Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Midnight Tales: "The Time Machine"

Download Midnight Tales #14

I have had a soft spot in my heart for Charlton comic books for years. I think it's due to my American-born penchant for rooting for the underdog, but thanks to Wayne Howard, Midnight Tales was not merely a magazine from a third-rate publisher, but also a groundbreaking comic book—and I didn't even know it at the time. Wikipedia says the following: "Wayne Wright Howard (March 29, 1949 – December 9, 2007) was best known for his 1970s work at Charlton Comics, where he became American comic books' first known cover-credited series creator, with the horror-anthology Midnight Tales blurbing 'Created by Wayne Howard' on each issue — 'a declaration perhaps unique in the industry at the time.'"

"Howard's most notable legacy is providing the precedent for comic-book 'created by' credits, which eventually became common years later beginning with DC's Vertigo imprint."

"Charlton writer-editor Cuti described Howard's credit for the horror anthology Midnight Tales being granted since 'it was his idea, his concept, his everything.' This ranged from the Andy Warhol-esque horror host Professor Coffin, The Midnight Philosopher, and his niece, Arachne — who in a twist on the horror-host convention would themselves star in a story each issue — to the notion of having each issue be themed: 'One time it would be blob monsters, and I wrote three stories about blob monsters, and another time it was vampires ... and that sort of thing.' Howard penciled and inked every cover and virtually every story, and occasionally scripted a tale. The three-issue reprint series Prof. Coffin #19-21 (Oct. 1985 - Feb. 1986) retains the 'created by' credit."

All that I knew was that having a comic book with three themed vignettes that tied things up cleverly on the last page was one of the most brilliant story-telling devices that I ever ran across. Professor Coffin was the smartest uncle in all of comicdom and Arachne was the prettiest girl, which was thanks to Wayne Howard's mentoring with artist Wally Wood, no doubt. Howard was never formulaic and Nicola Cuti always told the best damn rip-snortin' adventure stories around. I went on to purchase DC Comics' Spanner's Galaxy miniseries on the strength of Nick Cuti's name alone. I even became obsessed with tracking down all of the back issues of Midnight Tales and recall being very disappointed when the series was canceled after issue #18 was published, but I treasure each and every copy in my comic book collection to this day.

A mostly forgotten, unrecognized treasure, this is—if it ever was recognized at all.

Monday, March 29, 2010

2000 AD Prog #217: "The Last Rumble of the Platinum Horde!"

Download 2000 AD Prog #217

Tharg's Future Shocks Dept.
I promised you folks some difficult-to-find, high-quality material and here is some. I have this little known yet classic tale in color as a reprint courtesy of Quality/Fleetway's Time Twisters #1, which I have stored away somewhere and will upload it once located, but either way this is still one of the better short stories crafted by Alan Moore and John Higgens. "The Last Rumble of the Platinum Horde" was originally presented in 2000 AD #217, 1981, and has been reprinted in Alan Moore's Shocking Futures.

Future Shocks is the name given to a long running series of short strips in the weekly comic 2000 AD. The name originates in a book titled Future Shock, written by Alvin Toffler, published in the UK only a short time before 2000 AD was launched.

Some characters proved popular enough to spin into their own ongoing story in 2000AD, D.R. and Quinch being one of the most notable examples.


Script: Alan Moore
Pencils: John Higgins
Inks: John Higgins

  • in 2000 AD (IPC, 1977 series) #217
  • in Alan Moore's Shocking Futures (Titan Books, 1986 series) #nn
  • Complete Alan Moore Future Shocks (Rebellion, 2006 series) #nn
  • in Time Twisters (Fleetway/Quality, 1987 series) #1

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mad #11: "Flesh Garden!"

Download MAD #11

In the company of Dale Arden, Flash Gordon embarked for the planet Mongo in 1934. That was in the Sunday funnies in a page drawn by Alex Raymond and written anonymously by former pulp-fiction editor Don Moore. This space opera became one of King Features Syndicate's most popular features, and Raymond's illustrative art was to have a strong influence on many of the young artists who began drawing for comic books in the late 1930s and the early 1940s—Tom Hickey, Sheldon Moldoff, Jack Lehti, George Papp, Mac Raboy, Dan Barry, etc.

Flash Gordon entered comic books early in 1936 by way of reprints in King Comics. His battles with the merciless Ming, a sort of galactic Fu Manchu, unfolded in the magazine from the first issue.

In the early 1940s Dell began issuing now and then Flash Gordon reprint titles. Later in the decade came an occasional comic-book offering Flash adventures "especially written and drawn for this magazine." The artist was Paul Norris, who also began drawing the Jungle Jim newspaper page in 1948.

Harvey Publications tried reprinting the Raymond material in 1950 and 1951, giving up after a few issues. King Features experimented with publishing comic books in the late 1960s. These used original material, and the Flash Gordon book made use of such artists as Al Williamson, a devoted Raymond disciple, Gil Kane, and Reed Crandall. When King quit, Charlton took over and finally Gold Key. The final Flash Gordon comic book was printed in 1982. He reappeared briefly in 1987 as part of a team that included Mandrake and the Phantom in the TV-inspired Defenders of the Earth.

Harvey Kurtzman and Wally Wood spoof Flash Gordon below.


Cover art: Basil Wolverton
Script: Harvey Kurtzman
Pencils: Wally Wood
Inks: Wally Wood
Colors: Marie Severin

  • in Mad Reader, The (Ballantine Books, 1954 series) #93
  • in Mad About the Fifties (Little, Brown & Co., 1997 series) #[nn]
  • Tales Calculated to Drive You Mad (EC, 1997 series) #4

Below is Frank Brunner's curious spoof from Unknown World of Science Fiction #1:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

House of Mystery #226: "The Perfect Mate"

Download House of Mystery #226

Michael J. Pellowski plotted this story, Robert Kanigher scripted it and Jess M. Jodloman drew it, entitled "The Perfect Mate." This one is a quick read, but I thought it was pretty good back when I was a kid.

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