Horror a la Carte

Welcome to the first post on the site since I moved to East Ren in October! Normal service will hopefully resume now, as we approach the holiday season.  This blog post concerns a Marvel horror comic from the Seventies.

giant-size_chillers_vol_2_3

In the wake of the success of the DC mystery titles revamped by Joe Orlando, Marvel followed suit with tales of magic and ghost stories in an identical, anthology format.  Those late 60s titles Tower of Shadows and Chamber of Darkness haven’t been collected in an omnibus to my knowledge and, along with Captain Savage, the romances and the Westerns , they represent the largest gap in my Marvel reading.

On ebay, I tracked down a copy of Giant-Size Chillers 3 to read on Hallowe’en. This comic, from August 1975, reprinted stories from ToS and CoD and it was interesting to see familair Marvel talent work in this genre. of course, early sword-and-sorcery was tried out in these titles too.

This mid-70s collection features a ghoulish frontispiece by Alfredo Alcala and the horror hosts are Marie Severin caricatures of Len Wein and Tony Isabella. The stories are:

Gargoyle Every Night: from Chamber of Darkness 7,  Berni Wrightson and Roy Thomas tell the cautionary tale of a craftsman of gargoyles and some opportunistic thieves.

The Warlock Tree: Gerry Conway and Barry Smith deliver a psychedelic love story with imagery reminiscent of  The Sword in the Stone. This was reprinted from CoD 3.

Desert Scream:a treasure hunter unleashes the alien Neron-Alak from his tomb.  Allyn Brodsky and Jay Hawk aka Jack Katz ( inked by Barry Smith) anticipate the Dr. Who story Pyramids of Mars here. Reprinted from Monsters on the Prowl 9

The Moving Finger Writhes: Len Wein and Gene Colan turn in a Twilight Zone-style tale of a schlub with a prophetic book.  Colan’s work is lovely but the story, from Tower of Shadows 3, is very simplistic.

The Monster: one of Kirby’s last Marvel jobs before the Fourth World, this story first appeared in Chamber of Darkness 4. The story of tragic, deformed hermit Andreas Flec reminded me strongly of the 1968 Dennis Waterman/Michael Gough episode of Journey Into the Unknown

To Sneak, Perchance To Dream: Tom Sutton brings an underground flavour to a comedic tale about foreign spies sabotaging a plutonium plant. Denny O’neil scripts as heavy-handedly as ever in this reprint from ToS 4.

One Little Indian: Marv Wolfman’s first script for Marvel, again reprinted from ToS 4, is another TZ/Night Gallery story about a doomed executive. It’s another moody Colan piece but Wolfman’s gauche, melodramatic style is already in evidence.

It wasn’t a hugely memorable comic; I feel the DC books did this kind of thing far better. I rather suspect the bland stories and corny humour ensured the rapid transformation of ToS and CoD into reprint books featuring pre-FF monsters.

Coming soon: the Fireside Dr. Strange

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners

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2 comments on “Horror a la Carte

  1. Kid says:

    Although not brilliant, these ‘horror’ tales made for ‘light’, entertaining reading. More than one story per issue, and complete as well. I wish they still published mags like this.

    • Dougie says:

      In terms of Marvel titles I haven’t explored- aside from all the Romances and Westerns- I think I’m left with a briny smattering of Sub-Mariners and Capt. Savage.

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