Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Psycho #11

Today I cover Psycho 11, with a cover by Fernando Fernandez, for the interior story "The Thing in Horror-Swamp!". This issue is cover dated March 1973.

First is "...And It Whispered... And It Wept... And it Did Shudder... And it Did Die..." by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe De la Rosa (art). In Greenwich Village a scientist has created life, a large bizarre tentacled monster and in order to feed it has his hunchbacked assistant kill people to feed to it. The monster thinks the doctor is his daddy and happily eats it. The assistant grows angry at the doctor for not changing him to a more attractive form, so he kills him with an ax to the face! But when he brings the doctor's body to the creature, it grows angry and strangles the assistant. It then starts crying over the death of its father and the narrator tells of how it will soon die without food. A fairly decent way to start the issue and a good example of how over the top Skywald story titles can get!

Second is the two pager "...Make Mephisto's Child Burn..." by Ed Fedory (story) and Felipe De la Rosa (art). This is the most horrifying Skywald story yet! In Jersey England, a pregnant woman is burned at the stake, being called bride of the damned by the angry mob. While burning alive she gives birth, being able to push the baby out of herself to safety, just beyond the edge of the flames. One of the women in the crowd promptly grabs the baby and throws it into the flames to die along with its mother.

The horrifying "Make Mephisto's Child Burn"
Third is the latest in The Heap series, "A Ship of Fiends" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). Where we last left Jim Roberts, he was on a n island with no way to make it home. However a pirate ship soon arrives with a number of pirates burying their treasure. They capture Jim and tie him up on the mast of the ship. Jim hopes to turn into The Heap so he can escape, but when night comes, he doesn't transform! Suddenly a giant squid (guessed by Jim to be the one from the story in Psycho #7) appears and destroys the ship. The Heap is tossed ashore in the Everglades where he comes across Darkkos Mansion (which is explained to be the mansion from the story "The Beast Within" from Nightmare #9). There werewolf from that story is still around and does battle with The Heap, with them falling into quicksand and only The Heap making it out. Marcos' art looks considerably weaker in this story, as if he was rushing it.

Fourth is "...Rast Their Evil Bones..." a one pager from Ed Fedory (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). Fedory brings us a second burned at the stake story in the same issue! It features the burning of witches in Sweden and that those killed included children. Considering what we just got earlier in the issue this seems completely pointless to me. Thankfully it is only one page, and Borrell's art is pretty good.

Fifth is another one pager, "Her Majesty - The Corpse" by Ed Fedory (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). It tells of the queen Inez De Castro who was the target of assassins. Her husband Dom Pedro brings her corpse onto the throne where her subjects are still forced to kneel before her and kiss her feet.

Suso's debut in "Don't Die Up There, Stanley"
Sixth is "Hit and Run: Miss and Die" by Doug Moench (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). A night watchman is knocked out when some mobsters come to steal some drugs from the pharmaceutical company he works for. When they meet up with their boss, he angrily tells them to take out the watchman as he could identify them. They capture him and bring him before their boss, now angry that they have brought the watchman to him , as well as the fact that the drugs stolen were useless. The mobsters create cement shoes and also dump in the drugs into it. Our protagonist is tossed into the water where he drowns and his body starts to decompose. However the drugs are able to somehow revive him. He bites off his feet at the ankles, then pursues the three mobster, tying them up and causing them to drown from their own bootlegged liquor. A typical rising corpse type story, but the incompetence of the mobsters was pretty funny.

Seventh is "Don't Die Up There, Stanley" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). This is Suso's Skywald debut. While he doesn't do the most outstanding job on this story, Suso is quite a strong artist. After having done a couple of stories for Warren he comes to Skywald where he becomes a pretty prolific artist and one of their best. This story features a comedian, Stanley, who comes to a club in Staten Island to perform. He soon discovers from his manager that he is going to be performing in front of freaks, which causes him to panic because that is exactly what his act is about! He tries to get out of it, but is unable to. Rather than hold back, he goes full force and the freaks love it, asking him to joke more and more. Stanley then wakes up and thinking it was all a dream goes on a rampage. In the final panel however we find that his performance was real. He is now in a loony bin, while the freaks look on at him sadly, as he was the one person to treat him like everyone else. Apparently Stanley was based on a real person that Hewetson knew.

Eight is "The Thing in Horror-Swamp!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). This story is described as the origin story for Darkkos Mansion, which was previously utilized in The Heap story from this issue and "The Beast Within" from Nightmare #9. Edwin Gunn comes to the swamps of New Orleans to visit his friend Eldridge Harlowe. Along the way some locals try to stop him, saying he is going towards the house of voodoo. When he arrives at the mansion, Edwin meets up with Eldridge, as well as his wheel chair bound father Register and beautiful sister Mayline. Edwin starts talking about the voodoo and finds out from Eldridge that his father is the local voodoo priest! From here on things take a crazy turn. Mayline runs for some unknown reason and falls into the quicksand to her death. Angry about it, Register is able to cause Edwin to fall in as well. But the voodoo practitioners revive Edwin as a rotting corpse and he attacks the mansion, first strangling Eldridge then attacks Register who is able to drive Edwin back into the quicksand, but the remaining locals are able to throw Eldridge into the quicksand as well, killing him and ending the local voodoo practice. Marcos' art is a lot better here and this story is quite good once it hits the bloodbath of the second half.

Edwin's corpse rises from the swamp in "The Thing in Horror Swamp"
Ninth is "A Bag of Fleas" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Gual (art). This is Jose Gual's Skywald debut. He was a pretty good artist who did a fair amount of work for Warren as well, including one issue that was exclusively stories from him. Reggie Whyte is an old custodian who watches as the apartment building he has lived in nearly 30 years is destroyed by a wrecking ball. In flashbacks we see his brief marriage including the conflict with his wife that led to her leaving, and the landlord coming in to tell Reggie that the building is being destroyed to make room for a parking lot. To try and stop this, Reggie kills his landlord with an ax and also arranges it so the wrecking ball falls off and kills several people. Reggie is found in the wreckage near the body of his wife, and we find this is the real reason why he din't want the building destroyed, as he killed her and walled up her body in the wall. But on the final page as he is brought into a police car we find out hat there were several other skeletons in the building. He was not the only murderer! A fairly decent story and debut here for Gual.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Nightmare #11

Today I cover issue 11 of Nightmare, cover dated February 1973, with a cover by Jose Antonio Domingo.

The two-page table of contents features art by Pablo Marcos, and the character Mr. Pook.

First story is "The Wetness in the Pit" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). Our protagonist, a homicidal maniac is on the run from the police and flees underground, finding himself in a wet pit filled with numerous corpse monsters. Another monster, with a horn on its head approaches him and stabs him. On the final page we find out that the man had simply gone into a fun house of horrors tunnel at an amusement part and was stabbed by the horn on a railway cart.

Second is "Taw!!!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). An expedition occurs in the Himalayas where the abominable snowman-like creatures known as Taw rage. The expedition finds its way to a temple who warns them that they will find death and the Taw upon the mountain. Many Taws soon attack them during a storm and most of the men are killed. The leader of the expedition returns to the temple where he discovers that the men there transform into the Taw, and kill him. This story is Borrel's Skywald debut; he'll also get the final story of the issue. His art is fair, similar in nature to that of Pablo Marcos, at least for this story.

