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Thursday, December 24, 2009

POST # 20 - NOT A CREATURE WAS STIRRING














It's Christmas time, and I'm afraid you may be getting a sweet tooth from too many sickly-sweet Christmas stories on your favorite blogs, so here at BLACK 'N' WHITE AND RED ALL OVER, we're dreaming of a red Christmas. From 35 years ago, I'm offering up a double treat in my CREEPY Cross-over --  two great Christmas stories, CREEPY style! Both stories from CREEPY # 59, 1973. One offered here, in glorious black and white, and another one in color at my home at THE BLOG AT THE END OF TIME! One story is about a Santa Killer, and the other story is about a Santa Killer...er, that is, one is about a killer who kills Santa's, and the other one is about a Santa who kills...oh, never mind - you'll see! Merry Christmas!

First off, here's an artist we've featured recently, Tom Sutton. I wrote earlier how Mr. Sutton was able to change his stylistic approach for each story, and here the chameleon-like artist delivers an interesting illustrative style. Don McGregor wrote the tale that delivers a happy holiday ending(Creepy style, that is)!
Enjoy this delightful selection, and if you're good, Santa may bring you a special gift tomorrow!
Here you go, here is...
NOT A CREATURE WAS STIRRING!


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Remember, just click here to go to THE BLOG AT THE END OF TIME to see the second Creepy Christmas tale from this same classic issue!


CREEPY # 59 cover art by Manuel Sanjulian.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

POST # 19 - DEATH AND DOCTOR MORBIDUS



In the beginning, Warren Publications used well-known and established American comic book artists for their black and white horror magazines, CREEPY and EERIE. But by the time VAMPIRELLA hit the stands in 1969, financial concerns had led them to use many artists unfamiliar to most readers - talented artists from Spain, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and elsewhere. One of my favorite artists from Spain was Rafael Aura Leon, or Auraleon, as he became known.

Auraleon began his career in comics in Spain in 1959. His first Warren stories appeared in 1971. Rafael would stay with Warren until their bankruptcy in 1983, contributing 69 stories in total. He left the comics industry about a year later. He may be best remembered by American audiences as the artist for the running feature 'Pantha' from VAMPIRELLA.

Today's post is just a 'quickie', a two page story running on the inside cover pages of VAMPIRELLA # 26, from 1973. This is the original artwork, and it is for sale on Ebay for $2,750.00, if anyone is interested. It does not belong to me, but the images were there for all to see, so I thought I would share them with you. I always enjoy seeing the original artwork, I hope you will enjoy it, too.
Written by George Henderson, here is...
DEATH AND DOCTOR MORBIDUS!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

POST # 18 - EYE OF THE BEHOLDER



Johnny Craig is one of my favorite artists from the fifties.
One of the cornerstones in the foundation of EC's dominating success in the 1950's, Johnny Craig was known for his skill as an artist (and a writer), and being a really nice guy, but also for one other unfortunate aspect. Apparently, he was a very slow and meticulous worker. In fact, listen to a few of his co-workers:

"It was hard for him to draw; it was painful watching him work. He was struggling with it all the time. He had a very exact way of working."  -  Wally Wood

"Al (Feldstein) was doing seven books, Johnny Craig was doing a book...Johnny was slow, so slow. Jack Davis was our fastest artist, Johnny was our slowest. He would take an entire month to write and draw one story. It was just his nature. A lot of guys in comics bat stuff out; Johnny never did. Everything had to be perfect."  -  William Gaines

"Johnny was extremely talented, but he had no real drive, either monetarily or from the ego point of view. He was slow in his artwork, and therefore his income was limited."  -  Al Feldstein

"Johnny Craig should have gotten much more recognition at EC, because his stuff was really good. In his own right, he was as good as Harvey Kurtzman, because he wrote good stories and drew them well, and knew how to entertain you."  -  Al Williamson

Even the author of today's tale, Archie Goodwin, had this to say: " I don't know how he made a living in comics. His work was so good, but every page took him forever."

