Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Horror and Adventure Magazine Era of Marvel: 1973-1978

The Magazines of the Marvel Age

You are traveling through another dimension and it’s mostly black and white. After a brief experiment in 1971 with Savage Tales and the Spectacular Spider-Man-Man (published ion 1968), Marvel returned to the Magazine format in 1973. But it only lasted a few years.

In my book, The New Essential Marvel Age Companion: 1961-1977, I list and present, in detail, the contents of EVERY issue the Marvel Magazines from this period, just as I do for all the Marvel comics at this time.  I also have links to other comics and magazines when a story calls for it.

Often,  when people create blogs and even a few books on this subject they LEAVE OUT the adventure scripts, such as Doc Savage, Kull, Savage Sword of Conan, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, Rampaging Hulk, Comix Book, Crazy and Planet of the Apes among others. 

You may certainly use the following as a checklist of this era and here, as you scroll down, you will find three lists:

1.    A List of all the Magazines published in this era.
2.   A List of the SERIES that were published.  That is a list of all the characters and their appearances in magazines NOT named after them.
3.   With the aid of Nick Caputo, A list of each of the individual issues of the magazines that features their cover artist AND the street date of their publication.

Dracula Lives! #5

The Magazines of the Black and White Era, 1973- 1977

Monsters Unleashed

In looking back I ask the question… Why did this not succeed?  I did not predict failure for these comics, but in looking back I wanted to see why they failed.

Stan Lee: I’ll tell you a secret... anytime a book is canceled... no matter what reason people give you... it is because it didn’t sell that well. Stan Lee, CBM, July 1998

There is no question that the goal was to emulate the success of the EC comics of the 1950s.  Tales of the Crypt, The Haunt of Horror, and Mad were big successes until the comic book censors put them out of business.  Warren Publications, with Creepy, Eerie, and even Blazing Combat tried to capture EC’s style and attitude. Yet, at this time, Marvel had published similar comics, Tower of Shadows, Chamber of Chills, Supernatural Thrillers with little success. (The aforementioned though  were strongly hampered by the censorship of the Comic’s Code.)

 By bringing The Hulk, Avengers, X-Men, Master of Kung Fu, Frankenstein, Werewolf to a world without the Comics Code, a separate, second continuity arose. Stan Lee, Roy Thomas and Jack Kirby had constructed a Marvel Universe and now it is being contradicted. This Magazine Universe belonged others, including Len Wein, Marv Wolfman and Tony Isabella. Many, but not all, of the Dracula’s magazines story lines (which took place in the past) were incorporated into the original comic book Marvel Universe, especially the ones that lead up to Dracula’s death.

Few of the Rampaging Hulk’s plot lines crossed over from his original comics, instead the stories “retconned” the Hulk’s beginnings, especially with the “new” Avengers. In fact, almost a decade later, in The Incredible Hulk #269, we discover that these adventures never even took place. Bereet had made a movie about the Hulk and that was the story that appeared in Rampaging Hulk. Marvel could not even be consistent with their inconsistencies. 

These magazines seemed to give a second chance to series that had failed in the comics, such as Gullivar Jones and Frankenstein. Often, however, they were just burning off inventory pages that were drawn for cancelled comics. There were also attempts to begin new series for familiar characters too.

          In 1971, Goodman quickly abandoned Savage Tales after it's first issue. Previously he had quickly cancelled the Spectacular Spider-Man, which lasted two issues, in 1968. (The second issue was in color and was approved by the Comics Code.)  Goodman apparently was convinced that the black and white end of publishing was “schlock.” Roy Thomas wrote in, Alter Ego #81 (Oct. 2008): There were several things that led to Savage Tales being cancelled after that first issue. [Marvel’s publisher] Martin Goodman had never really wanted to do a non-Code comic, probably because he didn’t want any trouble with the (Comics Code Authority) over it. Nor did he really want to get into magazine-format comics; and Stan really did. So Goodman looked for an excuse to cancel it. I also heard we weren’t able to sell the mag in Canada (10% of the print run.) With Goodman gone, in 1973, Marvel jumped back into the black and white publishing world.

Even with Goodman gone, Marvel used his familiar formula from the 1940s and 1950s to increase sales and dominate at the newsstands. That is, Goodman would see a popular genre and flood the stands with many titles, often not caring, it seemed, about quality. Yet, by flooding the newsstand the magazines lost their uniqueness.  Was Dracula Lives that much different than Vampire Tales?  or Monsters Unleashed?