Next up is the one page "Lon Chaney Sr. in the Phantom of the Opera" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). It features who else, but the phantom of the opera terrorizing a woman.

Third story is the latest in the Nightmare World series, "The Beasts of Tomb Beach!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Wayne Howard (art), based on a dream by reader Mike Black. Sitting down, reading a book, Mike suddenly finds that a large slime is traveling across the ground and starts grabbing a hold of him. He grabs onto a tree branch and is able to climb up it, then to a cliff, fleeing from the slime. These Nightmare World features are usually pretty out there, but this one isn't as so. It's just okay.
"Corridors of Caricature" by Jesus Duran

Fourth is "Where Gods Once Stood" by T. Casey Brennan (story) and Carlos Garzon (art). The city of Olympus lies in ruins, and the high priest Serbius finds himself deserted by all his fellow priests. Only the woman Electra remains to tell him of this. She begs him to stop considering himself a god, but a man, and yet he refuses. A harsh storm strikes the city and his attempts to stop it do no good. Lightning strikes the temple, destroying it and Serbius is quite injured, but makes his way to his alter, admitting to Electra that he is a man. Then the storm fades away. Brennan did a number of stories for Warren, often confusing hippie messes and this story is quite like one of them. I hope this is his only Skywald story! Garzon appeared to have deserted Skywald by this point so I wonder if this is an inventory story.

Next is "Corridors of Caricature" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art). A group known as the Sanctum Club gathers at a mansion and talks about a Miss Ingels, a schoolteacher in Cleveland whose students were extremely unruly and she discovered to be vampires! Ingels talks to them then they investigate, and are told she was a nut who was about to be fired. Since a new teacher took over everything has been perfectly normal. The Club is then revealed to be a group of vampires themselves. The principal at the school reveals that he had them investigated and has discovered this and brings them to join a feast with the children, who are indeed vampires. Duran's art is pretty effective here, for a story that would have come off as a bit foolish perhaps with someone else drawing it. I assume Miss Ingels is named after Graham Ingels, the famous EC horror artist.

Next we have the one-page feature "Man Bat" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). It features what else, but the half-man, half-bat creature biting a man's neck.

Zesar brings the bizarre with "Where Are the Inhabitants of Earth"

Sixth story is "Where Are the Inhabitants of Earth?" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). This story appears to be a part of the Shoggoths series for which Zesar had previously drawn another story for (although aside from the Shoggoths there appears to be no relation to the plots in these two stories). A man named Crawford who has lived in outer space on his own returns to Earth, finding Manhattan largely destroyed and sinking into the ocean. He heads to his hometown of Arkham in New England where he is attacked by a Shoggoth which accidentally electrocutes itself. He comes across a hiding woman named Francine who claims that the Shoggoths have killed all the humans including her husband Joseph, and that she is pregnant. Crawford and Francine are able to make their way to a space ship and escape the Earth, but when she gives birth, it is a baby Shoggoth! Crawford shoots the baby into space as the story ends. Zesar's art continues to be quite strong and this is a pretty decent story, including the shocking ending.

Seventh is "Titan Weep" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). During a play in ancient Rome, an actor playing Flavius Titan stabs himself. A couple of men in the crowd talk about the true story, how a few months ago Titan led his men into Sicily and due to the plague all but one of them perished. They notice a hooded man nearby in the audience. When he gets up to leave, the man reveals that he was the one who led the men to Sicily and that it wasn't a plague that got them, but rather the leprosy he had that spread to all his colleagues. A pretty decent short 3 page story, although the leprosy angle was just tackled in the latest issue of Psycho as well with "The Transplant".

The Horror War stars.... Richard Nixon!?!?
We wrap up the issue with "The Horror War" by Al Hewetson (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). Planet Earth is contacted by another planet whose children have revolted and are attacking the adults, wielding not only traditional weapons, but even flying beasts. Edward Dixon, the planet of Earth offers his assistance and tells the leader of the other planet to invite in the leader of the children, feigning surrender, but to kill him once he's in their clutches and that without the leaders the revolution will fall. This all goes according to plan and the other planet succeeds. As the story ends we find the same thing had happened on Earth, with their children crushed under a similar rebellion and either locked up or dead. I question what the future will be for both Earth and the other planet with the children of their society dead or locked up. The present rulers will get old and die eventually. President Edward Dixon in this story is modeled after then US President Richard Nixon, even including what appears to be a super imposed photo of his head on one of the panels.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Psycho #10

Pablo Marcos and Fernando Fernandez provide the cover for this issue of Psycho, cover dated January 1973. A rather odd approach, with one cover (Fernandez's) within another cover (Marcos's). Warren would do something similar with the cover for Vampirella #9 (although the outer cover was just pen and ink rather than a painting).

Pablo Marcos provides artwork on the two page table of contents.

First story is "The Suicide Werewolf" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). A bearded man in a room is repeatedly told to confess, but refuses. He falls into a pit where a snake attacks him, then is put on a stretch rack, repeatedly told to confess to being a werewolf. He is able to get off the stretch rack only to find a mannequin/skeleton was the one holding him. He escapes to the streets of New York and upon questioning a girl realizes she is not real either. Nonetheless, he is quickly chased by the authorities to the subway where he runs into a subway car and is killed. As the story ends we find out that he was a experimental robot. A mate was created for him, but when she was dismantled he run amok! Only a so-so kick off to the issue for me, with a rather confusing plot although it did at least have an interesting resolution at the end.

Second is "The Legend of the Man-Macabre" by Al Hewetson (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). In New York's Old Greenwich Village, a man named Morris Manning is a fan of Edgar Allen Poe and has created a torture chamber in his basement based on the pendulum from Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum". He stalks the streets trying to find someone to put in it, but is unsuccessful. He later heads to a party where he meets a woman named Melinda who he convinces to come with him to see a "monument" he has built. Upon bringing her to his home Melinda realizes what he's about to do to her and fakes passing out. She then is able to knock him out and put him in the pendulum. She decides to let him out just in time, revealing she has the same types of interests as him. In the final panel we see editor/writer Hewetson discovering the chamber. This one was a rather unique love story and it was good to see the Poe influence.

Peter Piper meets a mysterious creature
Third is "...Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Corpses..." by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). Peter Piper is a mortician in a small town. One night while feeding some of his pets he discovers a tiny humanoid creature that comes out of his floorboards and tries to communicate him in another language. the creature eventually is able to show Peter that he wants him to embalm his dead companion. Peter does so and we see a light shoot off into the stars, presumably the creature leaving the Earth. Peter dies that same night. Skywald has a tendency to occasionally get really over the top with its titles and this is an example of one. The story itself is pretty heartwarming.

