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Creepy Archives Volume 13 Hardcover – Jul 3 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
These comics are somewhat dated in content, being 40 years old, but they are also dated in terms of craftsmanship, and detail. The computer gen comics of today are largely cold and pale in comparison to the hand drawn masterpieces of the late 60's and 70's. Fortunately Dark Horse and Dynamite Entertainment are both reproducing these classics for people to see what comics were and could be again.
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As pointed out by some of the other reviewers, this volume features some of Wrightson's best work; his adaption of the Poe tale "The black cat", and "Jenifer", perhaps the story he's best known for. Actually italian filmmaker Dario Argento loved this story so much, that he adapted it for an american anthology series to mixed results; many people resented him for it, others as I, enjoyed it, though it bears little resemblance to the actual story. This book also features some great Corben color work, and the return of John Severin, who maintained an on and off relation with Warren.
Since these archives give little or no inforamtion on the Spanish artists involved, who actually did the majority of the artwork and the reason Warren magazines became so popular, I thought I'd share some info on them with my Amazon friends.
I'll start with Jose Bea, or to give his actual name Josep M. Bea Font, simply because he's always been one of my favorites, as it was for many fans back then, and newer ones nowadays, not to mention grumpy old Alex Toth, who never shirked a thought and pretty much said it as he thought, constantly complaining at the sorry state of comics back then. But much to Bea's surprise, Toth once claimed that Bea was indeed one of his favorite artists among the Spaniards working at Warren. Bea started pretty young in the business, as his father walked him into the SI Artists studio in Barcelona, and told the director, a certain Josep Toutain, that since his son was so obsessed with comic books he wanted to show him the ropes of the business and what better way to start, than to send him to the best art studio in town. The only thing he asked of Toutain, seeing how all the other artists in the studio were smoking, was to watch over his kid and not let him smoke. Toutain took the kid in relunctantly, and had him work mostly as a go-getter. Bea would also be the butt of every prank and joke the other slightly older artists made. And of course, the first thing they did was teach him how to smoke. But Bea would become a great artist on his own right, though it was really when he began working for Warren that his work started to shine. I've always thought of Bea as being a really weird artist. He was also the first among the Spanish guys working there, to write some of his own stories. The first story he wrote was supposedly based on an old Catalonian folk tale, and featured what I believe was a first in comic books; a whole page devoted to some gnome-like creatures performing a balletic dance. Talk about being weird. The funniest thing about it was that the story was totally made up by Bea, and when it was first translated into Spanish, it provoked the irk of many Catalonians, as they were described as being stingy in the story. Needless to say, this was his first, but not last, encounter with the Sapnish censorship, as the page introducing the "stingy" Catalonians was never published. In this book we also find one of his weirdest stories, wherein the motorcycle a man is driving, transforms into the man he has just killed earlier. The drawings are so eerie and creepy, as to make your skin crawl just by seeing them. This alas, is the last book in the Creepy Archives where you'll see his work. After his stint at Warren, Bea would work for many other publishers around Europe, creating in the late 70's/ early 80's the sci-fi series "Stories from a Galactic Tavern". This series would have him meet the spanish censorship once again, who were so shocked by a story he drew, that they forbade him from ever drawing again. It would take many of his friends and comic associations to lift the veto on his work, and two years later he was back in the saddle drawing comic books. In the mid-eighties he created the magazine "Rambla" with his friends Luis Garcia and Adolfo Usero (Usero is usually called Abellan in the Warren magazines, Abellan being his mother's maiden name; in Spain, as it is thorugh most of South America, people usually have as surname the one of their father and the one of their mother, both working as a given surname). The idea behind the magazine was to have total freedom from editorial restrictions, and though it seemd like a nice idea to most artists contributing at the time, it proved non-profitable. Most contributing artists jumped ship when the editors couldn't pay their fees, and Bea and Garcia found themselves running the magazine on their own. The problem was whether they should continue, and if they did so, how would they fill in all those pages with only their work. Luis Garcia being the meticulous photo-realistic artist he was, needed months to complete an eight page story, so Bea took it upon hinself to fill out the magazine with his drawings, working in different styles and under various pseudonyms. He'd even draw some stories directly in ink, with no previous pencilling, and sometimes with his left hand, just so that it looked as if it was done by another artist. He would also create under the pen-name of Sanchez Zamora a pornographic series, a first in Spain, and a genre that in the 90's would be the only existing form of doing comic books in Spain. In the 90's he dropped his pencil and vowed to never pick it up again, and quit drawing from then on. He has worked in computers after, as a graphic designer, and written some juvenile sci-fi novels, that are just too weird to categorize as being either bad or good. However, he attained a certain success as a sc-fi writer, and it's what he does nowadays.
An artist like Maroto is still well known in the US, as he worked for Marvel, and did many drawings of Conan. He also created the chainmail bikini that Red Sonja wears, for which fans all over the world are eternally grateful.
Gonzalo Mayo, who everyone believes to be Spanish, is actually Peruvian and had nothing to do with the SI Artists from Barcelona. He simply took a trip from his native Peru and walked into the offices of Warren in New York, and got a job there. He is best remembered as the "other good artist" to draw Vampirella, his version of Vampi being even sexier than Pepe Gonzalez's. He lives in Peru now, and continues to draw, though not for comic books anymore. He even has a website, for those interested in seeing what he does now.
