" by Al Hewetson (story) and Francisco Cueto (art). A man named Miller is brought to jail, claiming he's been framed. He is put in a cell with a man named Eddie, who claims that he was beat up by him when he was a kid. Miller admits to being a killer, but claims he didn't commit the murder they claimed he did. Eddie and Miller start talking about things that Miller did when he was younger, including some murder he actually committed. Eddie tells Miller that he is in here for killing his wife, and his brother, his father, his landlord, a gay neighbor, many cops, doctors, etc... and says now he's going to kill Miller. We hear the guards laughing as the story ends. A rather abrupt ending to this, and we gotta presume Miller died, although why the guards would be in on it I'm not sure. Cueto's art is at least a little better than usual here.

"THe Kid and the Killer Bum Rap"
Fifth is "Tapestry of Blood" by Ed Fedory (story) and Fernando Rubio (art). A man finds himself shipwrecked on an island in the south Pacific. To his horror, he soon sees a fellow man killed by a giant snail! He beats the snail to its death but it is too late to save the man. Suddenly another man wearing an overcoat, hat and sunglasses appears. Calling himself a doctor, he leads our protagonist into the woods and to his camp. There he tells our protagonist of how his wife lies in the waters beyond the reef and he can never leave. Our protagonist later follows him, and the doctor explains how he died and was resurrected, and how our protagonist killed "Grayson" who is revealed to be the snail he attacked earlier. The doctor removes his sunglasses, revealing himself to be a snail like creature and bites into our protagonist! Quite a fun ending to this story, which I enjoyed.

Snail man!
Sixth is another in the Shoggoths series with "The Grotesque Green Earth" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). Hewetson and Zesar are actually characters in this story! They receive a letter from a Howard Hay in Arkham, Massachusetts. Upon arriving he tells them of manuscripts he's found from a woman from approximately a century ago who lived by the river. We then flashback to see the woman as she writes. At her husband's grave she finds a hole that leads her down into a lengthy pit. This eventually leads to a large cavern where she finds an underground city. Inside she finds a library filled with zombies,, writing of man's doom. Suddenly some Shoggoths arrive. They chase her back up to the surface and even after she makes her way there they make it through. Hay, Hewetson and Lopez head to where the papers were found and it leads to an underground tunnel where they find her skeleton, where she's written that they will come to the Earth, in 1973! This story's style is much like the previous Shoggoths story in Scream #1 and reads as if it was a Lovecraft story itself. Zesar's art is strong as well, making this a pretty high quality story.

The Shoggoths return!
Next is "Ravings of the Damned" by Ed Fedory (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). A pair of archaeologists in a temple find a desecrated corpse of one of their men in front of a large statue. One of the men thinks a monstrous snake did it, while the other thinks it is Quontotaz, an Indian legend. Later that night, one of the men hears the other screaming. It is the statue, come to life and crushing him in its arms. Months later another expedition arrives. The remaining man is now worshiping Quontotaz, and is in a beast like form. Just there, the stories stops rather abruptly. A quick ending to an average at best story.

We wrap up with another story in the Gargoyles series, "Once Upon a Time in Alabama: A Horror" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). Edward and Mina, with their child Andrew hitchhike their way to Birmingham, Alabama. Edward is able to get a job on a construction work site and saves a man falling from above. Just then, another, evil gargoyle arrives. He demands Edward fight him, or his wife and child will be killed by being shot by a madman at a riot (how a gargoyle can be killed by mere bullets eludes me...). Edward has had enough, decides to fight the enemy gargoyle and kills him. He then finds Mina and Andrew, safe and sound at a rally. This is standard fare for the Gargoyles series, pretty good art, but a rather uninteresting story. Gargoyles face some discrimination. Edward fights some sort of monster. Rince and repeat.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Psycho #14

This issue of Psycho features a cover by Ken Kelly, including various monster faces like Frankenstein's Monster, the Phantom of the Opera, a vampire and more! It is cover dated September 1973.

The frontispiece for this issue features art by Maelo Cintron of a skeleton, and is more akin to the text stories Skywald used to include, with it taking up approximately half the page. It is titled "The Dead..."

