Saturday, September 28, 2019

Psycho #7

Vicente Segrelles provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, cover dated July 1972, featuring the interior story "The Asylum of Frozen Hell".

We kick things off with the one page frontispiece drawn by Pablo Marcos, "Pit and the Pendulum" featuring the pendulum scene from Edgar Allan Poe's story of the same name.

This issue's first story is "Kerene" by David Anthony Kraft (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). A man is sacrificed by some priests. Upon being stabbed he finds himself in another realm, perfectly fine, with a beautiful naked woman named Kerene, who says she was his love and his name is Kying. She tells of how he was a hero but the evil Narhlis seeked to usurp his powers. He convinced Kying to attack some forest dwellers and during the battle slain him, claiming Kerene for himself. Now, his worshipers sacrifice people. Kying awakens, back to reality as he is being dragged along by some of the worshipers, but is still alive, knowing that Kerene has kept him alive. Abrupt ending aside, this is a fairly strong start to the issue. Domingo Gomez, making his Skywald debut here provides some strong art. In fact his style reminds me quite a lot of Luis Garcia, who was my favorite of the S.I. artists who worked for Warren. His story includes some highly detailed, realistic panels and others that are looser in nature for the more romantic scenes, much like what Garcia would do.

Next is another story drawn by Domingo Gomez, "Horror Has 1 Thousand Faces!", written by Al Hewetson. The famous actor Lon August is celebrated at a dinner. August is a famed movie actor who has starred in numerous horror movies, wearing various forms of makeup. In his 50 years as an actor, no one has seen his real face. We find out that even August's wife hasn't seen his real face and when she tears it off, reveals a horrific, skull-like face which causes her to have a heart attack. But even this is revealed to be a mask. At the dinner people grab a hold of August, demanding to see what he really looks like. They tear off the bandages he's wearing, revealing that his face is completely blank! My favorite story of the issue, Domingo provides another strong art job. This story seems like a dedication to Lon Chaney, the silent film-era movie star who played numerous monsters (most notably the Phantom of the Opera), often undergoing a lot of make-up to do so. His attire at the dinner is based on that of the titular character in the movie The Invisible Man.

Gomez's art here on "Kerene" reminds me much of Luis Garcia
Third is "The Family Jewels!" by Dennis Fujitake (story & art). Lester is a wealthy hunter, who in the jungles of India saves a woman and her child by shooting a tiger. She leads him to her village, that of the Rapo, a tribe that is supposed to possess prized "family jewels". He meets Tun, Chief of the village and husband to the woman. He says he is indebted to Lester and will reward him with his most prized possession. Lester thinks he will get jewels and as he eats some food, Tun tells him of how his tribe came from the cold north and due to some radioactive particles in the fish they eat only have one child for every ten couples. Upon finishing his meal, Lester is told that he was given Tun's most valuable possession, that he has eaten his son! Lester feels sick (presumably from the radiation) and dies. Quite a big twist to wrap up this story! Fujitake as usual provides a strong story and art.

Fourth is The Heap in "A Spawn of Satan" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). Ross Andru has now also departed from The Heap, with the writing handed over to Hewetson and Marcos now handling the art solo. The Heap takes on some men in the woods, then makes his way to the chemical plant that was responsible for his mutation. When a lightning bolt strikes a vat of chemicals, the Heap is covered in them, but they actually transform him back into his human form of Jim Roberts. Jim returns to see Laurie, but finds that when night arrives he turns back into a more human-looking version of the Heap. After transforming again in public, he decides to head on a ship that is going out to see, living off of rats for weeks until he is found. He is brought before the captain, but then suddenly a giant squid attacks! The Heap fights the squid and is successful in killing him then is washed ashore as the story ends. Some interesting developments here with the Heap's transformation now somewhat inspired by that of a werewolf (although it doesn't require a full moon, just nighttime). I did prefer the Heap's original design though.