In its beginning, the Marvel Age did have wonderful, anthology stories each issue of Amazing Adventures, Tales of Suspense, and Strange Tales among others. I looked forward to new characters created each month by Ditko, Kirby, Heck among others. Here, there was no consistency in artists, so the stories seemed random and no with no consistency. 

Most of these titles died an early death. Perhaps because Marvel’s printing process produced an inferior product than its competitors.  The artwork was often blurred and the line work was not sharp and the paper was not high quality. The magazines started out, generally eighty pages in length, but quickly shrunk to sixty-four with the price increasing from 75 cents to $1. These comics were getting expensive. 

Text features from Dracula Lives #3 and #5

Marvel also released the "pulp" type digest title, The Haunt of Horror. It lasted just two issues.

However, using text features and reprints, mostly from the Atlas era, readers most often got only half a book filled with new illustrated stories. Marvel also flooded the market with too many titles too quickly to maintain quality and see what worked well. Also, many of the titles had publication dates that were erratic, with many months passing between issues.

Remembering the past, Marvel did not call them “horror” comics but “Monster” magazines. The stories contained more sex, some nudity, and a lot more violence. Marvel had the most success with Crazy magazine (humor) and the Savage Sword of Conan which lasted for 20 years. Marvel briefly published a sort of underground magazine called Comix Book.

Crazy#1 Table of Contents and Kung Fooey from issue #12

Marvel had attempted a Mad-capped magazine in the 1950s.  Snafu only lasted three issues.
Marvel had a humor comic in the 1950s also named Crazy.

Marvel had set its sights on the Warren, Skywald and other black and white, magazine sized publications. But unlike Warren and Skywald, Marvel had a complete color comic line-up. So the stories presented in their black and white magazine format should have been more mature and uniquely created for this medium. Instead we got many traditional comic book stories and reprints, originally prepared or printed for one of their comics but now in a more expensive black and white publication. I was hopeful that these magazines would give Marvel freedom from the comic’s code censorship and the ability to run longer stories. The creative staff were mostly the same people who were writing the comics, yet they often seemed not to find consistent footing here. I had also hoped that there would be limited series, storylines with a beginning, a middle and an end. Comic book characters, in their own comics, would NEVER have a series that ended.

Hell-Rider from Skywald

    I don’t mean to imply that all the stories and magazines were poor. There was often a lot of fun here. The Rampaging Hulk, seemed to have picked up his continuity from 1963, but they changed his personality, making him far “angry” than he was back then. When the Hulk TV showed aired, beginning, with issue #10, The Hulk stopped “rampaging” and gained color.  

There were also many fine Conan stories including a different version of the great Conan story, “Tower of the Elephant!” From The Savage Sword of Conan! #24 which originally appeared in Conan #4.

Some of these magazines originally did not identify themselves as “Marvels” on their covers. They were labelled “Curtis” which was Marvel’s distributor. Very soon the logo “Marvel Monster Group” appeared on the horror comics but not necessarily on the adventure ones, such as Savage Sword of Conan which eventually did put “Marvel” on the cover logo. (The Comics Code,  which did not approve these magazines, however, did let these magazines be advertised in the regular comics. Allowing no approved comics to be advertised was a major change in the code’s position.)
   Second string characters such as Bloodstone and Solomon Kane appear and the anthology fillers, with no continuing characters, are back.

Savage Sword of Conan #18

Tony Isabella: If I had to speculate— I was not involved in the decisions to drop those titles—I would guess that Marvel decided to keep the B&W titles which were doing well at the time (Savage Sword, Crazy, Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu, Planet Of The Apes) and turn its magazine efforts towards new things like Epic, Howard The Duck, The Rampaging Hulk, Marvel Preview/Bizarre Adventures, and even The Tomb of Dracula. Savage Sword and Crazy were the most successful, but most of the others had longer runs than the horror titles which launched the magazine line.

Roy Thomas:
We, of course, go for a little more illustrative look in the art for one thing. There are minor restrictions; we go a little further with nudity and sexual innuendo—but not very much—and with violence; but again, not very much. But there is more bloodletting, like the beginning of the latest story, “The Haunters of Castle Crimson” in SAVAGE SWORD #12, because it’s the sacking of an entire town. There were whole pages that would never have gotten into a color comic. When we … reprinted the Jim Starlin story from SAVAGE TALES #5 into the color CONAN (issue 64), we had to cut out a sex sequence that was rather mild, but it was suggestive. It’s a percentage really. We could go much further in the black and white than we do, but we don’t want to have any kinds of problems with any possible markets turning down the black-and whites, with the result that ours are much milder than Jim Warren’s. That’s a conscious choice on our part.”

