Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Skywald's Most Prolific Contributors

In this post I'll be identifying who were the most prolific contributors for Skywald. I had done a similar feature a number of years back for Warren.

Most Prolific Story Artists

1. Ricardo Villamonte - 29
2. Pablo Marcos - 27
3. Jose Cardona - 20
4. Felipe Dela Rosa - 17
5. Zesar Lopez - 16
6. Jesus Duran - 14
6. Jesus Suso Rego - 14
6. Xavier Villanova - 14
9. Mike Esposito - 13
10. Maelo Cintron - 12
11. Antonio Borrell - 11
11. Ferran Sostres - 11
13. Cesar Lopez - 10
14. Fernando Rubio - 10
15. Tom Sutton - 9
16. Ross Andru - 8
16. Serg Moren - 8
16. Maro Nava - 8
16. Juez Xirinius - 8
20. Luis Collado - 7
20. Jack Katz - 7

Ricardo Villamonte being Skywald's most prolific story artist wasn't much of a surprise to me. He really dominates the magazines once he arrives, often having 2 stories for many issues that he appears in. Despite how prolific he was, it wasn't for that long a time, as it was only a run of 7 issues or so for each respective title that he was around. Marcos being #2 is also pretty expected, like Villamonte he dominates Skywald during the time he worked for them, which incidentally enough was coming to an end right around when Villamonte appeared. Like both of them, Cardona also dominates the magazines when he arrived, often having 2 stories per issue, coming close to the end of Skywald's run.

Selecciones Illustrada artists dominate the listing, with 15 of the 21 slots here (I went with 21 rather than 20 because both Collado and Katz have the same number of stories). Mike Esposito was Skywald's most prolific American artist, although his work is primarily from early in Skywald's run, with one story from Psycho #14 likely an inventory story, appearing far after the others.

Most Prolific Frontispiece Artists

1. Pablo Marcos - 20
2. Maelo Cintron - 12
2. Domingo Gomez - 12
4. Gene Day - 7
4. Bill Everett - 7
6. Felipe Dela Rosa - 5
6. Ferran Sostres - 5
6. Ricardo Villamonte - 5
9. Juez Xirinius - 4
9. Zesar Lopez - 4

Most of the frontispiece artists are ones who appeared on the above story list. Domingo Gomez's work was primarily frontispieces, with him doing only 2 full length stories (both of them in the same issue). Gene Day arrived very close to the end of Skywald's run but despite that put out a lot of frontispieces getting him near the top of this list.

Most Prolific Cover Artists

1. Vicente Segrelles - 10
2. Sebastian Boada - 7
3. Salvador Faba - 6
4. Ken Kelly - 5
4. Boris Vallejo -5
6. Fernando Fernandez - 4
6. Xavier Villanova - 4
8. Jose Antonio Domingo - 3
8. Jose Miralles - 3

Skywald's cover artist again are dominated by foreign artists, most of them from Selecciones Illustrada. Ken Kelly, the top American artist was also a prolific cover artist for Warren, and in fact their most prolific American cover artist too.

Most Prolific Writers

1. Al Hewetson - 232
2. Ed Fedory - 27
3. Augustine Funnell - 16
4. Doug Moench - 11
5. Chuch McNaughton - 10
5. Gardner Fox - 10
7. Marv Wolfman - 9
8. Ross Andru - 6
8. Tom Sutton - 6
9. Bruce Jones - 5
9. Chic Stone - 5

Al Hewetson, as expected, massively dominates Skywald's writing, having nearly 10 times as many stories as the second place finisher, Ed Fedory. Only Fedory and Funnell were regular contributors after Skywald's early years, with the other writers making up this list being ones that primarily appeared before Hewetson became editor.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Psycho #24

Today I'm covering Psycho issue 24, cover dated March 1975. The cover is provided by Sebastia Boada. This is both the final issue of Psycho and the final issue of Skywald overall! The end has finally come. Gene Day provides the one page frontispiece.

We start with "A Fragment in the Life of Dracula: Within the Walls of Castle Dracula!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Martin Sauri (art). This story continues the storyline started up in Scream #10. Vlad the Impaler is a werewolf, but has not become a vampire yet, with this story telling how. He goes to where he has many prisoners locked up and speaks to one, a gardener, Rathskeller, whose son fled rather than provide him service. Vlad decides to free the man during the full moon, telling him he can go free if he can escape him. Ratskeller flees through the dark woods and eventually is come upon by a number of vampire bats. Vlad consumes not only Rathskeller's body, but that of the bats as well. He returns to his castle, having become a vampire. As usual, really strong art from Sauri here, although he once again appears to be taking clear inspiration from Esteban Maroto's "A Most Private Terror" from Creepy #52.

Second is the return of the series, "Monster, Monster" after a long absence with "Visions of Bloody Death". While Augustine Funnell still provides the story, Ricardo Villamonte has been replaced as artist by Paul Puigagut. Our protagonist, currently living in New York under the name Vincent Crayne continues to turn to a werewolf at the full moon. The woman with the amulet whom he is seeking decides to send a demon after him, while also fearing for her son, his roommate. The demon attacks Crayne and she also transforms the landlady into a demon as well to fight him. Crayne comes out on top and turns back into a human, but his roommate is dead. He realizes the woman is going to England and decides to pursue her there. This series continues to be meandering and rather pointless to me. Puigagut's art is very impressive though and a big upgrade from Villamonte. The downside is it can be somewhat confusing at times to figure out what is going on.

Third is "Daughter of Darkness" by Joan Cintron (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). A rare Cintron story that is not part of the Human Gargoyles series. It is his wife providing the story. The story claims this is her first work for Skywald, but she also had contributed to a short story by him early in his Skywald career. A prince's wife is giving birth, but she passes away due to it, making him quite upset at the child, especially when he realizes it is a girl. Two decades pass and the girl is now grown up, asking the midwife about her mother. She is forbidden from leaving, nor from ever loving anyone. That night a vampire appears, flying down to her room and bites her neck. She goes down to see her father later, asking permission to be married, but he refuses and says she is forbid an heir. Suddenly the vampire appears and along with her, bites her father's neck, and she claims there is no need to worry about an heir as he will now live forever. A pretty decent story, and it was good to see Cintron do something outside of the Gargoyles series.

Next is the two page "The Book of the Dead!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). This brief feature is about H.P. Lovecraft's Necronomicon, and features various monsters and best. It also features an old woman for whom I've seen drawn by at least 3 other Selecciones Illustrada artists, what must be from a very popular photo reference.