The Heap battles dinosaur skeletons!
Fourth is The Heap in "Even A Heap Can Die!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). After a brief absence the Heap returns to Psycho. The story begins with the Heap taking on the skeleton of a pterodactyl! In fact the first five or so pages are the Heap taking on a variety of living dinosaur skeletons, a pretty cool sight to see. The day comes and the Heap returns into his human form, Jim Roberts. He encounters an old man named Johann who claims he created the dinosaur skeletons; they are creations from when he made them as part of his work in movies. Johann knocks Jim out and later they get into a confrontation in a cave and Johann shoots him in the chest! Jim doesn't die though and when he becomes the Heap again that night, attacks Johann, injuring him by breaking his arm. Johann realizes only Jim can get him to medical attention and is able to remove the bullet from him, but ends up dying in the attempt. As the story ends Jim finds himself alive, but stranded in the middle of nowhere. A pretty strong return for the Heap, and I liked both halves of the story, the first with the dinosaur battling and the second, more character themed portion

Fifth is "The Transplant!!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Fernando Rubio (art). Rubio makes his Skywald debut with this story; he had also done a few stories for Warren. The bitter, old Gloria Melbourne, former silent film movie star seeks above all else to be young and beautiful again. She seeks out a Doctor Benson who tells her he can perform a transplant on her once they find a donor. Eventually a beautiful young woman who had commit suicide is found and Benson is able to move Gloria's brain from her old body to her new one. Gloria questions why such a lovely girl killed herself, but accepts her new body and leaves. When she doesn't show up for her check in, Benson seeks her out; Gloria has refused to leave her home and has identified why the girl killed herself, she had leprosy! A strong performance here from both Fedory and Rubio.

Rubio's Skywald debut with "The Transplant!"
Sixth is "Tightrope to Nowhere" by Al Hewetson (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). Lawrence is an old man who has worked at a movie theater as a projectionist for decades, yet the owner has passed away and his son decides to have it destroyed and turned into a parking lot. Lawrence refuses to leave then kills the son with an ax. The next morning when the construction workers arrive he tosses the son's body in front of them then tries to flee, being shot and killed by the police. That isn't enough to stop Lawrence however, he rises from his grave and returns to the theater, now condemned, and watches old monster movies, finishing with a Dracula movie. As the light slays Dracula, it does the same to Lawrence and the story ends. This story is a bit over the top and I'm not the biggest fan of Xirinius's artwork, but I did like the fact that it progressively got more and more ridiculous as the story approached its end.

Seventh is "Re-Write: Frankenstein" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). This is a two page comedic story and not related to the previous Frankenstein serial. Frankenstein's monster walks down the city street asking himself why the villagers always hound him, just because he's different. As we turn the page we find out that he lives in a town filled with babies! A fun way to wrap up the issue.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Nightmare 1972 Annual

This time I'll be covering the Nightmare 1972 Special, cover dated November 1972 with a cover by Fernando Fernandez, one of my favorite Warren artists. He never does any interior work for Skywald, but will do more covers.

The frontispiece for this issue is "Behind the Myth of the Bridge of Dracula" by Al Hewetson (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). It tells of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who lived in Hungary in the 16th Century and would murder and bathe in the blood of women she had killed.

First story is "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Al Hewetson (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). This story is an adaption of the famous novel by Robert Lewis Stevenson. The monstrous Mr. Hyde stalks the streets of London, including beating to death a little girl. Meanwhile Dr. Jekyll shocks his colleague by wanting to leave everything in his will to Mr. Hyde. As we soon find out, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the same person, created via a formula that Jekyll has created to bring out his alter ego. Chaos ensues with Dr. Jekyll eventually killing himself and Hyde by jumping out a window. I have not actually read the original novel so I don't know how faithful an adaption this is, but am at least familiar with the concept. I was a bit surprised that they got through it all so quickly.

Second is "A Macabre Fact of Life: The Indian Rope Trick" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ricardo Villamonte (art). This two page feature is the Skywald premiere of Ricardo Villamonte, who would go on to become Skywald's most prolific artist. This feature tells of the Indian Rope Trick whereby a rope can raise on its own into the air and someone can climb up it. Yet this has a horrific turn as the boy climbing it goes into a cloud and his dismembered body parts start falling out. The boy is soon revealed to be unharmed though, it being just a hypnotic effect the magician was having on the audience.
Carillo provides some strong art in "Beauty is Only Skin Deep"

Next is "Beauty is Only Skin Deep" by Doug Moench (story) and Fred Carrillo (art). Taking place in the time of the French revolution, a woman named Countessa believes that she can restore her fading youth and beauty by slaying beautiful young women and bathing in their blood. Her servant Morde does the act of killing for her. The viewpoint then shifts to one of the young woman, who awakens, finding herself captured and in the Countessa's castle. We follow her as she makes her way through the castle, eventually coming across some of the slain victims. Morde takes a hold of her and brings her to the Countessa. The Countessa has found that her blood baths have not worked, and believes that the beauty escapes once her victims' blood leaves their bodies. She believes by having this girl killed without marking her skin, it will work. Morde soon brings the Countessa the woman's slain, unmarked body and drinks her blood, only to discover that Morde poisoned her and dies herself! This was a pretty good story with some Gothic art by Carrillo. A Filipino artist, he would do a fair amount of work for Warren, but not until near the end of Warren's life in the early 1980s. The Countessa seems directly inspired by Elizabeth Bathory, who had appeared in the frontispiece for this issue.

Fourth is "Limb From Limb From Death" by Al Hewetson (story) Pablo Marcos (art). Three men are trapped in the Sahara desert after their jeep runs out of gas. As days go by they start getting desperate and one of them, a doctor, says that they have to start eating each other or else they will starve to death. The doctor convinces the other two to have an arm sawed off before him, claiming that if they are saved he too will have an arm taken off. He proceeds to saw an arm off both his comrades which they eat, but they are then saved by a traveling plane. Now back in civilization, the doctor is afraid of the fact that he'll have to have his arm sawed off and decides to fake things, sending his fellow survivors the severed arm from a dead body. Yet pain starts growing in his arm, and he soon finds it rotting away and falling off. As the story ends we find that his arm didn't really fall off, but he's gone crazy and is being brought to the loony bin. Skywald continues to rely a bit too heavily on the last minute twist of things not being real (in fact this story is very reminiscent to Sand Castles from Psycho #6, both with its plot and ending, and both stories were drawn by Marcos), but the story does deserve some points for how over the top gruesome it is.

Marcos' "Limb from Limb from Death"
We next get another segment in the Nightmare World series, "A Grave Beneath the Sea!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Bill Payne (art). This story is based on the nightmare of a reader named Joseph Elliot. Joseph imagines himself on a boat in Scotland where the Loch Ness monster appears and he is pulled underwater, near the monster's offspring. But Joseph is able to ride the monster away, soon realizing however that he is sitting on an octopus! Eventually the monster brings him to the beach where he gets off of him. Like the previous Nightmare World story you need to know going in that based on a dream, the story is going to be a bit nonsensical and that is the case here.

Next is "Alone" by Bruce Jones (story and art). This story features a woman named Karin who walks home from work in New York City only to start receiving phone calls about how she is going to die. The calls continue and the caller eventually reveals that he was a hypnotist at a part she had recently gone to named the Great Konar. He has hypnotized her such that she will commit suicide by jumping off a building, much like his brother did due to her dumping him. Eventually the time comes for her to jump, but it is revealed that Karin had moved to the first floor and is perfectly okay. Bruce Jones is quite good at his twist endings and we have a good one here. His art continues to be really strong, making me feel a bit sad that he eventually turns to being just a writer.