Fifth is "The Terrible Tragedy of the Tormented One!" by Marv Wolfman (story) and Pablo Marcos (art, credited to "Elder"). I wonder if crediting of Marcos was a typo, or intentional, given that he has so much content in this issue (3 stories and 2 frontispieces). A woman named Cheryse runs through a dark mansion as an axe wielding monster pursues her. Suddenly a man arrives, seeking to get some peace and quiet. Our protagonist rescues her and the monster flees. Cheryse reveals to him that the maniac was her fiance Paul, who refused to let her leave him and crashed their car into a river. When Paul came out of the river he was transformed into the monster. Paul returns but our protagonist hits him with an axe to the chest. Paul then turns back to human and claims Cheryse has lied. Cheryse is revealed to be a succubus, and tries to suck the life force out of our protagonist, but is slain by him. A pretty decent story with an interesting twist at the end. There is an error on one of the panels on the last page where a word balloon was included but there is no dialogue in it!
More Gomez in "Horror Has a Thousand Faces"

Sixth is "I Am Demona: The Feastings of Prince Yamm" by Gardner Fox (story) and Steve Englehart/Vince Colletta (art, Colletta uncredited). Demona is the daughter of a human man and a witch alien mother as explained in the prologue. She acts as a kind of sorceress superhero. In this story while about to go on a date with her friend Jim Croft, she feels a ghastly aura and heads to a tower where a woman is being sacrificed to the great Yamm. The High Priest there has her seized by skeletons, but she vanishes, then researches things with Jim, finding that if enough sacrifices are made to Yamm, he can stay on the Earth forever. She returns to the tower to battle the high priest and defeat Yamm. I've never been much of a fan of superhero comics and this comes off much like one, even though it has a supernatural element. In most issues this would be the weakest story, but just wait til what we have later!

Seventh is "The Asylum of Frozen Hell" by Al Hewetson (art) and Pablo Marcos (story). This story has an interesting art structure in that you see things from the eyes of the protagonist. I don't know if I've ever seen this style used before in a comic book story. Anyway, you act as a newspaper reporter, who heads to a weather station in the arctic in pursuit of a story, along with a female colleague. Upon arriving you find many dead bodies and then head to a nearby cave. There you find a ranting humanoid alien monster who appears to be blind. He rants on how he was ordered to come here to dump some mutants, but he never got picked up to return. All around him are men that are tied to stakes in the ground. You battle the priest and your woman colleague stabs him in the back. Upon approaching one of the tied up men it is revealed they truly are mutants and were responsible for the dead people at the weather station, with you joining them!

Eighth is "Forewarned" by Jim Pinkoski (story & art). This extremely confusing two page story features an astronaut coming across a strange object in space. He starts drilling into it and hears voices. Then there is an explosion. The final panel shows what I assume to be some sort of craft floating in space, but I can't really tell what is going on with it as its drawn so small. I got no clue what Pinkoski's point was in this story, both the writing and the art make it very tough to figure out what is going on.

The cover story "The Asylum of Frozen Hell"
Ninth is "The Discombobulated Hand" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to "Wood") and Ramon Torrents (art). Another big disappointment, this is a three page story featuring a television reporter advertising the hand of the title, which can be used to hold jewelry, gloves, ties and many other purposes. He and his colleague complain about things after the TV spot is over. Torrents' art is strong as always, but this is another brief story where I don't understand the point at all. Quite a mediocre last couple of stories to finish out the issue.

The issue concludes with a one page pin-up by Pablo Marcos of a hooded skeleton.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Nightmare #7

With this issue of Nightmare, the Spanish invasion for Skywald truly begins as we get the premiere of several artists from Selecciones Illustrada, the Spanish art agency led by Josep Toutain that also became a mainstay at Warren too. The cover for this issue is by Pujolar, who never did an original cover for Warren, but did have a cover of his reprinted for its second to last issue (eventually we would see a Skywald cover for the last issue of Creepy!). This issue is cover dated June 1972, 6 months after the previous issue.

This issue's frontispiece is "The Haunted Strangler", drawn by Pablo Marcos and showing a scene from the movie of the same name, starring Boris Karloff.

