Saturday, December 28, 2019

Nightmare #18

Jose Antonio Domingo provides the cover for this issue of Nightmare, cover dated April 1974.

This issue's stories are identified as the 7 Tales of the Man-Macabre. Zesar Lopez provides us with an introduction page featuring editor Al Hewetson.

First is "The Vampire" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Zesar Lopez (art, miscredited to Cesar Lopez). This isn't so much a story, but rather a display of four different possible endings to a scenario where a woman, Anne, has been seized and bitten by a vampire and her father and lover come to rescue her. In the first ending, Anne tricks the vampire into staking himself by laying in his coffin where she has placed it. In the second ending there are suddenly several other female vampires and Anne pulls open a curtain, causing the sun to kill her and the other vampires. In the third ending the vampire bites the lover but Anne kills the vampire with the cross and she and her lover remain as vampires themselves. In the fourth ending the vampire holds Anne hostage but she stakes herself and him at the same time, killing them both. Zesar's art is the highlight here; I do at least appreciate they didn't waste our time by dragging out all these different endings across 4 different stories.

"The Werewolf"
Second is "The Werewolf" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). A Dr. Wescott comes to an asylum to meet Dr. Mann. Just after arriving, one of the patients, Elton, escape and changes into a werewolf with the full moon. Mann shows Wescott around, revealing that their 56 inmates are all some sort of abnormal creatures. He shows him a were-vampire and even a were-lizard! As the story ends we realize how they are able to keep a hold of these monstrous prisoners and the doctors at the asylum, including Wescott are werewolves themselves! I enjoyed how ridiculous this story is and Suso provides his usual strong art.

Third is "The Creep" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art). The ugly, short, hunchback Clarence, has been picked on his whole life and is known to the townsfolk as the Creep. He is only able to find work at the local graveyard burying the dead. Soon a man named Craw arrives with his young wife, asking Clarence to bury his brother. Craw reveals that he is from out of town and we soon find out why as he kills his wife once the grave is dug, claiming she and his brother were having an affair and he wanted to take care of things far away. In exchange for him staying quiet, Craw pays Clarence some money, but Clarence poisons him and buries him with his brother and wife. Clarence has had enough of what Craw had and threw away or flaunted such as his brother, wife and money and decides that it is time for him to live up to his nickname. Another pretty strong effort both from Duran and Hewetson here.

"The Creep"
Fourth is "The Dead Things" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Stuart Williams) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). This is a brief story at only two pages long. A man buries his wife, but we soon find that he has a girlfriend and even brought her with him. Once everyone else leaves, hands erupt from the ground and pull both him and the girlfriend below the dirt.

Fifth is "The Vulture" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Joe Dentyn) and Jose Cardona (art). Simon Walker is stranded in the desert after his jeep breaks down and comes across some vultures, including a newborn. He is soon rescued and brings the newborn with him, making it his pet. The vulture grows up, but we find that he has raised it with the purpose of it killing his business partner. When he shoots at the vulture it flees, eventually being found by a young boy who wants it as a pet. The boy's father refuses to let him have it though and the vulture kills him when he attacks it with an ax. The vulture makes its way to Germany where it is bound and put in a cage. A man comes and frees the vulture and bring it with him to his mansion, wanting him as a pet and revealing himself to be a vampire. But the vulture has had enough of humans and kills him, returning to the desert.

"The Thing in the Space"
Sixth is "The Ancient One" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Jack Daniels, a reporter is the oldest man alive, 150 years old. One day a couple of men visit him claiming they are investigating a possible vampire outbreak and asking him about a prior report he made on the subject. Years before Daniels had come across a beautiful vampire and staked her to death, but no one believed him. When the men leave, Daniels goes to his basement where we realize that he didn't actually kill her. She has lived with him many years and is now old like him. The two argue, leading to Daniels staking her! As she is dying he feels bad, leans into her, and she stakes him too! Hearing the screams, the two men rush back, but is too late, Daniels and his companion have died.

We wrap up with "The Thing in the Space" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Harvey Lazarus) and Emilio Bernardo (art). This story's host appears to be the Slither Slime Man from Psycho #9 (or at least looks like him) and calls himself the Man Macabre and speaks of how the themes of the prior six stories all make up who he is. This seventh story appears to be a take on Alice and Wonderland. Our main character (I will call her Alice to make it easier) follows a rabbit into a hole in the ground, bringing her into all sorts of adventures. She eats a cake that causes her to grow to great heights, she meets the Cheshire cat, nearly drowns in a flash flood, meets a caterpillar-like man constantly attacked by large demons, meets the mad hatter, the queen of hearts and nearly has her head chopped off, then wakes up, revealing it to all be a dream. Or was it? Many of the charters stand in her yard with axes ready. This story was all over the place, but then when you think about it, wasn't Alice in Wonderland that way?

