Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October 1 (31 days of Halloween Countdown part 1)...

Yay, October 1st.  New York is still a little balmy but there's just the faintest hint of a nip in the air, a light breeze, and a hint  of gauzy autumnal skies.  I remember when it would actually be full blown fall by now, but I guess you can't fight the apocalypse.   Anyway, I'm kicking off this year's Halloween countdown with one of the many great horror comics published by DC in the early 1970s (in fact, throughout the entire 1970s, and into the early 1980s).  At the time, horror comics represented a significant portion of DC's publishing slate, second only to the superfolks.  DC was publishing as many as 13 (heh, heh) horror titles at a time.  "Forbidden Tales of the Dark Mansion" has the best logo of any comic book ever.  I just totally dig that ultramod font!  Issues 1-4 were published as "The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love," with more of gothic romance  vibe, but switched over to pretty much straight horror in the vein of DC's "House of Mystery" and "House of Secrets" with many of the same writers and artists.  One of the more short lived of DC's horror titles, it only lasted through issue 15, published in 1974.  Issues of this book are not all that common, at least not as much so as "House of Mystery/Secrets," "Weird Mystery Tales" or others put out by DC in the 1970s...

This issue, #13 (heh, heh), features a cover by the prolific Mike Kaluta, who was seemingly doing the cover for every third DC comic back in the 1970s (and the occasional interior art, such as his great "Shadow" series with Denny O'Neil, which Kaluta also edited).  This isn't one of his best, but his best was pretty incredible (see, again, the 1970's "Shadow"series), so his work that's just adequadte for him is totally above average for most.  Here, we get a nice American tableau (through the diner window) combined with some serious grossness.  The stories inside are both written, I believe, by Michael Fleischer (with Russell Carley), who of course wrote the great "Wrath of the Spectre" stories for "Adventure Comics" (see previous posts!) a year later.  Fleischer worked pretty steadily at DC (and a little at Marvel, and the 1970s resurrected Atlas) from the early 1970s through to the early 1990s.  In addition to horror and Spectre stories, he also did a lot of work with the Western character Jonah Hex, including, in the 1980s, transporting him from the old West to the postapocalyptic future.  He also worked on the Sandman with Jack Kirby and Shade, the Changing Man with Steve Ditko.  It the late 1970s, Fleischer sued professional egoist (and occasional science-fiction wirter) Harlan Ellison and The Comics Journal for publishing an interview in which Ellison called him a "bugfuck lunatic," which was actually probably meant as a compliment, but, well, Ellison seems like kind of a dick, so why not sue, knock him down a few pegs?  Fleischer lost, unfortunately.  He seems mostly retired from comics writing.

The art in the first story, which features a great black cat, is by Alfredo Alcala, a prolific penciller and inker at DC & Marvel (and later Pacific and other indies) from the early 1970s through the early 1990s.  Alcala, from the Philippines, did a great deal of horror work, as well as Conan/sword & sorcery stuff, and on a number of Marvel's magazines, including "Rampaging Hulk" and "Tales of the Zombie."  Later, he worked with Steve Gerber and Jack Kirby on "Destoryer Duck."  He died in 2000 at age 74.  The second story is drawn by Gil Kane, who I've written a little bit about here before.  It's not really his best work.  Good story, though.

Click the pics for full-size images....





Also, just for the hell of it, here's DC's editorial page, circa October 1973, complete with info on the then-new Swamp Thing, still a Len Wein, Bernie Wrightson production...

I had a job interview today (yay?) so I'm slightly tuckered, but if I can get it together, I'm going to try to put up a horror movie review before the night is up (unless I go out, another option, though one I'm, in typical fashion, trying to avoid), otherwise I'll post twice or thrice tomorrow.  Also, glad people seemed to enjoy the candy review from last night.  I have a couple more planned, as well as some other nifty stuff planned for the month.  Anyway, stay creepy, and stay tuned for more creepiness...

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