I can't help being reminded of a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said "To be great is to be misunderstood." No one understood, but he just wanted his comics to be the best they could be, and he took great pains to bring forth his masterpieces. Clearly his pain-staking attention to details resulted in an amazing body of work that has earned him the praise and respect of comic fans everywhere. Stylistically, you can see the influences of his idols Will Eisner and Milton Caniff in his work, but Craig adds something more that is quite his own. Here is the ever-modest Craig's own take on his work output:
 "I was supposed to do three stories a month. I was lucky if I did one. I was forced at an early age to learn drawing by continually searching for flaws in my own work, and then drawing it again and again to try to correct those flaws."

(By the way, those quotes and much of today's information can be found in Grant Geissman's FOUL PLAY!, a beautiful volume spotlighting all of the talented EC artists. Check it out, if you are an EC comics fan.)

When the bloody ax of Comics Code chopped the head off of the 'horror' comics boom, many publishers including EC comics died a slow and painful death, but before the last gasp (before finding a new life from MAD source), EC tried it's Picto-Fiction experiment, where Craig and his compatriots really got to show off their black and white technique. Beautiful stuff, all of it. I definitely plan to post some of those pages in the future. After that time, Craig left comics and worked in advertising, where his talents led him through the ranks straight to the top to eventually be Vice President and Art Director for a Pennsylvania based firm. Doesn't sound like someone with 'no drive' to me! It isn't surprising that one of the reasons he would leave advertising to go back into comics was because of "extreme deadline pressure"! He couldn't get away from it!

Some of the earliest work done during his 'comeback' to comics was some excellent black and white work for Warren, and today's story is a wonderful example of varying styles within one story, as you will see. Craig does it with skill. I almost said effortlessly. Now, because he was still working in advertising and he didn't want his clients to know he was doing comic book work, Craig spelled out his initials, J.T.C.  --  Jay Taycee (I don't know why it isn't Jay Teecee). Whatever name he used and however long it took him, I love his work. I, for one, am grateful he took his time. Sadly, Craig passed away in 2001. We can remember him through his comics.


Read more about the great Johnny Craig here.

From EERIE # 2, 1966, consider now today's story of a man who loves his wife...too much. It is hard to understand how he feels unless one looks through the...
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER!






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Monday, December 7, 2009

POST # 17 - VISION OF EVIL


When Warren Publishing wanted to put out a black and white horror mag companion for their successful CREEPY,  they chose the name EERIE. Unfortunately, so had another publisher, and in order to beat the competition and gain the legal rights to the name, Warren slapped together a few CREEPY stories, cobbled a cover featuring the new logo, and got their version of EERIE # 1 to the stands first. The rest, as they say, is history. So EERIE # 2, in 1966 was in truth the real first issue, but that didn't matter much because those first few issues were essentially just like CREEPY  --  great art, great stories.
This one is from the renowned and capable Alex Toth. In the story by Archie Goodwin, obsessive art collector's think they have found the perfect artist...or have they? Heh heh...
Here is...VISION OF EVIL!


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Thursday, December 3, 2009

POST # 16 - A CHANGE OF PACE




Tom Sutton is a very versatile and under-appreciated artist. When he drew this story he had already been working for both Marvel and Warren for about a year, where his art was eaning deserved praise. What I really like about his comic stories (for Warren especially) is how he changed his style effortlessly depending on the story, ranging from total gothic horror to the sweet and humorous. Here he uses a little bit looser, kind of Jack Davis-ish approach. I have many more examples his varying styles to be shared sometime soon. For right now, here is a little topic near to my heart, time travel. Do you know how many variables we threaten to unravel with each journey through the plethora of time? Ha!  Here's a story of a couple of time travelers who weren't paying attention in science class, a couple of guys looking for...
A CHANGE OF PACE!



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Here is Tom Sutton's fantastic cover for this story.
EERIE # 18, 1968.