Next is "From Hell to Eternity!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Jose Cardona (art). Two men and their assistant Carlos have come to the Pacific island of Zacatecas, with a map on human skin that they believe will lead to riches. They are seeking the tomb of Moran-Kula, ruler of the Toltecs, whom upon his death was bound up in the tomb, his mouth sewn shut. Eventually waters rose and covered their entire city and the tomb. After diving underwater, they find the tomb, and riches within. Thinking there are jewels in Moran-Kula's mouth, they cut open his sewn lips, but flesh eating beetles come out of his mouth and devour them. Meanwhile, Carlos celebrates above water, returning to shore with a giant chest they brought up, but the beetles are inside it as well and consume him too!

Next is "The City of the White Wolf" by Dave Sim (story) and Luis Collado (art). The hunter William Ashton Perry has brought a group to hunt in the winter wilderness. He decides to use himself as bait, putting himself in a fake bear trap. A white wolf approaches him, but then turns, getting William upset as he thinks he can make a thousand dollars from its pelt. William heads out on his own at night and finds the wolf, shooting at it and successfully killing it. In short order however he finds himself surrounded by a pack of wolves. The next morning William's body is found, with much of it having been eaten by the wolves. A unique type of story in that it has no supernatural element to it at all. Sim does a good job in his one and only Skywald story, as does the artist Collado.

The following story is "..If I Should Die Before I Wake..." by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Cardona (art). A vampire grows nervous about what may happen if his body is found in the graveyard where he makes his home, knowing that even children could kill him during the daytime. He decides to move to some other place the next day. Unfortunately for him, that very day men come to destroy the mausoleum he sleeps in and put his coffin outside, unopened. The coffin is brought to the morgue where his body is discovered and believed to be that of a dead man. As a result, his body is frozen. The vampire dies as he feared, but not in the way he thought! This story's ending is very similar to "I Was a Vampire for Hire" from Scream #2.

Our final story is a second story in "The Fiend of Changsha" series, with "Dead by Day, Fiend by Night" by Al Hewetson (story) and Sanho Kim (art). Our protagonist Chan Hai returns to life after a thief takes the blade that is sticking out of his body. He finds himself unable to step outside in the sunlight due to his being a vampire. Meanwhile the police chief visits the scholar Man Lao, who recognizes Hai to be a vampire. They find Hai, who was a former student of Lao. Hai agrees to go with Lao who can teach him about being a vampire and what he can do about it. The police chief leads him into an ambush though. Hai slays him by drinking his blood, then turns into a bat and flies away. Lao worries the curse he has put upon China by spreading vampirism. A pretty good story to wrap up this issue of Psycho, and Skywald as a whole. Too bad the series has to stop here partway through!

And with that, my coverage of Skywald's individual issues comes to an end. It has been a fun ride to finally experience their works, which while not at the level of Warren, was still a pretty memorable journey. I do plan on making a few more posts about Skywald now that I have finished, focusing in particular on matters such as my favorite stories, features on some of the artists, a discussion of the series used and some other things.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Scream #11

Today I'm featuring Scream issue 11, cover dated March 1975, which is also the final issue of the title. The cover is provided by Ballestar.

First is the latest story in the Nosferatu series, "I Kill to Live" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). The latest person to tell their tale is Antie Mae Dippie. She explains how as a child, her father was a philanderer and her mother a drunk. One night he got so angry at her he killed her with an ax. Mae then killed him with it. She was found by the authorities and thrown in an asylum where she spent her life, growing up then growing old. At 65, she decides to escape, stowing away with a nurse whom she then strangles. She heads to the Australian outback where she finds a stray dog that accompanies her and eventually an old man living in a cabin. The old man has reported her though for the reward money, and when they arrive she is able to blow them up with dynamite then chops off the head of the old man. She flees with the dog, but when a snake attacks them, she kicks the dog in the way, which is bitten and killed in her place. She kills the snake with the rock, then puts the dog out of its misery. Devastated by what she did to her friend, she takes out an ax and chops herself in the head. Back in the present, Mae takes off her mask, revealing her head with a large gash in the middle. Nosferatu unfortunately stops before the end point, with a few characters left to go, but given that it was anthology based in nature it doesn't hurt as much as the fate of Saga of the Victims, seen later in this issue. This story features an introductory page that shows Nosferatu and the various characters who have told their stories throughout the series. As always, Zesar's art is lovely to look at.

"I Kill to Live"
Next is "You Can't Judge a Killer by the Corpse!" by Augustine Funnel (story) and Jose Cardona (art). This story takes place in London in the 19th century. Our protagonist, Paul, heads out to find work for the day only to find the body of his friend on the ground outside. Upset over the authority's inability to find his killer, he decides to investigate himself, but no one will speak to him. Paul eventually finds another body, and is told off by the tenant of a nearby apartment, 14, who says he may find the same happening to him if he's not careful. After speaking with his wife, Jen, he decides to confront the man and they head to see him. Paul quickly slays the man, not even giving him the ability to defend himself. But he soon finds out that its his wife who is the killer, as she has transformed into a werewolf, and kills him! What was a pretty decent story is ruined by a horrendous ending. If Jen was the killer the whole time and was fine with killing her husband, why wait until now?

"Who Are they? The Breeders!"
Third is "Who Are they? The Breeders!" by Ed Fedory (story) and Luis Collado (art). A young woman walks down an alley where she is confronted by something unseen. Her shrunken, disfigured corpse is found by the authorities. The focus then shifts to her husband, who is quite mad that his wife, who had recently lost a lot of weight and become beautiful as a result, is dead. He blames the diet chocolates that she was eating and heads out, trying to find where they were made. He breaks into the drug store she had shopped from and knocks out the store keep, afterwards being able to find out where he ordered them from. He heads to a mansion where inside the old man owner talks to his unseen pets. Our protagonist breaks in and the old man claims to be guardian of the Breeders, which are upstairs. Our protagonist heads upstairs, finding the breeders to be tapeworms, which kill him. As the story ends, the old man plans to send them out via more "diet chocolates". This story seems inspired by an old EC story which essentially had the same premise; a businessman coming to a town with a solution for people to lose weight, but it being revealed that it was due to tapeworms.

Fourth is an adaption of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" with adaption by Al Hewetson and art by Peter Cappiello. This is an adaption of arguably Poe's most famous tale, and is about a man mourning the death of his beloved Lenore. The titular raven appears, keeps saying the word "nevermore" and he gets upset enough that he ends up killing himself. Some dramatization and dialogue have been added by Hewetson.

"I Am a Proud Monstrosity"
We conclude with the fifth story in the "Saga of the Victims" series, "I Am a Proud Monstrosity" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). This story begins with some thoughts from an unseen figure in a castle. We then return to our protagonists, Josey and Anne, who are in the hands of an African warlord. They are suddenly sucked through a portal and find themselves in a desert. They are first tormented by a sandstorm, then an attack from a snake, and then the ground collapses beneath them, causing them to fall into boiling water! After escaping from a tentacled being, they make their way to a cave, where Nazi storm troopers, now corpses, walk by. The cave they are in starts getting filled in from above with dirt, but they are able to crawl out of it and back outside. Anne starts shouting out that whoever is tormenting them has lost, but then a voice rings out that they have lost, but can rest easy as their torment is over. A flying craft then arrives, piloted by some monkeys! It brings them back to Manhattan, and Scollard Manse. Revealed to be the castle from the start of the story, it suddenly blasts off as if it was a rocket!

