I have a new passion for a certain comic book that wont stop gnawing at me. The black and white horror magazines from the 1970s are very hypnotizing; from the fantastic artwork, the wild stories, and the overall more mature tone are really exceptional. I’ve already talked about the first issue of these that bought a while back (Monsters Unleashed #11), and that one really hooked me into the genre. I was already a fan of most of the creators that worked in this era, and saw some work from creators I’d never seen before (Billy Graham, being one). In this great issue, we start out with a story starring the one and only, Simon Garth (the Zombie)! There are four other stories (one reprint maybe?) in the issue, but this first one definitely stands out the most, as you will see!
Legendary writer, Steve “Baby” Gerber wrote the Zombie story, and with artwork by “Prolific” Pablo Marcos, you really get the best of what these magazines had to offer. Throw in more artwork by long time artists Tony Dipreta, and Bill Walton (both Golden Age alumni), and more stories written from talents like “Devil-May-Care” Doug Moench and Tony “The Tiger” Isabella, and you get an incredible book! Let’s be honest though, you’ll fall in love with this one just from the Boris Vallejo cover alone (a definite shout out to magazine editor, “Marvelous” Marv Wolfman, as well!)!
In the early 1970’s, Marvel dove head-first into the black and white magazine market. Of course, that medium was already publishing fantastic stories thanks to the creators at Warren Publishing. Some of those creators would leave and join Marvel Comics, and help them ascend and to produce some of the best mags of the decade. One of the best being Savage Tales! Issue one was released in 1971, but it didn’t exactly fly off the stands. The next issue wasn’t released for two years, but when it hit, the market was in a different place, and it sold well. The floodgates were opened, and Marvel reaped the benefits.
Savage Tales was a good mix of action, adventure, sword and sorcery, and even horror. This specific issue gives us a Ka-Zar story (“Requiem for a Haunted Man”), and the creative team on that one is utterly fantastic. Gerry Conway (writer) and Russ Heath (pencils) are joined by the studio known as the Crusty Bunkers (inks), to give us the lord of the Savage Land, Zabu, and an unfamiliar face, as they fight savages, crocodiles, and more! A prose story (The Running of Ladyhound) by none other than sci-fi scribe, John Jakes (with a couple of images) and then a tale starring Shanna the She-Devil! This tale was scripted by Carla Conway (first wife of Gerry Conway), and the art team is Ross Andru and Vince Colleta! Not too bad, eh? Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, we get a cover by Boris Vallejo, as well!
Alright, a new month, and we say goodbye to Jack Kirby, but in his absence, we will see another titan of the comic book industry that left us way to soon, in the form of ‘Big’ John Buscema! A week-long tribute to him, then on to another comic book icon! There’s no two ways about it, you have to start out with a tribute to John Buscema with that Cimmerian warrior, Conan! In the first issue of The Savage Sword of Conan #1 (cover by Boris Vallejo), we get to see Conan, as he’s doing his usual thing (partying, and getting into trouble), but then out of nowhere, as he’s attacked by some vagabonds, he’s assisted by the beautiful but dangerous, Red Sonja! The two then go on to have an adventure that includes rescuing a girl from being sacrificed on an altar by some evildoers!
Nobody could draw Conan like John Buscema (Barry Windsor-Smith did a fine job too), and when you see other renderings, you will find it to be true! Whether it was gulping down a flagon of ale, fighting in some desert war, or riding a horse across the wilderness, ‘Big’ John Buscema was king of Conan the Barbarian! Enjoy!