After that is "And If A Fiend Should Come A Callin'" by Al Hewetson (story) and L.M. Roca (art). Roca was actually the first S.I. artist to appear in a Warren magazine and makes a rare appearance here for Skywald. The story features a student getting handed a piece of candy called a Green Gargoyle by an older man. Upon consuming it the boy finds himself pursued by monsters and makes his way to a cave where an actual gargoyle is waiting for him. He tells the gargoyle about the man and how he is providing samples to various other kids for free, and then they can get more by paying for it. The boy confronts the man saying he has some friends that also want the candy, but really brings him to a the gargoyle, who appears as a fluorescent fiend in the woods, and kills him. The candy in this story is quite obvious drugs. The gargoyle featured appears to have no relation to the gargoyles in the several prior Skywald stories.
Bruce Jones with "Alone"

The issue concludes with the cover story "The Day the Earth Will Die!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). We see a film being made where the star is in a fantasy world with skeleton-like robots attacking him while riding flying horses. When the skeletons start running amok though they realize that they are actually real! Chaos ensues and even the military has to get involved! As the story hits its conclusion, we find that even the "reality" of this story was actually a film being made, by a race of ant-like aliens! Quite the bizarre finish to this story, and the issue.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Psycho #9

Domingo Gomez provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, featuring the character Slither-Slime Man. This issue is cover dated November 1972. Skywald continues to hit its stride, giving us a strong issue.

On the 2 page title of contents page we also get an introduction from the Slither-Slime Man drawn by Pablo Marcos.

Its "The Slither-Slime Man" yet again in the first story of the issue, written by Al Hewetson and drawn by Pablo Marcos. We meet him on the first page as he digs up a corpse, strangles it then grabs a hold of the skull. The sheriff gets frustrated with the grave being dug up, something which has happened before and visits the head of the local asylum, Fillius, thinking it is one of his patients. They take a hold of one of them, who likes to pull the heads off of rats, but when another grave is defiled they realize its not him. The sheriff thinks it may be Fillius, and when they come across him shoots him dead. Later than night he comes across an old crippled man in the rain, at his wife's grave and beats him to death with his crutch. He makes the mistake of standing on the grave of the real Slither-Slime Man, who rises up out of it and strangles him, pulling his head off. A fairly decent story with some good art by Marcos, but the character of Fillius looks just like the Slither-Slime Man which led to some confusion on my part.

We meet the "Slither Slime Man"
Second story is "The Ghastly Reunion" by Doug Moench (story) and Ramon Torrents (art). Gene is concerned that his young wife Bonnie is in love with Steve, a hired hand on their farm. He plots to "accidentally" kill Steve while hunting, shooting him with an arrow. He then buries his body. Bonnie, who really was in love with Steve, finds and digs up his grave, causing Gene to bury her alive with him.  Gene soon finds both of them out of their grave and attacking him however. It is revealed that Steve was a vampire, and while the arrow should have killed him, by burying Bonnie alive with him she was able to pull it out and turn her into a vampire as well. Torrents as always provides a really strong art performance, and we get a fairly strong story as well.

Third is "...Suffer the Little Children" by Al Hewetson (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). This story is identified as being a sequel to the 1891 novel Turn of the Screw by Henry James. A new governess arrives at a mansion to take care of two young children, Flora and Miles. She soon finds out from the maid that they are emotionally disturbed children and their brother had died just a few months ago. The governess soon starts seeing ghosts. She is told more by the maid, who reveals that Flora and Miles actually murdered their older brother Thomas because he was their father's favorite. She also claims the former governess, Jessel, and the butler, Peter were evil people. Peter eventually beat Jessel to death and then hung himself. Upon bringing up Thomas to the children, Miles and Flora get upset at the governess, and then the ghost of Peter appears. The governess realizes the children are possessed and brings them to their father. After she leaves, we realize the truth, that Thomas' spirit has possessed their father, and that Miles and Flora are in fact possessed by the spirits of Peter and Jessel. A bit over complicated, but I enjoyed this story quite a lot as well.

Ending of "Suffer the Little Children"
Fourth is "A Plot of Dirt" by Doug Moench (story) and Felipa Dela Rosa (art). Philip Davoren rises from his grave as a rotting corpse and is compelled to go to the home of a man named Craig. Craig is standing in a pentagram and has summoned Philip back from the dead in order to make him suffer. He orders him to go to the home of a woman named Mary. We soon realize that Mary was Philip's lover when he was alive, and her rejection of Craig in favor of Philip caused Craig to kill him. Philip has been ordered to kill Mary, but refuses to do so. He instead returns to Craig's home and by causing a chandelier to fall, crushes and kills Craig. The authorities then arrive and attack Philip with a flame thrower, burning up his body entirely, which holds a rose he held towards the story's beginning. I enjoyed this story quite a lot and consider it my favorite of the issue. Dela Rosa's often ugly looking art suits the story quite well and I enjoyed seeing a story told from the perspective of a revived corpse.

The sympathetic hero of "A Plot of Dirt"... a corpse!
Fifth is "A Question of Identity!!!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). The first five pages or so of this story take place in a dream state as a woman is getting harassed by a pair of spectral like beings, and sees visions of a dark castle and her parents. She awakens, the two spectral beings in fact doctors who were restoring her lost memories. A vampire, she immediately goes on a rampage, biting the neck of one of them and when she is stabbed in the neck by a knife she escapes by jumping out the window. Eventually the sun arrives though, causing her entire body to burn up. While the plot of this story isn't the easiest to follow, Zesar provides a considerably strong art job, as I would expect for him.

Sixth is "Voodoo Initiation", a one page feature from Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art), which I presume was originally intended to be a frontispiece. It covers how to summon a demon and join a voodoo ritual.

Seventh is "The Graveyard Jungle" by Al Hewetson (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). Jay and Skip are a couple of schemers. They have come up with a plot to sell a house to a man, then fake ghosts and evil spirits in it, which will cause the man to get scared and sell it back to them for pennies on the dollar. That night they head to the house, to find it haunted for real! They are pursued by a traditionally hooded ghost, a number of spooky hands, rats and other things, eventually finding the man they sold the house to, with horns! He is revealed to be the devil, having purchased himself a home on Earth.

Some strong art from Zesar in "A Question of Identity!!!"

We wrap up with "All the Ways and Means to Die" by Jeff Jones (art, adapted from All the Myriad Ways by Larry Niven). This story focuses on the concept of alternative timelines, that each and every possible choice that is made opens up new possibilities and hence new timelines. With so many possible ways things can go there are billions of possible time streams. This story focuses in particular on a man named Gene Trimble as he thinks about the various possibilities. As the story ends we see him holding a gun, and the different possible time streams including one in which he shoots himself in the head. This story is a bit convoluted and more focused on the concept than necessarily a plot, but it is an enjoyable one. Jones provides some particularly strong artwork.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Nightmare #9

Jose Miralles provides the cover for this issue of Nightmare, cover dated October 1972. Interestingly enough, around 10 years later, Warren would use this same cover painting for the final issue of Creepy! Quite the oddity as James Warren apparently despised Skywald. Al Hewetson's takeover as editor becomes quite apparent with this issue and he writes literally every story/feature within.

The table of contents pages feature the introduction of a child host character that I've heard is named Mr. Pook (although he isn't named here) and is drawn by Pablo Marcos.

