Warren Magazine Reading Club!
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On 4/30/2022 at 7:28 PM, OtherEric said:

I've got my notes on Creepy #1 ready to go for tomorrow, but will wait for @Axe Elf to start things off since they created the group. Looking forward to it!

I appreciate the royal "they," but I'm a regular guy with the regular pronouns.  ;)

Yeah, I'm thinking every Saturday night at midnight (central time) I'll kick off the next issue by linking to whatever information on that issue is available in the Warren Magazine Index (LINK), and then I will link to each issue's Kick-Off Post in the weekly Timeline posted on the first page for easy access:

I would like to ask that we keep each issue's discussion limited to that week--or it's going to get really noisy and confusing if every other week, someone who just found the thread is chiming in about CREEPY #1 again.  If you're just joining, please join in with the current issue under discussion, and think of the past weeks' information as archival (rather than active) in nature.  I have a feeling this is going to be a difficult standard for people, especially since most will probably never read these "guidelines"--and I really have no authority to enforce anything anyway.  But the thread is going to be a lot cleaner, and ultimately, more useful, if we religiously limit ourselves to discussion of the issue of the week.

I don't mind if people want to post their copies of each issue in the thread.  At first I was thinking it might be kind of tedious to scroll through a bunch of images--and it might get to be that way if we ever have like 40 members in the Club--but for now, when there's only a handful of us anyway, I don't see a problem with it.

SPOILER ALERT!!!  By reading this thread, you understand that you may be exposed to spoilers regarding the stories contained in each issue.  Don't read the thread before you read the issue if you don't want to read spoilers.  You can use the "Hide Contents" feature if you want, but almost every single post would need to be hidden if I was going to require spoiler-free posts.

I think that's it!  My vision is for each week's content to include facts, anecdotes, reviews, trivia, personal connections, reactions, praise, and anything else related to the issue of the week--so please feel free to contribute anything and everything you can to this Compendium of Warrenness!

See you in a couple hours...

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Ok, here we go!  The Warren Magazine Reading Club is open for business, starting with...

CREEPY #1 - January 1965

239218176_CREEPY1FrontCoverRotated.thumb.jpg.a4177cc8142a0eb89018fdf92cc8df8e.jpg

According to the Warren Magazine Index...

First, the Warren Publishing Overture:

The Warren magazines were the big cheese in the black & white horror magazine boom for the 1960s-1970s, if only because they were there first and they lasted the longest.  James Warren, the publisher of several different movie magazines, most notably ‘Famous Monsters Of Filmland’, was a long time lover of comics, particularly the EC comics of the early 1950s.  He made a few tentative stabs at comics in 1964, producing a trio of stories adapting movies from the 1930s for ‘Monster World’, a sister magazine of ‘Famous Monsters Of Filmland’.  In late 1964 he decided to take the plunge, producing a full-length comic anthology.  It should be noted that the magazines he published were not comic books but magazines.  They had to be. 

The Comics Code Authority, established in 1955 to ‘clean up’ comics, had demolished the EC empire of quality horror comics as well as most of the lesser publishers of horror comics and forced those publishers who survived to water down the content to near pablum.  You couldn’t use vampires, zombies, skeletons, ghouls, etc as characters in a comic book.  You couldn’t show blood or horrific details.  Nor could you use such words as horror, crime or terror in titles.  As the comic industry existed in 1964, a revival of EC-type comics wouldn’t have been possible.

 Besides, Warren published magazines, designed to sit on stands alongside Look, Life, Sports Illustrated or Playboy.  Well, maybe a few shelves over from those magazines but still in the general vicinity.  Nowhere near those tawdry comic spinner racks.

Plus, the Comics Code Authority had no authority over magazines, since nobody had ever published a comic book in magazine form. EC had, in its dying days, published what they called Picto-Fiction.  Prose stories dealing with crime and horror with a heavy amount of art in comic book style.  However, this experiment was a failure.  They also changed their humor comic, Mad, into a magazine.  They promptly stopped calling it a comic, however.  It was now a humor magazine.

So Warren decided to publish his comic stories in a format he was comfortable with, for a distribution system he understood and in a style that allowed him a great deal of freedom.  Then he aimed those stories at the exact same audience that the regular four-color comics had targeted—12-14 year old boys.  It was a smart and, as it turned out, profitable end run around the Comics Code.

The Warren run can be split up into five distinct eras.  The first was The Goodwin Era, which ran from 1965-1967.  Obviously this era was marked by the work of Archie Goodwin, who edited the line and wrote most of the stories for this period.  It’s hard to overemphasize how important Goodwin’s work here is.  He not only provided a foundation for Warren Publications to grow and succeed, but he also provided a template for other comic writers and for many future writers of horror prose. 