First regular story is "The Classic Creeps" by Al Hewetson (story) and Francisco Cueto (art). the story begins telling us our protagonist is a lunatic, and we watch him watch a Dracula movie. He then decides to bring it to real life, dresses like Dracula and bites the neck of a woman in the park! He is able to escape from the police and the woman lives. He then starts watching other horror movies such as Dr. Phibes, The Mummy and Phantom of the Opera, taking on that guise for another attack, which is successful this time. He then takes on the role of the hunchback of Notre Dame, and then Frankenstein's monster, trying to grab a little girl and drown her but the police are able to kill him, saving her. As the story ends we find that our protagonist had a kid's show on TV where he dressed up as various monsters but it got cancelled. Cueto's art is a bit improved here than some of his past jobs, and although the story is a bit longer than it needed to be, it is pretty good.

"The Classic Creeps"
Second is "The Monstrosity... Strikes!" by Augustine Funnell (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). This story begins with a man walking down an alley when suddenly a blob like creature with two glowing eyes rises up and attacks him! The monster completely consumes the man's body then slithers back into hiding, waiting for its next victim. The next night a cop passes by but is able to avoid getting consumed and shoots the monster repeatedly until it dies. In the final panel we realize that the creature had several children who are still alive! A cliche ending drags this story down a bit, making it overall average at best.

Third is "The Artist's Other Hand" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). This story is a blast, and is another one of those Skywald stories that kind of breaks the fourth wall. Our unnamed artist, who is visually modeled after artist Suso works on drawing a horror story about an artist who has a third arm growing out of his chest, is knocked out by a woman when the arm attacks her, but she chops it off him, and he thanks her for releasing him from its control. The artist brings the story to his editor, who is modeled after Al Hewetson, but he hates it! The two of them go through varying scenarios under which the artist can change the story to improve, but the editor hates them all, pointing out The Heap as more legitimate horror (kind of ironic since Hewetson reportedly hated The Heap). Eventually this leads to the editor punching out the artist and in the final panel we see some artists focusing on a new story with some scarier monsters. Much like The Comics Macabre, which just appeared in Scream, it was a lot of fun getting to see actual members of Skywald appear in a horror story.

Skywald staffers star in "The Artist's Other Hand"
Fourth is "The Horror That's Not All It Seems" by Al Hewetson (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). At a mere one page, this is a brief historical telling of how scalping, viewed as something Native Americans would do to colonists and settlers, was actually something the white man was doing first, with Native Americans adopting it only as vengeance. This is something I hadn't even realized was the case, so this was an educational read.

Fifth is "A Man Who Dare Not Sleep!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). This story features a ship captain tied to the helm of the ship, dozing off. He fears a vampire on board the ship and has put crosses around him only for the vampire to toss them aside. The captain hopes for the clouds to part, for the sun to shine through and kill the vampire, and that's exactly what happens. At least as far as I can tell. On the final page the captain shouts out that it is the Southern Cross in the sky, a constellation, but you'd figure that can only be seen at night, so how did the vampire die?

Sixth is "Cassandra... Sorceress of the Seventh Wind" by Marv Wolfman (story) and Don Heck/Mike Esposito (art). I'm assuming this story is an inventory one as none of the men involved in creating it had put out a new Skywald story in a while. This story is also a stark contrast to Hewetson's style and is more the type of story we'd see in an early Skywald issue. It features the titular Cassandra, who asks a minstrel to join her on a quest to battle the evil wizard Morlock. Many pages go by, monsters are fought and Cassandra and the Minstrel finally reach Morlock. There's a body swap temporarily and in the end we find out that Morlock pursued the minstrel because he is the man who sunk Atlantis. I really don't care for these more sword & sorcery type stories unless we're getting some strong art of it and that isn't really the case here.

Nava's Skywald debut looks a lot like Jerry Grandenetti
Seventh is "The Hippy-Critters Are Comin'" by Al Hewetson (story) and Fernando Rubio (art). In this story we see a couple of odd men watching as a couple park their car and go into a restaurant in a small town in Arkansas. The woman in the couple ask the man if it was wise to bring "Peter" with them. A few more scoundrels gather outside and they grab a hold of the couple. But we then realize that Peter is their car, its alive and it starts eating them! This rather brief story has quite the hilarious ending and the man eating car is a sight to see.