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Psycho #17

Salvador Faba provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, cover dated March 1974.

We begin with "The Death Pit", a one page frontispiece by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). Featuring a band of the dead, this reminds me of the story "Phantom of the Rock Era" all the way back in Nightmare #4.

The first full length story is "The Black Sculpture of the Pharaohs" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). A pharaoh obsesses over a cat statue he claims took him 20 years to find. He gets into an argument with his queen and stabs her to death, claiming it was an accident. She is buried in a tomb as a mummy, but soon after the pharaoh realizes the cat statue is gone, as is his wife's mummy! It is shown that this is a plot of his high priest, who seized the statue and the mummy to make it look like the dead queen did it. However the dead queen's mummy is indeed alive and kills the priest, then tosses his body where the pharaoh and others can see it. The pharaoh now knows the high priest was behind things and orders his men to search for his henchmen for the statue. He doesn't realize that the statue is in the tomb with the mummy of his dead queen. A rather weak start to the issue, with all that trouble about a statue and some weak art from Villamonte.
"The Death Pit"

Next is "This is Your Life, Sam Hammer, This is Your Death!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Cardona (art). Police officer Sam Hammer is criticized by his boss for not making enough arrests and to catch some criminals in the act. Through information from a bum, Sam and his partner confront a crew of criminals making fake license plates. While trying to arrest them Sam is forced to kill one of them and his partner is killed in a machine. Suddenly, crazy things start happening. His sandwich is alive! He finds a corpse in the bathroom. The time clock punches him. And so on. He eventually wakes up at his own funeral! He is told that he is on a TV show, This is Your Life, This is Your Death. His partner and everyone else was in on it. They get prizes for their participation, while Sam gets punished by being killed! Quite a ridiculous story, and its a good thing they revealed the big action from the license plate criminals as being an act, as multiple people dying over fake license plates is considerably absurd.

"This is Your Life< Sam Hammer, This is Your Death!"
Third is "This is the Vault of the Living Dead!" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Harvey Lazarus) and Maro Nava (art). A group of drunks in a bar attack a group of mysterious, peaceful hippies that come in and sleep during the day, and go out at night. The drunks try to push them around with no luck, then suspect they are vampires and bring them out in the daylight, but nothing happens to them. The drunks then go even further, murdering all the hippies. The drunks leave, but then the hippies get up and go find them, attacking them. It turns out they are indeed vampires, and that brief exposure to sunlight doesn't kill them after all. They are generally peaceful but the behavior of the drunks have caused them to satiate their hunger and attack them, sucking their blood. A rather weak story with some really over the top action by the characters and some particularly dreadful art by Nava.

Fourth is "These Are the Things That Are Dead" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). A group of guys in Manhattan decide to steal a subway train. They jump inside, knock out the conductors and cause a big crash, jumping out of it mere seconds in advance. They then grab a car and go on a driving spree, hitting a parked car. When the policy arrive and find the car empty, we realize that the three of them have been dead all this time. Some okay art from Dela Rosa here, but the ending to this story I could see from miles away.

"The Narrative of Skut"
Fifth is "The Crime in Satan's Crypt!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). A man takes out a contract hit on a young woman in an alley. Dressed in robes, he hides from the police then finds his hiding place leads to a tom, which he heads into, finding solid gold and a casket with a dead body in it that makes him think it is alive. Soon a group of robed men, led by a naked woman show up, commanding the body, Lothodeus to rise and help guide them for the coming of Satan. The killer tries to flee, with the gold but is seen and chased. As he makes his way out the ceiling of the tomb starts collapsing. He makes it out just in time, only for a statue in the graveyard to fall on and kill him. A rather lame ending, but some good art from Borrell at least.

Next is "The Lunatic Class of '64" by Jane Lynch (story) and Emilio Bernardo (art). Walter Lyman says goodbye to his wife and kids, planning on going to his high school reunion. As he heads there we flashback to Walter being a loser in high school. The girl he liked rejected him due to his pimples. No one would sign his yearbook, he even has a girl who refuses to cheat from his notes when he offers. Walter arrives but surprisingly is treated well by his old classmates. Thinking everyone is in on a secret plot to make fun of him, he knocks over some candles, causing the entire place to burn down. In our final panel we see a classroom filled with skeletons! Lynch does a decent job in her Skywald debut, although I'm not really sure where she was going with the final panel.

