Friday, June 15, 2012
THE MANY HORRORS OF DAN CURTIS
More than one publisher attempted to emulate the full-sized comics magazine format used so successfully for many years by Jim Warren with his CREEPY, EERIE, and VAMPIRELLA titles. By using the magazine format they got themselves off the comics for kiddies spinner racks and onto the "big people's" shelves where they could be market to a more mature audience. As a result, much of the content reflected the more mature tastes in comic art. However, it wasn't the Warren 'zines that did that so much as an upstart Americanized version of a French comics magazine intended strictly for adults called HEAVY METAL.
In the meantime, readers would occasionally see a new horror comics 'zine pop up every now and then as far as the mid-1970's. The format persists today and, in a weird twist of fate, new incarnations of CREEPY, EERIE, and VAMPIRELLA have reverted to the traditional comic book size, while HEAVY METAL continues to be the premier comic magazine for mature readers!
The old Atlas Comics name was reborn in the early 1970's and published by Seaboard Periodicals, a company owned by the father and son team of Martin and Charles Goodman. The elder Goodman is best remembered for publishing the first Marvel Comics books during the Golden Age of comics and pulps.
Seaboard/Atlas did not limit themselves to super-hero and adventure comics. In true competitive fashion, they launched a full-sized horror comics magazine in the tradition of CREEPY, et al, in hopes that it would catch on as much as the Warren books had done. They did assemble a pretty good team of writers and artists but, alas, their endeavor only lasted for two issues.
The first issue of WEIRD TALES OF THE MACABRE was published in January 1975. Containing artwork by the very talented Texan, Pay Boyette, as well as Spanish artists who had work in the Warren titles, the magazine also had a text feature, a fancy way of getting around the still-strict postal regulations regarding the mailing of periodicals. Alan Hewetson's Skywald line of horror comics 'zines used this technique as well.
Regardless of the reason, it is to our advantage that publishers used these features as "filler". While some were obviously just passable and hardly worth the time to read, some were downright thoughtful and informative. One such case was Gary Gerani's piece in WEIRD TALES OF THE MACABRE #1. Titled, The Many Horrors of Dan Curtis, the article covered not only the producer's big hit DARK SHADOWS, but also his other forays into the world of gothic horror.
The article points out the difference between Curtis' more traditional leanings compared to what was currently being offered to TV viewers and moviegoers. Gerani also discusses one of my personal favorites, KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER. He also doesn't pull any punches and adds a bit of (deserved) criticism along his praise. All-in-all an honest and insightful view of Dan Curtis' work up to that point.
If you are curious to see what the comic stories looked like in WEIRD TALES OF THE MACABRE, click HERE for a sample.