Creepy Presents- Steve Ditko “Room with a View!”

In this, the last week of ‘Stevecember’, it is with great pleasure that I’m spotlighting another chapter from this beautiful archive of horror/fantasy stories by Steve Ditko. Last I looked, this awesome hardcover was still available on places like Amazon, so definitely look for it ASAP, as I’m sure it wont last long! Now, I present, “Room with a View.”

A man walks into a hotel on a rainy night. The clerk tells him there is no room, but the man notices one key still on its hook. The clerk tells him he was told to never give out that room key for some ominous reasons, but the man insists, and the clerk eventually relents. Once in the room, the man fires up a heater, but then glances toward the mirror. He jumps back in surprise, as he sees a frightening looking man behind him. As he turns around, the man is gone. He thinks to himself that the clerk’s story and the long day are getting to him, so decides to go to bed. His dreams become nightmares, though, and as he passes by the mirror, he sees a host of horrors, and he freaks out. He calls the front desk in a panic, but decides to play it cool and just asks for a wake up call. He heads back to bed, but the paranoia is getting to him. He creeps back over to the mirror, and he sees he’s surrounded by a crowd of monsters! Downstairs, the clerk hears a horrific scream coming from the room. He darts upstairs to investigate, but the room appears empty…until he looks in the mirror and sees the man dead, lying on the bed!

While I haven’t read everything Steve Ditko (art) and Archie Goodwin (writer) have done together, this one is probably my favorite. There’s a level of anxiety to the story that is perfect for this medium, but akin to what you’d get in a film or novella. The story reads like an episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, and that is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

Tales of the Zombie 1, 1973 “The Altar of the Damned!”

It took me quite a while, but I finally completed this series of magazines. One and four were pretty tough to find in my budget, as was the Annual, but it finally happened! This first issue is quite a treat, as it features not only super cool stories, but incredible artwork as well. Of course, the lead feature and star of the series, Simon Garth, the Zombie, is an interesting character. His stories slightly mirror that of the Man-Thing, because of one simple reason- he cannot speak. Not an easy task for any writer, but if anybody is up for it, Steve Gerber is the writer. Let us begin with an amazing cover by Boris Vallejo!

The zombie stories in this magazines are three-fold. The first, “Altar of the Damned,” shows the second appearance of the character in comics. In this one, we see voodoo rituals, and some sleazy guy (“Gyps“) controlling the whole thing in order to get control of Simon Garth. This story (art by John Buscema and Tom Palmer) serves as sort of a precursor to the second story, which is actually the very first appearance of the character (Zombie! A Man Without a Soul! in Menace 5, 1953, story by Stan Lee and art by Bill Everett). So, in short, they did a retroactive continuity (retcon) story to flesh out the character for the readers. Not a bad idea, but one that has been beaten like a dead horse since (especially in more modern comics).

Next up is a reprint from the Golden Age (Journey into Mystery 1, 1952). “Iron-Head” is a story about a seedy guy that does whatever he can to survive, including murder for money! He spends time on a ship, diving for treasure, but then gets the idea that he can take out the middle men and have all the money for himself! He blows up the ship, and gets the last but most lucrative chest for himself. He then makes his way to a nearby island, but the local natives aren’t very kind to strangers! Art by Dick Ayers!

The Thing from the Bog!,” is a visually stunning work by artist Pablo Marcos, and the story by Marv Wolfman isn’t half bad either! We see a rotting corpse rise the from the bog, a witch casting a spell, and her untimely death! But her death was not in vain, as we see her “people” slowly rise from their graves! The last page of this story is nothing short of heart-wrenching, and deserving!

There is also a quick little two page story by horror master Tom Sutton! “Mastermind” is a Frankenstein’s Monster homage that has the good doctor regretting his action almost immediately!