We wrap up with "I Battle the Vicious Vampire Bats of Transylvania and I Lived to Tell About It" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maro Nava (art). This story is Nava's Skywald debut. A British man comes to Transylvania and speaks of the descendant of Dracula, having talked about it to a man in another town. He is told by a bartender that Dracula's castle is nearby. Soon another man, wearing a cape comes in. He claims to be an American and offers to bring him to Dracula's castle. When they arrive, the American reveals that he is in fact Dracula's son and attacks, but our protagonist turns the tables on him. It seems like the American is a phony Dracula's descendant, but our protagonist is the real thing and kills him, being a vampire himself. Nava's art here is extremely similar to that of Jerry Grandenetti, enough so that in many panels one could easily think Grandenetti drew this.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Scream #1

Today we see the premiere of Scream, Skywald's third horror magazine. With this issue Al Hewetson announces the start of phase 3 of the Horror Mood, focusing on the types of stories that the readership has claimed it wants. The cover is by Vicente Segrelles and it is dated August 1973. Overall this is a fairly strong issue to kick off this title.

First is "I, Slime" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Gual (art). An old man whose legs were shot off in the war works as a mailman, delivering mail to various places in the town including the local lunatic asylum. One day when he heads there he finds the woman who usually tends to him hanging upside down from the ceiling, with her throat ripped out. The lunatics have taken over and they grab a hold of him. They bring him to the top of a tower in the Asylum and drop him, and he splatters on the ground, dead. His remains are gathered and buried. But soon his remains, now just slime, make their way up out of the ground and to the Asylum, sealing the doors until the lunatics starve to death. This was a pretty good story including some real life photos used in the artwork. Although there is an easy work around for the ending, they could have simply knocked the doors down.

Second is "Weird Count, Black Vampire Bats and Lunatic Horrors" by Al Hewetson (story). Richard Arndt's "Horror Comics in Black and White" claims this story is drawn by Felipe Dela Rosa, but it looks much more like Fernando Rubio to me. This isn't a traditional story, but rather gets into superstitions, myths and realities about vampires, getting into facts about Transylvania, Vlad the Impaler and other matters.

Craziness in the premiere of the "Nosferatu" series
Third is "This Archaic Breeding Ground..." by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Gual (art). This story appears to be part of the Shoggoths series, although again appears to be more of a self-contained story rather than including characters from the prior stories. This story features a crew of men on a boat who head to Antarctica, using the book Necronomicon as a guide, and find an abandoned city. Continuing further on, they find a space craft and the beastly Shoggoths, as well as many human women with whom they have bred with. The captain of the group is horrified to find the Shoggoths have killed all his men and he flees back to his ship where the Shoggoths wait for him. Hewetson does a really effective job here writing an original story that really comes off like a Lovecraft story. Not just the plot itself, but the prose is very much like that you'd get from Lovecraft. Great job.

Fourth is "...Hickory Dickory Dock..." by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). Anthony Capelli is a young man who has lived in a mental institution since stabbing his Satan worshiping mother as a young boy. The day has finally come for the doctors to let him go. Anthony eventually comes across a screening of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi and becomes enraptured upon seeing a scene where Dracula proclaims himself unable to be harmed by fire. Incidentally enough the movie theater burns down, but Anthony makes it out okay. He makes his way to a costume shop and dresses up as Dracula, then bites the neck of the woman tending to him! He flees, making his way to a funeral home and continuing to think he is Dracula, lies down in a coffin. But the coffin is for a man slated to be cremated. As the story ends we can clearly see that Anthony is not Dracula as he is burned alive! This was a pretty good story with some good art and a hilarious ending. It is clear that the doctors never should have let him out of the asylum!

Next is the two page "Dracula" by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). This appears to be another part of the Scream Scene series and is a brief scene from Dracula.

"The Comics Macabre"
Fifth is the premiere of the Nosferatu series with "Where Lunatics Live" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). The titular Nosferatu summons various evil men to his castle, all of whom wear masks of various animals. Eventually one comes before them without a mask, Dracula himself. We go back in time to see Dracula's story and hear of how he was killed and his body beheaded. Followers of him are able to find his body and it resurrects, without a head! They then seek out his head and are able to find it, hidden away by the church. But it is soon revealed that they have been tricked and it is an ape's head! From there the narrative returns to Nosferatu and the group and the story ends. This is a pretty macabre story with some great art by Zesar. I wonder if this series will be more anthology in nature with each of the attendees telling their story.

