Thursday, April 28, 2011

Eerie #13: "The Success Story" (Al Williamson art)

Download Eerie #013

Of particular fame (or is it infamy?) in Warren Publishing lore is Creepy #1's "The Success Story," written by Archie Goodwin and expertly drawn by Al Williamson, which legend has it was based on a real-life comic strip artist, Don Sherwood, who, according to George Evans and others, over-relied on "ghost" artists—behind-the-scenes creative contributors who received no credit. The tale, a scathing critique of that all-too-common practice in cartooning of signing one's name to another's work, was allegedly about Sherwood (cast here in the guise of smug comic-strip artist "Baldo Smudge") and his daily strip, "Dan Flagg." Williamson, renowned for using photographic reference, looks to have used the likenesses of Archie Goodwin, and artists Angelo Torres and Alden McWilliams, with Al himself serving as model for Smudge. (It should come as no surprise that all of these creators, also Warren contributors, worked uncredited on "Dan Flagg." Ahh, sweet revenge...!

Note: Eerie #13 reprints this story as it originally appeared in Creepy #1.


Cover painting: Vic Prezio
Script: Archie Goodwin
Pencils: Al Williamson
Inks: Al Williamson
Letters: Ben Oda

  • from Creepy (Warren, 1964 series) #1 (January 1965)
  • in Eerie (Warren, 1966 series) #13 (February 1968)
  • in Comix: A History of Comic Books in America (Bonanza, 1971 series) #[nn]
  • in Comix: A History of Comic Books in America (Outerbridge & Dienstfrey, 1971 series) #[nn]
  • in Eerie (Gold Star Publications, 1972 series) #4 (1973)
  • in Creepy (Warren, 1964 series) #137 (May 1982)
  • in Creepy The Classic Years (Harris Comics, 1991 series) #[nn]
  • in Creepy Archives (Dark Horse, 2008 series) #1

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eerie #5: "The Jungle" (Al Williamson art)

Download Eerie #5

During Eerie's "dark period," many of the artists drew, perhaps without the sophistication of an Al Williamson, but with a lovely eye for the ugly and mundane. Perhaps it's a lack of experience rather than deliberate artistic choice, but it means that many of the later stories read like a surprisingly fun movie shot by a disturbed amateur.


Cover painting: Frank Frazetta
Script: Archie Goodwin
Pencils: Al Williamson
Inks: Al Williamson
Letters:Ben Oda

  • in Eerie (Warren, 1966 series) #18 (November 1966.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eerie #3: "The Lighthouse!" (Al Williamson art)

Download Eerie #3

Comic book fans, and specifically EC fanatics, must have lost their minds when the first issues of Creepy and Eerie appeared on the newsstands. Not only were they the first real attempts to do an EC-like horror anthology in ages, their pedigrees were simply beyond dispute. Warren hired the best of the best, the most talented comics artists (many of whom had worked for EC before its unfortunate end) and the most brilliant of writers.

One writer in particular set the tone for the magazine: the late, lamented Archie Goodwin. Archie is still spoken of with the quiet tones one uses when speaking of saints, but beyond being an extraordinary editor, he had this format down cold. In those first issues, we see again and again how he manages to give a literary quality to even the most galloping bit of shaggy-monster goings-on. He knew how to deliver the punch line to a story like few ever learn these days, with shotgun volume, but sniper-rifle accuracy. And above all, he had taste.

His artists rose to the occasion. You could see the incredible line work of Reed Crandall, the inimitable curves and shadows of Gene Colan, and a who's who of the best, most tasteful, and most accomplished artists the industry had to offer. Adams, Toth, Ditko, on and on... these people must have been delighted at the macabre delicacies offered in Creepy and Eerie. Breaking the censoring shackles of the Comics Code Authority must have been a bloody pleasure.

Then everything went to hell, somehow. The money dried up, Archie had to leave as editor, and the company was forced to rely, after issue #11, on lesser-known creative talents and reprints until regaining their funding and reputation in their salad days, a few years later.

