Monday, September 26, 2011

The Various Sources for Warren Publishing

After another extended absence I'm happy to return with another article on Warren, this time on the various instances in the Company's history where they drew upon outside sources for stories. This article focuses on already produced material, and does not discuss stories that were simply adaptations, such as the various Edgar Allen Poe stories that appeared along the years. Three primary references utilized for this article are the Warren Companion by Jon Cooke and David Roach, Gathering Horror by David Horne and Richard Arndt's Warren bibliography from Enjorals World.

Warren's magazines drew source material from many different external outlets over the years, and this article highlights many of such instances. The reasons for drawing on outside material to fill the contents of Warren's magazines varies at times, but it typically occurred in those periods of time where finances were running low and it became necessary to draw on some other outlets to ensure that magazines had sufficient material to be published.

The first such instance where Warren drew on outside material occurred during the first down period of Warren, in 1968. At the time, Warren faced the crippling blow of the loss of editor/main writer Archie Goodwin, as well as the vast majority of all freelance artists who worked for the company due to a reduction in funds to pay such contributors. In order to bide time until the company could get back on its feet, Warren started using a number of reprinted stories from the first 17 issues of Creepy and first 12 issues of Eerie. Warren also reprinted the entire contents of Christopher Lee's Treasury of Terror, a book published in 1966. Each of the stories in this book, which were done in comic form, was based on stories by well known writers such as H.P Lovecraft, Bram Stoker and Ambrose Bierce. The five stories, including the Warren issue that they appeared in, are as follows: Creepy #19 - The Mark of the Beast!; Eerie #12 - The Past Master; Eerie #13 - Wentworth's Day; Eerie #16 - Dracula's Guest; and Eerie #17 - The Death of Halpin Frayser. Surprisingly enough, the editor of the book was Russ Jones, the original editor for Creepy, who had a falling out with Warren and had left the company several years earlier, and any involvement he had with these stories was left out entirely when they appeared in the Warren magazines. A sixth story, which was intended for a second, never published volume of the book, "Carmilla", also appeared in Creepy #19.

Following the usage of these stories, the usage of outside source material for Warren ceased for the next few years. Starting in 1971, when Warren began a relationship with Josep Toutain's Spanish artist agency, Selecciones Illustrada, it resulted in not only the addition of a great many Spanish artists to the Warren line for new stories, but also started the beginning of the usage of many stories by these artists that appeared originally elsewhere. The most notable example of this in these first few years of their involvement with Warren was the inclusion of two series by Esteban Maroto, “Dax the Warrior” and “Tomb of the Gods”. Dax the Warrior originally appeared in Spain under the name "Manly el Guerrero". Dax first appeared in his self named story "Dax the Warrior" in Eerie #39, and had an appearance in every non-reprint issue of Eerie through issue 52, marking 12 total appearances. Each of the original Dax stories had been written by Esteban Maroto but were translated and rewritten by various Warren writers who were never credited. The majority of the Dax stories were later compiled and rewritten as "Dax the Damned" in Eerie #59, the 1975 Eerie Yearbook. "Tomb of the Gods" had originally been published in Spain and was featured in five straight non-reprint issues of Vampirella starting with issue 17. Similar to Dax, these stories had also been rewritten and rearranged at times; for example the stories "Gender Bender" from issue 20 and "Orpheus" from issue 22 feature a page of identical artwork although the written content is different. "Tomb of the Gods" was rather unpopular compared to Dax and there may have been other segments that never appeared in the Warren magazines.

“Dracula”, a magazine originally published in Spain by Buru Lan, and in England by New English Library, was probably most notable for the "Dracula Book 1" that was featured heavily in advertisements for Warren for many years following the joining of the Spanish artists at Warren. Esteban Maroto and Jose Bea were two of the principal artists of this publication and each had a story from it published in the main Warren magazines. "The Viyi", written and drawn by Esteban Maroto is notable for being the first full color story published in Warren's horror magazines and was featured simultaneously in Creepy #51 and Vampirella #22. Surprisingly enough it took Warren quite a bit of time to be able to match the color quality appearing in this story after they started using color on their own original stories a few issues later. "Invasion", drawn by Bea and written by Maroto appeared in 1976 in Eerie #75, this time with the color removed. Surprisingly enough Warren also used the final panel of the story as the central part of the pink colored cover to the issue, resulting in one of the most bizarre looking Warren covers of all time.

The next notable outside material that Warren utilized was five stories from the French Magazine "Pilote" that were written by Victor Mora and drawn by Luis Garcia (with collaboration in one instance by Carlos Giminez). The first such story appeared in Vampirella #42, with one additional story appearing in each non-reprint issue through #47. As with the earlier Dax and Tomb of the Gods stories, each of these stories were rewritten or rearranged in some form, including at times, the moving of pages from one story to another, removing of panels or the addition of color. Unfortunately this resulted in the dropping of writing credits from the story entirely for Victor Mora for some of the stories. I've written about these stories in my earlier article on Luis Garcia and found each to be very strong and a highlight of Warren publishing, it’s just unfortunate that they didn't include more of them, as Mora and Garcia later had additional collaborations that never saw print in a Warren magazine. These five stories included the following: Vampirella #42 - Around the Corner… …Just Beyond Eternity!; Vampirella #43 - The Wolves At War's End; Vampirella #44 - Love Strip; Vampirella #45 - Janis!; and Vampirella #47 - The Secret Legacy of Gaslight Lil!