The issue kicks off with "The Penitent" by Ed Fedory (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). This story features an old man named Taylor, who is in a cell contained within the side of a mountain. He is visited by a man on a flying dragon named Nekkron, who tells them there is still hope for him with "the wise one". Later Taylor hears a voice from a glowing sky that calls for him to kneel and when he does so his physical body collapses and his spirit rises out, flying away with Nekkron. The story's final 2 pages reveal that Taylor is a prisoner in the real world on death row, but when a prison guard comes to his cell he finds the odd looking remains of his body. Sostres, making his Skywald debut does a fairly good job here, a suitable style for this type of story. Yet the story itself I feel is just too similar in in its ending to what we got from Fedory in "Sand Castles" from Psycho #6, the previous issue I covered. I'm hoping Fedory can find some variety as he continues to produce more work for Skywald.

Next is "Group Jeopardy" by S.F. Starr (story) and Amador Garcia (art). In a remote mountain resort, Dr. Blaine leads a number of patients of neurotics. One of the women there is killed, every bone in her body broken. Blaine believes one of his patients must be the killer and the sheriff recruits a fitness expert, Dr. Coxe, who says the killer killed her with a bear hug, hugging her with such strength that her bones were battered. They test the muscles and strength of the patients not finding any of them powerful enough. Blaine believes in a great fury, someone could have superhuman strength and kill. Blaine has his patients come to him one at a time and he torments them. Eventually one of them, a young woman named Iris goes on a rampage, killing Blaine (or at least hurting him). In the quite confusing last few panels, it seems like she is held back by the Sheriff and Coxe, but I can't really tell for sure, then she says she loves one of the other patients and the story ends. Amador, also making his Skywald debut provides some strong art but the story itself is a confusing mess, especially the ending.
Gasp's bizarre ending

Third is "The Giant Death Rat" by Al Hewetson (story) and Serg Moren (art). The writing for this story is credited to Howie Anderson, a pseudonym Hewetson would use often over the years, much like say. Will Richardson for Bill Dubay. In contrasts to the several first appearances in this issue, this will be the final appearance of Moren, who has done some decent work in his prior stories. This story opens in the 1700s with a tale of a number of rats trying to make their way to America by climbing aboard ships. We then go back, focusing on the ship Sumatra, where a rat is discovered by someone, but is unable to be caught. The captain fears this will spread disease, and soon one of the crew members gets the plague. The disease spreads, although no one is ever able to find a rat. Eventually the entire ship catches on fire and burns away with only a few people making it out okay. As the story ends, we find the rats talking to each other, happy that none of them ever actually went on board the ship due to the plague.

Next is the 3 page "Gasp!" by Donald Brown (story and art).A man has a nightmare about being dragged along by a number of humanoid monsters. Upon awakening he realizes that this is a perfect plot for a horror story and starts writing it. In his story, his character is a scientist that goes to another dimension where hostile beings grab him, thinking he is instead a spy of their enemies. He is then thrown into the pit of a giant monster. As the story ends, one of the humanoid monsters awakens in his bed, revealing it was a dream of his, and he has his own horror story he's writing! A pretty decent ending here, with some rather average to lousy art from Brown. The third to last panel of the story features a rather obvious swipe of a panel from the Al Williamson drawn story "By George" from E.C.'s Weird Fantasy #15.

The hilarious ending to "Artifacts"
Next is the cover story "The Altar of Blood" by Bob Kirschen (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). The demonic queen, Tonia, calls forth slaves to her in hell. Tonia desires Satan's powers and hopes for him to cringe before her voice. Any slave that speaks up against her is destroyed. Soon Satan himself arrives, but is unable to pass beyond the forces protecting her lair. Tonia requests one of her slaves bring the sword of Lucifer down on her neck. Every 5,000 years, the stars align, leading all to a single moment.  But the slave momentarily hesitates, staring at her beautiful body, and that is enough for the moment to be missed and Tonia meets her end for real as the sword comes down upon her.

Sixth is "A Father's Lament" by Ed Fedory (story) and Francisco Cueto (art, credited here as Frank). A father and son pair of hunters come across a body in the woods with an axe buried in its chest. Along with the body is a journal. The journal tells of how a man hunted a beast attacking the local populace. The writer created his axe, pursued the beast and killed it, even though it was his own son! Back in the present, the father removes the axe from the body, revealing it to be silver. Desiring the money the silver can bring him, he tells his son they are leaving, without even burying the body. This turns out to be quite the mistake, as the beast was a werewolf, and pulling out the axe causes it to return to life! The premiere of yet another S.I. artist, Cueto's work is drawn quite well in some panels, but a lot looser and lower quality in others. He also doesn't do the best job on his werewolf. But the story at least is pretty decent, and Fedory finally leaves behind the gimmick he'd be using on his other stories.