The bookend story for Simon Garth, “Night of the Walking Dead!,” picks up where the first half left off, as the sleazy Gyps is dead, and Donna Garth identifies him for the coroner. She then obtains the voodoo coin from the police, and immediately gets a bad feeling. Meanwhile, in the graveyard, we see something or someone, stirring. Simon Garth rises from his grave, and is attacked by a dog (with a hunter). He kills the animal brutally, then makes his way towards the coin, as if its calling to him. Written by Steve “Baby” Gerber, art by “Big” John Buscema and Syd Shores.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haunt of Horror 1, 1974 “His Own Kind”

In the year 2020, there have been reasons to be down. But, not only do I try to always look at the positives, it was easier to do that during some tough times because of horror magazines from the Bronze Age. I managed to track down and complete a few different series. One I didn’t complete yet (the last issue is crazy expensive) but did manage to get the first issue, was The Haunt of Horror. This magazine eventually became the home for Gabriel, Devil Hunter after this issue, but for now, lets dive into this inaugural issue! (cover by Bob Larkin)

After a stunning frontispiece by Alfredo Alcala, we get “The Rats!” This tale (by Gerry Conway, writer, and Ralph Reese, artist) follows a few short years after a certain film about rats debuted (Willard, 1971). The lead character also has a striking resemblance to Roy “the boy” Thomas! A fun little yarn for sure!

The following story is a prose piece with a splash page and one other illustration. “HeartStop,” by noted science fiction writer George Alec Effinger, is quite long for a comic magazine (21 pages!), and split into three parts. The tale is about murder and madness in a small Pennsylvania town. The illustrations are by none other than Walt Simonson!

Next up is a reprint from 1953. “The Last Man,” shows a murderous streak of a man named Joe. His murdering streak comes to an end, but not because of why you’d think! Art by Russ Heath (no credits given on script)!

“His Own Kind,” is another story adapted by a science fiction writer, Thomas M. Disch. This is a classic werewolf story that will not leave you wanting! Script by Roy Thomas, art by Val Mayerik (pencils)and Mike Esposito (inks).

A war story called “The Nightmare Patrol” is next. This is one that slightly mirrors the DC comics Weird War Tales, but not exactly. For 90% of the book, it’s just a straight up war story, but then things get crazy! Writer Gerry Conway, art by Ernie Chan!

Finally, we get “In the Shadows of the City!” This is one weird, bizarre story, but I expect nothing less from Steve Gerber (writer) and Vicente Alcazar (art)! A man is telling a psychologist about his compulsion to murder, and it might already have been carried out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Movie Premiere 1, 1975 “The Land that Time Forgot”

In week two of my Halloween bonanza, I’m spotlighting a book that isn’t necessarily “horror,” but one that’s more fantasy. Full disclosure, I forgot I had this magazine (plus a few horror books of the historical/biographical genre), as I’d bought it more for my son than for myself (He was a complete dinosaur addict when he was younger). In the last few weeks, I must have seen this book on social media, and it sparked a memory and I thought I had this book. I looked in all the places it should be, but then I remembered my son has a book shelf in his room, and voila, there it was! It was a feeling of joy I can’t really explain other than to say I felt compelled to blog about it.

For those that haven’t seen the film, don’t worry, you’re not missing much, but I’m sure the novel is excellent (no, I haven’t read it). I can however vouch for the awesomeness of this magazine. You get an adventure beyond belief with dinosaurs, cavemen, etc. The first twenty pages or so, involve intrigue aboard a ship, that ends up getting sunk by a submarine! It’s quite a story, and even includes some panels with no dialogue that are fantastic. Once the Submarine reaches the lost island, the action really ramps up. The dinosaurs are in full attack mode, and the natives are more than just restless!