Seventh is "The Narrative of Skut" by Al Hewetson (story) and Luis Collado (art). Some mobsters arrive at a local boarding house and shoot up the old lady who runs it. The small sized Skut runs errands for the mobsters including dragging out the body, getting them food and other errands. He decides to rat out the mobsters, revealing their location to another mob who shoot them up. Not wanting to be seen with the bodies, Skut brings them to the basement where the old woman appears, alive, despite the bullets already in her and the more Skut fires into her. She grabs a hold of him and drags him into the grave he dug, trapping him there until he starves to death. Collado's art is very strong here, including a number of very detailed, highly realistic looking panels.

We conclude with "Monster, Monster, Heed Death's Call" by Augustine Funnell (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Our werewolf protagonist, now back to a human, the gypsy Kirsten and her daughter Nola travel, fleeing from the group of gypsies after them seeking an amulet Kirsten has. Kirsten decides to leave the werewolf behind but then the other gypsies arrive and attack her. the werewolf, now back in said form, goes on a rampage, slaughtering all of them except a veiled woman who has stayed back and at story's end removes her veil and swears the amulets will be hers. This series continues to be rather mediocre, with a rather dull, repeated plot and often inconsistent or poor art from Villamonte.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Scream #4

Xavier Villanova provides the cover for this issue of Scream, cover dated February 1974.

First is the latest Lady Satan story in "Satan Wants a Child" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Lady Satan is brought before a demon who reveals that Satan has not yet forgiven her and seeks something else from her, a child. She is to wait in a bed for him, but awakens with Anne back in control of her body. She departs, heading back to the town of Salem and figures the only way to stop things from happening is to stab herself. It fails to kill her however and Lady Satan returns to having control of her body. She travels to be with Satan, they embrace and when Anne resumes control of her body she learns to her horror she is with Satan's child. This series continues to be rather lackluster for me, and the act of Anne and Lady Satan exchanging control of Anne's body is getting old.

"The Skull of the Ghoul"
Next is an adaption of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Oblong Box" with adaption by Al Hewetson and art by Maro Nava. This story tells of how our protagonist, traveling on a boat at sea sees his friend Wyatt also come on board with several servants, his wife and a large oblong box that he believes includes a painting. Wyatt's wife is quite vulgar and grotesque and Wyatt seems fit to rage and pass out. Eventually a large storm hits the ship and as it is destroyed, Wyatt chains himself to the box and sinks into the depths of the ocean. As the story concludes the captain reveals all. Wyatt's wife was in fact his servant, his real wife was dead, included in the box which was filled with salt. Our protagonist considers with horror what must have been going on with Wyatt and the box in his room at night. A pretty good Poe story; Nava's aping of Jerry Grandenetti continues including an extremely obvious swipe of a character from the story "The Adventure of the German Student" from Creepy #15.

Third is "The Skull of the Ghoul" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). Traveling in a carriage across Barcelona is a carriage manned by a guard who is keeping a hold of a woman prisoner. When the driver of the carriage collapses dead, the woman takes the opportunity to break from her bonds and kill her guard. Feigning that she needs help, she travels into the town and is greeted by a Countess Sostres to brings her to her manse. There the countess shows our protagonist around, including showing her the skull of Dracula. Our protagonist plans to steal it and flee yet that night as she is about to do so she hears talking. It is the countess, talking to the skull! Our protagonist is taken a hold by Sostres' servants and she reveals she is a vampiress; she killed the driver of the carriage and will now drink her blood as well. Rather standard vampire fare, but Sostres' art is quite strong. For some odd reason this story is split into two parts, although the first part is a mere three pages long.
"The Lunatic Mummy"

Fourth is "The Legend of the Cannibal Werewolf" by Ed Fedory (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). A hunter named Sir Percy shows off the stuffed werewolf he hunted in Africa. He is asked to describe how he hunted it and we see him traveling through the jungle, and being attacked by the werewolf. Returning to the present, he reveals that the werewolf wasn't seeking to kill him, but find a mate and he transforms into a werewolf himself, along with his mate slaying everyone there. We will see another werewolves in love type story a bit later on which I consider quite a bit better than this rather "eh" story.