With the end of Skywald this series unfortunately ends with the final chapter yet to go. That said, the final chapter had been written and at least partially drawn, and would eventually see print years later. I recently had the opportunity to read it. In this final chapter, Josey and Anne meet an alien being that had been responsible for all the experiences they had gone through. The being constantly changes its form, to that of many of the horrors they had experienced throughout the series. It explains that it comes from another universe and was investigating ours, and put the two through all this to test them. The two of them continue to push back as they have throughout the series. The alien then destroys the Earth, grows giant in size, and crushes the two of them in its hands! As the story ends we find that the entire universe that Earth is in has been destroyed, but the other universe that the alien was from remains. Josey and Anne still exist in that universe as some sort of spiritual flotsam. The series ended in quite a bizarre fashion, in tune with the rest of the series. I will say the art for the final chapter is a lot lower of quality than the previous ones had been.

This is the penultimate issue of Skywald's horror line. With my next entry I'll be covering Psycho #24, Skywald's final issue! The end is just about here!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Nightmare #23

With this we have hit the final issue of Nightmare, issue 23, and also identified as the 1975 Nightmare Winter Special. It is cover dated February 1975 and has a cover by Vicente Segrelles.

Gene Day draws the one page frontispiece, advertising the next issue of Psycho.

Our first story is the latest in the Human Gargoyles series, "The Human Gargoyles vs. the Human Dead" by Al Hewetson (story) and Maelo Cintron (art). This issue also includes a one page summary of the series and a Vicente Segrelles promo cover of a future Gargoyles special which was never published. Edward and Mina are now in their castle, talking about their son Andrew's schooling. Meanwhile, outside, Satan plans his next move. Edward has publicized his battles with Satan, but Satan wants humanity to stop believing in him so they can't reject him. But for now, rather than focus on that, he decides to revive a number of corpses from the dead and send them to attack the castle. Edward makes quick work of them but then he and Mina find their son has been kidnapped. With the end of Skywald coming soon, this would be the last story in the Human Gargoyles series and is mediocre as the rest. In fact it is largely pointless and a retread beyond perhaps some of Satan's scheming which will never come to pass due to the end of the series. The kidnapping of Andrew is something that this series has already done before and seems to be used largely just to give the story a cliffhanger. Once my coverage of individual Skywald issues is over, I'll do a post or two speaking to the company's main series and will offer some final thoughts on this one at that point.

"Tradition of the Wolf"
The second story is "Tradition of the Wolf" by Ed Fedory (story) and Jesus Martin Sauri (art). A blacksmith and his son work in their shop and the father tells him he is going to go out tonight, the night of the full moon, in order to hunt a werewolf. The werewolf indeed appears and slays one of the men in his party. One of the men believes he has found the werewolf and fires, only to realize he shot one of his colleagues, the blacksmith. The father tells his son something behind closed doors, and dies. The son continues his father's work as a blacksmith and heads out to hunt the werewolf on his own. But he is not really hunting him, but in fact has become a werewolf himself! While the story itself is nothing special, Sauri's artwork continues to be quite amazing. That said, probably more so than any other story of his, the numerous swipes he is making from other artists is quite noticeable. In particular the stories "Werewolf by Frank Frazetta in Creepy #1 and "A Most Private Terror" by Esteban Maroto in Creepy #52.

Third is "Death Walk" with story by Ed Fedory and art by Jose Cardona (credited to Andy  Crandon). At the funeral for a young girl, a doctor who is said to have drained her blood is told off. A gnome approaches him, wanting to buy the blood he has drained, but the doctor claims he is a phlebotomist and is doing this to research blood disease. He refuses, and the gnome claims he will still get the blood. That night, the gnome's master, the vampire Baron Korlok arrives at the doctor's home and senses that he has seen him somewhere before. The doctor shows no fear and instead uses a stake rigged up behind a canvas to slay the Baron. The doctor transforms, revealing him to be the king of death, which is why the vampire had recognized him. I was expecting a more ingenious way to slay the vampire (what if he missed?) but at least the end reveal of the doctor's true nature somewhat makes up for it.

"Death Walk"
Next is "Time for Living, Time for Dying", a brief text feature by Al Hewetson with a page of art by Gene Day.

Fourth story is "The Vampire Freaks" by Al Hewetson (story, credited as William Davie) and Paul Pueyo (art, credited as Stan Connerty). A group of freaks, about to be let go by a circus try to determine a new business to form and decide on a cruise ship, the Good Ship Fortune. Suddenly someone is found dead, bitten by a vampire. There is a lot of blame tossed around, in particular at the freaks and a smaller one in particular, Tony, who dies when the boat hits the shore. One of the little kids on board reveals that the victim actually died of a heart attack and was bit by a water rat. The freaks decide to continue their cruise and tell someone to get off their boat, although the final panel is so small we can't tell who. This is a bit of a mess of a story, with some rather weak or confusing art by Pueyo as well. I can't figure out for the life of me how Tony died or why it was a little kid who figured things out.

Fifth is The "Thing in the Ragged Mountains" by Al Hewetson (story, credited as Ted Freeman) and Amador Garcia (art, credited as Walter Fortiss). A trio of men hunting in the West Virginia mountains come across a Bigfoot-like creature. One of them shoots at it but it has no effect and the Bigfoot kills him. The other two wait in a cave but one of them swears revenge and fires right into the head of the Bigfoot, to no effect. One of the men tries to flee, but trips over a rock and is come upon by the best. It then heads towards the cave where the last one is. It suddenly turns around though. Shots fire out and the last survivor, Ted, finds a rescue party outside. It is the sheriff and some deputies come to arrest him for shooting his colleagues. There is no trace of the creature and his colleagues were killed by bullets. Ted is put into an insane asylum, with this story as his defense, which the writers claim was provided to them. He believes the creature shot the men in order to frame him! While Garcia's art is average at best, I enjoyed this story quite a lot for its uniqueness.

"The Thing in the Ragged Mountains"
Sixth is "Fistful of Flesh" by Al Hewetson (story, credited as Leslie Jerome) and Folsengo Cabrerizo (art, credited as Denis Ford). A movie shoots a scene featuring a vampire biting a young woman in an old town in Arizona. Later, when shooting a scene about a mob forming to slay the vampire they realize the actor playing the sheriff is dead, slain as if it was by a vampire. A detective has five suspects, those actors who weren't necessary for the day, but the one playing the vampire is the chief suspect. We then cut to a courtroom, where the vampire actor's defense attorney claims his client was on Malibu beach and the stuntman is the real killer. The attorney claims the stuntman is a vampire himself and was worried that he would be found out when he went under the makeup chair. He pulls open the curtains, letting the sunlight in and it kills the stuntman, who really is a vampire. This story is over rather abruptly and surprises me in that there really wasn't a twist at the end.

