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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

POST # 42 - THE MUMMY STALKS!




Recently I was talking about artist Reed Crandall and how many werewolf stories he had done over the years. Searching through my database I happened to come across this classic tale by Crandall that features another character from the horror pantheon, that being mummy dearest.

I realize I showcased Reed Crandall  in just the past week or so, but I didn't think you'd mind seeing more from him. I believe that you just can't go wrong with a well done work by a master like Crandall.

This time, the duo of writer Archie Goodwin ( here joined by another artistic master Roy Krenkel, who probably provided the plot) and artist Reed Crandall draw our focus to the scene of some unexplained murders occuring in the shadowed halls of a dark and musty London museum, where one of Scotland Yard's best detectives is brought in to try and solve the mystery before the deranged culprit adds to the growing body count. He'd better be quick about it, because every time they turn around they stumble across another mangled victim.

Wait! Did you hear something? It sounds like some kind of muffled but deliberate footsteps, not unlike a shambling walking corpse, and they're getting closer and closer! For God's sake, stay alert! Your heart pounds faster, the sweat begins to bead upon your forehead, and the hair on the back of your neck stands up while you begin to shiver involuntarily, all the while you wonder where the maniac will strike next! Stay out of the shadows, and get ready, as...
THE MUMMY STALKS! 










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Ha! Fooled you! Did I neglect to tell you that Mummy was a werewolf?
Must have slipped my mind...terribly sorry, old chap!
Seems it turns out this was another of those famous Reed Crandall werewolf tales after all!


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(originally published in EERIE # 5, 1966)


Saturday, April 23, 2011

POST # 41 - THE DAY AFTER DOOMSDAY!


Some of my favorite art from the Warren horror line was created by today's artist, Dan Adkins.

While he did perhaps a mere half  dozen stories and a handful of covers for Warren, the work he did still holds ups against the finest offered from Warren's ranks. And yes, it's true he began his comics career by working in the Wally Wood studios, and that his artwork is often examined in the light that is prominently overshadowed by Wood, even though several works credited to Wood during this period were done in large part or even entirely by Adkins.

The fact remains that Adkins is a fine artist, painter, penciller, and inker, and his work deserves to stand on it's own merits, and today's story is certainly no exception. From EERIE # 8, 1967, THE DAY AFTER DOOMSDAY was created at the beginning of his career in comics and highlights Adkins' finesse with fine lines while it showcases his skills for solid forms and shadows. Where other artists work in a loose and carefree fashion, Adkins invariably brings a completeness and a level of detail beyond most of his contemporaries that is unavoidably reader-friendly and instantly enjoyable to the eye.

Imagine yourself awaking to discover that a devastating war has taken place, and you have somehow miraculously survived. Now imagine the horror and burden of lonliness you feel as you claw your way through the endless rubble and begin to search through the smouldering ruins for other survivors. Finally, as you fight for your life,  imagine your complete and utter despair when you realize what lies waiting for you...
THE DAY AFTER DOOMSDAY!










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Art by Dan Adkins / Story by Archie Goodwin
Originally published in EERIE # 8, 1967


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Now that you've seen what happens on the day after doomsday,




Sunday, April 17, 2011

POST # 40 - THE WEREWOLF LEGEND (Original Artwork)




Today's feature is a story that was the collective creation of  Harry Harrison, Wallace Wood, and Gardner Fox.

THE WEREWOLF LEGEND originally appeared in what was a new title for EC Comics, THE VAULT OF HORROR. It's first issue (chronologically numbered #12) hit the news-stands as the April-May 1950 issue, simultaneously with another experimental first issue title, THE CRYPT OF TERROR (chronologically labelled #17), which would by it's fourth issue be renamed as the more familiar TALES FROM THE CRYPT. In another month a third horror title would be released, THE HAUNT OF FEAR, which provided EC with it's own trinity of terror that would catapult them to the forefront of the rising horror comics wave that was soon to sweep the nation, and ultimately would virtually cause the downfall of the entire industry.

What is today known as "pre-code horror" comics was basically still in it's infancy at this moment in time, and over the next six years (1950-55) the artwork and stories would evolve (or devolve, as the case may be) into some of the goriest, grisliest, and most violently graphic comics ever to see publication.

EC Comics was just testing the waters at this point, and had no idea how popular their horror comics would soon become, and by all respects, THE WEREWOLF LEGEND is fairly tame in comparison to the works that would soon follow.