Fifth is "The Lunatic Mummy" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Cesar Lopez (art). This story is Lopez's Skywald debut. A man named Emmanuel Humphrey travels through the desert, stopping to rest at an oasis. While sleeping a group of religious fanatics capture him, planning on sacrificing him. They bury him up to his head, about to let a snake kill him, but then change their mind, dig him back up and mummify his body, then bury him again. The authorities arrive and kill all the fanatics, but upon digging up Emmanual find that his body completely deteriorates. The plot of this story makes me wonder if it inspired a sequence from the first Creepshow movie where people are buried in sand up to their heads. Stephen King was reportedly a Skywald fan, so it is a possibility.

Sixth is "The Vampire Kingdom" by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). A pair of newspaper reporters search Peru, finding a half buried city, occupied by the man-bats, half man, half vampire creatures. The design of the man bats seem quite similar to a one page feature of them done all the way back in Nightmare #11.

"When the Dusk Falls... So Does Death"
The issue concludes with the latest in the Nosferatu series, "When the Dusk Falls... So Does Death" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). Nosferatu ask another of his dinner guests to tell his tale, this time one with a werewolf mask. The man removes his mask, only to reveal another, iron mask underneath. The man says his name was Fernando Doma and he lived in Madrid. An eligible bachelor, he pursued a woman, Anastasia Rubio, causing her to break up with her current suitor. At the first full moon we discover that Anastasia is in fact a werewolf and upon biting Fernando turns him into one too. They pursue many victims but eventually Anastasia is killed by a cross dropped by her former suitor. Fernando transforms into a werewolf and kills him, but is taken in by the authorities who put him in an asylum and strap an iron mask around his head such that when he transforms into a werewolf, the growth of his head will crush it. As we return to the present, Fernando removes his mask revealing his mutilated crushed head. As often is the case, the Nosferatu story is the peak of the issue, with great art from Zesar. I must say though Anastasia just isn't that beautiful with her short hair, and most notably very dark circles around her eyes.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Nightmare #17

Sebastian Boada provides the cover for this issue of Nightmare, cover dated February 1974. Vampires dominate this issue, with 4 out of the 6 full length stories including them.

First is "The End of All Vampires" by Al Hewetson (story, credited as Howie Anderson) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). When a college professor outlines to his class plans to kill all vampires, he brings the hunchback Dean of the University, Grieves in to speak with the class. Grieves speaks of how a female student at the university, named Sancho is in fact a vampire. Many men she has come in contact with have died anemia shortly afterwards. When Sancho is followed she is witnessed embracing a vampire in a graveyard and they are both taken into custody. Examination shows the man to be decomposing and Sancho to be in her 80s despite looking the age of a college student. When Grieves confronts Sancho and convinces her to talk, she reveals how she was born 100 years before and her gypsy parents showed her around as a vampire as a child. When a real vampire came across them he bit her, turning her into one. Despite revealing all, Grieves stakes her in the heart, killing her. The class over, Grieves returns, alone to a lair in the basement where we find that he is not a hunchback but has been hiding his wings and is in fact a true vampire himself, seeking to kill all human vampires. The highlight of this story is the art, Suso providing arguably his best performance yet. Sancho appears modeled after Carol de Haro, who modeled for many of the Selecciones Illustrada artists such as Luis Garcia and Jose Gonzalez. We have a fairly strong story here as well.

"The End of All Vampires"
Next is "The Vampire out of Hell" by Al Hewetson (story, credited as Edward Farthing) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Photographer Tony Jones speaks of Sonia Greene, a colleague of his who insists they go on an expedition in South America. He and several other men follow her. When their guides tell them they have approached a forbidden city and can't go any further, Sonia insists continuing, even if the natives flee. As they approach the city several vampire bats arrive as well as a gorilla-like beast and bring Tony and another man into the forbidden city where Sonia is sat on a throne as their new queen. Tony's colleague David is killed, his blood drunk by her new subjects. Tony demands she speak to this act yet she says not a word and he curses her as he is killed as well. As the story concludes we find that Sonia has not spoken because her new "subjects" have removed her tongue. While this story has a decent ending to it, we never get an explanation for why Sonia was so insistent they head to the forbidden city in the first place. The quality of Villamonte's art wildly fluctuates throughout this story, at times reminding me of Esteban Maroto's work, but in other panels looking rather sloppy.