Sixth is "The Tale of the Perfect Crime" by Al Hewetson (story). Again, Richard Arndt credits in his book appear off this as he has this being drawn by Fernando Rubio but it is clearly Felipe Dela Rosa (perhaps he mistakenly swapped stories in his book). A man plots to kill his annoying wife. One night he grabs her and forces her to consume poison until she dies. He then puts her in his bathtub and pours acid over her until her body dissolves. He laughs maniacally as the story ends and the narrator tells us someone has pulled the plug on his brain. An example of a story without much of a plot but is rather focused more so on concept and mood.

The one page "Scream" closer
Seventh is "The Comics Macabre" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). Frederick Werthem, writer of Seduction of the Innocent, which contributed to the Comics Code authority, along with authority president Leonard Darvin have come to the offices of Skywald. They are quite angry at the fact that their attempts to destroy horror comics, which was effective for so many years, is now being worked around by Skywald with its horror magazines. They meet with Hewetson himself, who refuses to stop making horror magazines, so they kill him with an ax. Just then, all sorts of monsters, including Dracula, a werewolf, Frankenstein's monster and original Skywald monsters like the Slither Slime Man and The Heap come out of the comics and attack the two men, killing them. This story is quite fun to read and includes several self-references to Skywald stories in this issue like "I, Slime" and "The Strange Painting of Jay Crumb", as well as a classic EC horror story, "Indisposed". In addition to the characters listed above it also features cameos from artist Maelo Cintron, Skywald publisher Herschel Waldman and writer Jane Lynch.

Eight is "The Strange Painting of Jay Crumb" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). A group of critics decide upon the award for Best Illustrator. One such man is hesitant to give it to Jay Crumb, the one favored by the others and leaves. On the way back home he actually stops by Crumb's home and calling him a phony, decides to head inside. There he finds many horrific and monstrous paintings from Crumb, who start coming to life! As the story ends Crumb shows off his new painting, featuring said events. This story features references to artist Dela Rosa and well as Josep Toutain (called Jerry here), the head of Seleccionnes Illustrada.

The issue concludes with the one page "Scream" as drawn by Zesar Lopez and features what else, but a woman screaming.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Nightmare #14

Xavier Villanova, usually an interior artist for Skywald, provides the cover for this issue, cover dated August 1973. This is a hilarious cover, my favorite out of all of Skywald thus far and is its own mini story!

This issue's frontispiece is "The Easter Island Things!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (artist). It features the statues of Easter Island, going on a rampage!

First story is "The Diary of an Absolute Lunatic" by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). In the 1920s a madman is brought to a lunatic asylum. The doctor of the asylum starts reading some papers that was along with the man. In them, the madman, whose name is Munro, tells of how he is a time traveler. In the year 1999 the Presidents of Earth gathered to celebrate. One such President however, named Tuckle starts making demands for money and special privileges; if not provided he will blow up the Earth. People ignore his mad ravings and start proceeding to impeach him. Meanwhile Munro starts traveling through time and by doing so sees the Earth explode! He goes back in time, seeing the birth of nature, of humanity, but eventually his craft crashes, leaving him stranded in this time. The doctor decides to burn all the paperwork, considering it the ravings of a madman. When his assistant talks to the doctor about how its funny that the crazy President Tuckle shares the same name as him, he strangles her and blames Munro, as the story ends. A fairly strong effort, my favorite story of the issue. Dela Rosa also provides some pretty strong artwork as we get to the later part of the story and Munro starts traveling through time.

Time traveling in "Diary of an Absolute Madman"
Second is "The Plastic Plague" by Jack Katz (story and art). It had been quite a while since we've seen a Jack Katz story for Skywald, making me wonder if this was an inventory story. A group of prehistoric-like people discover a message, from the past, when Earth's civilization was more advanced. It is from a man named Neal Dennis who created advanced plastic. It becomes extremely popular to use and a massive industry grows. There even become plastic people! But plastic people don't consume, the economy is expected to collapse and Neil is asked to create something that will destroy the plastic. He creates an organism that consumes the plastic. Naturally it escapes, and the organisms quickly grows into large slug-like beings. Society collapses and we see him putting together his message, bringing us back to the people we saw at the start of the story.