We wrap up with "Snakewizard!" by Augustine Funnell (story) and Jose Cardona (art, credited to Andy Crandon). Two men, Murray and Lee, travel through the jungle in search of gold, stealing from an innkeeper along the way. Lee is soon attacked and bitten by a snake, which escapes into the jungle. Soon a native comes out, claiming he can help and sucks out the poison. The native claims the snake was his pet and he is a snake wizard. They demand he lead them to the temple of the snake and he does so, at gunpoint. They are soon brought there and find a tremendous amount of gold. But the snake wizard claims they are trespassers and must be dealt with. He turns into a snake and bites them, causing them to turn into gold. The snake wizard being the snake was incredibly obvious to me from the outset, but kudos to Funnell for adding in the gold element which at least provided slightly more interest to the ending.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Psycho #23

Sebastian Boada provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, cover dated January 1975.

We start with the frontispiece, "People of the Dark" by Robert E. Howard (story) and Gene Day (art).

First story is "The Phantom of the Dead: Midnight in Wax" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Martin Sauri (art). This story is hosted by the Vulture, who had just appeared in Nightmare #22 and as such may have originally been intended for the Tomb of Horror magazine. Once again the vulture introduces a new horror character, this time the titular phantom. Charles Ogle has a wax museum with various fiends and monsters including the Phantom of the Opera. On a stormy night, a bat smashes through a window and lightning strikes the museum, bringing the Phantom to life! We find that the Phantom was built with actual joints and other body parts which enables it to move. It goes outside, scaring a couple, who calls the police. It doesn't respond to the police when they come, but instead goes to a graveyard. When the sun comes up it starts melting, but heads back towards the museum and is found by Ogle. Ogle rebuilds the Phantom, claiming he'll construct it even better this time, and use a human brain! An average story, but Sauri's artwork continues to be very strong.

"Midnight in Wax!"
Second story is "The Curse of the Snake Goddess" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Cardona (art). An archaeological dig takes place in Egypt, finding a four thousand year old tomb. Those who have dug it up take their treasures from it, but several suffer mysterious deaths. The finds of the expedition eventually make their way back to America. While the archaeologists work on translating things, a young woman, one of the assistants, finds a snake necklace that she hopes to sell and make a lot of money off of. She ties a rope and starts making her way out the window, but the necklace turns into a snake and kills her, revealing itself to be the source of the deaths. This story was a bit simpler in nature than I expected it to be. Early in the story we have a rather odd segment where a character drives while drinking beer, something quite idiotic, although it is never touched upon again later in the story.

Third is "A Garden of Hellish Delight" by Al Hewetson (story) and Cesar Lopez (art). Earnest is a gardener who is in love with the wealthy heiress Angela. Her father refuses to let them be married however. Earnest cries and his tears cause his plants to grow and kill Angela's father during the night. He and Angela are soon married. Now wealthy, Earnest doesn't need a job but spends all his time on the garden. Many years go by. Earnest and Angela are now old and she has grown bitter over him paying all his attention to his garden rather than her. When she demands a divorce, Earnest cries again, and his tears once again cause his plants to come to life and kill her. He uses her body as fertilizer and spreads this garden throughout their mansion. At the end of the story we see his now dead boy, also being used as fertilizer for the plants.

"The Werevampirewolf"
Fourth is "The Werevampirewolf" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Cardona (art). This story is quite the oddity in that it features text only at the start and end of the story. Otherwise every panel has no captions or dialogue. It shows a tale of a vampire and werewolves from 19th century Germany. It includes a vampire being set loose, a mob of werewolves and the vampire becoming some sort of werevampire at the end of the story, despite having been staked in the heart.

Fifth is an Edgar Allen Poe adaption, "The Man of the Crowd" with adaption by Al Hewetson and art by Ferran Sostres. Our protagonist on an autumn day sees a rather disheveled looking man wandering around. He decides to follow him, thinking he is a pick pocket, then a thief, then a murderer, but he does no such things. He decides to confront the man, but the man doesn't react to him, leaving our protagonist to wonder if he's a ghost, mad or imbecile. Not much of a plot to this Poe story, which I recall being a bit happier with when it was adapted by Warren. At a mere 5 pages it goes by pretty quick, but Sostres provides a usual strong art job.

Sixth is "The 300th Birth Day Party!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ramon Torrents (art). This is a reprint of a story that originally appeared in Nightmare #9. Odd to see a single reprint story in an issue that is otherwise all new, although I always enjoy seeing work from Torrents. 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!

"The Man of the Crowd"
Seventh is the second chapter in the "Mummy Khafre" series, "The Murderess" by Al Hewetson (story) and Cesar Lopez (art). Khafre decides to flee, jumping into the wagon of a traveling salesman. She takes off her bandages, realizing that only her head remains preserved and the rest of her body is mummified. The salesman spots her and she slays him. Despite the state of her body, she is able to move around and breathe normally and puts on a dress to make herself look normal. Khafre returns to Egypt and finds her tomb. She finds a series of Ushabtiu, small curios which she is able to bring to life to act as her slaves. They lead her to Neferches' tomb where she destroys his mummy. She is found soon after and while she struggles, is taken captive, forced to remain bound. As the story ends she summons the Ushabtiu to set her free. A decent continuation of this series, although with the end of Skywald nearly here we probably won't see much more of it.s

The issue concludes with a one page Zombie Pin-up by Gene Day.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Nightmare #22

This issue of Nightmare has a cover by Salvador Fabia and carries a date of December 1974. It features a werewolf bursting through panels from several old Skylwald stories.

This issue's contents consist of what was supposed to be the first issue of The Tomb of Horror, which would have been Skywald's fourth horror magazine. Its theme was to have a host for each story, often the artist or writer for that story. Alas, that magazine never came to see the light of day and was included as part of this issue of Nightmare instead. The inside front cover features drawings of many Skywald contributors by Maelo Cintron.

We start with a "Tomb of Horror Introduction" by Al Hewetson (story) and Domingo Gomez (art). This two page feature is introduced by Gomez, who also stars in it, as he shows us various monsters such as Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein's monster and others.

