The Frankenstein Monster 6, 1973 “In Search of the Last Frankenstein!”

There is probably not a more iconic of a monster than the Monster of Frankenstein! The 1931 classic film (and the first sequel) is undoubtedly in the pantheon of great films because of its significance, and because it was great with excellent performance by Colin Clive and of course, Boris Karloff. Fast forward to the 1970s, and we were presented with an adaptation of sorts for the first few issues by Mike Ploog (the artwork is excellent) and Gary Friedrich (good script by Gary as usual). These two creators were perfect for the book and the time in comics. Both men have left a lasting impression on the industry for sure.

In this issue, you get some really great material, as the Monster fights knights, an angry mob of mutants, and even a giant spider! The story is one right out of a fantasy novel, and it suits the Monster perfectly. There is always that feeling of sorrow for him, but seeing him perform acts of heroism is also refreshing. At this point, he’s not just a mindless beast, but sentient. Definitely pick this series up as it’s one of a kind. John Costanza (letters), Glynis Wein (colors), and Roy Thomas (editor), round out the creative team.

 

Advertisements

Marvel Spotlight 4, 1972 “Island of the Damned!”

During the 1970s, there were a few different things that were hot commodities. In comics, one of them for sure was horror. Vampires, monsters, demons, mummies, witches, and of course, werewolves! In 1972, Marvel decided to create their own werewolf character that would be not only a creature of destruction, but one of tragedy as well. Jack Russell would turn twenty-one years old, and turn into a werewolf under a full moon from here on out.

Early on, the book centered around Jack trying to figure out why this happened to him. He very quickly realized that a certain book was involved, and that unless he finds The Darkhold, he may never get any answers. In what’s basically a werewolf dropped in the middle of the Island of Dr. Moreau, Jack is confronted by a strange island full of surprises, and by the end of the issue, he’ll be between a rock and a hard place.

In this early second age of horror for Marvel comics, Gerry Conway (writer) is one of the men that was tasked with writing these titles off and on (between his epic Spider-Man run and other superhero titles as well). Not to belittle Conway’s efforts, but Mike Ploog (cover and interior art) was outstanding during this period with his horror work. He had runs on this title/character, Monster of Frankenstein, Man-Thing, and Ghost Rider, and they were all exquisite. The creative team is rounded out by veteran Sam Rosen (letters).

*Note- there was also a lot of input on the early issues of the horror books by Writer/Editor Roy Thomas, and he definitely deserves credit as well.

 

 

Marvel Spotlight 7, 1972 “Die, Die My Daughter!”

In the 1970s, there wasn’t a better time for comic book readers. You had Golden and Silver Age creators still pumping out material, but you also had younger writers and artists that had been inspired by those giants, and were determined to leave their own mark on the industry. There’s also another aspect to consider as far as the content, and that is what was in the zeitgeist of the times. One of those things was most certainly the occult. Marvel then decided to re-purpose a character from a western comic that was all but forgotten. His name was the Ghost Rider (later Phantom Rider), and this time around, he wasn’t going to be lassoing people or shooting at them with a six-shooter!

In Marvel Spotlight 5 (a lot of the newer characters started off in books like this one and once they proved themselves, were transitioned to their own book), we see the tragic story of Johnny Blaze. A young kid working at a carnival, and watching his father doing motorcycle stunts. His father ends up getting killed in an accident, and the carnival owners (The Simpsons…no, not Homer and Marge) adopt him. The show becomes a huge success but then his step-mother is killed, but right before she dies, she makes Johnny promise he won’t ride in the show anymore. He doesn’t ride but the show still gets even bigger than it was before. Johnny still practices privately, and becomes an excellent rider. One day, Crash Simpson gets a phone call and he’s made the big time, as his show will be at Madison Square Garden! He seems less than excited and then tells Johnny and Roxanne that he has “the disease” and the doctor told him he only has one month to live.

After thinking about this for thirty seconds, Johnny decides as any normal teenage in the 1970s would, he uses a book to summon “Satan” to grant him a wish to heal Crash Simpson (Satan is in quotes because Marvel would later retcon it wasn’t actually Satan himself, but a demon). Yes, he really did that…so, then “Satan” obliges him and tells him that he’ll be back to collect a fee in the future. We all know that means he’s in big trouble, but Johnny apparently doesn’t care because of dealing with the grief of his own father and step-mother dying. Of course, Crash dies not from cancer, but a motorcycle accident.¬† Then Johnny makes the jump, but is later confronted by “Satan” and his soul is bonded to a demon, which in-turn is why he changes into the new Ghost Rider!

In this issue, we see Johnny after a man named Curly, but we eventually see it’s actually a reanimated Crash Simpson! Curly is trying to sacrifice Roxanne to his master (again “Satan”), but Johnny will not allow the love of his life to perish! He fights off some occultists, then has a showdown with Crash himself!