Abellan, as I've metioned earlier, is best known as Adolfo Usero in Spain. Usero is a conundrum among the Spanish artists, as he never seemed to find a "style" that could be recognizable. He was an able artist nonetheless, though he never attained the notoriety of his friends Luis Garcia, Carlos Gimenez or Alfonso Font. For Warren most of his drawings are reminiscent of argentine great Alberto Breccia, an artist who influenced most of his Spanish counterparts during the 70's.
Josep Gual was never one of my favorites, though he was already a well established artist in Spain, having published his work since the early 50's. Apparently someone in Warren liked him, as he would have a whole issue devoted to his work. He drew between the 90's and 00's the sexy strip George and Lynn for the Sun newspaper in England. He also has a webpage (in Catalan language only), though he only paints nowadays.
Isidre Monés, credited first in Warren as Munes and then as Isidro Mones, was also one of those conundrums as Usero, in that he started drawing influenced by Breccia and Battaglia. He worked on some of the most fondly remembered series for Eerie, such as Dr. Archaeus and Gotterdammerung. He would also illustrate the adaptions of Oil of dog and Berenice. In the 80's after his work with Warren, he would change his drawing style completely, and draw in the fashion of french artist Moebius, doing various sci-fi stories for different publishers, among others Bea and Garcia's own Rambla. He later on became a book cover illustrator. As a comic book artist he rarely signed his work, and as I said earlier, was given different name credits for his work.
Vicente Alcazar worked for the British market in the 60's drawing all sort of war stories. In 1973 he went to the States, and there he met Neal Adams with whom he worked in Neal's studio and became part of the Crusty Bunkers. He is remembered for the series Shreck (nothing to do with the cartoon) in Eerie. He was also one of those Spanish artists influenced by the Breccia/Battaglia school of drawing. Through Neal Adams he became acquainted with Gray Morrow, and became close friends with him. Through Morrow he worked for Red Circle Comics (a branch from Archie comics, though drawn more realistically), mainly for Morrow's Chilling Adventures in Sorcery. He would later move to Maracaibo, in Venezuela, once he got married, but would continually travel back to the States to deliver his work. He's actually the main Spanish artist to have worked for American publishers, having worked for Marvel, DC, Charlton and Red Circle Sorcery. He's best remembered for the work he did for Jonah Hex, having in recent years done a story for the actual version of it as well. He's still drawing comic books, having done a work centered around Maracaibo (but that hasn't seen print yet), and working on a graphic novel he is coloring on the computer.
The last Spanish artist appearing in this book, is my personal favorite: Martin Salvador. Though never really popular among the fans back then, maybe because his artwork looked too straight as opposed to his other Spanish colleagues, who were all scratching their boards with razors and dipping their socks in ink. Martin Salvador was pretty much an artist in the same vein as Russ Heath (my personal favorite among the americans), an extremely good artist who could draw in any genre, and had a clear, clean style that was perfectly suited for comic books. Actually Martin's work is the easiest and the most straight-forward to read among the Spanish artists, so much that I would usually confuse his work with that of Russ Heath. Salvador was already a full-fledged artist by the time he began working for Warren, having worked in the 50's on Mendoza Colt in Spain, and for Fleetway in the UK during the 60's drawing all sort of war stories (the British were obsessed back then with the second world war). It was in the late 60's that he began drawing The Saint strip for a Swedish publisher, a collaboration that lasted over 20 years due to the success of the series over there, and in no small part due to Martin's excellent drawings as well. For Warren he worked on the Werewolf series for Eerie, and is, if I'm not wrong, the only Spanish artist who remained with Warren until the very end. His work has always been at the highest level, and to think that while he was working for Warren he was also doing The Saint for Sweden, Shi-Kai (a kung fu series) for Germany, and Dick Turpin for other european countries at the same time. His work was never rushed, holding always up to its high quality. It's a pity he is hardly remembered by anyone nowadays, as his work has always been top-notch. Unfortunately much of it was done for countries no one knows. He has since retired from comic books, and mostly paints and plays with his grandchildren nowadays. He also has a website you can look up in the internet if interested.
By the way, what was up with Goodwin's obsession with ghouls (y'know, weird people who liked to eat the dead)? Old Archie returns for a few issues in '74, and all of a sudden, ghoul stories return to the pages of Creepy. Hmmm.
Whatever the reason, talents like artists Bernie Wrightson and Richard Corben were providing great visuals, and a few writers who had started out a little shaky, such as Steve Skeates and Rich Margopoulos, were now creating the tales of their careers. In particular, issue 63 has two classics: Wrightson and Bruce Jones's "Jenifer" (probably one of the greatest stories in the magazine's history); and Margopoulos/Corben's "Demon in the Cockpit," where the US government's dabbling in demonology leads to catastrophic events (will they never learn?). And there is a GROSS eye-injury found in Marty Pasko/Jose Gual's "The Clone" that would have Fredric Wertham, author of "Seduction Of The Innocent," writhing in disgust. Oh, and speaking of Dr. Wertham, Tom Sutton pays tribute to EC artist Graham "Ghastly" Ingels, allowing the artist to have his revenge on the man who ended his career, a "Dr. Frederick Worthworm," in a tale found here called "Encore Ghastly."
I've often believed that comics in the 70s and 80s gave us the movies of the 90s and beyond, in much the same way that the movie serials and comic strips of the 40s and 50s gave us films like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. In this book, you can start to see the movies of today being born on the drawing tables of some fine comic-book talent. This book really takes me back to the sense of wonder I had as a kid, and I am SO looking forward to the next few Creepy Archives to see if this high level of quality continued. I AM HOOKED!