"Mercy, Mercy, Cries the Monster"
First story is "The Tales of the Vulture: The Bat - Mercy, Mercy Cries the Monster" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Martin Sauri (art). A vulture hosts this story, claiming he will use his feature as an opportunity to introduce various new characters that the reader has the ability to request more stories of. Brock Stans is a professor and archaeologist from Manhattan, yet while in the jungles of Central America he is attacked by a swarm of vampire bats. He makes it back to Manhattan, but finds himself transforming into some sort of man-bat. After attacking and killing a woman he justifies it to himself thinking he is somebody now, having been a meek cripple before his transformation. Traveling to a graveyard he comes across a man who believes himself to be a vampire and they argue, with Brock trying to convince him he is not really one, but a dull nobody. The cops come upon him and the "vampire" claims he was being attacked, leading to Brock being arrested as he turns back to human. As the story ends we see him returned to his man-bat form, but locked in a padded cell, hoping to get out. Sauri's art continues to be quite the highlight, and this story comes off in part as a more macabre take on Batman.

"When I Was a Boy I Watched the Blood-Wolves"
Second is "When I Was a Boy I Watched the Blood-Wolves!" by Augustine Funnel (story) and Jose Cardona (art). The story is hosted by Funnell. Our protagonist is a boy who hates all other humans and instead finds friendship with wolves, who share some of their food with him. When his parents punish him without dinner he doesn't care. Eventually he grows up and becomes a  killer, slaying a couple and getting arrested. The two officers holding him talk of how he considers himself a werewolf. However we soon find out that one of the officers is a werewolf instead, slaying his partner and freeing our protagonist. After all, they are like family. Some pretty good art by Cardona here and the way the story ends I could see a sequel.

Third is "Kill, Kill, Kill, and Kill Again" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ferran Sostres (art). This story is hosted by Ferran Sostres. Satan orders his archangels to cause havoc. We focus on one in particular, Simon Ingels who causes a man to murder his wife then promptly departs him to decry what he has done. We see Ingels cause various other horrible situations such as a cop striking a hippie, a milkman breaking into a house and other assorted things. We then learn of Ingels' life and how he was practically perfect. Heaven rejected him for being inhuman (due to being so perfect) so he became a servant of Satan and continues to cause havoc as the story ends. This was a very different type of story for Skywald, lacking a more traditional narrative but rather focusing on Ingels in his role as minion of Satan and the things he is causing to happen. Some well done art by Sostres as is typical for him. Also a great title!

"Kill, Kill, Kill and Kill Again"
Fourth is "The War of the Hell-Damned" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art). This story is hosted by Jesus Duran. Professor Peter Cushman tells his students the tale of a skeleton that he owns. As a young man he was part of an occult group that would spend time in caves and search for monsters such as vampires. Spotting some tracks in the cave they go to see the local professor (also Peter's father), who doesn't believe in vampires or werewolves, offering up real life explanations for what they were inspired by. Peter and his friends later return to the cave where the professor is waiting, claiming he believes one of them, Rolf, to be a werewolf. Rolf confirms his suspicions and turns into a werewolf, but claims the professor to be a vampire! He pulls out a stake and mallet and tries to kill the professor, but Peter jumps him, revealing himself to be a vampire too and slays Rolf. The professor dies of his injuries though, and Peter carries on with his father's legacy. As we return to the present, he explains that he is a vampire, and he had killed all his fellow students that night. Duran's art here is quite strong (the page with Rolf the werewolf trying to stake the vampire professor is in particular a great one). Modern day Peter is modeled off of actor Peter Cushing (and obviously his name is based on him too).

"The War of the Hell-Damned"
Fifth is "The Cox-sackie-Axe Murder" by Ed Fedory (story) and John Agras (art). Ed Fedory hosts this story. Our story initially focuses on two lovers, however the woman's father, Silas Lowell does not want them together. Once the two of them depart, Silas has the man seized and slays him with an ax, but not before he proclaims a curse on Lowell and all that shall follow him. He rises from the grave as a monster, slaying Lowell. Lowell's daughter, Patience, hangs herself in grief. Years go by and every Lowell male dies before his 30th birthday. We turn to the present and focus on Ned Lowell, who is about to turn 30. The monster comes to slay him but upon hearing the name of Ned's daughter, Patience, thinks back to his lover, goes to her grave and dissolves. A pretty good story by Fedory, although some only so-so fart by Agras. Also the failure to name our protagonist is frustrating.

Sixth is "The Mummy Khafre: The Funeral" by Al Hewetson (story) and Cesar Lopez (art). This story is hosted by Al Hewetson. The titular Khafre is wife of the Pharoah Nefercheres, but her madness and mistreatment of her subjects causes her to be put ot death. She is mummified alive! We then head to the modern day where professor Peter Flinders and his assistant Tom find her tomb. Tom hopes to bring the still living Khafre to T.P. Barnum's circus and slays Peter in order to do so. He smuggles her out of Egypt, keeping her handcuffed and eventually finds Barnum, who doesn't buy her outright but pays him to stay with the circus using her as one of the attractions. Khafre is able to convince Tom that he is the reincarnation of Nefercheres and has him unwrap her head, revealing her to be as beautiful as she was when she was mummified. She then reveals her deception, strangles him and leaves. It looks like this will be the start of a new series starring Khafre.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Psycho #22

Prieto Muriana provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, cover dated November 1974. This issue is all reprints with the exception of the first story.

Our sole new story for this issue is "Die, Frankenstein's Monster!", a continuation of the new Frankenstein series recently started up in Scream. It is written by Al Hewetson and has art by Cesar Lopez. The monster begins the story with the origins of the term Prometheus, which was used for the subtitle of Mary Shelly's original novel of Frankenstein "The Modern Prometheus". Frankenstein's monster travels through the mountains of Romania, finding an injured goat and bringing it to a cave, where he finds two coffins. He opens one and finds a man inside, Dracula, who immediately attacks him. The monster eventually knocks Dracula out only to be bitten in the neck by his female companion, who finds his blood muccused and disgusting. Dracula and Frankenstein tell each other their stories. Dracula's companion, Leah, comes up with a name for the monster, Damon, and the two kiss. When Dracula heads out in bat form to find some food, Leah reveals to Damon that the story Dracula told him of his origins, about him being a force for good is all lies, and that the power of vampirism is given by Satan. Dracula returns. He and Damon argue, and Dracula puts Leah under a trance, but finds that with the sun coming out, he must rest. He tells Damon to take Leah and go. Upon carrying Leah outside, Damon finds that her body immediately decomposes due to exposure to the sun. The shadow of Damon holding Leah's body forms a cross, which also kills Dracula. This was a fairly good story, with some decent art as well. A good thing we got some quality with our only new story of the issue.

"Die, Frankenstein's Monster!"
Next is "Revolution" by Rick Margopoulos (story) and Tom Sutton/Dan Adkins (art), originally published in Psycho #2. 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.

Third is "The Vow!" by Pat Boyette (story & art), originally published in Psycho #6. 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.

"The Vow"
Next is "Birth Announcement" by Al Hewetson (story) and Ramon Torrents (art), originally printed in the Psycho 1972 Annual. 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 close to Cape Cod.

