Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Vol. 1 No. 1
March 1969
Western Publishing Company (Gold Key Comics)
Editor: Wally Green
Scripter: Don Arneson
Pencils: Joe Certa
Inks: Joe Certa
Cover: Photographic

It was inevitability rather than fate that a comic book based on the afternoon soap opera DARK SHADOWS should appear. Sidelines for the unlikely hit show crawled from every marketing niche and included everything from games, puzzles and model kits to Halloween costumes. So why not a comic book? Dell, who specialized in TV and movie comic titles, landed the license and the comic ran for 35 issues, from 1969 to 1976.

Like many other comics that adapted TV shows and films, the DARK SHADOWS comic book series, besides being a regrettably mediocre title, took liberties with characters and story lines (it would be years before companies would employ story arcs lasting for ten, fifteen, or more issues). The art was passable (one could see at least a slight resemblance to Barnabas and the other characters), and the script was lively enough to have buoyed the whole thing from sinking forever into the depths of comic obscurity. Nevertheless, during its run, it provided more fuel for the flame that burned bright for the "little soap opera that could".
Scripting issues #1-17 and #19 was Don "DJ" Arneson (1935- ), a veteran writer, editor, and sometimes letterer. He edited a number of notable genre comics such as Dell Movie Comics' DRACULA, THE MUMMY, FRANKENSTEIN, TOMB OF LIGEIA, and DIE MONSTER! DIE!, and other Dell titles THE OUTER LIMITS, FLYING SAUCERS, and GHOST STORIES, as well as many other war, comedy and TV titles.

Arneson is perhaps known best for his creation of Lobo, the first African-American super hero to have his own title (sorry Marvel Luke Cage fans). His co-creator was Tony Tallarico (1933- ), who penciled and inked the two-issue run. Readers may remember Tallarico as the editor of Mayfair's MONSTER FANTASY, MONSTER WORLD and QUASIDMODO'S MONSTER MAGAZINE.

The artist for the entire run of the series was the prolific Joe Certa (1919-1989). Compared to other, more competent and recognized artists, Certa more than made up for quality with quantity, and his ability to crank out product assured his longevity in the industry.

After being schooled in illustration at the Art Students League of New York, he went to work in the 1940s for comic book publishers Lev Gleason, Fawcett, Magazine Enterprises (ME), and Harvey. Later, he worked for DC Comics on titles such as MARTIAN MANHUNTER, as well as DC's various mystery and ghost titles.

The story, "The Vampire's Prey", in this, the first issue of DARK SHADOWS, introduces, in a very effective splash page, I might add, both Barnabas and Angelique to the series.


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