I'm told this is called Warren's "dark period."

And I think it's apt, but not in the way most collectors mean. I don't find this period to be without merit. To the contrary, I think this is one of the most entertaining periods in the magazine's history.

Story after story by artists who either left comics or never really managed to get a proper toehold. Writers whose names I do not recognize. Lacking Archie Goodwin's experience and discernment, these people had to use the tools they had to tell their stories... a little grubbier, a little grittier, and a little... shall I say it?

A little eerier.


Cover painting: Frank Frazetta
Script: Archie Goodwin
Pencils: Al Williamson
Inks: Al Williamson
Letters: Ben Oda

  • in Eerie Greatest Hits (Harris Comics, 1994 series) #[nn]
  • in Eerie (K. G. Murray, 1974 series) #5

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eerie #2: "The Thing from the Sea!" (Wally Wood art)

Download Eerie #2

A gifted but self-destructive artist, Wally Wood's heyday occurred during the 1950s. In that decade he was one of the stars of the innovative EC Comics line and also ghosted The Spirit, worked with Jack Kirby on an SF comic strip called Sky Masters, drew illustrations for the SF magazine Galaxy, worked for both Marvel and DC, and handled some advertising accounts.

Wood, born in Minnesota and basically untutored in art, moved east and began working in comic books in the late 1940s. Some of his earliest work was done in collaboration with writer/artist Harry Harrison. He signed on with EC in 1949 and was soon a major contributor to most of their titles, from Weird Fantasy to Mad. Wood was also good at drawing people, especially pretty girls, but he also excelled at things mechanical—whether WWII submarines or twenty-fifth century rocket ships. At the end of a story in Weird Science he addressed the reader directly, explaining, "My world is the world of science fiction." The alien worlds and spacecraft that Wood invented for his stories were much copied by later and less gifted artists. For Mad he used an informal, cartoony style that was influenced by one of his idols, Walt Kelly. In later years Wood also worked with erstwhile Mad editor Harvey Kurtzman on such humor magazines as Trump and Humbug.

As the demand for his stuff increased, Wood set up a sort of free-form shop. He worked a lot and apparently drank a lot. Initially his drawing didn't suffer much. He created The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents for the short-lived Tower line of comic books and drew Daredevil for Marvel. For armed forces publications he produced raunchier material, such as Sally Forth, about a young lady who frequently shed her clothes. And he inked Jack Kirby's Challengers of the Unknown.

His work seriously deteriorated in the 1970s. His health deteriorated, too, and he suffered kidney failure. His last professional work consisted of some crude and badly drawn pornographic comics. Wood ended his life as the 1980s began.


Script: Unknown
Pencils: Wally Wood
Inks: Wally Wood

  • in Eerie (Avon, 1951 series) # 16
  • in Nightmare (Skywald, 1970 series) #1
  • in Nightveil's Cauldron of Horror (AC, 1989 series) #1
  • in Four Color Fear (Fantagraphics, 2010 series) #[nn]

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Eerie Comics #1: "The Man-Eating Lizards!" (Early Joe Kubert art)

Download Eerie Comics #1

While never an especially innovative or inventive publisher of comic books, Avon Periodicals did issue the very first horror comic book. A single issue of Eerie Comics was published in 1947, offering creepy twist-ending yarns of the sort heard on such popular radio shows of the day as Inner Sanctum and Lights Out. They dealt with demons, walking corpses, and giant man-eating lizards. Art was by such as Joe Kubert, Fred Kida, and Bob Fugitani, already a horror expert from his association with The Hangman.

In 1951, Avon began again, shortening the title to just plain Eerie. This version made it through seventeen issues before succumbing in the summer of 1954. Kubert was again one of the artists, as were Wally Wood and Joe Orlando.


Script: Edward Bellin
Pencils: Joe Kubert
Inks: Joe Kubert

  • in Out of This World Adventures (Avon, 1950 series) #1

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