Movie adaptations can be tricky, but as I said earlier, this book is actually way better than the film. Marv Wolfman (writer) does an excellent job with the script, and quite honestly we should expect nothing less from him. Can you remember the last time you picked up a comic written by him and thought it was bad? Me neither. There is nothing to do but praise Sonny Trinidad equally, as his artwork will dazzle you. His people are perfect, his dinosaurs are delineated perfectly, and his natives are noble (as in splendid). There is also a back up feature, written by Lin Carter ( a sci-fi/fantasy writer, and creator of the character Thongor, which Marvel Comics used in Creatures on the Loose), about films that mirrored this one in content. “Lost Races, Forgotten Cities” shows everything from King Kong (1933) to this film (1975).  This wonderfully imaginative magazine has a cover by long time DC Comics artist, Nick Cardy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Savage Sword of Conan 39, 1979 “The Legions of the Dead!”

I feel it’s been a while since my last Conan magazine post, so why not spotlight one! This issue is more of a recent grab, and part of a lot if I remember correctly. There was a bit of a surprise inside, but I’ll get to that later. In this story we see an ancient evil in Hyboria, and it’s one that Conan must destroy! Also,a super cool chapter in the life of Solomon Kane!

In “Legions of the Dead (an adaptation of a story by L. Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter),” we see Conan ans his friend, Njal, as they hunted for some supper. They eat some freshly carved venison, along with the other tribesmen, when Njal decides to divide the troops, Conan questions if that’s a good move. Njal tells him to keep quiet and the other part of the  tribe heads out. Hours pass, and they do not return. They set out to search for them and find something horrific. The men are inside a castle of the Hyperboreans, hanging and being sliced to ribbons! Conan decides to take matters into his own hands and take action!

This story by De Camp and Carter reads somewhat like a Howard story, and does show a cool little story from Conan’s youth. Some people are mixed on their work, as they took some liberties with the character and his history. Overall they did bring Conan back into prominence, so even if you don’t like their writing or how they adapted/re-imagined some parts of his history, you still should give them credit for helping Conan become a household name in the Bronze Age.

In the middle of this magazine, you get a real treat, as there a few pinups by Rudy Nebres! He is one of those fantastic artists you rarely hear about anymore, which is sad. He didn’t do as much work for Marvel as some, but the work he did was a lot of fun.

The second story, “Moon of Skulls,” is actually part three of a story that took place in two other issues, so I won’t go into detail on that one. Let’s just say Solomon Kane is in big trouble and is at the mercy of a vampire queen! Script by Don Glut, art by David Wenzel.

All in all a great issue. Two solid stories, pinups galore, and a great cover by Earl Norem!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haunt of Horror 3, 1974 “Featuring Gabriel Devil Hunter!”

After recently acquiring this magnificent magazine, I thought it was only fitting to spotlight here on my blog! For anyone that’s been thinking about grabbing some of these black and white marvels, do not wait, as they do nothing but climb in price (seemingly by the day!). In this awesome issue, we get four original stories, and one reprint. This title had an ongoing feature of a little known character called Gabriel Devil Hunter. This was in the height of the Exorcist craze, so Marvel had no shame in creating their own guy to jump on the bandwagon.

The first story, “House of Brimstone” is another chapter starring Gabriel and his lady friend, Desadia. You see they’ve received a phone call about a possession, and that is Gabriel’s specialty! In this one though, he’ll be faced with not only a powerful demon, but a no win situation. Script by Doug Moench, with art by Billy Graham, Pablo Marcos, Frank Giacoia, and Mike Esposito!

Next up is “The Restless Coffin!” Sounds like a vampire story, right? But it is not! It is a short story (only 3 pages) that shows the rise and fall of a Canadian that wanted to become an actor, but a gypsy warned him about his future, and that he would die soon after becoming a success! Written by Doug Moench, art by Pat Broderick and Al Milgrom.

The third story is called “The Swamp Stalkers!” and it’s got a murder, a hanging, and the undead! A story of revenge if there ever was one. Written by Larry Lieber and art by Win Mortimer.

We then get a reprint from 1956, in “They Wait Below.” It’s about the classic creatures called Sirens (click here for info), and their enchanting ways! Art by Bernie Krigstein (the story has no writer credits readily available).