Seventh is "Artifacts" by Dennis Fujitake (story and art). The third world war has hit, and mankind is no longer the dominant species on the Earth. They have left their sacred relics in a cave and head off to meet their final destiny. Many years pass. The Earth becomes covered in ice, which eventually recedes. Eventually a group of lizard-like aliens arrive on the Earth and find a crucial artifact of mankind, a film showing Porky Pig! This is quite a fun story to read in its brief four pages with a hilarious ending. The story as well as the style of the aliens reminds me a bit of an old E.C. story, "The Aliens" from Weird Fantasy #17 where lizard-like aliens land on a part of the destroyed Earth and find one of the few remaining relics of humanity. a comic book.

Ramon Torrents makes his Skywald debut
Our final story is "The Essential Horror" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ramon Torrents (art). It is the year 2056. A pair of mercenaries, dressed in special gear, arrive at the underwater city of Pala. Nearly 80 years before, the founders of Pala, seeking to escape the pollution on the surface, created a civilization underwater, which has now grown to 300,000 people! However a mutated squid has attacked their city, warranting the calling of the mercenaries. The mercenaries are able to defeat the squid, but are unable to stay in the city. As the story concludes and we see what they look like under their gear, we know why; those on the surface are horribly deformed due to all the pollution. A fairly decent story which is all the more impressive with the art from Ramon Torrents. Torrents was quite a prolific artist over at Warren, and one of my favorites, and he is one of the few S.I. artists who contributed to both Warren and Skywald, although he does quite a lot more stories for Warren than Skywald.

The issue concludes with a one page drawing of a mummy by Pablo Marcos.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Psycho #6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 20, 2019

Nightmare #6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Psycho #5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Psycho #4

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

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

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

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

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

The Heap on a rampage!

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

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

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

"Plague of Jewels"

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

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

Friday, September 13, 2019

Nightmare #5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Nightmare #4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Psycho #3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Nightmare #3

Boris Vallejo handles the cover for this issue of Nightmare, featuring the interior story When the Dawn Gods War, with a cover date of April 1971.

We kick off with "The Inner Man" featuring story and art by Tom Sutton, with assist on the art by Dan Adkins. Sutton goes under the pseudonyms of Sinclair Rich for the story and Sean Todd for the art. Dr. Wroclaw experiments on the soon to be executed prisoner Varga, shrinking his body considerably. Varga is soon mistakenly swallowed by Wroclaw when he downs a pill and ventures his way through his body, eventually reaching his brain. Being insider Wroclaw, Varga is able to control his actions, causing him to slap, then strangle his wife, then murder a man at a pawn shop and run over people in a car. Eventually Wroclaw is decapitated by a closing elevator door and some subconscious monsters kill Varga. A pretty fun way to kick off the issue, especially when Wroclaw starts going on his rampage.

Second is "The Victims" by Gerry Conway (story) and Rich Buckler (art). Two scientists, Frank and Tad work on creating indestructible clones. Frank jealously kills Tad, thinking back to how they first met and his fear of him taking his fiance Susan. He soon kills Susan as well, but then realizes that he has actually killed their clones and they are still alive. An indestructible clone climbs out of a tank and kills Frank.

Third is "Vault of a Vampire", featuring, in his Skywald debut, Al Hewetson for the story and Serg Moren for the art. A vampire stalks ancient Rome, attacking someone in the Arena, and having previously appeared at other crowded events. A trio of men seek to destroy the vampire. During its latest attack, they follow the vampire to the graveyard and the crypt where it makes its home. They wait outside the blocked entrance, thinking they can wait out the vampire. A couple of weeks pass and they break in, finding that the vampire has started devouring its own flesh. They then kill it with swords. I question Hewetson's knowledge of vampires in this story, it should be seeking to drink blood, not consume flesh. If it was supposed to be a ghoul as well, this was never stated earlier.
Wroclaw goes on a rampage in "Inner Man"