First story is "Markheim" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art), in his Skywald debut. This is an adaption of the story by Robert Louis Stevenson. A man murders a shop keeper by stabbing him in the back with a knife. He then wanders around the man's home thinking about what to steal. The murderer soon starts having strange visions, first the old man crawling up the stairs with the knife in his back, then some police arriving and beating him. He has a vision of another man telling him to murder the maid when she arrives. Instead our protagonist decides to turn himself in. This story seems similar in nature to Ray Bradbury's "The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl", a story which was adapted by EC with Crime SuspenStories #17. Duran's art is pretty decent and well themed for the story.

Jesus Duran makes his debut in "Markheim"
Next is "The Nightmare World of James Edgar: Call Them Ghouls, Call Them Trolls, Call Them Things" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). This story is the first of a multi-story feature where a fan would send in a dream they had and it would be adapted into a story! The first is from a man named James Edgar, who tells of how he was falling asleep in a cabin, reading some Skywald magazines when there are loud noises outside. He heads outside, seeing beautiful amazon women, accompanied by some trolls! The trolls start slamming him into a tree and welcome James to join them. they then go inside the cabin where James starts shrinking! James then awakes, finding himself snowed in! This story is rather surrealistic, as you would expect from a story based on a dream. I'm looking forward to this feature and think it has a lot of potential.

Third is the one page feature, "The Guillotine" by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). I wonder if this was originally intended to be a frontispiece. It tells of the inventor of the Guillotine, Joseph Guillotin, its usage in France, and how he eventually died by his own invention!

Next is "Zoo for the Beasts of The Universe", a two page feature from Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art), also in his Skywald debut. Another very brief feature, it shows us a man and woman in a cage, part of a zoo on an alien planet. They are accompanied by a variety of strange looking beings, while aliens watch them from outside. Cintron provides a really strong art job here for his first story.

Things get weird in the Nightmare World story
Next is "The Skull Forest of Old Earth" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art), the third artist making his debut with this issue. This story, which I believe to be the first of a series is influenced by HP Lovecraft's works, although it appears to be an original story. On ancient Earth, the inhabitants of Uranus (who look just like humans) have inhabited Earth. These beautiful aliens live in apparent paradise and luxury, but one of them discovers his lover missing. Upon searching for her they find just a skeleton. Nearby they find an old civilization, occupied by Shoggoths, beast like beings that has captured several of them, either tying them up or eating them. The Shoggoths end up killing all of them, sans a child who plays with some monkeys that the narrator tells us eventually lead to the origin of man on Earth. Very happy to see Zesar's Skywald premiere. He was an artist who did around 5 or so stories in Vampirella after Skywald had folded (including 2 stories featuring Vampirella herself) and I always hoped he would have done more. Looking forward to seeing lots more stories from him here.

After that is "The 300th Birth Day Party" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ramon Torrents (art). Cecille is married to the ugly and scarred, yet rich Walter, and is carrying on an affair with her doctor. When Cecille discovers she has cancer, the only option is to freeze her body, until a time in the future when a cure is found. Cecille willingly goes through with it, hoping that when she awakens she'll have her husband's money, but he'll be long dead. She wakes up 3 centuries later, but finds to her horror that due to advantages in medicine, Walter is still alive! Not much of a horror element to this story, but I always enjoy seeing art from Ramon Torrents.

Next is "The Gargoyle Trilogy" by Al Hewetson (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). This story doesn't appear to be connected to the Gargoyle story from Psycho #8, even though it is drawn by the same artist (and the Gargoyles look quite alike). It is about three different gargoyles which are created, based on the famous 3 monkeys of which one can't see, one can't hear, and one can't speak. The first gargoyle is the one who can't speak and causes much destruction as it comes to life. We then go into the future, the year 2092 in an advanced society. A young girl heads into a forest where she is killed by the gargoyle who cannot hear. The story moves forward another approximate 100 years when the renaissance of the arts is announced. A gargoyle, the one who cannot see terrorizes and kills some actresses. Dela Rosa's odd art style fits things pretty well; and while none of these stories are too fulfilling, it is good to see the unique story telling feature.
Zesar, one of my favorite Skywald artists debuts

After that is "The Night at the Wax Museum" by Al Hewetson (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). A woman makes her way into a Wax Museum which is full of various wax replicas of famous monsters, such as the Frankenstein monster, as well as historical figures such as Cleopatra and Hitler. She eventually comes across the wax figure of Dr. Jekyll, who turns into Mr. Hyde. She flees, finding many of the wax figures have come alive! As the story comes to a conclusion she is now a wax figure herself, the victim of a beating from Mr. Hyde.

Pablo Marcos then provides a one page feature of Dracula.

Our final full length story of the issue is "The Beast Within" by Al Hewetson (story) and Amador Garcia (art). A group of hunters pursue and kill a wild alligator in the jungle, despite it being illegal. The hunters find a cabin nearby in the woods. One of the hunters, a woman, comes across a werewolf and is slain by it. Things quickly escalate as the hunters start getting scared and paranoid. One of them shoots another, another gets sucked into quicksand, another gets shot, and we quickly find ourselves down to 3 of them left. they start speculating about who of them can be the werewolf, and eventually all die to the true werewolf, revealed to be the dog! Basically the exact same ending we got to a story back in the first issue of Nightmare, I liked it better the first time. This story is a bit of a confusing mess with too many characters and so much going on.

The next issue advertisement towards the end of this issue provides a pretty memorable skull drawing by Pablo Marcos.

One final feature for this lengthy issue is the one page text story "The Thing in the Alley" as written by Al Hewetson and featuring art by none other than Berni Wrightson himself, making his sole appearance in a Skywald magazine.

Monday, October 14, 2019

NIghtmare #10

Edit: In hindsight looks like I screwed up on the order of what comes next and mistakenly skipped Nightmare #9 and Psycho #9! Enjoy this for now and I'll be back in a couple of days with the correct issue. One of the down sides of having a back log of a couple of issues.

Ken Kelly provides the cover for this issue of Nightmare, featuring the interior story "Princess of Earth". This issue is cover dated December 1972.

The two-page table of contents contains art from Pablo Marcos, featuring characters such as Mr. Pook, the Gargoyles, Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, and Phantom of the Opera in line for movie tickets!

The first story is "Princess of Earth" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). Eggs come out of a computer terminal in a space ship. One of them hatches, revealing a small, humanoid but furry creature. The narrative turns to a woman named Lisa, a celebrated singer. The creature, now in its adult form departs the swamp where it lives and heads to the theater where Lisa is performing. There, the creature bursts through the place and grabs Lisa, dragging her with him, saying she is a princess who has left them alone far too long. The creature drags her back to the space ship where it is revealed she was a part of the spaceship and had been tasked with taking care of the eggs, much of which had smashed during her absence. She is now forced to remain on the ship, tending to them.

Some great art from Xirinius on "The Funeral Barge"
Next is "The Funeral Barge" by Al Hewetson (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). A detective named Walter Crowd investigates a mysterious barge that travels across the waters, carrying corpses on it. On a rainy night he pretends to be a corpse and is tossed aboard along with other bodies. The barge travels across the water, making its way to a giant castle. Once inside, a crane starts grabbing a hold of the bodies and bringing them in where a series of vampires start feasting on them. Walter uses a lit torch to fight back and make his escape, but he eventually is overwhelmed and is forced to become a pilot for the barge. Xirinius' art is quite strong here. His full page feature where we first see the castle is particularly impressive.