The success of Warren, a major portion of which can be laid at Goodwin’s door, gave Marvel, DC  & Charlton the desire to reenter the horror field, which helped spark the changing of the comics code and directly lead to the horror boom that comics went through from 1971-1975.  Warren artist Joe Orlando became an editor at DC and, for at least the years 1968-1973, provided a truly good horror line.   Charlton revitalized its own horror line and provided a home base for Steve Ditko, Pat Boyette, Rocco Mastroserio and other Warren artists.  Marvel blantantly copied Warren when it began its color horror line in 1969.  Its horror hosts for both Tower Of Shadows & Chamber Of Darkness looked and sounded a great deal like Uncle Creepy and the style of story was modeled much more after the Warren stories than EC’s sardonic brand of horror.  Later, Warren artists such as Mike Ploog, Gray Morrow and Tom Sutton became major forces in creating and refining Marvel characters such as Frankenstein’s Monster, Werewolf By Night, Man-Thing, Morbius, and Ghost Rider. 

Recently, while reading a collection of Al Sarrantonio’s stories (a strong writer and probably the major editor in the horror field today), I was pleasantly shocked to recognize that his major influence appeared to be the Archie Goodwin Warren stories.  In fact, there wasn’t a story in that collection that would not have fit handsomely in a Warren magazine circa 1965-1967.  I suspect that Stephen King read Warren comics during this period.  I know he read the Skywald books in the early 1970s.

But even beyond the solid foundation and literary influence that Goodwin built were his rock solid stories month after month.  This, along with the respect, care and extra effort that every artist seemed to strive for when working on them, coupled with the obvious joy Goodwin took in tailoring stories for their particular skills, created an extremely high quality of magazine.  Re-reading this three-year stretch of stories was just a joy.

By the end of 1967 however, Goodwin and almost all of the artists he had worked with left, victims of a money crunch that forced Warren Publishing to drastically cut page rates and launching Warren into its dark age.  For the next two and a half years 50% or more of every issue would be reprints.  Most of the new stories were so-so at best and were greatly hampered by inferior art, with only Tom Sutton (the only Goodwin era artist to regularly contribute during this time) and Ernie Colon providing any steady quality work. 

The end of the dark age was highlighted by the launch of Vampirella, a new comic magazine with a sexy vampiress hosting it.  From 1969-1973, Warren rebuilt its position as the leading black & white horror publisher.  In doing so, Warren launched an astonishing number of artists & writers’ careers into mainstream comics, including (although not limited to) Dave Cockrum, Mike Ploog, Doug Moench, Nicola Cuti, Rich Buckler, Don McGregor, Al Hewetson, Ed Fedory, Bill Black, Rich Corben, Boris Vallejo, Ken Kelly, Paul Neary, Budd Lewis and many more.

In 1973, two events occurred that completely changed the look of a Warren comic.  First, was the ‘invasion’ of Spanish artists from the S.I. Studio.  Many of these artists came from the European romance field and their ability to draw startling beautiful women as well as a different brand of horror than American readers were used to was certainly a major draw.  The second was a complete graphic re-design of the magazines themself by new editor Bill DuBay.  During his first stint as editor (he would hold the title three different times) from 1973-1976, he was very much a hands on boss and the quality of the magazines’ stories and art greatly improved.  Warren introduced color sections with coloring that was better than any of the comic companies except possibly Playboy’s “Little Annie Fannie”.  They reintroduced Will Eisner’s The Spirit to readers who probably weren’t ever born when the original run ended.  In addition, DuBay’s reign also seem to feature a uniform approach to the style and mood of the horror in the magazines.  An approach that was as strong as, but completely different from, the approach that Goodwin used.  It was certainly something that had not been reflected in the scatter-shot years from 1968-1972. 

Beginning in 1976, Louise Jones, former wife of artist Jeff Jones and future wife of artist Walt Simonson, headed the editorial staff, maintaining much of the best of the innovations that DuBay introduced while pulling back into the Warren fold some of the artists that had vanished from the pages of the Warren magazines back in 1967.

After Jones left in 1980, the magazines entered a slow decline under a series of different editors.  Bill DuBay came back twice, once using the non-de-plume of Will Richardson, but the quality of the magazines took a sharp nosedive both times.  The Spanish artists largely left and were replaced by artists from the Phillipines.  Mind you, these were not bad artists, but, with the notable excepations of Alex Nino, Alfredo Alcala and Vic Catan, stylistically they tended to be rather dull.  By 1983, when the line collapsed, Creepy seemed to be just plodding along, while Eerie had abandoned horror completely and was a tottering shell of the fine magazine it had used to be.  Only Vampirella was showing signs of life.  Under the editorship of Timothy Moriarty, it was staging a comeback when the axe fell. 