Finally we get to see a match-up between Satan and Death, in “Last Descent to Hell.” This is one bizarre story that shows a confrontation between the two supernatural beings. Written by Doug Moench, and art by Frank Springer!

There are several super cool ads in this one, and I’ll include them below! The cover is by Jose Antonio Domingo (JAD), and the back cover by Pablo Marcos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doc Savage 8, 1976 “The Crimson Plague!”

The black and white magazine market was absolutely booming in the 1970s. Warren Publishing had already been producing exemplary material since the late 1950s, but in 1964 is when they went full on horror with Creepy and Eerie! Both of these mags had top notch creators on them, and still stand the test of time with excellent stories and artwork by some of the giants of the industry. In typical Marvel fashion, they didn’t waste any time copying the business model of Warren (once the CCA relaxed a bit), and began manufacturing a ton of magazine content.

The content was mostly horror and Sci-fi, but Marvel had other books like Rampaging Hulk, Savage Tales, Conan, Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu, Planet of the Apes, and of course, Doc Savage! In this, the final issue, you’ll see madness like never before!

The Doc and the crew head to Acapulco for a funeral, little do they know that they must then contend with a Lovecraftian creature that can completely absorb someone’s mind, turning them into a zombie! Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Renny gets beaten down by some thugs. Later, Doc and Monk come face to face with Randolph Dorn and his Brain Bank!

This insane story was scripted by Doug Moench, from a plot by John Warner and John Whitmore, art by Ernie Chan, letters by Joe Rosen (and Gaspar Saladino). The incredible cover is by the awesome artist, Ken Barr! There are also two pinups I’ve included. The first (inside cover) is from perennial horror artist of the Bronze Age, Tom Sutton, the second by Bob Layton and Dick Giordano!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bizarre Adventures 34, 1982 “Special Hate-The-Holidays Issue!”

In this, the final holiday post of 2019, I give to you one of the weirdest books ever! These strange stories all revolve around the holidays, but each one with a different cast of characters. The awesome cover is by Joe Jusko!

In the first odd tale (“Son of Santa“), we see a little person who convinces a total stranger to come with him on a flight to Tokyo. He agrees, but half way through the flight, the little guy hijacks the plane, and then forces the kid to jump out of the plane with him (using parachutes). They descend, and find an unusual building. It’s the HQ of none other than Santa Claus himself! The jolly old guy has been killed, frozen solid by someone called…the Anti-Claus! Written by Mark Gruenwald and art by Alan Kupperberg.

The second story is a bit of a parody of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Howard the Duck (“Howard the Duck’s Christmas“)! As usual, it’s a crazy story, but not the best of the book for sure. Written by Steven Grant, art by Paul Smith.

Next is “Dr. Deth, Not to Mention Kip and Morty.” This one is by Larry Hama (script and layouts) and Bob Camp (pencils and inks). This one is very weird, and really not about Christmas except in a  very ancillary way.

In “Slay Bells,” we see what looks like a deranged, small man, acting like a boy to get close to Santa Claus’s around town so he can kill them! This one is super crazy, and violent. Story and art by Mike Carlin.

The next to last story is called “Santa Bites the Big Apple!” Santa arrives to give out presents in Manhattan, but finds out it isn’t easy doing anything in NYC! He gets thrown in the slammer, then must improvise on how to distribute his presents. Writing and art by Al Milgrom.

Lastly, we get a chapter in the life of Bucky Bizarre! An alien character that appeared in previous issues. He’s a humorous character that stumbles upon a girl selling matches on a street corner. The story takes place in the times of Charles Dickens, but this girl is not what you’d think! Written by Steve Skeates, art by Steve Smallwood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eerie 51, 1973 “Special Issue, Best Stories Ever!”