The third story is "Satan's Cellar" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferrer Maitz (art). This is Maitz's sole story for Skywald. A mother gets some meat from the butcher Louis Hokay and the family is disgusted by it. She returns to complain to Hokay who simply gives her back her money and tells her to go some place else. The mother gets the police to raid the place, hoping to find him serving dogs, rats or other rotten meat but they find nothing. She continues to pursue it though, eventually sneaking in and finding a variety of human body parts in a hidden chamber under the floor. Hokay arrives and tries to kill her but she kills him with a cleaver. All of a sudden a pair of many armed beings climb out of the hole in the floor and kill her. The narrator claims it was the meat of these creatures they were eating, and also that these creatures will now be pursuing food themselves. Some so-so art here, but the ending came out of left field, which I enjoyed.

Fourth is "The Proverbial Killer" by Doug Moench (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). Michael Reidy is attacked constantly by his wife Janet, who is convinced he is having an affair because each month he disappears for a short period of time. Michael denies such claims. She seeks to divorce him and get paid alimony. It is soon revealed that she is the one having an affair, with a man named Augie, who also plans on conning her too. When he blabs this to one of his friends, the friend feels guilty and goes to Michael to reveal it. Michael doesn't believe it though. He heads home where he catches Augie and Janet together. He reveals the truth to them, that when he was disappearing he wasn't having an affair, but its because when the full moon comes he turns into a werewolf! Michael is a rather milquetoast character (and modeled after director Woody Allen) but it was good to see him get Janet and Augie in the end.
Things get crazy in "Satan's Cellar"

Next is "A Macabre Fact of Life: Demonic Possession" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). A man in public starts flipping out, claiming to be possessed by a demon. We see that this is the case, as another man had summoned Satan and requested the man to be possessed by a demon. Returning to the scene in public, the man grabs an axe and goes on a rampage, eventually being captured and put in an asylum where a exorcism is done on him and the demon leaves him. Not much of a plot to this brief 4 page story.

Next is the one page "Game of Skill" by Joan Cintron (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). I got these credits from Richard Arndt's "Horror Comics in Black and White" as the story itself is just credited as "Cintron and Kinsman". In prehistoric times this page questions what would have happened if the first humans to fight against other beasts lost and baboons instead became the dominant species on Earth. Not much of a story here, but strong art from Cintron. Reminds me a little of Luis Bermejo.

Another entry in the "Nightmare World" series is next with "They Crawled out of the Crater" with Al Hewetson adapting the dream of reader Trisha Hamlin. Lara provides the art. Trisha dreams herself being shown on TV as she departs to space in order to head to the moon. However a hole is ripped into her ship, causing her to be sucked out. She is pulled down to the moon's surface where she must first escape some quicksand then is grabbed by some furry humanoid beings. They seek help as some spider creatures attack them. She then realizes that the furry creatures are in fact aligned with the spiders. She is then suddenly shook awake by a policeman and the story ends. Its too bad, this story ends a little too soon, I was interested at seeing what would happen next! Lara is another artist with his sole Skywald appearance being this story, which is too bad as he did a pretty good job.

Next is "Black Communion" by Ed Fedory (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). Within a monastery, Satan summons a sword wielding corpse to rise and start attacking the monks. Called Don Carlos, the corpse slays many of them with ease. He is eventually done in when a monk trips on the stairs, causing some holy water to spill through the floorboards and fall upon him.

Some good art from Lara in "They Crawled out of the Crater"
The Human Gargoyles series returns with "1 and 1 Equals 3" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art), taking over for Felipa Dela Rosa. The two Gargoyles, Edward and Mina Sartyros give birth to a child, whom they call Andrew. They come across a traveling circus and travel with them. While taking a rest however, Andrew is displayed to the public and kidnapped. Andrew is held by a Satanic cult and brought before Satan himself. Satan claims to have breathed life into each of the gargoyles. Edward attacks him, there is a big explosion and the gargoyles get up and depart with Andrew, thinking about whether they should depart Europe and head to America. A so-so story with fairly strong art; it seems mind boggling to me that the Gargoyles would leave their child with strangers, a rather dumb way to move the plot along.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Psycho 1972 Annual

Today I will be covering the Psycho 1972 Annual. Unlike Warren's Annuals, which were all reprints, this is actually full of new stories! It is cover dated August 1972 and features a cover by Pujolar.

The frontispiece for this issue is "The Horned Goat of Satan" drawn by Pablo Marcos.

First story is "Lucifer Awaits You!" by David Anthony Kraft (story) and Xavier Villanova (art). This story features a pair of hitchhikers. They are initially picked up by a woman and her grown daughter, but eventually leave them off. They are then picked up by a photographer, who foolishly tells him he travels and his employers don't know where he is at any given time. They kill him and steal his car, but eventually drive off the road. They wake up in a dark place and are picked up by another car, driven by a monster as they are now in hell. I could see the ending of this story coming from a mile away based on the title and the splash page.

Next up is "Burn, Baby Burn" by Len Brown (story) and Carlos Garzon (art). This story takes place in an apartment complex owned by a man named Mr. Griffon. Bad things keep happening to the tenants due to Griffin's lack of care of the building. A little girl gets bit by a rat in the basement. A woman's baby dies when she goes out for groceries due to a gas leak. When Griffin arrives to collect rent on the first of the month, his tenants take him captive and then get to work on making repairs in the building. They finally let him out and lead him upstairs where they show the new incinerator they have installed, throwing him in it to his death. I recall a very similar story in Creepy in issue 63, called Fire Trap if I remember correctly that had a cruel tenant being taken captive and burned alive by his tenants. I wonder if that story ripped this one off.

Third is the latest Heap story, "What Hath Hell Wrought?" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). The heap has washed up on the shores of Cape Cod and is suddenly grabbed by a tentacle coming out of the ocean. The Heap fights it off and makes his way to shore, finding the monster, a sort of jellyfish like creature pursuing him. He heads towards a nearby village, fearful for what the monster will do to it. While heading there a father and son spot him and flee. More monsters approach and the Heap decides to fight them off and help the village. He burns the nearby forest then grabs a hold of the multiplying monsters, eventually smashing them into the ocean until they break up. Meanwhile in the village, the father and his boy warn the village of the horrible monster, the Heap.