Steve Englehart:
“When I first went to work at Marvel, they had already published the b&w version of Roy and Barry’s “Frost Giant’s Daughter,” (Savage Tales #1) which had a nearly naked protagonist in a non-Code book. They now wanted to reprint it in the color comic and sent it to the Code and it so happened that one of the first peeks behind the scenes I ever got was the letter back from the Code. It detailed, panel by panel, just exactly how much of her breasts were allowed to be seen. As I recall, the percentage of the tops of the breasts were debatable, but you could never show the undersides. I thought “How anal retentive-plus prudish-is this?” But my few forays into B & W work later never dealt much with breasts, so I never ran up against that, or anything else, really. My feeling was always “People are smarter than they’re given credit for,” and in Marvel’s time, that was always true. We knew we were writing for all ages, including college kids and including little kids, so we kept everything within some boundary we felt was right. We rarely got complaints about going too far and I don’t remember ever being persuaded that we had. We could entertain both ends of the spectrum without upsetting either.

                      The Magazine Covers and Arrival Dates
Arrival Dates are really the arrival "weeks" because deliveries were not universally done on the same day.
Comix Book                                                                     
#1            Skip Williamson              
#2           Bill Griffith, Dennis Kitchen                     
#3           Justin Green/Trina Robbins/K. Deitch 
#4           Leslie Cabarga                                              
#5           John Pound                                                   

From the first issue of Comix Book
Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu                 
#1           Neal Adams                                     1/29/74
#2           Neal Adams                                       4/3/74
#3           Neal Adams                                       6/4/74
#4           Neal Adams                                       8/6/74
#5           Bob Larkin                                         9/3/74
#6           Earl Norem                                      10/1/74
#7           Earl Norem                                      11/5/74
#8           Bob Larkin                                       12/3/74
#9           Earl Norem                                      1/14/75
#10        Harold Shull                                    2/20/75
#11        Neal Adams                                       3/4/75
#12        Neal Adams                                     3/20/75
#13        Luis Dominguez                              5/13/75
#14        Neal Adams                                     6/10/75
#15        Nick Cardy                                         7/8/75
#16        Luis Dominguez                              8/12/75
#17        Neal Adams                                       9/9/75
#18        Nick Cardy                                       10/7/75
#19        Bob Larkin                                       11/4/75
#20        Ken Barr                                          12/2/75
#21        Bob Larkin                                       1/13/76
#22        Ken Barr                                          2/10/76
#23        Ken Barr                                             3/9/76
#24        Bob Larkin                                       4/13/76
#25        Earl Norem                                      5/11/76
#26        Malcolm McN                                 6/15/76
#27        Earl Norem                                      7/20/76
#28        Ed Barr                                             8/17/76
#29        Earl Norem                                      9/21/76
#30        Earl Norem                                    10/19/76
#31        Bob Larkin                                    11/16/76
#32        Rudy Nebres                                  12/21/76
#33        Rudy Nebres                                    01/25/7
Special #1 Harold Shull                                  7/2/74
Heroes #1   Earl Norem        

Deadly Hands issue #14

Doc Savage                                                                    
#1           Roger Kastel                                      6/3/75
#2           Ken Barr                                             9/2/75
#3           Ken Barr                                          12/2/75
#4           Ken Barr                                             3/2/76
#5           Ken Barr                                             6/1/76
#6           Ken Barr                                          9/14/76
#7           Ken Barr                                        12/14/76
#8           Ken Barr                                          3/15/77

Doc Savage from his first color comic and then magazine appearance
Dracula Lives!                                                               
#1           Boris Vallejo                                      1/2/73
#2           Jordi Penalva                                     4/3/73
#3           Neal Adams                                     6/26/73
#4           Earl Norem                                      9/18/73
#5           Luis Dominguez                           12/18/73
#6           Luis Dominguez                                3/5/74
#7           Luis Dominguez                                5/7/74
#8           Luis Dominguez                                7/2/74
#9           Luis Dominguez                                9/3/74
#10        Luis Dominguez                              11/5/74
#11        Steve Fabian                                       1/7/75
#12        Ken Bald                                             3/4/75
#13        Earl Norem                                        5/6/75
Annual #1 Gray Morrow                                7/1/75
Dracula Lives #2
Haunt of Horror                                                           
#1           Grey Morrow                                   3/19/74
#2           Kelly Frea                                         5/21/74
#3           Jose Antonio Domingo                 7/16/74
#4           Bob Larkin                                       9/17/74
#5           Dick Giordiano                             11/19/74