What caused the collapse?  There were a number of different reasons.  A major one being that publisher James Warren had fallen ill some years earlier and had little to do with the day to day operations of the company any longer.  The independent comic shop boom had just begun with new comic companies seemingly springing up overnight.  The fresh books and the look of those books left Warren’s magazines looking somewhat obsolete.  Many of Warren’s best writers and artists were gone, either working for the big two comic companies or for the new independents.  The remaining writers, many of whom had delivered fine work over the years, seemed burnt out.  The editorial revolving door insured that no strong hand was at the helm. The horror boom of the early 1970s was over.  Distribution was changing with the old markets of newsstands, drug stores and supermarkets dropping comic books and magazines from their inventories.  The new comic shops which replaced those markets were none too interested in the Warren books, which appeared old fashioned and tired (and didn’t fit into spinner racks!).  After 18 years the line ended, not with a whimper or bang, but largely with a yawn.

 

And for CREEPY #1:

#1. cover: Jack Davis (Jan. 1965)

1) Uncle Creepy’s Welcome [Russ Jones?/Jack Davis] 1p   [frontis]

2) Voodoo! [Bill Pearson/Joe Orlando] 6p   [story credited to Russ Jones & Bill Pearson]

3) H2O World! [Larry Ivie/Al Williamson & Roy G. Krenkel] 6p

4) Vampires Fly At Dusk! [Archie Goodwin/Reed Crandall] 6p

5) Werewolf! [Larry Ivie/Frank Frazetta] 6p

6) Bewitched! [Larry Ivie/Gray Morrow] 6p

7) The Success Story [Archie Goodwin/Al Williamson] 6p

8) Pursuit Of The Vampire! [Archie Goodwin/Angelo Torres] 6p

9) Creepy Ad [illustrated: Frank Frazetta] 1p

Notes: Publisher: James Warren.  Editor: Russ Jones.  35 cents for 48 pages. No cover date but in keeping with the dates on the 3rd issue, this would probably have been dated Jan. or Winter 1965.  Jack Davis provides several head shots of Uncle Creepy for story introductions.  Bill Pearson has stated in print his displeasure over Russ Jones’ claiming of writing credit for the lead off story.  Pearson insists it’s all his work.  Apparently this first issue was originally intended to be an ‘all EC artists’ effort with the story ‘Bewitched’ intended to be Wally Wood’s contribution.  Somehow the story was sent to artist Gray Morrow instead, making him the only non-EC artist included.  The Frazetta story was his last comic art, except for two Creepy’s Loathsome Lore pages, which may have been done prior to the art for this story.  The best story in this issue, Goodwin’s ‘The Success Story’, was based on an actual comic strip artist who conned his ghost penciler, inker & writer, who were unaware of each other, into doing the entire strip while the original artist claimed credit for it.  Characters in the story are based on Goodwin, Williamson, Angelo Torres & Al McWilliams.  All in all, a very good first issue.

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My battered Creepy #1, but I felt it deserved a good home.  I really should upgrade before it becomes impossible, but there are so many other books to get first.

My thoughts for the reading group:

Cover:  In its own way, a classic by Jack Davis.  In another way, a bit silly for the actual tone of the book... it would seem to fit better as an ad than the introduction of a classic horror title to the world.  It's a shame Davis didn't do more for Warren, but he was just too in demand.

Voodoo: Nice Orlando art, but not particularly memorable in the story department.  All due credit to Russ Jones (as editor, even if his authorship of the story is disputed) for getting the title started, but he's no Goodwin.

H2O World:  More fantasy than horror, with jaw-dropping Williamson/Krenkel art.

Vampires Fly at Dusk:  Goodwin comes up with a surprisingly effective and moving twist in his first story, well served by moody Crandall art.  Crandall seems to get that he's working in B&W better than a lot of the artists in this issue.

Werewolf!: It's Frazetta's last comic story; but I think it highlights that Frazetta, while an incredible artist, wasn't particularly great at comic storytelling... every panel is great but the overall effect of a given page isn't particularly telling, beyond the couple of 2/3 page panels. Ivie's -script doesn't do any favors by using a well-worn trope as the twist at the end.

Bewitched:  Morrow fits in quite well with the EC veterans doing the rest of the issue; and I think it's probably good overall that they had at least one non-EC artist in the mix on the first issue.  It makes the book seem more like it's trying to do something new building on the EC tradition rather than just an attempted revival.

