Wednesday, April 24, 2019
VAMPIRELLA NO. 2 (PART 1)
Vol. 1 No. 2
Warren Publishing Company
Publisher: James Warren
Editor: Bill Parente
Cover: Bill Hughes
Cover price: 50 cents
Jim Warren had his back against the wall. It was early 1969 and his trio of magazines, CREEPY, EERIE and his best-selling flagship publication, FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND were all foundering, sales-wise. He owed thousands to his printer, and his artists and writers were grumbling (rightfully so) because they were not getting paid.
Most people these days would give up, fold up their tents and disappear from sight, leaving a trail of debt and pissed-off creative people behind. But not James Warren; he was a fighter, and when things got tough, he fought back. In this case, he used his marketing and design savvy to come up with something new -- something entirely different -- a bold risk, but a calculated one. What would it be?
One night, burning the midnight oil as he had a habit of doing, he sat at his drawing table, thinking of a new character to unless on his readership. He began thinking of a female character, then remembered his high-school sweetheart. He started drawing her face, and thing began to fall into place.
With a character in mind, Warren went to Frank Frazetta and asked him to "flesh her out" and design a fitting costume. Frazetta went to work and turned in a sexy and seductive image, but Warren wasn't crazy about the costume. Soon after, an underground cartoonist by the name of Trina Robbins was sitting on the other side of his desk chatting about work, when he asked her to take a look at his new character and the problem of the costume. Robbins grabbed a pencil and drew out her version right there at Warren's desk. It was a winner. Warren sent the drawing back to Frazetta and Frazetta came up with the iconic image.
Now, he needed a writer. He turned to Forry Ackerman, editor of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, for inspiration of a name for the character and a story line. Ackerman had just been to a screening of Vadim's BARBARELLA. He came up with a few names and showed them to Warren. He chose the one that was inspired by the movie that Forry had seen, Vampirella.
The first issue sold like proverbial hot cakes. A second issue was quickly prepared. . . maybe a little too quickly according to some critics, and in a number of ways, it's hard to disagree. After the fantastic cover by Frazetta for issue #1, the Bill Hughes cover is a huge letdown. Also, conspicuously absent are frontline, A-list artists Reed Crandall and Neal Adams. We are left with virtual unknowns like Tony Willamsune (Tony Tallarico), Dick Piscopo, and William Barry. The first tale is drawn by Jerry Grandenetti, and while his art is interesting, his stylings just don't go down well for the lead story. Somehow, though, the uniqueness of the magazine's concept make it all work. Red hot newsstand sales more than proved this out.