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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tales of the Zombie 9, 1974 “Simon Garth Lives Again!”

What is this…? Back to back posts about Simon Garth, A.K.A. The Zombie? YES! Yes it is! And another look at Simon Garth is definitely in order during the month of October! The covers, the content, the amazement, these mags are wondrous. Even the advertisements are special (and I’ll post some pics along with my usual story images).

In this particular book, Marvel gives us three chapters of a story about the zombie, and one extra story without him tucked in at the end (plus a little one-pager by Isabella and Win Mortimer). The three-part story about the Zombie has with one exception a different creative team on every chapter. There is one constant, as Tony Isabella (writer/plotter), is there throughout. We do get one chapter scripted by Chris Claremont, but Isabella plots that one and writes the others. This story has a very interesting angle in that we get to see Simon Garth in human form once again! No spoilers other than that from me though!

The artists in these chapters include – Virgilio Redondo, Alfredo Alcala, Yong Montano, Ron Wilson, Pablo Marcos, and that last little story I mentioned (“Herbie the Liar said it wouldn’t Hurt“) is written by Doug Moench! Lastly, the incredible painted cover is by the late, great Earl Norem! Check out his work online as he did some fantastic covers just like this one, plus interiors too!

 

 

Tales of the Zombie 5, 1974 “The Palace of Black Magic!”

Another day, and another look at a classic horror comic during October! There are a few more black and white mags to look at, and those are a favorite of mine and quite a few other fans of the medium. These mags are an excellent example of something from the past that will never be duplicated. Right place right time scenario. All the key words are visible- “voodoo”, “magic”, “walking dead”, etc. A more Bronze Age book cannot be found, just look at the cover and the clothes the girl is wearing! The stories in this one are fantastic, and all are about zombies!

The first story is a continuation (as far as the creative team) from the previous issue. “Palace of Black Magic” by Steve Gerber (writer), and Pablo Marcos (art), is another installment of beauty from this series. Both of these men have had great careers in comics, but these issues have to be considered to be right up there with their best. The next story (“Who Walks with a Zombie?”) is a reprint from the Atom Age, and stars the incredibly talented Russ Heath on art (not sure of the credits for writer on this one). Then there is “Voodoo War” by Tony Isabella (writer), Syd Shores, Dick Ayers, and Mike Esposito (inks) on art! Two men using voodoo against each other in an old west tale of terror. Finally, “Death’s Bleak Birth” shows a dead man rise from his grave, and after that the killing spree begins! Doug Moench (writer), and Frank Springer (art), are on point with this one for sure.

There are a couple of other tidbits in this one as well. A three pager by Doug Moench (writer) describing Brother Voodoo and his lore (illustrations look like they are from a story with Gene Colan art). Also by Moench, we get a look into the excellent film White Zombie (Bela Lugosi). Lastly, there is a prose story by Chris Claremont, continuing from the previous issue. And this is all kicked off with a great cover by Earl Norem!

 

Tales of the Zombie 6, 1974 “Child of Darkness!”

The Marvel black and white magazines from the Bronze Age are nothing short or astonishing. The painted covers, great creators, and over-sized goodness are just a few reasons why I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to grab more every time I hit a convention. One of the books at the top of my list, is Tales of the Zombie. This particular issue only has two stories (most had more), but they’re great ones! The first is a Simon Garth tale, and as you can imagine, it involves something eerie. A prominent couple that leaves all their wealth behind to move into a voodoo infested swamp! The second tale involves Brother Voodoo! Yes, Jericho Drumm himself, as he battles The Black Talon!

As far as creative teams go, this book is tough to beat. The Zombie story has Steve Gerber (writer), and Pablo Marcos (art)! Both men made their names in the 1970’s, and their work still resonates to this day. The second story is brought to us by Len Wein (plot), Doug Moench (script), and the art team of Gene Colan (pencils) and Frank Chiaramonte (inks). The fabulous cover is by the late Earl Norem. He did a few of these great covers for Marvel’s magazines, and really seems to have been an unsung hero of the industry.

 

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Tales of the Zombie #3, 1973 “When The Gods Crave Flesh!”

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!)!

 

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