"Tales of Peter Hypnos", a short lived series that appeared in Eerie #72, 73 and 76 also had outside origins and was originally produced by Jose Bea as part of a larger series of at least 7 stories. The first story in the series had originally appeared in Spain in the Spirit, and the entire series had been printed in a single compilation in Australia in 1976 as well. As with the previously discussed stories, this appears to be another set of stories that was largely rewritten, although Jose Bea was the only one credited.

There were various one-shot usages of source materials through the mid to late 1970s in the Warren magazines. "Now You See It" in Creepy #83 featured the return of Al Williamson to Warren after an absence of nearly 10 years, but it wasn't due to a commissioned story, as the story was originally intended for the magazine Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction that had been cancelled by Marvel before it could see publication. "Warmonger of Mars" by Ralph Reese (art) and Wally Wood (story) appeared a few issues later in the all Mars issue of Creepy #87, but was apparently originally intended for an underground comic. "Scheherazade" by Esteban Maroto, the color story in Vampirella #72 was supposed to be the first part of a series, "Thousand and One Nights" as published in Cuando el Comic es Arte: Esteban Maroto in Spain, but this was the only story of the series to see print, at least in the Warren magazines.

Jose Gonzalez was most notably Warren's Vampirella artist and was featured almost exclusively on her stories. He did have a 3 part non-Vampirella story, "Herma", although the story was originally published in Spain in 1974 in Cuando El Comic es Arte: Pepe Gonzalez". All 3 of the stories were rewritten by Bill Dubay and resized to fit the magazine format. Leo Duranona had a trio of stories under the title "Fallen Angels" appear in Eerie #96 as well as an additional story titled "A Nightmare for Mrs. Agatha" in Vampirella #72 that appear to have been originally published in South America, with a 1976 date and Guillermo Saccomanno storyline. Saccomanno never wrote any other stories that appeared in a Warren magazine which lends credence to the theory that these stories were not originally commissioned by Warren.

Towards the end of Warren's run in the early 1980's, the usage of source material from previously published works in Europe picked up steam in a big way. By this point in time that Warren's finances were quite strained was very apparent, with reprint issues appearing with increasing intensity. Victor de la Fuente drew only a single story directly for Warren, appearing in Eerie #35, but the 1980's saw him appear in over 20 issues of 1984/1994 and Eerie. Seven stories from the "Haxtur" series appeared in 1984/1994 #10 and 11 and Eerie #111, 113, 114, 116 and 117. Haxtur originally appeared in the Spanish magazine Trinca and was approximately 10 years old by the time it appeared in Warren. As with most stories there was some rewriting and the original color had been removed. Haggarth was a bit more recent than Haxtur and had a longer run of 14 appearances in Eerie starting with issue #118. Warren also went back even further than Haxtur, to the 1960s, where the strip "Spacewrecked" by Paul Gillon (art) and Jean Claude Forest (writing) appeared. Four stories from this series appeared in Eerie issues #129, 132, 134 and 136. More work from Paul Gillon, "Jeremie: Les Dieux Barbares" which was originally published in France in 1971 appeared in Vampirella issues #104, 106, 108 and 110. Unfortunately both series never saw their conclusion appear due to the bankruptcy of Warren publishing in 1983. The series "Torpedo 1936" saw print in the last 3 non-reprint issues of Vampirella, with writing by Sanchez Abuli and art by Abuli or Alex Toth. These stories originally appeared in the Spanish version of Creepy and as with some of the other series discussed here never saw a conclusion due to Warren's bankruptcy.

Various other stories or series that were shorter in scope also appeared during the waning days of Warren. "Pyramid of the Black Sun", which appeared in two parts in Eerie #124 and 126 originally appeared in Europe in the late 1970s, with story by Antonio Segura and art by Luis Bermejo. The story originally appeared in one part in its original publication, but was split in two for its Warren appearance and was rewritten by Jim Stenstrum, under the pseudonym "Alabaster Redzone". "Korsar", another series spearheaded by Esteban Maroto originally appeared in the magazine Cimoc in Spain in 1979 and was featured in Eerie #126, rewritten again by Stenstrum. Although there were other parts to the series, this was the only one that saw print in a Warren magazine. Two stories from Fernando Fernandez's Bruce Bloodletter educational series appeared rather far apart in Eerie #94 and #117, both originally appearing in the Spanish publication Space and Adventure. The following issue saw another Fernando Fernandez story, "Space Kids" which first saw print in 1978 in Italy in the magazine Alter Ego. That said, I've also heard that this story was originally created around the time of Fernandez's other stories for Warren which appeared in the early to mid-1970s and that it sat around for many years. It may have originally been intended for a Warren magazine but due to its more science fiction related nature (and poor quality compared to other Fernandez stories) was held off on until the time it saw print, which was a time when many old inventory stories saw use by Warren.