Third is "Death of the 80th Victim!" by Doug Moench (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). A serial killer is stalking and killing East Indian women, and chopping off their hand. It is investigated by Inspector James Reston and his assistant Rahib. After Rahib's wife is killed he and Reston head out at night where Reston reveals that he is the killer. As a boy when his father was stationed in India, he was kidnapped and tortured, with his hand being cut off. Despising Indians, he purposely made sure to kill them and cut off a hand. After killing Rahib, Reston returns home, revealing a chest full of hands and writes a suicide note, chopping off his other hand and dying.

Fourth is the one page "...Werewolf..." by Ed Fedory (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). This brief feature is about the werewolf of Le Geaudan, which terrorized France.

Fifth is "...And the Corrupt Shall Dine!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Fernando Rubio (art). This is an incredibly confusing mess of a story and it is quite difficult to identify what is going on. Two men dine, one being the guest of the other. Flashbacks show that the host was a vampire, yet the guest either purposely led away a mob someplace else, or to another vampire who looks the exact same and gets killed, with the host leading the attack. The guest, enjoying the meal, ask for the recipe of what they are eating. The host reveals it was blood sucking leeches, then reveals he is a vampire and kills his guest.
"Starchild"

Sixth is "Charles Laughton: Scream Screen Scenes" by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). This two page feature is the second part of the Scream Scene series that we just saw premiere in Psycho. It is about Charles Laughton, the silent movie director/actor. We see scenes from movies such as the Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Island of Lost Souls and Les Miserable. Similar to last time the brief scenes included aren't word for word adaptions to avoid copyright issues.

Seventh is "Starchild" by Bruce Jones (story and art). This is an inventory story held onto for a couple of years when Skywald's planned sci-fi magazine never happened. The robot Cyx travels through space with the titular Starchild, a girl who has grown up floating through space and is now 17 years old. Her parents were on board the ship Dori Ann, which was destroyed in a cosmic storm, but Cyx found her, still alive in her mother's womb and has kept her alive all this time. Finding a planet capable of life, she and Cyx go down there where she encounters various forms of wildlife, including a dinosaur! A spaceship eventually arrives and a man comes out. Starchild goes to be with him, leaving Cyx behind and the ship takes off. Jones' art is fairly good here, although a little lower quality than some of the other stories he had provided for Skywald. It was surprising to see a story with a happy ending! Not used to that for Skywald, or Jones personally for that matter.

Eighth is "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Although it isn't under the Scream Scene title, this story appears to be another in the series, being only two pages in length and featuring a short scene from said movie.

"The Butchered at Earth's Core"
Ninth is "The Butchered at Earth's Core!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). While "Death of the 80th Victim!" was about Indians in London, this story literally takes place in India. A man comes across a leper who says he will tell him a story. The man follows the leper to his home where he provides him some water. Upon drinking, the man's head starts spinning. The leper takes off its cloak, revealing it to be wearing some weird uniform. The leper carries him down into a tunnel, revealing a spaceship as he appears to be an alien! On board are many other aliens that look like lepers. Our protagonist wakes up, being surprised to find that he is going to be used as part of a factory with many human victims! A pretty good effort from both Suso and Fedory here.

We wrap up with the latest story in the Gargoyles series, "And they Did Battle with the Thing from Underneath" from Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). Edward gets a job with a Mr. Roanoke who works on a tug boat, the Andy Jackson. He and Mina go through some difficulty and discrimination as they try to find an apartment for themselves. For the fourth time, some Satanists get involved, beating up Roanoke due to his employ of Edward. Suddenly a tentacled monster attacks Edward, who battles and kills it. His fight ends up being front page news in a newspaper! Edward decides that he and his family must leave Manhattan, at least for now and as the story ends they start hitchhiking. While Cintron's art is pretty decent, I'll admit to getting bored with the Gargoyles series at this point. The Gargoyles face discrimination for being gargoyles. Edward battles some monster summoned by or used by the Satanists. Over and over again. Yawn.

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.