Third is "The Night in the Horror-Hotel" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art). Reed and Anne, newlyweds traveling through a storm the night of their wedding are forced to stop at a hotel staffed entirely by freaks. After the freaks perform for them, Reed and Anne start getting freaked out, causing the freaks to tell them their sad story of how they purchased this hotel, hoping to do something other than work for a circus, yet any guest has the same horrified reaction. That night, Anne discovers Reed not in their bed but with the freaks and demands they leave. Reed states that this is in fact his home and he is a freak as well, revealing a third eye on her forehead. Anne reveals that she has a third eye herself though, realizing they were meant for each other. That night we get one final twist however, Anne is not human but an alien and contacts her superiors and is told she can stay with and mate with him as part of her mission. An overall strong story and Duran provides some good art as usual.

"The Night in the Horror-Hotel"
Fourth is "The Psycho" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ruben Sosa (art). Our protagonist, a reporter named Ralph tells us his story and how he came across a photo of a girl with two pin holes in her neck, believed to be a bite from a vampire by one of his colleagues. Ralph doesn't believe it but while walking outside at night sees the vampire attacking a woman. His boss wants him to go out and track down the vampire, so Ralph arms himself with silver bullets. Eventually he comes across the vampire again and threatens him. The vampire provides him a proposition however and Ralph takes him up on it, becoming a vampire himself. This is a so-so story, whose end twist is repeated two stories later in this same issue. I thought silver bullets were for werewolves, not vampires!

Fifth is "The Inquisition" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Joe Dentyn) and Lombardia (art). In Salem an old woman is tortured by several hooded men, who declare her to be a witch. She says no to all their questions. Eventually they tell her that if she reveals she is a witch they will have mercy on her. Lying, she says she is a witch and they chop her head off. The men then take off their masks and we find that they are newspaper reporters who are doing heinous acts like this so they will have something good to report on. Lombardia's art is fairly strong here as is the twist at the end of the story, something that seems less and less unusual in the age of "fake news" that we live in now.

"The Inquisition"
Sixth is "The Auto-biography of a Vampire, Chapter 1" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Our titular vampire tells his story, calling himself Judas. He speaks of how he grew up in Spain in the 17th century in a rural town. One day a vampire comes by, strikes down his father and drinks the blood from both his parents. Seeing Judas cry, the vampire decides to take him with him and burns down his home. Yet when the vampire, named Prince Rodion Zosimov, a Russian noble, arrives at his castle he wonders why he even brought Judas with him and casts him out. An old silversmith takes Judas in. When Judas grows up he confronts Rodion, shooting him in the head, only for Rodion's head to come back together; as a vampire he can't die this way. He offers Judas the opportunity to become a vampire and he accepts, then immediately backstabs Rodion by staking him in the chest. We return to the present, where Judas tells us of how he regrets his decision all these years later due to having to live as a vampire. Here the story ends, but the Chapter 1 designation makes me wonder if this will be a continuing series. This story contains several instances of real life photographs being used for certain panels.

The back cover features the one page "The Lunatic Creations of Edgar Allen Poe" by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). This provides some brief highlights of Poe stories like The Pit and the Pendulum, Murders in the Rue Morgue, Descent into the Maelstrom and The Tell-Tale Heart.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Psycho #16

Domingo Gomez provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, cover dated January 1974.

First is "The Old Vampire Lady" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art). A young photographer comes to interview the wretched old vampire lady. She tells him of her past, starting from her childhood and how her headmistress was a vampire. At 10 years old she was bitten and changed into a vampire herself and she would bite classmates and boys. Eventually a man named Baron Meinster who is a vampire comes to see them and they live with him, and our protagonist, now grown up, turns on the headmaster along with Meinster. She and him kill many victims but Meinster is eventually found and killed. Returning home, she finds her mother has died, of a broken heart after finding what came of her daughter. She eventually finds a man who falls in love with and marries her, but upon finding out she is a vampire, his strong religious beliefs cause him to commit suicide by stabbing himself. We return to the present, finding out that the old vampire lady is 175 years old and she brings the photographer to a tomb where she still posses the now rotted body of her husband. Some excellent, macabre art by Duran here and it was a fairly interesting story too, telling us the various events of the titular character's life rather than being focused on just one plot.