Next is "The Myth of Dracula" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ramon De la Fuente (art). Fuente was the brother of the more well known Spanish artist Victor de la Fuente. This is his sole Skywald appearance. This isn't a traditional fictional story, but rather is a historical account of the historical figure who inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula, Vlad IV of the country of Wallachia (now Romania). The story tells of his upbringing, the fact that he was put in as a puppet ruler of his country once his father was killed, and then gets into some stories of the horrible things he would do such as by having a party at his castle and bringing his guests down to the basement where he tortured some captured gypsies. He then turns on one of his own guests, biting at her neck. Eventually Vlad, who would go by the name Dracula passes away due to disease. This non-traditional story was an interesting one to read. I wouldn't mind more features like this.
The nonsensical ending to "Blind Fate"

Fifth is "...Blind Fate" by Ed Fedory (story) and Francisco Cueto (art). This rather confusing story has a man who I think may be a humanoid alien (or talks as if he is one with how much he curses humanity for what they've done to the planet). He travels through time, being in a swampy area where an eel like creature attacks him. He stumbles along, falling down before a number of walking people, who are revealed to be aliens. The last panel shows one of them coming across him, with braille appearing in the panel. This confusing mess of an ending seems fitting for what is a story that made little to no sense whatsoever

Sixth is "The Cursing of Captain Skull" by Gardner Fox (story) and Steve Hickman (art). This is a rather lackluster pirate tale, for which I'm not sure why it appears in a horror magazine. The Captain Skull of the title gets angry at his men for wanting to plunder a nearby town and take its women. He fights said men and gets thrown overboard. After being in the ocean with sharks for a while he comes across another ship where a beautiful woman whom he calls Joanna is tied to the mast. The two of them head to nearby land and by rubbing phosphorous over themselves trick Skull's old crew into thinking they are ghosts. Skull and the men who fought against him battle, with him eventually defeating them. Skull decides to gather up that which remains of his crew and Joanna stays with him. This story doesn't even give us a twist ending! I am hoping this is not the start of a series.

Next is "The Furnace of Hell" by Robert Kanigher (story) and Amador Garcia (art). Edwin and Rita are firebrands, spirits who appear like flame ridden humans. Any human they grab a hold of will burst aflame until their death. And that is exactly what happens at the start of the story as a young couple bathing on Buzzard's cape are found and killed by them. Later, a young woman studying witchcraft investigates the area, including their bodies. She meets Edwin who brings her to his home to meet Rita as well and claims he has books she may find useful. She discovers a book there that shows the burning of the stake of the two many years before. The house suddenly bursts aflame and Rita has her burned alive, jealous of Edwin pursuing her. Amador's art in this story reminds me a lot of that of Jaime Brocal, an S.I. artist who did a decent amount for Warren around this time, although I don't believe ever worked for Skywald.

Some great Torrents art to wrap up the issue
The final story of the issue is "Birth Announcement" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ramon Torrents (art). In this brief four page story, a man is anxious as his wife is about to give birth. He thinks of how he met his wife when he saw her swimming in the coast of Cape Cod. His wife is soon revealed to be a mermaid, and she has given birth to a large number of eggs which they bring home with them, waiting for them to hatch. A rather predictable ending to this story, but Torrents' art is excellent as usual. The story is said to take place in the town of Winchester by Cape Cod, but as someone who lives in Massachusetts, I can say the town of Winchester is actually nowhere near Cape Cod.

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

Monday, October 7, 2019

Psycho #8

Enrich Torres, the famed Warren cover artist provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, cover dated September 1972. With this issue Al Hewetson becomes the editor of Skywald's horror magazines for the rest of their run. This is the first Psycho issue in quite a while to feature no Heap story, although we do start a new series here.

The frontispiece for this issue is "The Theater of Horror" by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). Starting with this issue, the frontispieces move from a one page pin-up into more of a one page mini-story, similar to what Warren would do. This one features the haunted theater on Dury Lane London where a ghost of a man in gray keeps appearing, Eventually his body is found and he never appears again.

The first story of this issue is "A Gargoyle - A Man" by Al Hewetswon (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). The story begins showing the origin of two gargoyles, who were put on the Cathedral of Menze in Germany. They stay there for many centuries, eventually being removed in 1972 and moved to a graveyard where there are some Satanists. After some chanting, the gargoyles come to life, scaring away the Satanists. They flee, being pursued, and stay in the home of a blind man in the city, calling themselves Edward and Mina. Eventually the Satanists find them and the blind man is killed. The Satanists summon a tentacled monster who Edward fights and defeats. Mina stops Edward from killing the Satanists as the story ends. This story kicks off a lengthy series, although Dela Rosa will soon be replaced as artist by Maelo Cintron.

First appearance of the Gargoyles characters
Next story is "Devil's Woman" by Marv Wolfman (story) and Ross Andru/Mike Esposito (art). A party is held in a Vermont mansion on New Years Eve, hosted by a woman named Marta who is blind. Suddenly there is a scream and a dying man is found, claiming a creature has broke loose. Some of the guests talk of how Marta's parents were part of a witch cult and summoned a creature that killed them, exactly 20 years ago today. Marta was eventually able to marry a European count. He tells of how in his country Satanists would worship him on the new year and virgins would be sacrificed to him. Twenty years ago Satan was summoned here by Marta's parents and there was an accident altering his form and causing him to be beneath this house. He demands sacrifices and the party guests are sacrificed to him, who is now looking like a tentacled monster. The count wants Marta to go to Satan and produce a child with him as her mother did but she instead flees and the mansion burns down. She is eventually found by the count and her aunt who bring her before Satan. I was a bit surprised to see Andru and Esposito back after being dropped as the artists from The Heap. I wonder if this is an inventory story held on for a little while before publication since it would have made more sense to keep them on as the artists for that series.

"Have You Ever Seen the Black Rain?"
Third story is "Have You Ever Seen the Black Rain?" by Al Hewetson (story) and Juez Xirinius (art), in his Skywald debut. The beautiful queen Anne has her subjects invade her neighboring land, ruled by a man named Walter as they need fertile land. Her forces lose and she is exiled by Walter, after refusing his hand in marriage. Her men transport and rebuild her castle on an island and there she starts to dabble in black magic. Two years pass and Walter's kingdom has been defeated by another country. His men are able to rescue him and get him on a ship which travels through the rain, eventually making it to Anne's castle where she is waiting for him, her face covered by a veil. She says she will marry him now and they do so, but when she pulls off her veil she reveals a horrifically ugly face, claiming she sacrificed her beauty to Lucifer to get her revenge. Walter pulls off his shirt, revealing that his body is horrifically deformed and rotted as well. The ending of this story reminds me somewhat of the "Plague of Jewels" story by Bruce Jones in issue 4. Xirinius has a pretty good debut here. His art reminds me somewhat of Martin Salvador, although a bit scarier.

Fourth is "The Filthy Little House of Voodoo" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ramon Torrents (art). Two women travel through the Australian badlands and come across a town filled with lots of old people who are silent and have blank expressions on their face. They eventually head to a house on the top of a hill, finding a painting of an evil looking bald man on the wall. Soon people start coming in and going downstairs and our protagonists follow. Suddenly the man in the painting comes out of it and attacks them, asking them to join them. The man says he is part of a race of parasites and the people there attack them. This story has some very impressive and scary art from Ramon Torrents but the story itself is a bit confusing.

Next up is "Bad Choke" by Don Glut (story) and Juez Xirinius (art). Two men head to a graveyard and dig up the grave of a strangling killer named Mad Kirk, seeking to steal the diamond ring from his finger and gold from his teeth. When police arrive though they are forced to flee. One of the men has put the diamond ring on his finger but finds that it can't come off. Suddenly the ghost of Kirk arrives and causing the man to strangle his colleague. Kirk then starts strangling him, and the man trying to pull his hands off his neck causes him to in reality strangle himself. Some bystanders soon arrive and comes across the odd sight of the two dead men.