Fourth is "When the Dawn Gods War!" by Gardner Fox (story) and Paul Reinman/Mike Esposito (art). The caveman Kroog is surprised to see several flying saucers land. Out from one comes the octopus-like alien Thropoli, who puts a head band around Kroog's head and tells him to help him find a human who has fled to this planet. Kroog is saved by a dinosaur by the hiding human, then later gives a head band above his mate. The hiding human causes lightning to appear, making himself come off as a god to Kroog, then convincing him to create a poison for the Tropoli via some plants. Kroog gives the poison to the Tropoli, who fly off. The hiding human meanwhile is revealed, having used advanced equipment to fool Kroog into thinking he's a god. He decides to call Kroog Adam and his mate Eve. Rather lame ending aside, the rest of this story is pretty good.

Fifth is "A Rottin Deal" by Bruce Jones (story and art), using the pseudonym Philip Roland. A young man named Peter travels with his uncle Felix, seeking an old mine around five days away. As they travel through the desert wasteland, devoid of water, Peter decides to kill his uncle and take his canteen. He travels from oasis to oasis but finds that Felix's corpse is following him, beating him to the water, contaminating it. Peter rushes ahead of the corpse, making it to the next oasis in time to drink some water. However he soon finds that his uncle had leprosy, and having uses his canteen, he now has it too! Jones' story and art here is quite strong, making this the best story of the issue. Jones would later become one of Warren's most prolific, and best writers during the Louise Jones era.

Sixth is the text story "Horror Man" by Art Stampler. Our protagonist is a doctor helping the movie star Tracy Collins, who is convinced he is a werewolf. The two of them go to the doctor's home where Collins runs amok, although remaining human, getting eventually run over accidentally by a mistake. When the police arrive however, Collins has transformed into a dog!

Following the text story is the one page "Nightmare Pin-Up #2", with art by Chic Stone. This features a number of rotting corpses rising from the ground, including one that looks quite a lot like Warren's Uncle Creepy.

"A Rottin Deal"
Our seventh story is "Soul of the Warlock" by Chic Stone (story & art). Erik Mortus is obsessed with summoning the undead, and when his wife comes across what he is doing falls to her death. Mortus drugs various men, trying to summon the sorcerer Esteban Delgado, but each time he does so, his captive's body catches aflame and burns up. He finally succeeds with summoning Delgado after capturing the fortune-teller Lefarge. Delgado is upset at Mortus for disrupting his rest though, and summons a group of corpses to kill him!

The issue concludes with "Beware Small Evils!" by Jack Katz and Frank Giacoia (story and art). In the polluted future of... 1983 (lol), a motorcycle gang, the Spitfires are running amok. Meanwhile a Senator is visiting a scientist who hopes to use the plant culture mutation #320 to restore oxygen to the atmosphere. When the Spitfires arrive at his lab and cause some of the mutation to fall outside, it quickly spreads, consuming the spitfires, growing and multiplying. Using detergent and oil supplied by the senator, the mutations are destroyed, although this leads to any remaining oxygen running out.
The story features an incredibly lame joke at the end where the scientist has the Senator stabbed, claiming politicians are full of hot air.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Psycho #2

Upon opening this magazine I'm surprised to realize that its all new material, and we have already finished the reprint era. A good start! Hector Varella provides the cover for this issue cover dated March 1971.

The issue kicks off with "The Heap", the first appearance of a character who would be one of the longest running in the Skywald magazines and was also featured on the cover. This story is written by Chuck McNaughton and drawn by Ross Andru/Mike Esposito. Jim Roberts is living a wonderful life as a crop duster, about to get married to his fiance Audrey. However while piloting his plane one of the cables doesn't work causing him to crash in a forest where nerve gas is being used. The combination of the fire and gas transforms Jim into the horrifying The Heap. The Heap makes his way through a road and a graveyard, eventually coming across his own funeral where he realizes his friend Ryan set him up, selling him and his fiance a life insurance policy then screwing around with the cables in his plane so Jim would die and he can be with Audrey, collecting the insurance money. The Heap goes on a rampage against Ryan, Audrey and his underlings. As the story ends, The Heap wonders if his friend Monty Elliot may be able to find a cure for him.