"The Old Vampire Lady"
Next is "Monster, Monster Rise from Thy Crypt" by Augustine Funnell (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Where we last left this series, our protagonist, a werewolf had shot himself in the head. But it seems like he hasn't died, as it was not a silver bullet. The bullet is still lodged in his head however. An old gypsy woman, Kirsten, finds him and wondering if he is her son brings him out with her while he is unconscious. Soon her daughter Nola approaches, being chased by a man named Dominik. She demands Dominik leave and she, Nola and our protagonist, now in his human form, travel in a wagon to the gypsy village where Dominik declares (without her consent) that Nola is marrying him. Back in his werewolf form, our protagonist attacks Dominik, but the bullet lodged in his head weakens him and he, Kirsten and Nola flee when a plank is thrown at him (quite lame, I know) and Dominik swears revenge as the story ends. This series had an interesting enough start, but now its starting to get dragged out (and now involving gypsies after seeming to be a urban story earlier is odd).

Third is "They Lived in Darkkos Manse!", the latest in the Darkkos Manse series, by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Joe Dentyn) and Maro Nava (art). A fugitive named Paul Muni flees from the authorities into the swamp and comes across Darkkos mansion. He climbs to the top of it as his pursuers arrive and sees a humanoid monster who kills his pursuers and dogs, but then climbs the mansion towards him! Paul jumps off, but into the quicksand, which he sinks into. The monster pulls him out and he is now another monster guarding the swamp. Nava's style comes off a bit cartoonish here, but it overall works for this story.

"The Thing With the Red Ribbon in its Hair"
Fourth is "The Thing with the Red Ribbon in Its Hair", a one page feature by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). Tom marries a woman named Clarice for her money then kills her, revealing to her that he is in it for the money. But she either returns from the dead or doesn't die at all (the narrative is rather confusing) and forces him to live out his life with her. Some okay art by Gomez but a rather confusing story.

Fifth is "The Thing in the Box" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Harvy Lazarus) and Fernando Rubio (art). A rather odd approach in this story in that only the final panel has any dialogue in it. An old man's wife falls asleep while they are on the porch, and he takes the opportunity to kiss another old woman who stops by. His wife wakes up, sees it and goes to the shed where she grabs a box. She leaves it at her rival's front door, who opens it and some tentacles come out and she dies. The old woman then puts it back in the shed. That's about it, a pretty simple story.

Sixth is "Hunger of the Slaughter-Sludge Beasts!" by Doug Moench (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). Detectives Harry and Frank investigate some weird occurrences where bodies are found, reduced to mere skeletons in areas with water or drains such as a bathtub or swimming pool. Meanwhile the wealthy Clinton owns a company that dumps chemicals into the river. Naturally, these chemicals have led to some sludge like creature forming and it is soon revealed that it can take the form of inanimate objects. It turns into a garbage can and then kills a homeless man that goes through it. We then see it traveling through drains and killing various people in their homes and a woman at a laundromat. Harry and Frank discover what is happening when they see the sludge at the lake, but it ends up killing them by taking the form of their car. At the end of the story we see that it even can take the form of a plane and a human being as a man returns home to his wife, who is actually the sludge. A pretty good story here, both horrifying and funny at times and Suso provides his usually strong art performance.

"Hunger of the Slaughter Sludge Beasts"
Seventh is "A Tale in Old Egypt: The Premature Burial" by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). This brief two-page feature displays via hieroglyphics someone being mummified, waking up in a tomb and trying to get out but finding themselves locked in.

The issue concludes with "Greed" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Edward Farthing) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). A little girl's parents don't believe her when she tells them of a fish monster. We see that the monster, who is humanoid in form is real and he kidnaps her, telling her he will kill her before their eyes to teach humanity a lesson. He brings her to a cliff and prepares to throw her off in front of the large crowd that gathers to rescue her. The father is able to climb up the cliff and knock the monster off, but in its last moments he shows mercy and tosses the girl onto a cliff so she doesn't die with him. But unfortunately no one sees or hears her, so she dies. Quite a depressing ending here!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Scream #3

Xavier Villanova provides the cover for this issue of Scream, cover dated December 1973.

First is "The Phantom of the Opera" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art). Having never actually seen the movie Phantom of the Opera, I am not sure how faithful an adaption this is. Raoul and his girlfriend Christine attend the Opera where the titular phantom has dressed up as death, from Edgar Allen Poe's Masque of the Red Death. As Christine practices singing, Raoul hears the voice of the madman and fears for her. Soon after he proposes to her (this part of the story is quite confusing as she refuses to ever marry on one page yet seems to accept a proposal a page later). Christine tells Raoul of how the phantom had actually captured her and after she unmasks him, demanded she take his hand in marriage. The day Raoul and Christine plan to elope, he finds out from The Persian, another man at the opera that the Phantom has captured Christine. Raoul and the Persian search for and eventually find them, with the Phantom demanding Christine marry him or he will kill all the guests. The Phantom then plans to drown Raoul and the Persian, escaping with Christine, yet she threatens to kill herself unless he save the two of them, which the Phantom does. As the story ends we find that he died soon after. Duran's art as usual is pretty good here (reminding me at times of Esteban Maroto in fact), but the lengthy story is quite confusing to me, especially with character motivations of Christine and the Phantom. Perhaps it would have helped if I was more familiar with the source material.