Kull and the Barbarians                  
#1           Michael Whelan                              3/18/75
#2           Michael Whelan                                4/1/75
#3           Michael Whelan                                6/1/75
Legion of Monsters                                                       
#1           Neal Adams                                       6/1/75
Marvel Movie Premiere                    
#1           Nick Cardy                                         6/1/75
Marvel Preview                                                             
#1           Gray Morrow                                     1/1/75
#2           Gray Morrow                                  4/29/75
#3           Gray Morrow                                     6/1/75
#4           Gray Morrow                                  10/1/75
#5           Ken Barr                                             1/1/76
#6           Ken Barr                                             4/6/76
#7           Bob Larkin                                         7/6/76
#8           Ken Barr                                          10/5/76
#9           Earl Norem                                      1/11/77
#10        Ken Barr                                          4/12/77
#11        Ken Barr                                          7/12/77
#12        Earl Norem                                      11/1/77
#13        Jim Starlin                                       1/10/78
#14        Jim Starlin                                       4/18/78
#15        Joe Justo                                           07/25/7

Rocky Raccoon appears in Marvel Preview #7

Marvel Comics Super-Special           
#1           Alan Weiss & Gray Morrow         6/14/77
#2           Earl Norem                                    12/15/77
#9           John Buscema                                    1/9/79

Marvel Super-action                                                     
#1           Bob Larkin                           

Monsters Unleashed                                                     
#1           Gray Morrow                                  5/22/73
#2           Boris Vallejo                                   8/14/73
#3           Neal Adams                                     10/9/73
#4           Frank Brunner?                               12/4/73
#5           Bob Larkin                                         2/5/74
#6           Boris Vallejo                                      4/9/74
#7           Earl Norem                                      6/11/74
#8           Earl Norem                                      8/13/74
#9           Earl Norem                                      10/8/74
#10        Jose Antonio Domingo               12/10/74
#11        Frank Brunner                                2/11/75
Annual  Ken Bald                                          05/06/7
Planet of the Apes                            
#1           Bob Larkin                                       6/25/74
#2           Bob Larkin                                       8/27/74
#3           Bob Larkin                                    10/22/74
#4           Bob Larkin                                    11/26/74
#5           Bob Larkin                                    12/24/74
#6           Bob Larkin                                       1/21/75
#7           Bob Larkin                                       2/18/75
#8           Earl Norem                                      3/18/75
#9           Greg Theakston                              4/15/75
#10        Bob Larkin                                       5/13/75
#11        Gray Morrow                                  6/10/75
#12        Ken Barr                                             7/8/75
#13        Bob Larkin                                         8/5/75
#14        Malcolm McN.                                   9/2/75
#15        Bob Larkin                                       9/30/75
#16        Ken Barr                                          11/4/75
#17        Bob Larkin                                       12/2/75
#18        Ken Barr                                          12/4/75
#19        Bob Larkin                                         2/3/76
#20        Malcolm McN.                                   3/2/76
#21        Earl Norem                                        4/6/76
#22        Earl Norem                                        5/4/76
#23        Malcolm McN.                                   6/8/76
#24        Bob Larkin                                       7/13/76
#25        Ken Barr                                          8/17/76
#26        Malcolm McN.                                9/14/76
#27        Malcolm McN.                              10/12/76
#28        Earl Norem                                      11/9/76
#29        Malcolm McN.                                12/14/7
From issue #1, Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes #15