The Success Story:  Goodwin/ Williamson is one of the all time classic creative teams, and they're looking great here.  Probably the best story in the issue.

Pursuit of the Vampire!:  I really should try and track down Angelo Torres' contact info and write him a fan letter; he seems to get lost in the shuffle both here and at EC but he was an incredible artist... and he's the last of the EC artists and the last artist from this issue we still have with us.  A fairly common twist, well executed by Goodwin and Torres.

Creepy_001.jpg

Edited by OtherEric
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Perfect @OtherEric !!!

That's EXACTLY the kind of post that I'm looking for!  Way to kick things off!

I've read a couple stories already myself, but I'll finish up in a day or two and post something similar myself.

So far, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who wasn't impressed with the lead-off story, "Voodoo."  If I had just picked up the first issue of this new title and read that, I might not have ever read any more Warren titles!  She lunges at the guy with a machete, and misses so badly that she not only lodges the machete (dull side up, mind you) in a branch, but her momentum causes her to land across the branch and the back of the machete on her neck with such force as to sever her head clean from her body?  C'mon, man...  And then she's coming after him, WITH her head on, but it's like an old gnarly decaying shrunken voodoo head on her shoulders already, and then what, she takes HIS head (at least I think I see her carrying it off in the last panel)?

Just a whole lot of WTF to suspend disbelief.

Interesting point about the cover being a bit silly for the first issue of a new horror magazine.  That's true, but I never really thought about it like that, because with the benefit of retrospect, there was a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor throughout the run of the Warren horror mags, so a little silly seems ok.  But it's true that it might have seemed a little curious at the time.

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Thankfully, Warren soon changed the logo and promoted Archie Goodwin to editor, giving the magazine better continuity and a look more in keeping with a horror magazine. 

Still, a very solid first issue and a harbinger of things to come...  

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Time for my more detailed review...

I've already expressed how the first story, "Voodoo," left me flat by stretching the logic of the story beyond the breaking point.  What was she getting her revenge FOR, exactly--for throwing her shrunken head out the window?  It didn't seem like she would be particularly upset by the breakup--didn't she WANT to be free from this lout?  So he can't escape the curse of voodoo, but he can sidestep her machete... and then the whole weird thing about her head and taking his head for "revenge."  Yeah, whatev...

But looking at it again, it was a heckuva opening page art piece by Joe Orlando:

Orlando.thumb.jpg.e807b3be717aa830e2649322f620af4c.jpg

It's so dark and primal and savage, and then there's Sylvia Prentiss, just American-Bandstanding right through the middle of it.  lol  It's that little bit of silliness that @OtherEric mentioned in regard to the cover.

H2O World:  This one also starts out on the wrong side of rational--the underwater city is "completely invisible from the surface"; yet not only are they drawn to this area by the "reflections" made by the underwater domes, but they also happen to already know that the underwater domes are made of pure diamond, despite apparently being the first people to ever explore this phenomenon!

But I agree with @OtherEric's characterization of it as fantasy, and I did enjoy the underwater artwork.

Vampires Fly at Dusk:  I gotta admit, I didn't see the twist coming until he was chasing her down the stairs, begging to explain before she did something stupid--and then she did something stupid.  Best story so far for me, and one of the best of the issue.

Werewolf:  I knew about his cover art, but I didn't know that Frazetta ever actually did any story art for the Warren mags, so this was a real treat for me.

First of all, who is this Julius, why is he introducing the story, and what has he done with Uncle Creepy?

But that panel where the beast appears tho...

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So as awesome as the art was, the story again for me was a little strained.  I don't even mind the "trope" of the curse being passed on to the hunter--it's the way it was passed on.  The werewolf had to be hit on it's special "vulnerable spot" to die, and thus pass on the curse?  I'd be painting a bright fluorescent target right around my "vulnerable spot" if that's what it takes--why leave it to chance?  Maybe wear some kind of "bullet funnel" collar to direct any bullets in your general vicinity onto the "vulnerable spot"?  Just seemed like an unnecessary (and unreasonable) embellishment.

But I'll read it again for Frazetta's art.