Next is "Phantom of the Rock Era" by Chuck McNaughton (story) and Ralph Reese (art), originally published in Nightmare #4. 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. 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.

Sixth is "The Midnight Slasher" by Doug Moench (story) and Pablo Marcos (art), originally published in Psycho #6. 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).

"Within the Torture Chamber"
Seventh is "Within the Torture Chamber" by Kevin Pagan (story) and Doug Wildey (art), originally published in Nightmare #5. 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).

Last is "Vault of a Vampire", featuring Al Hewetson for the story and Serg Moren for the art. This story was originally published in Nightmare #3 and was actually Hewetson's first story for Skywald. 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...

Gene day provides a one page pin up feature on the back cover.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Scream #10

Sebastian Boada provides the cover for this issue of Scream, cover dated October 1974. Oddly enough this issue of Scream skips both of its recurring series, "Nosferatu" and "Saga of the Victims" (despite mentioning Nosferatu on the cover). It makes me wonder if the content for this issue was originally meant for the recent nearly all reprint issue of Nightmare.

We start with the one page frontispiece, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" preview by Cesar Lopez (art). This is a preview of an upcoming adaption of the Edgar Allen Poe novel, although Skywald folded before it saw print.

First story is "My Flesh Crawls" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Martin Sauri (art). The town of Kolosk is plagued by monsters. The townsfolk fear both a vampire and werewolf, and a young barmaid rushing home at night is killed by the vampire. An angry mob forms, believing the inhabitant of the local castle, Wilhelm Volusk to be involved. As they come upon him, Wilhelm, who really is a vampire, flees from the castle, but comes upon the werewolf in the street, Anton, who hopes that by killing him, attention on him will die down. While in his werewolf form, Anton slays Wilhelm, then turns back into his human form. His belief that the attention will die down is mistaken though, the other townsfolk still want to slay the werewolf and are able to figure out Anton is it since he was on his own, and couldn't have slayed Wilhelm so easily with a weak sword. This story ends quite abruptly, as if a page was missing. Sauri's art at times is quite strong, as I have mentioned before, very similar in nature to Esteban Maroto's style, and I think at times swiping from him. As we hit the end of the story the art quality goes down quite a bit though.
"My Flesh Crawls"

Second is "A Fragment in the Life of Dracula: Creatures in the Night" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Cardona (art). This story tells of Dracula's childhood, as prince of Wallachia. His father shows him the various ways to torture criminals, such as the rack and iron maiden, and eventually a giant pit. He brings a thief before him who makes excuses and is thrown into it where lizard-like creatures kill him. Another criminal, a poacher, admits to his crime of killing a deer and is set free. Dracula's father shows him a dwarf in a cell who is thought to be a werewolf and explains that one can become a vampire by drinking werewolf's blood. That night, the werewolf breaks free, killing Dracula's mother then battles his father, mortally wounding both of them. Dracula's father refuses to drink the blood of the werewolf, which will save his life, and dies. Yet Dracula decides to drink it, making him the famous vampire we know of. A rather unique take on the origin of Dracula. Some good art as usual by Cardona here although I did catch a very obvious Angelo Torres swipe from one of his earlier Warren stories.

"The Murders in the Rue Morgue"
Third is "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", an Edgar Allen Poe adaption by Al Hewetson, with art by Cesar Lopez. The investigator Auguste Dupin is called upon for a strange case where a woman and her daughter are found killed in their trashed room. The daughter is found stuffed in the chimney while the mother's head falls off once her body is taken a hold of. Yet oddly enough there are no valuables taken from the room and the only way the killer could have gotten out was through the window, several stories high. Through the investigation Dupin figures out that the killer is an orangutan, brought to the town in secret by a man who was hoping to sell it. The orangutan became interested in the man shaving and started playing with a razor. Fleeing from the man, it went into the victim's room, trying to shave the mother only to nearly cut her head off instead, and killed the daughter when she screamed before fleeing out the window. The orangutan is soon brought to captivity. This is a fairly good adaption of this rather lesser known, but ingenious Poe tale.

Fourth is "The Stranger is the Vampire" by Al Hewetson (story) and Paul Pueyo (art). A vampire has plagued the town of Coretta, Spain. The mayor gets together a group of vigilantes to slay the vampire, believing it to be a stranger who has recently appeared in town. The group decides to watch the stranger with everything he does, wanting to catch him in the act so they don't kill an innocent man. A barmaid is killed, as is the man who was watching the stranger, so they head to where he is staying, wanting to drag him out into the sunlight as evidence he is a vampire. As they drag him out, they find the real vampire, in the act of killing his victim. They are able to kill the vampire, finding him to be an old man they suspected at first, but thought to be dead. We then find out that the stranger, who was left on his own once the vampire appeared, really is a vampire himself! A pretty good ending to this story, although I can't help but have some disappointment at it being so similar in nature to "My Flesh Crawls". Also Pueyo's art is rather mediocre compared to the strong art jobs around it.
"In His Master's Blood"

We conclude with a return to the Tales Out of Hell series with "In His Master's Blood" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Duran (art). The young boy, Walter Thurber, under hypnosis tells of the past lives he has had, this time speaking of how he was the son of Rasputin, Myshkin. He speaks of how Rasputin was actually a vampire, and one night reveals this to him, beating him while in bat form. Myshkin grows to adult age, neither he nor his father having revealed he was Rasputin's son and plots to kill him with an ax. He fails to kill his father, but later receives aid from a Prince Felix. Rasputin is fed poison and then shot, but neither kills him. He is then bound and thrown into the icy water. Myshkin is pursued by vampire bats right after though and becomes a vampire himself. Wondering if his father is still alive, Myshkin jumps into the icy water and finds that his father is indeed dead. But he has trouble making it up to the surface and hours later when he does, is mistaken for Rasputin and slain. As the story ends, we are previewed the next past life that Walter will speak of, that of the Marquis de Sade. While I didn't care for the first story in this series, this one was pretty strong. The tale of Rasputin has always been an interesting one, and him being a vampire is a good fictional explanation for why he was so hard to kill. While I think this series had a lot of potential to get into a lot more real life, historical "monsters", this would be the final story due to the eminent end of the Skywald line.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Psycho #21

Prieto Muriana provides the cover for this issue of Psycho, cover dated October 1974.

We start with the cover story, "The Fiend of Changsha" by Al Hewetson (story) and Sanho Kim (art). Dracula makes his way across the South China sea, having turned into a bat and boarded a cargo vessel. Once it hits land he heads to the Town of Changsha, a stop gap as he plans on visiting Fu Manchu (with an editor's note to expect it in a future story). While talking to himself in a graveyard, a grave robber comes upon him, whom he bites the neck of so as to turn him into his slave. The grave robber, Chan Hai, returns to his colleagues, a group of thieves, and goes to sleep. Suddenly some soldiers arrive and take out much of the thieves, but Chan Hai attacks them and realizes that even being struck by a sword can't kill him as he's now a vampire. After taking out the soldiers, Chan Hai's remaining colleagues want to make him leader, but he is reluctant to have followers. He plays around with the sword still in his chest and ends up killing himself by mistake. A rather odd ending to this story, I'm not entirely sure what Hewetson was getting at (was the sword supposed to be a stake that only damaged him once it hit his heart?). As the story ends we are asked the question on if we should really let Chan Hai live or die. I guess we'll see the result of the reader's request if we ever see another story featuring him.

