Friday, January 30, 2015

"MONSTER MASH" BOOK DUE FROM TWOMORROWS THIS SUMMER


Due to be released June 24 of this year is TwoMorrows Publishing's MONSTER MASH: THE CREEPY, KOOKY MONSTER CRAZE IN AMERICA, 1957-1972. Primarily a comic book art/history imprint, TwoMorrows often takes a side trip into the exclusive realm of monsters, most recently with COMIC BOOK CREATOR issues dedicated to Bernie Wrightson and Swamp Men.

You may also remember TwoMorrows as the publisher of the now out-of-print COMIC BOOK ARTIST issue and hardcover special edition that covered Warren Publications, which included contributions by yours truly.

These folks put out a quality product. I know it's only January, but I predict that MONSTER MASH will be in the thick of things for a Rondo Awards Book of the Year. Click HERE for advance order information.

To give you an idea of what's inside, here is a preview:


FRANKIE'S FRIDAY FUNNIES



Thursday, January 29, 2015

FOR MONSTERS ONLY COVER ART BY GRAY MORROW


Another auction offering from The Cracked Vault Archives is this original cover painting for FOR MONSTERS ONLY #10 (1972), the last issue of the magazine. It is by the late comic artist and illustrator, Gray Morrow. Considered an oft-overlooked master, Morrow worked for Marvel, Warren, Archie's Red Circle Sorcery imprint, and many others. His work can also be found in numerous science fiction digests of the day. Morrow was awarded a Hugo for best professional illustration.

This original art measures 15" x 20" and is rendered with oil on illustration board. As with yesterday's piece by John Severin, the original colors are considerably more vibrant than the printed cover.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

CRACKED MONSTERS COVER ART BY JOHN SEVERIN


Everything I needed to know about humor I learned from "the usual gang of idiots". The quote was the tagline used by MAD magazine to describe its regular contributors. Between the covers of each month's issue, I lost myself in the parody, satire and sarcasm that would elicit anything from a chuckle to a belly laugh from this teenager. I loved Don Martin's hilariously clever one pagers, packed with enough sound effects to fill a dictionary. I studied the intricacies of Sergio Aragone's "marginal" art (and Spy vs. Spy, of course), and anything that Mort Drucker put his ink pen to; and let's not forget the fold-ins and Dave Berg's "Looks At" strips. From cover to cover MAD was an exercise in the art of the joke.

As with lots of other successful magazines, it didn't take long for the competition to start showing up. CRACKED was founded in 1958 by Major Magazine's Sol Brodsky (who was production manager for the original Marvel Comics empire and co-founded the Skywald "horror mood" line), and was the most enduring of the titles. SICK followed a couple of years later, in 1960, and was created by Joe Simon -- yes, that Joe Simon, that other half of the legendary Joe Simon/Jack Kirby dynamic duo. It lasted for 134 issues.

I enjoyed all the humor that these mags offered, but when I saw the first CRACKED'S FOR MONSTERS ONLY at the local drugstore, I went nuts! Here was a magazine that combined both of my favorite topics, humor and horror! This was a magazine that raised the puns that Forry used in FAMOUS MONSTERS to a new level!

I grabbed every issue I could get a hold of. Unfortunately, it was published about as frequently as Calvin Beck's CASTLE OF FRANKENSTEIN -- only 10 issues (and one Yearbook in 1967) in 7 years. There were a few supplemental issues, published under titles like MONSTER PARTY and CRACKED COLLECTOR'S EDITION. Still, I devoured the contents -- what was there not to like? Cheesy photo funnies and a sprinkling of real articles about monster movies and horror stars made these 'zines something special. Mainly looked upon now with a dubious nod for allowing inclusion within the hallowed realm of FM and CoF, and with maybe a tidge more cred than Charlton's MAD MONSTERS and HORROR MONSTERS, FOR MONSTERS ONLY still has a place in this Monster Kid's heart.

The thing I liked best, though, was the hearty helping of illustrations by John Severin. Severin is my favorite monster cartoonist right after Jack Davis, and he delivered a mountain of work to FOR MONSTERS ONLY. Severin's line work is superb, and he captures caricatures of monsters like few others.



Severin's art appeared on numerous covers as well. One of them, from CRACKED COLLECTOR'S EDITION #36 (1980), is amazingly now offered up for bid at auction. It is the 25.5" x 14" strip of artwork placed below the masthead and above the cover line. The piece is rendered with acrylic on illustration board and is in FANTASTIC shape. The colors are more brilliant than the printed cover ever was.



One notable factoid worth mentioning is that this is exactly the same image that was seen years earlier as the cover for FOR MONSTERS ONLY #5! Could this be the same piece of artwork that was used on a second cover -- or did Severin repaint it? The item is from The Cracked Vault Archives, which is being emptied for the benefit of any collector with a few bucks to shell out. Well, I at least still have my collection, albeit slowly being eaten by the acid in the paper it was printed on, to lean on whenever I need a good monster laugh.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

LET'S FACE IT: KARLOFF IS THE MUMMY

A similar photo of Karloff by Jack Freulich unencumbered by the inset and poor reproduction.

Tower's NEW MOVIE magazine was just one of the horde of Hollywood "gossip" magazines that flooded newsstands in the 1920's and 1930's. The titles thinned out over the years, but were still easily found into the 1970's, until they evolved into "entertainment" magazines such as PEOPLE and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY.