"Phantom of the Opera"
Next is Lady Satan in "What is Evil and What is Not" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). Anne Jackson, the titular Lady Satan rises from her grave. Anne and her friend Berenice investigate the black witch queen whose spirit now inhabits her body, including rumors that she was a vampire and eventually burned at the stake when she cursed her killers. Lady Satan now in control of Anne's body again, she bites the neck of Berenice turning her into a vampire. As the story ends we are told Satan wants a child. I haven't been the biggest fan of this storyline thus far, and Villamonte's art often looks a bit rushed.

Third is "The Fall of the House of Usher", an adaption of the Edgar Allen Poe story by Al Hewetson, with art by Maro Nava. Our protagonist goes to visit his friend Roderick Usher, who lives in a gothic mansion and appears stricken by some wretched illness that makes him look quite decrepit. We also meet Roderick's ill sister Madeline, who looks as sick as he does. Eventually our protagonist is told that Madeline has died and he leaves her in a vault, wanting to wait to entomb her as is the family tradition. Later as a storm rages, we find that Madeline has not in fact died, she walks before them and collapses upon Roderick, killing them both. Our protagonist flees as the entire mansion collapses. This is a decent adaption of the Poe story, although Nava's story can be a bit too cartoonish at times for the characters. We've got at least one panel in this story with a Rafael Auraleon swipe (a commonly appearing artist for Warren).

Auraleon swipe in "The Fall of the House of Usher"
Fourth is "Messers, Crypts and Graves: Undertakers" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ruben Sosa (art, his Skywald debut). A pair of undertakers are partners, Graves and Crypts, with Graves getting angry at Crypts for spending too much money on a new hearse. We see in flashbacks how they swindle their customers, such as taking gold out of their teeth or claiming a cheap pine coffin is instead high priced walnut. Graves plots to poison his partner with a drink, but Crypts hears him saying it and pours out his rat poison, replacing it with something else. When they drink, Crypts fakes a heart attack and falls to the ground, but then gets up, revealing he is alive, causing Graves to collapse from a heart attack. Crypts then walls up Graves behind a brick wall. Graves has not died though and when Crypts reveals he knows all, Graves reveals that the rat poison really was meant for rats, and he used embalming fluid to poison him instead. Sosa's art is okay here, but not as strong as many of the other artists. It is an at least decent story though, and reminds me of the type of story we'd often see in EC comics.

Page length panel in "The Tale of Another"
Fifth is the latest Nosferatu story, "The Tale of Another" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). Another of Nosferatu's dinner guests tells his tale, this time the frog-masked man Charles Freeman. An American, he used to hunt in the swamps of the everglades but as this practice came under fire he resorts instead to be a guide to "sportsmen" who decide to ignore the law and hunt anyway. It is through this he meets a man named Nicholas Dickens whose mauled face he claims came from a Rhino attack years ago in Africa. He claims a trunk is in the swamp with 2 million dollars inside. The two head there on a helicopter and Charles heads down to retrieve it, finding a horrific tentacled monster, an emissary of Satan guarding it. He is able to bring it up but demands an answer from Dickens as to what is in the trunk. Upon opening it he finds his corpse inside! It seems that Dickens was cursed by Satan and needed someone to find the trunk and open it to take his place and free his soul. Freeman removes his mask and reveals that he is now mutilated much like Dickens was and will remain in this state until he finds another to take his place.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Nightmare #16

Today I'm covering issue 16 of Nightmare, cover dated December 1973. Jose Antonio Domingo provides the cover for this issue, featuring the interior story "The Voodoo Dead".

"The Voodoo Dead" kicks off the issue, with story by Al Hewetson (credited to Joe Denryn) and art by Ricardo Villamonte. A vampire decides to escape to the Caribbean. There he comes across a priestess leading a ceremony with several demons. She orders her demons to destroy the vampire, but soon regrets it as he has the qualities she romantically desires. She soon finds he is alive after all, but he attacks her, biting her on the neck then is killed for good by the demons. She continues to regret the loss of him and now is a vampire herself. An average story to kick off the issue; Villamonte's art is good on some pages, but rather mediocre on others.