In this, the final installment of my  Warren Publishing Halloween spectacular, we get an all-out “best stories” issue! The issue brings some interesting stories for sure, but some similarities to comics/characters that would come later down the road from other publishers (I’m looking at you, Marvel). But when they say it’s a best of issue, they weren’t kidding. And, as a bonus, you get seven big stories in this issue rather than the usual six! All started off with a beautiful painted cover by Sanjulian!

The first story is one that shocked me quite a bit. Not really because of the content, but one of the characters has a strong resemblance to Gamora of the Guardians of the Galaxy. And just so it’s clear, this came out two years previous to Gamora’s first appearance. OK, back to the story. “A Stranger in Hell” is a mysterious one that shows a man that cannot remember his name, and is lured deeper into a realm that closely resembles Hades itself! Written by T. Casey Brennan, and art by Esteban Maroto!

The following story is entitled “Pity the Grave Digger!” It shows a gruesome tale of a graveyard full of vampires! And if that wasn’t enough, we also get something else insidious that will gnaw on you! Story by Buddy Saunders, and art by Auraleon.

The third selection is an absolutely terrifying yarn! “The Caterpillars,” is about a secret government lab, and something called Project X-3. Something rises from a grave, and later an autopsy reveals a worm was inside a skull, eating away at the victims brain! Written by Fred Ott, artwork by Luis Garcia!

Evil Spirits” gives us not only two iconic creators I’ll mention in a second, but first there’s a woman that has disturbing dreams. By the end of it, she’s swinging an axe, but at whom? Story by Archie Goodwin, art by EC legend, Johnny Craig!

In “Head Shop,” a man takes an interest in an odd dummy head. The head seems to change it’s facial expressions, and become almost psychotic! In fact, if the man keeps obsessing he might end up losing his head over it. Written by Don Glut, art by Jose Bea.

The next story is another treat because of the creative team. “Vision of Evil” is quite a yarn. This one shows us an artist that has a flare for the dramatic with his horrific paintings. There’s only one problem…they’re a bit too life-like! Written by Archie Goodwin, with art by Alex Toth!

Finally, “The Curse of Kali!” This tale involves British soldiers and a bizarre adventure in India. By stories’ end, most of the soldiers don’t make it out alive to tell the tale! Story by Archie Goodwin, with art by Angelo Torres!

This issue is a must have for any Warren mag, horror, or fan of Archie Goodwin and these fantastic artists!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creepy 57, 1973 “The Destructive Image”

In this, the penultimate black and white magazine spotlight for October (I have something special planned for the 31st), the awesome talents of Sanjulian are on full display with this cover! The horror and fantasy elements here are spectacular, and really eye-catching. After so many good covers, it’s easy to get spoiled, and give him his due, but lets be honest, the man deserves it.

As usual, the issue contains six stories, and some fun games and little articles as well. Uncle Creepy introduces us to the stories, and adds his usual bit of sick humor as well. Alright, here we go!

The first story is called “The Destructive Image.” In this one, we see how television can become reality. A deadly reality! Written by Don McGregor, with art by Ramon Torrents.

The next story is called “The Hope of the Future,” and it involves a man and some children. Not just any children though, the kind that murder! Story by Doug Moench, and art by Jaime Brocal.

The Bloodlock Museum,” is a story that shows a psychotic man and his one-of-a-kind museum. And the man that he’s giving a tour to will be the final exhibit! Writer Jack Butterworth, art by Martin Salvador.

In the middle of the book we get a story in full color (not sure how I feel about this). It’s called “The Low Spark of High Heeled Noise.” A couple let a stranger stay at their home for the night with interesting results! Writer Doug Moench, and art by Richard Corben.

Following the Corben/Moench madness, is “The Red Badge of Terror.” A war/western story with a vampiric twist! A very good yarn by Doug Moench (story) and Jose Bea (art)!

Finally, we have “Sense of Violence.” The story shows us a paranoid man that thinks everyone is out to get him. He uses a knife to defend himself against his attackers, but was any of it real? Story by Doug Moench and art by Munes.