Many additional Warren stories that saw print through the years, particularly the late 1970s and early 1980s likely appeared elsewhere, although the true source is unknown (or at the very least I haven't found an English-language source mentioning it!). Warren was notorious for rewriting stories that had been drawn previously. While oftentimes there was no way to tell this for sure simply by reading the Warren magazines, two writers, Bob Toomey and Jim Stenstrum made this known by using aliases for stories that they had rewritten based on already created artwork. Bob Toomey used the name "Gary Null" while Jim Stenstrum used the name "Alabaster Redzone". Both rewrote some Jesus Blasco-drawn stories that appeared in Creepy #110, 120 and 123. The first of these stories, "The Clockmaker" was about as obvious a rewrite as possible as the art makes it very clear that it’s an adaption of the Telltale Heart, while the writing goes in a completely different direction. That Jesus Blasco was miscredited in all 3 stories lends credence to the theory that none of these stories were originally created for Warren. A pair of Leo Duranona stories in Creepy #117 and 118 was also rewritten by Toomey, although they don't feature his Gary Null alias. Whether these were originally commissioned for Warren, or like previously mentioned Duranona stories saw print in Europe or South America earlier, I am not sure. The "Alabaster Redzone" stories by Stenstrum are typically a lot harder to pin point about whether they were originally commissioned for Warren or came from elsewhere. "Lullaby" by Jose Gonzalez in 1984 #4 is one such story, and given that Gonzalez drew only one other non-Vampirella story for Warren that was commissioned by them makes me think this could have been a story originally done in Europe. Much of the "Mac Tavish" series by Pepe Moreno Casares features Alabaster Redzone as the writer, although I cannot say whether these were Warren commissions or not. Most of his other "Alabaster Redzone" stories appeared in 1984, which frequently saw rewrites, so most may have been originally commissioned stories. 1984/1994 features so many stories where the story and artwork differ greatly (the entire Idi Amin series comes to mind) that many of these stories may have been originally done for Warren. Three stories by Carlos Giminez, who has been mentioned previously regarding his collaboration with Luis Garcia in Pilote, appeared late in Warren, in Eerie #114 and 1994 #15 and 16. All three were both strongly drawn and written, and it’s unfortunate that Warren did not utilize more stories by him in the waning years of the company.

Warren's hero-themed magazine "The Rook" hasn't been featured much on this blog due to my lack of interest in the subject matter, but is notable for featuring a large amount of outsourced material. Issues 2 through 9 featured "Voltar", as drawn by Alfredo Alcala. The barbarian themed series originally appeared in the Philippines and had actually been printed in America previously in Magic Carpet. Bill Dubay rewrote the story for the entire series. "Viking Prince" as drawn and written by Jose Ortiz originally appeared as "Sigur the Viking" in Spain, and first appeared in the late 1950s. Two of these stories appeared in issues 5 and 6 of the Rook. "Kronos" by Lee Elias originally appeared in the Joe Kubert publication "Sojourn" and first appeared in The Rook #8. This series was unique in that its appearance in Warren resulted in the creation of new stories which appeared for several more issues. "Eagle" by John Severin (art) and Colin Dawkins (story), who had worked together back at EC comics, also originated from "Sojourn" and appeared in the final 3 issues of the Rook.

This article has focused primarily on the interior stories, but Warren also had a number of covers that originated from outside sources. Patrick Woodroffe had a series of covers that appeared in Warren's magazines, particularly for the early issues of 1984, each of which had been originally painted for paperback books. Vampirella #31 heralded the return of famous cover artist Frank Frazetta, but the cover had actually been originally commissioned for the book adaption of the movie Luana. Interestingly enough, each of Richard Corben's late Warren covers had originally appeared elsewhere, including from the book "A Feast Unknown" (used for Creepy #141), the cover to the 1975 Annual World's Best Science Fiction (used for Creepy #140), and an painting that had been originally commissioned by Selecciones Illustrada (used for 1984 #26). Many other paintings originally commissioned by S.I. as painted by Richard Courtney (Creepy #136, 142) and Sanjulian (Eerie #129, 132, 133 and 135) also were used in the late days of Warren. Creepy #120 featured a cover painting from Jeff Jones, his sole that appeared for Warren, although it was originally intended for the magazine Weird Tales of Macabre but never saw print. In what must have been humiliating for Warren, towards the very end they even used covers that had been used by their competition back in the mid-1970's, including the covers for Vampirella #111 by Pujolar (originally used as the cover for Devilina #1) and Creepy #145 by Jose Miralles (originally used as the cover for Nightmare #9).