"Dragnet: Werewolf"
We next get two chapters in "The Werewolf Macabre" series, the first titled "The Birth of a Beast" as written by Al Hewetson and drawn by Fernando Rubio. Chapter two is "Dragnet: Werewolf" also written by Hewetson and drawn by Jesus Suso Rego. The first story introduces us to Ted Williams, police commissioner of Chicago, who unknown to him, is actually a werewolf! He slays someone while a wolf and then investigates while human, not believing those who speculate a werewolf is behind it. A trip to a gypsy causes him to reconsider though. In flashbacks we find out that his father had a fling with a witch while his mother was pregnant with him and when he ended it, the witch cursed him into becoming a werewolf, a fate that Ted now suffers from as well. As the first chapter concludes, Ted determines he is a werewolf, then bursts out in werewolf form while in the police headquarters. This continues into the second chapter, where Ted attacks many while in werewolf form. Meanwhile in a special jail cell a woman also becomes a werewolf and bursts her way out. Ted flees into the streets, as does the woman, as the police pursue. In flashbacks we find out about the woman; her father was a werewolf and her mother a bearded lady. She comes across Ted in an alley. They kiss, but the policy come upon them and shoot them with silver bullets. This ended more abruptly than I thought it would, so I guess instead of a new series its just this two part story. Interesting choice to have two different artists draw it. Suso as usual is one of Skywald's best artists and does a terrific job, especially when the woman becomes a werewolf.

"The Roots of Evil"
Fourth story is "When the Devil Sent Us Death!" by Augustine Funnell (story) and Maro Nava (art). A mysterious man comes to a town to stay at a hotel. Soon afterwards a murder occurs, then another. People suspect it has something to do with the stranger and confront him in his hotel room. He claims to have been in the room the entire time and to not be involved. One of the men heads to the hotel room and the stranger leaves the next day. The man decides to use his hotel room and somehow he determines that the stranger works for Satan and brings hardship wherever he goes. The man is now going to continue in his footsteps. This is another story where Nava's art looks extremely like Jerry Grandenetti's. The story itself is only so-so, with not much of a point to it.

Fifth is "The Roots of Evil" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and Antonio Borrell (art). A ship returns from China, much of its crew infected by the black plague. The captain orders the dead launched off the ship into a nearby town, which causes many in the town to become infected and the black plague rages its way through Europe. The story focuses on the ship's captain, whose crew mutiny and put him on a small boat with a few of his men and a corpse. After drifting for a while, one of his fellow men shoots himself, but before any others do so they spot the ship returning towards them, everyone on board now dead. It crashes through the boat, killing the remaining men with him but the captain makes his way on board. The ship starts rotting before his eyes and he is absorbed into it, proclaiming the ship has become the root of evil. An interesting story here (I wasn't aware this is how the black plague started) and Borrell provides some strong art. I've read that this story was originally intended as the cover story for Scream #1.

"The Vampyre"
Sixth is "The Vampyre!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). This story was originally advertised as appearing in Psycho #13, but for some reason was held off until this issue. This story introduces us to a vampire, going into hiding in his coffin. We find that he has killed four children in the span of only a single week. The local doctor claims his own son can be used to slay the vampire. His son, suffering from some sort of disease will be used as a sacrifice. Knowing he will die from it one day the boy is willing to act in this role. The vampire arrives and bites the boy as expected, and is repeatedly shot by several men with rifles, to no effect. The vampire returns to his cave but finds himself extremely weak and finds that his body is bleeding everywhere he was shot. As he dies, we go back to the doctor, who reveals his son had a disease that prevented his blood from clotting. Marcos' art is only so-so here, but that certainly was a unique way to slay a vampire.

Seventh is "Hell Hath No Face" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Harvey Lazarus) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). This story surrounds the ship Ambergris. Heading back with whale meat (blubber), it is suddenly attacked by a giant octopus, after the whale meat! The octopus makes its way into the hold where the meat is being stored and they are forced to wait until it is finished. When it departs, the men head there to see what is left of the whale meat and are horrified to find numerous baby octopi! This story is essentially just a variant of "The Monstrosity Strikes!" from Psycho #14, with an extremely obvious ending and is even drawn by the same artist. An extremely mediocre way to close out the issue.

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.