The January 1933 issue of NEW MOVIE included a one-page promo of Karloff in Universal's THE MUMMY, which had just seen release the previous month. The photos are attributed to "Freulich", most likely Jack Freulich, one of the gifted still photographers that Universal employed over the years.


R.I.P. ANITA EKBERG

Anita Ekberg takes a stroll through Rome's Tivoli Fountain in Fellini's La Dolce Vita.

Anita Ekberg, the "dream woman" in Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA and the vampire in FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD, has died. She was 83 years old. The Swedish-born Ekberg had a long and storied career, marked with tempestuous love affairs and a controversial public life which included a career as a pin up model and an appearance in the fledgling magazine, PLAYBOY. Ekberg was sultry and beautiful and the cameras followed her everywhere. Like so many others of her ilk, her later years were spent in tragic poverty. We fortunately have her memories on-screen as a more fitting legacy.

Farewell, Malenka.

Friday, January 23, 2015

'THE CREEPS' NO. 1 REVIEWED


I hold in my hands the first issue of "Warrant Company's" homage to Warren Publications, entitled, aptly enough, THE CREEPS. Okay, here goes -- Scraggy, drippy cover logo? Check! Image of The Old Creep in the upper left corner for easy spotting on a cramped newsstand shelf? Check! Cover painting by a notable Warren alumnus? Check! Contents page formatted as a dead-ringer for vintage CREEPY and EERIE magazines? Double check! Stories and artwork as good as the classics? Well ... read on and I'll tell you.

Subtitled, "All New Tales in the Warren Tradition!", THE CREEPS is the latest addition to the venerable illustrated horror anthology market. Magazine-sized, but comic book length (issue #2 promises to be 52 pages instead of 36), it's the brain child of one Richard Sala. Writing as "Artie Goodwin", another homage, this time to the late Archie Goodwin, author of countless stories for the Warren titles, and sharing the illustration chores with a host of other artists including Rich Buckler and Joe Rubenstein, Sala has wrangled a pretty good first effort.

Upon opening the 'zine the reader is drawn instantly back to the storied past of the original Warren series of "illustrated fear" with an inside front cover page take on "Loathsome Lore", this time titled "The Old Creep's Historic Horrors" (a tale of the succubus drawn by Frank Brunner), and the aforementioned contents page that's designed about as close to CREEPY's original contents page as one can get. There's even an anti-smoking ad to be found like the type that were often seen in the Warren 'zines (remember Frazetta's half-pager?).




So, how does THE CREEPS measure up to its predecessors? The artwork, while mostly lacking the skill of say, an Angelo Torres or Al Williamson, thankfully avoids the tiresome, never-ending trend of the angular style of comic art introduced in the 1990's by the likes of the late Michael J. Turner and Todd McFarlane and that morphed into the school of slick realism a la Alex Ross. Over all, the work here is at least average and often above, albeit with a tendency toward a certain lack of anatomical symmetry and awkward foreshortening that pervades in several instances. Still, I'd have to say that the artwork is at least on par with the folks over at Dark Horse, who currently have the rights to the Warren illustrated material.

It appears that Sala writes all the stories under his nom de plume of Artie Goodwin. His own illustrated story, "Vengeance!" has a Frazetta/Wrightson-inspired look, and Rich Buckler's "Castle of Doom" conjures up a tip of the brush to Wally Wood, including a splash page layout panel that replaces Woody's obligatory maiden's bare backside with that of a horse (!). All have the EC comics trademark of the twist ending that succeeds in varying degrees.

The verdict? THE CREEPS tries hard to uphold the legendary legacy of Warren's horror comics empire -- and early indications suggest that it will. I'm anxious to see what's ahead. Could a future issue even find the reader flipping through the back pages, shopping for monster goodies to order from "Capstone Company"? Only time will tell. In the meantime, you can order your issue of THE CREEPS right HERE. Heh! Heh!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

TOPSTONE TUESDAY (A DAY LATE)


One of the fun things that you can do with a monster mask is to make it a part of a costume that's limited only by your imagination. Here we have a Topstone caveman mask being used (along with a pair of horrible hands) as a get-up for something that's far from its originally intended, knuckle-dragging character.

[Source: Spookshows.com]


Sunday, January 4, 2015

RARE 'CARNIVAL OF SOULS' ONE SHEET


Listed as "extremely rare" at auction is a one sheet movie poster for the very available cult film, CARNIVAL OF SOULS. The lot was sold on 22 March 2009 for $478. Following is the listing as it appeared during the auction:

"Carnival of Souls (Herts-Lion International, 1962). One Sheet (27" X 41"). Herk Harvey's only feature film was not a box office smash or particularly noted at the time of its release, but this eerie, subtly horrific tale of a disenfranchised woman (Candace Hilligoss) and her descent into the league of the undead, managed to find a place in horror film history. This extremely rare one sheet (note director Harvey in the lower left corner in his ominous role as "The Man") has a tape lift on the back of the bottom right corner, but is in otherwise stellar condition. Very Fine + on Linen."

Tomorrow, bids will be accepted for another lot from CARNIVAL OF SOULS that includes a "press booklet" and two stills.




Saturday, January 3, 2015

THE CREEPS #2 PRE-ORDER


If you pre-order the second issue of Warrant Publishing's THE CREEPS, the newest in a growing line of horror comics, then you'll get a free poster-sized image of the Sanjulian cover.

The issue is slated to ship January 15th (their web page says that it's available now). The page count has also increased to 52 pages from 36. Go HERE to order.


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