I've already featured the amazing and legendary Wallace Wood here several times, so I will not be repeating myself in any great detail for this post. Let us rather look at Harry Harrison. Readers of science fiction may be familiar with his name, as he is currently a well respected writer whose many works include the novels The Stainless Steel Rat (and it's subsequent sequels), and Make Room! Make Room! (which eventually became more well known as the film Soylent Green). Not only a gifted creative writer, Harrison was better known in the late 40's and the 50's as a fairly talented artist. His work in retrospect tends to be overshadowed by contributions of his then-time collaborator Wood, who is now regarded as one of the greatest comic artists of all time. This is a shame, because Harrison is a talented artist in his own right.

In 1948 both artists met and formed a partnership, doing art for both Fox and Avon Comics before they found their way to the EC staff in 1949, and were both developing their skills even further, both seperately and as partners, when EC launched their popular 'New Trend' comics line in 1950. The pair (and Harrison in particular) are directly responsible for talking EC publisher William M. Gaines into producing it's science fiction comics, WEIRD SCIENCE and WEIRD FANTASY

Gardner Fox is another well-known name in the comic book industry, having been a writer since the 1930's. His prolific creative work is too great to mention here in depth, though he is perhaps best remembered at this time for being largely responsible for revamping the superhero genre for DC Comics in the 60's, being the creative force behind the Justice League Of America, The Flash, The Atom, and on and on. From 1947-50 Fox was the head writer for EC Comics, and that, my friends, brings us to today's story.

Imagine how you would feel if you suddenly found yourself  cursed with dreadful affliction that compelled you to prowl the moonlit countryside, hunting for prey, thirsting for warm blood? Would you be able to embrace the horror, would you succumb to the agonizing suffering, or would you futilely fight the growing persistant urges to massacre your victims night after moonlit night? What would you do when you stared into the mirror and found yourself face to face with...
THE WEREWOLF LEGEND


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Well, there you have it!
HOOOWWWLLL you ever manage to get to sleep tonight, I just don't know!

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For much more fascinating and firsthand knowledge of Harry Harrison,
you can find his personal website by clicking right here!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

POST # 39 - HARVEY KURTZMAN's "POT-SHOT PETE" (Original Art) and MORE...



In the world of comic books and humor there are few names that can cause such awe
and inspiration as the legendary name of Harvey Kurtzman.

For decades, aspiring artists, writers, animators, and humorists have bowed before his work in reverent study to glean inspiration, seek illumination, and generate stimulation. Kurtzman possessed a rare genius of wit and creativity that have provided innumerable moments of imaginative entertainment for more than half a century. Even if you have never heard of the man, you have likely been influenced in some way by his far-reaching creations, the most well-known brainchild being one MAD Magazine. While acolytes of William M. Gaines and Al Feldstein may debate who conceived the original idea, there can be no doubt who was the original driving creative force behind the influential humor publication.

While he is just as revered for his ground-breaking war and adventure comics, as well as his innovative story-telling techniques, it is the culture warping humor of the zany MAD that will ultimately be Kurtzman's legacy. Prior to MAD's inaugural issue in October 1952, Harvey Kurtzman had been honing his craft with his hilarious HEY LOOK! series of one-page gag cartoons published in various Timely/Atlas/Marvel comics since 1946. From there he joined the young and talented staff at EC Comics who would soon change the face of American comics, where he initially contributed dozens of stories for their science fiction and horror lines, but would later discover his niche as the editor, writer, and artist for EC's war and adventure comics TWO-FISTED TALES and FRONTLINE COMBAT.

It was during this period when Kurtzman also conceived of the character of POT-SHOT PETE, a sheriff whose charmingly amusing adventures were published first by DC in 1950 as one page gags, and later that year by TOBY in JOHN WAYNE ADVENTURE COMICS, debuting in issue #5 with the 5 page story, POT-SHOT PETE vs. TWO-GUN ZILCH (which was later reprinted in MAD #15 and #18, both in 1954, under the title of "POT-SHOT PETE Sheriff Of Yucca-Pucca Gulch"). The delightful and amusing story is a playful mixture of Kurtzman's HEY LOOK style and his later MAD satirical story-telling.

(You can find more about Harvey Kurtzman and his stories and art on another blog of mine here, here, and here.)

Here now for your pleasure I present Harvey Kurtzman's original artwork for...

POT-SHOT PETE vs. TWO GUN ZILCH








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A Harvey Kurtzman bonus:
If you enjoyed the previous story, you'll also dig these...


Original artwork for Kurtzman's HEY LOOK!, circa 1950



Original art for a Kurtzman one-page gag story, "GENIUS",
published in JOHN WAYNE ADVENTURE COMICS #12, circa 1951-52



Original art for an unpublished Kurtzman gag page, circa 1950,
later reworked in MAD as a "Movie Scenes We'd Like To See" bit


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