"The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar"
Next is an Edgar Allen Poe adaption, "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar", with adaption by Al Hewetson and art by Jose Cardona. Our protagonist is invited by author M. Valdemar to hypnotize him. Valdemar is on death's door, but is hypnotized just before he dies, which causes him to still be able to speak, while claiming to be asleep. Our protagonist is advised by the doctor to try and not wake him or Valdemar will die. Seven months pass and Valdemar remains as is, but wishes to die for good. He is released from the transfer and his body completely rots away immediately. This is just a so-so story with not much of a plot (as the protagonist says, it is really just a telling of the facts of the situation). I do recall it being used very effectively as a spring board for an old EC comics story.

Next is "The Gloomb Bomb" by Jack Katz (story and art). Inhabitants of a ship, who are all related to each other, are traveling across the galaxy find an available planet which they investigate. Three of the crew members, Nordak, Corma and Dovery head down but Corma is injured by reptilian monsters. After bringing her back, Nordak disobeys orders, heading to another planet to save a young woman in danger of being enslaved. He decides to stay there, taking the woman as his wife and having a child. Back on the ship it is revealed that they have been searching for an inhabitable planet untouched by cosmic rays, which accelerates the aging process. Nordak has stayed too long on the planet he found for the cosmic ray's effects to be reversible. Other leaders of the tribe seek to kill Nordak but fail, and he becomes leader, changing his name to Noah. His family members come to visit him, revealing his condition and that there will be an oncoming flood. We then find that Nordak has landed on Earth and is the biblical Noah. This story by Katz is a bit of an outlier, being a sci-fi story originally intended for a Skywald all sci-fi magazine and written/drawn years before. It is a bit too long for me and I haven't particularly cared for Skywald's sci-fi stories.

"The Ghost of the Corpse"
Fourth is "The Ghost of the Corpse" by Al Hewetson (story) and Luis Collado (art). Jerrick is a police photographer who on a day off, happens to see a car accident where the driver is killed. Jerrick takes a photo of the driver, seeing some sort of spirit over it, thinking he's taken a photo of a ghost. Jerrick becomes obsessed with taking more such photos of ghosts and comes to realize that it only happens when he takes the photo of a criminal who has died. He is able to get himself on a drug raid where he convinces a suspect to flee, who gets gunned down, enabling him to take his picture. His boss finds out what has happened and upon telling Jerrick that he's in big trouble, Jerrick flees, and gets into a car accident, dying himself. As the story ends we see the spectral form of Satan 's messenger, come to collect the soul of one going to hell. This was what Jerrick had been capturing through his photos the entire time. This is a fairly good story; Collado's art varies in quality, with some really detailed panels in some places, and much less so in others. A style I've been used to seeing from him in several past stories.

"Maxwell's Blood Hammer"
Fifth is " Maxwell's Blood Hammer" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Cardona (art, credited to Joe Dentyn). A puppeteer named Anne shows her violent puppet show, starring Max and Maxine, to late night show host Hendershot, using them as satire to expose the violence seen in puppet acts like Punch and Judy. In reality, Max and Maxine are real people, freaks who have pretended to be puppets in order to survive. They are angry that Anne could ruin their career by what she is going to do and start acting on their own, contradicting her during the live show. Angry, Anne leaves without them after the show, but is pursued by a man in a trench coat. It is revealed to be Hendershot and she is able to defend herself and kill him, revealing she too is a freak, with an eye on the back of her neck. Anne, Max and Maxine understand themselves a bit better now and go home in peace. A fairly good story with some well fitting art from Cardona, although the end reveal about Anne with the eye is quite similar to another story, "The Night in the Horror Hotel" from Nightmare #17.

Last is "The Claws of Death" by Ed Fedory (story) and Folsengo Cabrerizo (art). A group of sailors has befriended a tribe in New Guinea, but plan on taking them captive and enslaving them. The tribe, not knowing of this, invites them to watch a ceremony as Mud Men, priests of the tribe with baked mud masks perform a ceremony and summon the goddess Sarrag-Tua. Sarrag-Tua arrives, wearing the mask of a panther and tells the tribe the true plans of the sailors. This causes the sailors to shoot and kill her, but upon trying to take off her mask they realize its her true head. The tribe members are taken captive and brought aboard the ship, but when the masks of the Mud Men are taken off, they too are revealed to have panther heads and they kill the sailors. A pretty decent art job by Cabrerizo in his Skywald debut; Fedory's story is also a good way to wrap the issue up.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Nightmare #21

This issue of Nightmare features a cover by Jose Miralles and is cover dated October 1974. Unfortunately we're back to another reprint dominated issue (two in a row now for Nightmare), with only the first story being a new one.

Said new story kicks us off, with "Let Her Rot in Hell", by Al Hewetson (story) and Jose Cardona (art). A man is sentenced to a night in the Cardona prison. The man begs the judge for anything else, but is taken away. A young woman is then brought before him and also sentenced to the prison. Once inside, she wonders why the man before her was so frightened. When the man is let out he begs to be kept there, but when they free him he instead jumps to his death. The woman is then brought into the cell, which seems normal. But later that night a vampire appears and bites her neck, turning her into one. As the guards come to free her the next morning she begs to not let them leave, to expose her to the sunlight. But they don't listen, so like the man before her she jumps to her death. This is a fairly strong story, with a good twist. Cardona's art is well done, as usual.

"Let Her Rot in Hell"
Next is "Valley of Blood" by Chuch McNaughton (story) and Jack Katz/Frank Giacoia (art), from Psycho #2. 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 Valier turns back to human, dying. Dargos then appears and attacks him.

Next is "The Cosmos Strain" by Steve Stern (story) and Mike Kaluta (art) from Nightmare #6. 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.

"The Cosmos Strain"
Fourth is "Comes the Stalking Monster!" by Tom Sutton (story) and Tom Sutton/Syd Shores (art) from Psycho #4. 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.

Next is "Sleep" by Steve Stern (story) and Jeff Jones (art), originally from Psycho #6. 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.

Next is "Corpse by Computer!" by Robert Kanigher (story) and Doug Wildey (art), from Nightmare #6. Millionaire inventor Phillip Talbot has created the supercomputer Debbie, which operates many things in his mansion. Upon bringing a woman home with him, Debbit 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.