818786240_Frazetta2.thumb.jpg.1716ad0187cffdf6eb74d7aa4372edad.jpg

Bewitched:  Not a bad story, though it ended up more like "Voodoo" than the one with that title.  I like @OtherEric's observation that the inclusion of new artist Gray Morrow on this piece helped portend the transition from the old EC guard, but I also find it interesting that the Warren Magazine Index says his inclusion was a mistake, and the piece was supposed to be drawn by Wally Wood.  It makes me wonder how it WOOD have been different.  (heh)

EDIT to add that I enjoyed the panel or two where he was chased by a dinosaur.  :)

The Success Story:  I think the most intriguing part of this one for me is the tidbit from the Index that it is based on a true story, and that the characters in the fictionalized version are based on Archie Goodwin, Al Williamson, Angelo Torres and Al McWilliams.  I mean, to what extent are the characters "based" on these real-life CREEPY staff?  Do they look like them, or what?

Unfortunately, I was a little unfulfilled again by a plot hole--why would these men come back to life to seek revenge?  Just a radioactive oyster where he dumped the bodies would have at least given them a reason to crawl zombified from their watery graves.

Pursuit of the Vampire:  Again, a twist I didn't really see coming--but when I got there, it immediately made me think that they should have used the cover of CREEPY #7 for this one!

1629346961_Creepy7Cover.jpg.94a54a12221ea8eeb413f08dabe592ce.jpg

And then the ads...  This one really doesn't have many ads, compared to the pages and pages of advertisements that adorn later issues, but I still found this one amusing:

Radio.jpg.b0f8279d21f986ab70c4ce8b938bcd01.jpg

Germanuim?  Even if they mean "germanium" I'm not sure how that would help if there are no batteries.  Maybe it has solar cells?

Well, that's it for this inaugural issue; "Captain Company," over and out...

Edited because I didn't notice that my mentions and links didn't translate from the copy and paste.

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If anyone else has anything to add regarding CREEPY #1, this is the last day to do so.  I was hoping to hear from a couple more of you who PMed me with your interest, rather than expressing it here, but I guess you're shy.  I promise, we don't bite (any harder than your typical Drakulonne, anyway)...

In 23 hours (midnight central time Saturday night), I will open discussion on CREEPY #2, effectively closing the discussion on CREEPY #1.

I probably won't say this every week, but since it's our first, I thought it was worth a reminder.

EDIT to add a little maintenance note...  I made it so you can click on the TITLE of any issue (for any past or present week) in the main Timeline list on the first page to be taken directly to the discussion of that issue.  That way, there's not that giant link box to the right of each issue, which would make that Timeline a scrolling nightmare after the first year or so.  I know, it's kind of a scrolling nightmare already, but at least this way, it will never get any worse.

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CREEPY #2 - April 1965

387762012_CREEPY2F.thumb.jpg.f751130f7d5e917b1d4c37c432317f91.jpg

According to the Warren Magazine Index...

2. cover: Frank Frazetta (Apr. 1965)

                1) Uncle Creepy’s Introduction [Archie Goodwin?/Angelo Torres] 1p   [frontis]

                2) Fun And Games! [Archie Goodwin/Joe Orlando] 6p

                3) Creepy’s Loathsome Lore: Vampires!  [Archie Goodwin/Bob Lubbers] 1p

                4) Spawn Of The Cat People [Archie Goodwin/Reed Crandall] 6p

                5) Wardrobe Of Monsters! [Otto Binder/Gray Morrow & Angelo Torres] 8p

                6) Creepy’s Loathsome Lore: Werewolves! [Archie Goodwin/Frank Frazetta] 1p

                7) Welcome Stranger [Archie Goodwin/Al Williamson] 7p

                8) I, Robot [Otto Binder/Joe Orlando] 7p   from the story by Otto Binder

                9) Ogre’s Castle [Archie Goodwin/Angelo Torres] 6p

                10) Creepy Ad [illustrated: Jack Davis] 1p

Notes: Goodwin was now listed as story editor.  Again, no cover date but this would have been the Apr. or Spring 1965 issue.  It  also turned out to be the first bi-monthly issue. The ‘I, Robot’ adaptation by Otto Binder was his third attempt to present this series in comic form.  The first was for EC comics in the 1950s {Orlando did the artwork for that attempt too} and a second attempt appeared in the 1964 in a fanzine with art by D. Bruce Berry.  This version would run irregularly over the next two years.  Davis appeared with more illos of Uncle Creepy for story introductions.  The art from the Creepy ad by Davis would turn up again as the cover to the Eerie #1 ashcan edition.  The Loathsome Lore pages listed here did not have official titles for the first 25 or so issues.  Titles noted are actually coined by me, based on lore content.  The first letters’ page featured letters from Rip Kirby artist John Prentice & Onstage artist Leonard Starr. ‘Ogre’s Castle’ is an especially good story although the art for ‘Spawn Of The Cat People’ is quite nice as well.  ‘Wardrobe Of Monsters’ has Gray Morrow doing the first seven pages while Angelo Torres did the 8th and last.  The first Frazetta cover effort featured a man threatened by growling black panthers.  Good, but a long ways from what he was soon to show readers.  Frazetta’s Creepy paintings are sometimes listed as his first horror paintings but he was doing Ballantine’s paperback EC collections at the same time.  The first EC collection appeared at roughly the same time as Creepy #1.  All four of these paperbacks had knockout horror covers.  Another solid issue.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I haven't even started reading this one yet, but I hope to be able to post my review by mid-week sometime.