The creative team on this issue is the same since the first appearance. Gary Friedrich (writer), Mike Ploog (art), Frank Chiaramonte (inks), Herb Cooper (letters), and Roy Thomas (editor). A few years back, there was a little controversy over who actually created most of the character of Ghost Rider. Friedrich claimed he did, and sued Marvel for creators rights. He lost of course, simply because everything was work for hire back then, and any attempts to seize control of a character simply fell short. Sadly, a lot of these creators have fallen on hard times, and could really use a helping hand from the companies that they helped become so financially robust. There is a great organization called The Hero Initiative, that can help creators in need. Definitely swing by and donate if you can at the next convention you visit.

 

 

 

The Man-Thing! by Steve Gerber!

I know the Silver Age was the foundation for just about everything (except most notably Captain America, the Human Torch, and Namor) at Marvel, but the Bronze Age was the age that brought comics into the modern era, because it explored ideas that were previously ignored or even taboo. Drugs, violence, religion, you name it, this time in comics was exactly what the industry needed. One of the creators that helped lead the way with his unique style of storytelling was Steve Gerber. He was a shot in the arm no doubt as the pages were filled with social issues galore, and along with his idiosyncratic style, humor, and tons of off-the-wall stories readers were enthralled with these books!

 

Imagine if you will, trying to write stories in which the main character cannot speak. Taking over the character Man-Thing in only its third appearance, Gerber immediately turned the direction of the book/character from a straight up horror character, to one that is centric to stories with social issues, but you still get the horror angle as well (just not the main point of the story). The issues of (Adventures Into) Fear that featured Gerber’s work did lean slightly more towards more horror than anything, but once Manny transitioned to his own title, the restraints were completely off.

Let me be frank, Gerber could write any kind of story, not just one solely focused on social issues. He actually would write an issue or two with that as the main idea (Fear #12, 16), but then turn around and write a few issues in a row of just straight up horror (Fear #13-15). He wrote superhero stories (check out his trippy Daredevil run, Marvel Two-in-One, Omega the Unknown, and Guardians of the Galaxy!), and everything in between, but what most consider his crowning achievement is Howard the Duck. I’m partial to the Man-Thing¬† stories though, and if you read them, I guarantee you’ll become a fan!

Check out these images that really drive home how awesome the Gerber Man-Thing is! Enjoy!

 

 

 

Marvel Premiere #5, 1972 “The Lurker in the Labyrinth”

Continuing with more of the Doctor Strange run in Marvel Premiere, this story is a continuation from the last, and shows the Doc fighting for his life against some crazy cult that has people looking like the Sleestak’s from Land of the Lost! These worshipers of evil also can apparently summon an unseen force to stop people, and even severely weaken the Sorcerer Supreme himself. So, in short, the Doc must overcome a lizard-like entity, his hundreds of hypnotized followers, and restore the town to its peaceful regularity, and oh yeah, all without hurting/killing any of the people who are enthralled! Yeesh!

This magnificent story, like the last issue, is loosely based off of a story by the legend himself, Robert E. Howard. The book’s creative team is nothing short of groovy as well! Writer extraordinaire, Gardner Fox, did very little work for Marvel Comics, but his overall contributions to the comic book industry are nothing short of Herculean. The pencils for this issue are by a man I’m not too familiar with (I’ve seen a couple of pages of his works in reprints of Golden/Silver Age horror/sci-fi stuff), but Irv Wesley (Sam Kweskin) did a fine job. One of the reasons I feel the artwork looks as good as it does, is from the inks of Don Perlin! I’m a big fan of his work, and you should be too! Rounding out the creative team is letter Sam Rosen, and editor Roy Thomas! Oh, and let us not forget the unbelievable cover by the one and only Mike Ploog!

 

Image (97)

Image (98)

Image (99)

Image (100)

Image (101)

Image (102)

 

 

Marvel Spotlight #4, 1972 “Island of the Damned!”

Although there’s no specific reference in the comic book itself, Marvel Spotlight #4 (1972) is definitely an homage to the H.G. Wells book “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” That fantastic story has been adapted to the big screen a few times, with varying results, but in this case, it was a resounding success. The issue is only the third appearance of this character (Jack Russell/ the werewolf), and his supporting cast, but you already feel attached to him and his troubled life even in that short amount of time. The story follows Jack to an island, almost like the very same one in the Wells book.

If there was ever any doubt about the talent of Gerry Conway (and just for Spider-Man, there shouldn’t be), read his horror work, and you’ll be hard-pressed to not be impressed by his work. As if that wasn’t enough of a selling point, you get the absolutely eerie artwork of Mike Ploog, that is nothing short of a visual feast! Toss in the letters of comic book mainstay, Sam Rosen, and you’ve got one heckuva comic book!