Some good art by Torrents with "The Filthy Little House of Voodoo"

Last story is "City of Crypts" by Al Hewetson (story) and Xavier Villanova (art), also making his Skywald debut. A group of archaeologists, Jacob, his wife Berenice and assistant Basil investigate the tomb of Pharaoh Ramanken in Egypt. A tablet indicates that there is a curse; any man who enters will die. The workers start going mad and trap the 3 of them inside. Basil is in love with Berenice and pushes Jacob down a chasm to his death, although she is not really that into him. Suddenly a group of sub-human monsters (looking kind of like the Heap) attack them and drag them down to a lower part of the tomb. Basil is killed, but thinking Berenice is a princess due to a birthmark, they bring her before the skeleton of the Pharaoh. Berenice flees, eventually making her way out, but her face and body have become deformed, much like that of the sub-humans. How exactly Berenice became like them isn't really explained, giving us a rather odd ending, but otherwise this is a fairly good tale. Berenice I assume is named after the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name.

Pablo Marcos provides a one-page pin-up of a ghoul to conclude the issue.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Nightmare #8

Vicente Segrelles provides the cover for this issue of Nightmare, cover dated August 1972.

We start with the frontis "Andras, The Grand Marquis of Hell" as drawn by Pablo Marcos. Andras is a owl-headed humanoid wielding a large knife and riding a fierce looking wolf!

First story is "Snowbound!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Felipe Dela Rosa (art). Dela Rosa, making his Skywald debut here, would go on to be one of their most prolific artists, I believe being outpaced only by Pablo Marcos and Ricardo Villamonte. His style takes a lot of getting used to. Lots of detail, but often quite ugly looking characters. I didn't care for his art at all at first, but he has started to grow on me. In any case the premise of this story is that a ship is trapped in the Antarctic, being completely frozen solid in the water in the dead of winter. The dwindling crew has to resort to killing dogs to eat. The lack of food eventually causes the crew to start turning on each other, and roughly the last 3/4 of the story features the crew killing each other off one after another, with one of them believing it is due to them suffering from demonic madness. A rather so-so ending aside, this is a pretty decent way to kick off the issue.

Second is "Hey Creep: Play the Macabre Waltz" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). This odd story features some people at a concert hall comes across a short, silent old man carrying a violin. Upon asking him to play the violin he does so, but this results in people being unable to control their bodies, they start dancing non-stop and even one woman collapses from the pain. Eventually everyone collapses and the old man departs. As the story ends it is revealed that he was a martian who crashed on Earth and grew frustrated at his lack of employment.
The horrific monster of "The Tunnels of Horror"

Third is "Rot, Robin, Rot!" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Jay Wood) and Dan Sevilla (art). This is a brief, 3 page story that tells of how the famous Robin Hood and his merry men are now quite old, 700 years old in fact, and are now in modern times where they come across some hippies riding in a bus. They try to steal from the hippies but upon being told that Robin Head has been dead for 700 years, Robin and all his men immediately disintegrates to dust. While brief, this was a fairly fun story to read.

Fourth is the cover story "The Tunnels of Horror" by Al Hewetson (story) and Pablo Marcos (art). Walking the streets of New York, a woman, Alexandra, comes across a horrifying monster, which has a snake-like form, but a more humanoid-like face. The monster chases her and she flees to the police, who convinces an officer, David, to help her out. Upon finding some slime, Davis decides to go down to the sewers with a shotgun to find the creature, but it immediately grabs him! They are able to kill the creature by shooting it in the face, but as its blood fills the sewer, they get covered head to toe and pass out. They later wake up in a long, foul tunnel, that seems to be moving. They make their way through it, only to find that they had been ingested by the creature's far larger mother! This is quite the strong story, and Marcos provides some great artwork with a truly horrifying looking monster.

Fifth is "Satan's Graveyard" by Al Hewetson (story) and Syd Shores/Dan Adkins (art). Shores is credited as Jim Elder, a pseudonym already used for Pablo Marcos. Friedrich is a horrifyinly ugly looking man who is mocked and disrespected due to his appearance and the fact that he worships Satan. Satan arrives, and provides him everlasting life. Meanwhile the townsfolk have had enough with Friedrich and form a mob, who grabs him and sets his home aflame, then bury him. As the story ends Friedrich finds that he does indeed have everlasting life, but as a spirit, accompanied by many other people. A decent art collaboration here, I particularly like the usage of real life photos in several shots, something that was quite rare. I seem to recall Ernie Colon and Leo Duranona occasionally doing it at Warren. The story on the other hand is quite "eh" and this is the first of two stories in this issue where Satan is summoned to grant eternal life. Both written by Hewetson by the way.

A Berni Wrightson cameo in "Hung Up"
Sixth is "Hung Up" by Bruce Jones (story and art). A man named Jeff has killed his friend Bernie and wife Mary, having beaten them to death with a large wrench. He gets to work pouring kerosene around his New York apartment, then sets the place ablaze. He then throws their bodies out the window, trying to make it appear as if they jumped to their deaths due to the fire. The story then flashes back to how this arose. Jeff longed for Louise, Bernie's wife for years and grew sick of his wife Mary. They started pursuing each other romantically and started sending fake letters from their spouses to each other, trying to get it so they would have an affair themselves. This led to Jeff catching them together at his apartment, as he hoped would happen, and killing them. When Jeff leaves his apartment and returns later, he immediately finds himself arrested however. With all his planning, he got quite unlucky as the beads Mary was wearing around her neck caught around a flag pole just under their apartment. Jones' art is quite strong as usual, as is his story, which shows a level of depth and a twist ending that we would often get from him a few years later when he became a prolific writer for Warren. What I find most interesting about the story though is that most of the characters appear based on real life people. Jeff looks like the artist Jeff Jones (who appeared in Skywald not that long ago), Bernie is the famed horror artist Berni Wrightson, and I would assume that Louise is based on Jeff Jones' at the time wife, who would eventually become an editor at Warren. Although her character doesn't resemble the real life individual as much as Jeff and Bernie do.

Seventh is "The Sting of Death" by Chic Stone (story & art). A man named Otto brings a doctor to his lair, located by a cemetery. Otto is convinced that a soul exists, as studies have found some sort of aura departing the human body at the moment of death. Otto decides to try this out, and locks the doctor in a glass force field after stabbing him, so he can see his soul. Otto's cape mistakenly opens up the force field though, causing the soul to escape. Otto is soon attacked by a wasp and dies after his body becomes covered in welts. It is revealed that the doctor had been reincarnated into the wasp.

The Devil appears in "The Weird and the Undead"
The final story of the issue is "The Weird and the Undead" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). A man named Smith works for an advertising agency but isn't too happy at being just a salaried employee. He desires for the devil to appear, only for him to do so! The devil agrees to give Smith eternal life. Smith happily heads outside, only for people to start collapsing around him. Some sort of noxious gas has started spreading around. Soon the city starts getting flooded as well. Smith finds himself the only person left alive and the water continues further up, sinking all of Manhattan underneath it. We then discover that Smith and all of our society is part of a microscopic society on a slide being investigated in a laboratory. Suddenly the scientists in the laboratory notice it is flooding and they die from a noxious gas, so the cycle continues... This was an odd one. It seemed somewhat like two disjointed ideas, the Devil giving Smith Eternal life, and human civilization being microscopic, crammed into one. The end twist of the scientists investigating us on a slide also being microscopic themselves and having the same thing happen to them was totally unnecessary though.

Our issue concludes with a one page pin-up of the Phantom of the Opera by Pablo Marcos.