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My copy of Creepy #2 is in better shape than my #1, but still not terribly impressive.  I'm happy with it, particularly since the book has a reputation of dropping a full point if you even look at it.  Two points if you look at it wrong.

Creepy 2 thoughts:

Cover:  The classic Frazetta Warren covers begin.  This one isn't one of his best for the line, but even average Frazetta is better than 99% of what's out there.  

Frontispiece:  A nice bit of work from Torres.  Not a lot to say beyond that.

Fun & Games:  A nicely moody story by Goodwin & Orlando.  A much stronger lead-off story than issue #1.

Creepy's Loathsome Lore (vampires):  Decent art on the filler by Lubbers, I believe this was his only Warren work.

Spawn of the Cat People:  Great art and a solid twist from the Goodwin/ Crandall team.

Wardrobe of Monsters:  A fairly 'meh' story from Binder & Morrow, but still hitting a high level of basic craft.

Creepy's Loathsome Lore (werewolves): Amazing Frazetta art; not much else to say about it.

Welcome Stranger:  Not as good as the Goodwin/ Williamson story in #1, but still a solid story.

I, Robot:  Perhaps the most painful part of the Warren Magazine's attempt to revive the EC formula.  Binder adapting his story with Orlando art wasn't that spectacular when EC did it, and Warren doing it a second time with the exact same creative team just feels like spinning wheels.

Ogre's Castle:  The issue goes out on a high note with a fantasy from the Goodwin/ Torres team.

Next issue ad:  A very nice Davis piece, better known from its reuse as the cover to the infamous Eerie #1.

Overall, I think this was a stronger issue than #1; although I have less to say about it.  The book is clearly establishing what it wants to do, but it hasn't quite hit the point where it's comfortable enough to get really creative for the most part.

Creepy_002.jpg

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I like your copy; the colors and especially the black areas are deep, and yours doesn't have as many abrasions or as much spine stress as mine.

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When I first looked at this Frazetta cover, I thought it was a man surrounded by werewolves--but I also thought some of them really looked more feline than canine.  Then after seeing how Frazetta drew his "Werewolf" in CREEPY #1, I kinda shrugged and accepted that this is just how Frazetta draws werewolves--only to find out that they really ARE supposed to be cats after all!

And the story it illustrates also springs a twist on the familiar "lycanthropic curse" plot--in a community of were-pumas, being normal is the curse!

I'm getting ahead of myself, but I liked that second story, "Spawn of the Cat People," quite a bit more than I liked the first story, "Fun & Games," which was again just too tenuous of a plot to warrant the suspension of disbelief.  He was tricked into killing his wife when she was placed into some kind of stasis as a target in a shooting gallery (but she was really at home in her living room when she died?), but then she came back to life and killed HIM when HE was placed into some kind of stasis as a target back at the shooting gallery--where he returned out of concern for his wife?  And maybe it wasn't permanent for him either?  I dunno, just kind of dumb--even if it is the first of two stories in this issue drawn by Joe Orlando, whose style I am coming to find I enjoy very much.

It was interesting reading the first letters page, too.  A lot of the letters actually touched on some of the same things we talked about regarding CREEPY #1.  Someone noted the conspicuous absence of Wally Wood (when he was apparently SUPPOSED to have been included to do the "Bewitched" story before it was accidentally sent to Gray Morrow instead).  Someone else noted the kind of silly, non-creepiness of the logo on #1.  Some 14 year old kid discovered a copy of #1 in the wastebasket of the school cafeteria.  (I wonder if he still has it?)  Another neat kid couldn't get over the neat neatness of the neat first issue.  One said it was the best magazine since Playboy.  Another heard it was as good as MAD, but was disappointed when he didn't find anything funny in it.  And most of those people are probably dead now, or at least in their advanced years...

Once you get past the silly premise of "Wardrobe of Monsters" (being able to put a monster's body on your soul like a suit), I actually kind of liked the story, and the twist.  It almost doesn't seem like such a bad deal, though; give up your human body for three superpowerful monster bodies?  What could be better for a nihilistic sociopath like the main character?