 

Image (55)

Image (56)

Image (57)

Image (58)

Image (59)

Image (60)

Image (61)

Image (62)

 

The Monster of Frankenstein #5, 1973 “The Monster Walks Among Us”

When I hear the name Mike Ploog, I immediately gravitate to Marvel horror from the 1970’s, as most probably do, but that is to be expected. His work in that genre is unparalleled, and most lovers of that genre might curse me for saying this, but I think he ranks right up there with the all-time greats (Wrightson, Frazetta, etc.). His run on these titles wasn’t incredibly extensive, but the impact certainly cannot be denied.

Let us take a look at the fifth issue of The Monster of Frankenstein, shall we? Just look at that cover! The Monster, a beautiful woman, the fire, boat, and roaring sea. Just an incredible piece of artwork. The splash page is almost as cool, and really shows great perspective by Ploog. His rendition of the Monster can look menacing or sorrowful, and even both at the same time. So, enjoy this peek at one of Ploog’s best issues! Written by Mike Friedrich, pencils by Mike Ploog, inks by ‘Jumbo’ John Verpoorten, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Artie Simek, and edited by Roy Thomas!

 

Image (10)

Image (11)

Image (12)

Image (13)

Image (14)

Image (15)

Image (16)

Image (17)

 

The Monster of Frankenstein #4, 1973 “Death of the Monster!”

Recently, on Mike Ploog’s Facebook page, he noted that this issue was probably his favorite. So, yeah, that’s inspiration enough for this guy to write something down, and post some scans of the awesome artwork that is Mike Ploog. In this issue, we see the Monster kill a deer, by tossing a spear at it, he also fights a native people (I think), then after making friends with them, fights alongside them against a warring local tribe. Intense fight scenes, dog-sled action, clubs, axes, spears, you name it, this one has it. In the end though, the Monster just wants to find something, and he gets a tip on where to look for a descendant of his creator!

Written by Gary Friedrich, pencils by Mike Ploog, inks by ‘Jumbo’ John Verpoorten, letters by Artie Simek, colors by Glynis Wein, and edited by Roy ‘the boy’ Thomas! Even if you can’t afford the singles, you can still grab the Marvel Essentials at shows and some websites. The artwork holds up great in black and white!

 

Image (108)

Image (109)

Image (110)

Image (111)

Image (112)

 

 

 

Comics: The 1970’s Horror Explosion! -Finale

As I wind down this look at some of the great horror titles in comics from the best decade of comic books (stop arguing, it is!), I wanted to give a wider variety than what I’ve posted so far in the previous three installments. There definitely must be contributions from Werewolf by Night, Monster of Frankenstein, Son of Satan, and a nod to the great black and white magazines, as well! Let us send this tribute out with a bang, and see books starring the likes of -Steve Gerber (RIP), Mike Ploog, Gil Kane (RIP), Sonny Trinidad (RIP), Billy Graham (RIP), Rico Rival, Don Perlin, Doug Moench, Gerry Conway, Gary Friedrich, Jim Steranko, Don McGregor, Tony Isabella, Jim Aparo (RIP), Carmine Infantino (RIP), Nick Cardy (RIP), Ross Andru (RIP), George Tuska (RIP), and more! Enjoy!

 

Image

Image (2)

Image (3)

Image (4)

Image (5)

Image (6)

Image (7)

Image (9)

Image (10)

Image (11)

Image (12)

Image (13)

Image (14)

Image (15)

Image (16)

Image (17)

Super-Spectacular Birthday Post- Werewolf by Night!

It’s no secret to anyone that follows me on Twitter, or is friends with me on Facebook, that I love horror comics. Mostly old school, Bronze Age stuff, but even some of the more recent books as well. So, listen, today is my birthday, and that means I’m going to post some random images of one of my favorite horror characters, Werewolf by Night (Jack Russell)! There have been many artists who’ve lent their talents to this great character, and I’ll try to be as diverse as I can using only my collection as material (as always but yes, I own a lot of black & white reprints, and do search out color shots on the web from time to time for my blog). So here’s to you Jack, may the fleas stay away and the dog biscuits be scrumptious! Enjoy!

Cover by Neal Adams

Cover by Neal Adams

artist- Leonardo manco

artist- Leonardo Manco

artist- Juan Doe

artist- Juan Doe

cover by Patch Zircher

cover by Patch Zircher

artist- Mico Suayan

artist- Mico Suayan

artist- Greg Land

cover by- Greg Land

artist- Don Perlin

artist- Don Perlin

artist- Mike Ploog

artist- Mike Ploog