We wrap up with "Sand Castles" by Ed Fedory (story) and Pablo Marcos (art), originally from Psycho #6. 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.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Scream #9

Time for another issue of Scream! This issue is cover dated September 1974 and has a cover by Salvador Faba.

First is "Down to Hades... To Die!" by Augustine Funnell (story) and Paul Puigagut (art). Our protagonist, Martin, awakes to hear a voice calling to him. The voice tells him to follow and Martin no longer finds himself in New York, but a spooky woods where he is attacked by a werewolf, then a vampire, and then rotting corpses. The corpses lead him to a feast where there are various people including many naked women. He demands to be let go and his mind snaps. The voice then decides to find someone else, calling out to a woman named Brenda. The narrative for this story is a quite confusing. Puigagut, who makes his Skywald debut with this story has some rather inconsistent art, with some panels looking rather shoddy, others having a surrealistic look, kind of like what I've seen in some Esteban Maroto stories and an occasional one, like the final panel, drawn very well with some great detail.

"Down to Hades... To Die!"
Next is "Metzengerstein" an Edgar Allen Poe adaption from Al Hewetson, with art by Luis Collado. The story tells of the conflict between the Berlifitzing and Metzengerstein families. Baron Frederick of the Metzengerstein family burns the stables of the Berlifitzing castle just a few days after coming of age. Frederick sits down to look at a tapestry in his castle and finds the horse within it moving, causing him to flee. In his courtyard, he is told by one of his servants that his enemy Count Berlifitzing died trying to save his horses and they have found a new horse in the area that is rather wild. Frederick starts isolating himself, only spending time with the horse, despite being afraid of its stare. One night Frederick gets up and starts riding on his horse and his entire castle bursts into flame. He then returns, a look of agony on his face as the horse runs into the burning castle. As the story ends we see smoke appear in the shape of a horse over the burning castle and a figure rising from ashes, the corpse of Old Count Berlifitzing. I've never read the original story this is based on, but this was a pretty good one, other than the super elongated and complicated names. Collado's art is fairly decent, with some really nice detailed panels at times.

"Who Killed the Shark?"
Third is the latest in the Nosferatu series, "Who Killed the Shark?" by Al Hewetson (story) and Zesar Lopez (art). Nosferatu has the man with the shark mask, Senor Ramon Vorse be the next to tell his tale. Vorse was shanghaied and forced to be a crew member on the ship The Ocean Penguin, but is told by the captain of the great riches they will find. Vorse soon falls in love with the beautiful Maria, daughter of the captain. Vorse kisses Maria when they are alone and says after they find the treasure he will be a rich man and they can escape to be married once back on shore. Maria tells Vorse that the captain plans on killing most of the men once they find the treasure so he and other mutiny and kills him, throwing him to the sharks. Maria promptly betrays Vorse, saying he lusted after the treasure and has been threatened by him. This causes the other men to grab Vorse and throw him overboard to be consumed by the sharks. Despite this, his partially eaten corpse somehow still lives. Maria has the men recover the treasure, expecting to have them arrested once they arrive on shore, but in one of the chests they find, Vorse's corpse there hiding. He grabs Maria, screaming in horror. Back in the present Vorse unmasks himself, revealing his partially eaten body but reveals that he hold Maria's heart in his hand. For once the ending of a story in this series is not a character just revealing their partially destroyed body (at least the third time now the teller has been consumed by some sort of animal), but revealing something else as well. The protagonist hiding in a chest is another concept that has been used before in this series. The net result is, while I continue to enjoy the atmosphere and art (which lacks the rushed look the prior story in the series had), it is about time we wrap this up. The narrative at the start implies that we'd have at least 3 more stories in the series before it is done (although Skywald will go out of business before we have enough issues to get there, making me wonder if this series will end mid-way through). This story actually reminds me quite a lot of the story "In Deep" from Warren's Creepy #83, an excellent story drawn by Richard Corben which features a husband and wife pursued by sharks in the open sea and the husband making it out with only his wife's heart in his hand. In fact as this story came out around 2 years or so before that issue was published I wondered if it was an inspiration for that story.

Fourth is "The Asylum" by Al Hewetson (story, credited to Howie Anderson) and John Agras (art). A young woman named Mary is kept in a large mansion by a woman named Cynthia, along with many other women. When her parents show up looking for her, Cynthia feigns ignorance of her. One night Mary escapes through the window, hitchhiking. We soon find that Mary is a vampire, having killed the man driving, and that Cynthia is trying to cure her and the other women of their being vampires. As the story ends we see Cynthia carrying away the man's body, revealing her to be a ghoul! This story ended I lot quicker than I was expected. Agras' art is a bit more cartoonish in nature than the other artists in the issue.

"I Am Treachery... I Am Horror"
Fifth is Gothic Fairy Tales with "I never Heard of a Ghost Actually Killing Anyone!" by Al Hewetson (story) and Antonio Borrell (art). A husband and wife wonder where their kids are. We soon see the two kids, David and Angie in a nearby house they believe to be occupied by a ghost. After having not seen it for a month, they figure they can force it out by burning down the place. But then suddenly the ghost does appear, an ax wielding maniac and kills them. After their funeral, their parents storm into the house where they are confronted by both the ghost and the ghost of their two children! The parents argue with the kids and say they are going to spank them so the kids, through the help of the ax wielding ghost, kill them too! After the parent's funeral we turn back to the ghost house, now with the entire family of ghosts there, and the parents spanking the kids. The ax wielding ghost has had enough and lunges towards them with his ax as the story ends. This story was quite hilarious, with the kids and parents bickering, even after they were dead and essentially forming a ghost family.

We wrap up with another story in the Saga of the Victims series, "I Am Treachery... I Am Horror" by Al Hewetson (story) and Jesus Suso Rego (art). We continue where we left off, with our heroines Josey and Anne grabbed by giant tentacles while in a whirlpool. It is revealed to be tentacles of a giant squid! But the two of them soon pass out and find themselves instead in a submarine, which is what the squid actually is. They are greeted by a Nazi dwarf, who claims he was special assistant to Hitler. He claims to be among the last Nazis left and that he travels the sea in his submarine, looking for adventure, which is typically terrorizing people with the squid. By watching him pilot the submarine, our heroines plot their escape and strike him with an ax once they are comfortable piloting it, as it approaches the African coastline. But they find themselves unable to control it properly and it explodes. They are then found and taken by African tribesmen to their warlord, who speaks English and claims he went to Harvard and now manipulates his tribesmen. He claims that they will eventually be eaten as his tribe is made up of cannibals. Anne and Josey break out of their bonds and try escaping, only for the Warlord to grab a hold of them and laugh as the story ends. We get more of the same with this series here; excellent art by Suso and a storyline that continues to be as over the top as possible, pushing our heroines through as many horror story tropes as it can. It continues to be fairly good though, and I look forward to where we go next.