The two Loathsome Lore features, meh.  At least the werewolf one gives us more Frazetta!

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"Welcome, Stranger" seemed kind of silly too.  Like two grown men (horror movie employees, no less) would be fooled (to death) into thinking a man in a mask was a supernatural creature coming out of the fire?  And what's wrong with the whole village that they conspired to put on this big show instead of just giving the execs the grand tour like any normal people would?

I was kind of expecting Isaac Asimov's "I Robot" (or at least some derivative thereof), but I was starting to see how this version was more like Frankenstein, even before that connection was made explicitly.  The apparently imminent suicide of the lead is an interesting way to end what is supposed to be the introduction to a serial character, but it does kind of intrigue me as to how Adam Link escapes from his predicament when next we see him--but I wish Terry hadn't died.  It was like something out of Old Yeller...

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"Ogre's Castle" is probably the best-written story of this issue, with a very entertaining main character.

So that's it for this week!  Hope to see a few more of you dropping in with your thoughts and anecdotes as we go along!

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CREEPY #3 - June 1965

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According to the Warren Magazine Index...

3. cover: Frank Frazetta (June 1965)

1) Creepy’s Loathsome Lore: Ghouls! [Archie Goodwin/Jack Davis] 1p   [frontis]

2) Swamped! [written: Archie Goodwin/Angelo Torres] 8p

3) Tell-Tale Heart! [Archie Goodwin/Reed Crandall] 8p   from the story by Edgar Allan Poe

4) Howling Success! [Archie Goodwin/Angelo Torres] 7p

5) Haunted! [Archie Goodwin/Gray Morrow] 6p

6) Incident In The Beyond! [Archie Goodwin/Gray Morrow] 6p

7) Return Trip! [Arthur Porges/Joe Orlando] 8p

8) Uncle Creepy Ad [Jack Davis] 1p   [on inside back cover]

Notes: Frazetta’s cover depicted a ghoul entering a castle. Again no cover date but this would be the June issue. A very good issue with ‘Swamped!’ and the ‘Tell-Tale Heart’ adaptation holding the honors for best stories.  The art is at a high level throughout with a special tip of the hat to Crandall’s Poe adaptation.  Morrow employed very different art approaches for his two stories.  Orlando’s art appears to be channeling Johnny Craig’s at certain points.  The Loathsome Lore segment featured Jack Davis’ only comic art for Warren.  The letters’ page featured a reprint of a three panel ‘Bullwinkle’ comic strip featuring Uncle Creepy, illustrated by Al Kilgore.

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Lotta teasers there!  Jack Davis comic art!  Bullwinkle!  Can't wait to compare the two Morrow styles!  Crandall illustrating Edgar Allen Poe!  And yet another Frazetta cover!

Edited by Axe Elf
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Creepy #3 thoughts:

Cover: An unusual use of white space by Frazetta makes this one really pop, it's underrated compared to many of his Warren covers.

Inside Front Cover:  It's a crying shame Davis didn't do more for Warren, I'm glad we have at least this one interior page by him.

Letters:  I'm not totally surprised at Uncle Creepy getting referenced in a comic strip, but I'm surprised at how early in the run of the magazine it happened.

Swamped:  Astounding Torres art and a story that makes several unexpected turns by Goodwin.  The book is really starting to find its voice now.

The Tell-Tale Heart:  A great adaptation of Poe's story by Goodwin and Crandall.

Howling Success!:  Ironically, not nearly as big a success as the first Goodwin/Torres story in the issue.

Haunted!  Maybe it's just me, but this is one of the first stories yet that strikes me as actually testing the edges of what they can get away without the Comics Code looking over their shoulder.  There are a couple panels that are rather graphically shocking compared to most of what we've seen so far.

Incident in the Beyond:  A fairly meh story with some nice shading effects in the graphics.  It seems to me that Morrow, while not my favorite of the regular artists, is the first one who is really starting to adapt his work to the format instead of just doing normal comic stories that happened to be in a magazine rather than a standard comic

Return Trip:  Does a very good job of building a creepy mood over a fairly pedestrian story.

Subscription ad:  Nice Davis art.

Overall, this is the strongest issue yet by a fair margin.

Creepy_003.jpg

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We've talked about this cover before, starting HERE and continuing on for the next 16 posts or so:

I thought it was odd that the Index described it merely as "a ghoul entering a castle," when we all had our own ideas about what the stark whiteness of the doorway symbolized--and we weren't really thinking along the lines of a foyer.  And why a ghoul, and not a zombie, or a demon, or a Mormon, for that matter?  Ah, maybe because this month's installment of Creepy's Loathsome Lore is all about ghouls, ghouls, and more ghouls?  I wish they all could be California ghouls!

