Sunday, March 25, 2007

Maze of Monsters: In Through The Out Door

I’ve said a number of times that one never knows what will turn up in a K.G. Murray reprint. But just try and guess the contents of a Gredown horror comic!

Sure, if the title refers to werewolves or vampires you’ve narrowed the sub-genre somewhat. And if the title alludes to a US comic, for example, This Comic is Haunted, you have some basis for raising your expectations of pre-Code horror contents.

But other than that, the main clue is in the story titles which are often included in text boxes on the covers. Of course this is no good if the title is too generic for identification, but in the case of this issue I had a pretty good idea there’d be some Steve Ditko content – how many stories titled “Mr. Ober’s Nightmare” can there be?

And sure enough this issue is something of a Ditko bonanza, featuring no less than 4 Ditko stories, which alone makes it worth the $3 it cost me.

But it’s also one of those Gredown’s with the sort of 'filler' which makes me wish there was another outlet for the material. I haven’t identified the source of the opening story but it’s the sort of reptile/dinosaur junk I’d expect to find in Epic Illustrated.

And similarly I could do without the Walt Simonson story here (which is a sequel to the previous story). Not that there is no merit in Simonson’s art – it has enough Manhunter-esque riffs in it to make it formally interesting at least – but it’s just not what I look for in a Gredown horror comic.

Add the Mike Zeck story, the Charlton-esque “Hoppy” and the closer which would also not be out of place in Epic or similar magazines, and that’s a whole lot of filler surrounding the core Ditko material. In fact the mix is so jarring it looks like something Charlton might have contrived at short notice to enter the adult comic magazine market in the mid-1970’s.

I’m not partial to the Spanish comics reprinted in the Gredowns, but at least I’m accustomed to their presence, and I concede that were it not for them much of the rest of the booty would likely have languished unreprinted, at least in Australia. That is, it may be the pre-Code and Ditko material which attracts me most, but the cover illustrations are mostly representative of the Adult-oriented illustration-centric Spanish material. I guess the market was squarely the Heavy Metal / Epic Illustrated / Creepy / Eerie reader!

Which means, of course, that the filler was on the other foot (just to mangle a perfectly good metaphor).

Or, put another way, I’m banging my head trying to get in through the out door, wondering why the invited guests are being greeted at the front door, and why this back door keeps repeating like a film loop!

Hmmm – a cross between Bunuel and Led Zeppelin - - yep, sounds like a recipe for a Gredown horror comic after all!

I should just file this issue along with other K.G. Murray reprints of Ditko's 1970's Charlton work like (ahem) Scary Tales, The Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves...

Maze of Monsters #2, cover price $0.50, 1977

The Monster Trilogy: Part One Monster X
(Original unidentified, 8 pages)

Capital Punishment
Gabriel Levy/Walt Simonson

Mr. Ober's Nightmare
Nick Cuti/Steve Ditko
(Scary Tales #8, November 1976)

A Grizzly End
Nick Cuti/Mike Zeck
(Scary Tales #8, November 1976)

The Shaman
Steve Ditko
(Haunted #30, November 1976)

Halloween Scene
Steve Ditko
Scary Tales #7, September 1976

Steve Ditko
(The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves #60, December 1976)

Hoppy Ending
(Ghostly Haunts #52, October 1976)

(Original unidentified, 7 pages)

1 comment:

Daniel Best said...

When it comes to Gredowns I've noticed that if you think a story is from Charlton then odds on you'll eventually discover that it is a Charlton story. Hence the Mike Zeck story would appear to be 'Charltonesque' because it came from Charlton.