Second is "To Laugh Perchance to Live" by Chuck McNaughton (story) and Jack Katz/Rich Buckler (art). Steve Weston, a man living in Manhattan suddenly finds himself transported to another world. Once there a large group of monsters call for him and start fighting each other over him, claiming they want to bring him to his throne. We see several pages of very bizarre monsters fighting each other and eventually Steve is brought to the throne, which has images in his likeness. He agrees to become their ruler and starts laughing, and we see him back in the real world, laughing maniacally. Was Steve crazy the entire time? Perhaps. In any case I enjoyed this story quite a lot with all the weird monsters in it fighting each other over him.

Third is "Death's Stranger" by Marv Wolfman (story) and Tom Palmer (art). Arthur Ashe has come up with a formula that will allow man to live forever. His scientific colleagues want him to destroy it, but he instead kills all of them, then uses the formula. However, the ghosts of his slain colleagues appear to torment him. Many years go by. Arthur enjoys eternal life at first but eventually comes war and he finds himself the last remaining human. The years continue, Earth reverts to prehistoric times including roaming dinosaurs. Arthur eventually decides to accept death and the ghosts of his slain colleagues bring him into a grave they have dug for him.

Next is the one page "Psycho's Gruesome Gallery: The Vampire" a one page feature drawn by Steve Hickman.
The Heap!

Next is "Revolution" by Rick Margopoulos (story) and Tom Sutton/Dan Adkins (art). Sutton is credited here as Sean Todd. Wary of the wrath of James Warren, who was viciously opposed to any of his artists working for the opposition, we will see several American Warren artists do stories for Skywald under pseudonyms. We'll see that also for this story's writer, Rich Margopoulos, who goes as "Rick Poulos" here, although Margopoulos would not become a mainstay at Warren like Sutton had been for a little while longer. On the Planet Sade slaves are constantly forced to fight in "games", battles in a coliseum against giant monsters. The King, upon hearing of a possible rebellion instead, desires more slaves to fight in more games to quell the populace. So the games become more and more severe, leading to a revolt by the citizenry, who also release all the monsters. The King and his men are forced to flee the planet on a spaceship, landing on another one where carnivorous plants soon attack them. The men flee towards what appears to be a city sitting atop a lake. The king tosses away all his underlings and his own daughter to save his own hide, only to realize that the lake itself is a blob-like entity that consumes him. Adkins' work is barely noticeable on this story, making it look like a Sutton solo story.

Our next story is "The Quest!" by Rich Margopoulos (story) and Chic Stone (art). A man comes across an old man in the park who gives him a painting of a girl tied to a pole as a three headed monster approaches her. That night he looks at it and is suddenly summoned to another world. The same old man says he has summoned him here to rescue his daughter from the vile king Moloch. So begins a lengthy quest where the two of them make it to Moloch's castle, but our protagonist is killed by the three headed beast. The old man returns to the park with his painting, hoping to find someone else. Sword and sorcery tales were never a favorite of mine in Warren and its the same here in Skywald, one of the weaker stories of the issue.

Next is "Dream Planet", written by Phil Seuling and drawn by Serg Moren. A spaceship approaches a planet and its crew has some very weird dreams. One man dreams of being on the planet and being enveloped by a blob-like creature. Another dreams of being attacked by leaves, ferns and fungus. A third dreams of being seized by a giant caterpillar, spun up in a web and has eggs hatch out of him and eat him. The scientists on board the ship believe these are visions that are being used as a defense of the inhabitants of the planet. They believe the inhabitants are physically quite weak. So the ship lands on the planet. The rather confusing last page implies that the monsters on the planet were real after all. At least that's my interpretation of it.
Monsters from To Laugh Perchance to Live

The issue concludes with the rather weak "Valley of Blood" by Chuch McNaughton (story) and Jack Katz/Frank Giacoia (art). A couple, Bart and Valerie head to a mysterious temple in the Himalayas. On the way they are warned by a man, Dargos, about a vampire castle and find a dead vampire skeleton in the ruins of the temple. After getting into a car accident, Valerie is found to need a blood transfusion and gets one from Dargos. The two of them then disappear. Suddenly vampire attacks from a pair of vampires start occurring. Bart eventually comes across the vampire woman, staking her and Valerie turns back to human, dying. Dargos then appears and attacks him.