But then the letters page says that the cover is intended to illustrate the final story--"Return Trip"--which means it wouldn't be a ghoul, or even a castle, but rather a zombie surprising his murderer in the study of a chateau, so I dunno.  I still think the "otherworldly portal" interpretation applies as well as any.

And yeah, the meticulous Jack Davis art for the Loathsome Lore is a treat--but the hook at the end of the page caught my attention:  "One man's meat is another man's person!"  Reminded me of an old B. Kliban panel (but his was about a decade later):

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Looking forward to more Adam Link in the next issue, as foreshadowed on the letters page...

"SWAMPED" was indeed one of the best stories yet, and I loved all the swamp critter art detail... the snakes, gators, birds, etc.  As good as that story was, though, you can't go downhill with Edgar Allen Poe as the contributing author for the second story, an adaptation of "The Tell-Tale Heart."  The bit at the end where he freaks out over his own "vulture eye" was part of the Archie Goodwin adaptation, though; that wasn't in the original story.  The Edgar Allen Poe story basically ends at the end of page 19.

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"Howling Success" may not have quite been that, but it was another solid story, and the second story illustrated by Angelo Torres in this issue.  I liked the swamp art from the first story, and enjoyed the darkness and shadows in this one.

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And the ending kind of emerged from the shadows, too!

I was getting that Scooby Doo, "...and we would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for you meddling kids!" feeling toward the end of "Haunted," but then it's kind of like after pulling the masks off the bad guys, Shaggy pulls his own mask off and it turns out HE'S the ghost!

#episodeswewanttosee

Ads for movies on 8mm film--how long does "200 ft" run?  Did anybody ever watch any of these "movies"?

"Incident in the Beyond" reminded me of an old short story (predating CREEPY #3) by Fredric Brown (but I can't remember the name of it).  Basically, one day, an intergalactic attack fleet appears on the edge of our solar system, and it quickly becomes clear they mean business.  Earth is just barely able to destroy the invading fleet.  By reverse-engineering the flight path of the invaders, Earth's scientists are able to pinpoint the spot from which the invaders came, and Earth quickly sends out it's own revenge fleet to destroy the planet of the invaders.  It was only too late that someone did the calculations to realize that it was our own Earth fleet, having essentially circled the galaxy going faster than the speed of light, which had gone back in time and come screaming into our solar system bent on destruction.  And only too late that the "invaders" realized they were actually attacking Earth.

Jim Warren could have filled ten complete magazines with Fredric Brown short stories; I highly recommend reading a few if you're not familiar with him.

Yeah, so anyway, saw that one coming.

And finally, "Return Trip."  This may not be the BEST story in the issue, but I enjoyed the way it was told, through flashbacks of a zombie.  In a way it kind of harkened back to "Success Story" in the first issue, in that there's not much of an explanation as to how or why THIS dead person can come back from the dead to take his revenge.  It's only his intensely-focused will that allows him to take control of his decaying body again?  Ok.  That kind of casts a whole Tarantino "Kill Bill" vibe over it, like how The Bride took control of her paralyzed body, punched her way out of a coffin in the desert, etc.

Anyway, overall, I enjoyed this issue more than any other issue so far (although that hasn't been a particularly high bar only two issues in).  It does really seem at this point that the magazine is hitting its stride and tightening its focus.

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So if Jack Davis rendered the Frazetta cover of CREEPY #2 in his art for the advertisement inside the back cover, is it still a Frazetta, or is it now a Davis?

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It doesn't look like Fredric Brown has ever had a story adapted to comics, other than a couple in a fanzine.  I could have sworn I had read an authorized adaptation of Arena somewhere...

I'm probably confusing it with several dozen unauthorized adaptations. (:

Edit:  never mind.  It was in Worlds Unknown and I saw it reprinted in Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction.  But whoever put the data in couldn't spell Fredric correctly.

Edited by OtherEric
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On 5/18/2022 at 12:42 AM, OtherEric said:

I could have sworn I had read an authorized adaptation of Arena somewhere...

There was a Star Trek episode based on Arena, too--the one where Kirk battles the Gorn.

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For me, this is the issue where things really started to come together.

The stories are all good, and the Poe adaptation is one of my personal favorites. My sense of it is that Goodwin was gaining more control at this point, and it shows. And I think the absence of an Adam Link story in this issue gives us a glimpse of how good this magazine would become.

And you really can't go wrong with any of the artists in this issue, either---Jim Warren's "EC resurrection" was reaching full strength. A really strong issue, and certainly the best one to date.     

 

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