Thursday, September 1, 2016
FEAR IN FOUR COLORS: LOVECRAFT IN THE COMICS (PART 4)
We have to wait until July, 1968 to find the first actual, title and all, Lovecraft adaptation in a comic … this time appearing in a full, magazine-sized comic by the name of CREEPY. Founded by James Warren, the same publisher who, along with Forrest J. Ackerman a decade earlier had unleashed upon the world the greatest monster movie magazine of all time, FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND CREEPY was an unapologetic copy of the E.C. horror comics. Warren, who never missed a publishing trend, sensed that the time was right to resurrect the classic combination of sensational writing and first-rate illustration which were the hallmarks of E.C.’s achievements. He even brought aboard a number of the same artists from E.C., who were only too willing to get back to work scaring the wits out of youngsters with their macabre stories. With A-list draftsmen like Joe Orlando, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Johnny Craig (a.k.a. Jay Taycee), John Severin, and the greatest fantasy artist alive, Frank Frazetta, the formula was an instant success.
In CREEPY #21, artist Bob Jenney brought to life the first ever Lovecraft story adaptation to commercial publishing. Jenney had the previous distinction of illustrating Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” in CREEPY #19, as well as the art chores for the Dell Movie Comics version of THE WOLF MAN five years earlier. Billed as “Adapted from a story by H. P. Lovecraft”, the writer goes mysteriously uncredited. The late Archie Goodwin, who churned out story after story as CREEPY'S first editor, and who had relinquished his editorship after issue #17 and subsequently slacked off scriptwriting a bit, could possibly be the author of the adaptation. Another likely candidate is Bill Parente, who was CREEPY'S new, official editor as of issue #21. The story was apparently a big enough editorial event to warrant a cover spot which was painted by the newly-hired Brazilian comic artist Gutenberg Monteiro. Marred by 2 misprints on the contents page (the story was listed as “The Rats in the Wall”, and artist Jenney’s name was misspelled “Jenny”), the appearance of this Lovecraft adaptation is nevertheless a milestone for Lovecraft aficionados.