Marvel reprinted the series in color in Adventures on thew Planet of the Apes

Rampaging Hulk                                                             
#1           Ken Barr                                        12/02/76                            
#2           Ken Barr                                          1/25/77                            
#3           Earl Norem                                       4/0577
#4           Jim Starlin                                       6/07/77
#5           Jim Starlin                                         8/2/77                            
#6           Ken Barr                                        10/11/77
#7           Jim Starlin                                     12/02/77
#8           Ken Barr                                          1/31/78
#9           Earl Norem                                      3/21/78
Savage Sword of Conan                    
#1           Boris Vallejo                                   6/18/74
#2           Neal Adams                                     8/20/74
#3           Michael William Kaluta              10/15/74
#4           Boris Vallejo                                 12/17/74
#5           Boris Vallejo                                   2/18/75
#6           Frank Magsino, Alex Nino           4/15/75
#7           Boris Vallejo                                   6/17/75
#8           Frank Brunner, Bob Larkin          8/19/75
#9           Boris Vallejo                                 10/14/75
#10        Boris Vallejo                                 12/12/75
#11        Ken Barr                                             2/3/76
#12        Boris Vallejo                                      4/6/76
#13        Richard Hescox                                 6/8/76
#14        Earl Norem                                        7/6/76
#15        Boris Vallejo                                      8/3/76
#16        Earl Norem                                    10/12/76
#17        Ernie Chan                                    12/14/76
#18        Dan Adkins                                       2/8/77
#19        Kenneth Morris                              4/12/77
#20        Earl Norem                                      5/10/77
#21        Earl Norem                                      6/14/77
#22        Val Mayerik                                     7/12/77
#23        Earl Norem                                        8/9/77
#24        Earl Norem                                        9/6/77
#25        Brian Moore                                  10/11/77
#26        Jim Starlin                                     11/15/77
#27        Bob Larkin                                       1/10/78
#28        Earl Norem                                      2/14/78
#29        Ernie Chan                                         3/7/78
#30        Frank Brunner                                  4/4/78
Annual #1                                                         9/1/75

Savage Sword #1

Savage Tales                                                                 
#1           John Buscema                                    2/1/71
#2           John Buscema                                  6/26/73
#3           Pablo Marcos, John Romita       10/23/73
#4           Neal Adams                                     3/26/74
#5           Neal Adams                                     5/28/74
#6           Neal Adams                                     7/23/74
#7           Boris Vallejo                                   9/24/74
#8           Steve Fabian                                  11/26/74
#9           Michael William Kaluta                1/28/75
#10        Boris Vallejo                                   3/25/75
#11        Mike Whelan                                   5/27/75
Annual #1                                                       7/22/75
Savage Tales #1

Tales of the Zombie                                                       
#1           Boris Vallejo                                                 
#2           Boris Vallejo                                      4/3/73
#3           Boris Vallejo                                      6/5/73
#4           Boris Vallejo                                      9/4/73
#5           Earl Norem                                    10/30/73
#6           Earl Norem                                      3/12/74
#7           Earl Norem                                      5/14/74
#8           Earl Norem                                        7/9/74
#9           Earl Norem                                      9/10/74
#10        Earl Norem                                    11/12/74
Unknown Worlds #3
Annual  Earl Norem                                      1/14/75

Unknown Worlds                                                            
#1           Kelly Freas & John Romita           10/1/74
#2           Michael Kaluta                                12/1/74
#3           Michael Whelan                              2/24/75
#4           Frank Brunner                                  4/1/75
#5           Sebastia Bodia                                   6/1/75
#6           Frank Brunner                                08/01/7
Annual #1                                                       10/1/75

Vampire Tales                                                                
#1           Esteban Maroto                              5/29/73
#2           Jose Antonio Domingo                 8/28/73
#3           Luis Dominguez/                          11/27/73
#4           Boris Vallejo                                   1/29/74
#5           Esteban Maroto                                4/2/74
#6           Boris Vallejo                                      6/4/74
#7           Jose Antonio Domingo                    8/6/74
#8           Jose Antonio Domingo                 10/1/74
#9           Jose Antonio Domingo                 12/3/74
#10        Richard Hescox                                 2/4/75
#11        Richard Hescox                                 4/1/75
Annual #1 Bob Larkin                                 06/03/7

Marvel would go underground and create Comix Books, an underground comic published by the most popular comic book company. It sounds like a contradiction and it was. It also didn’t sell well and exists now as a curiosity. Marvel published three of the five issues with Stan Lee in the Masterhead along with editor Denis Kitchen. The last two issues were published by Kitchen Sink Press.

It is interesting to point out:
•    The issues did show nudity, but nothing gross. These were almost above ground Underground comics, borrowing more from the early years of Mad Magazine than anything else. Often these were reprints from other Underground Comics.

•    Maus: A 3 page piece by Art Spiegelman, was reprinted from a 1972 underground, Funny Aminals, (sic) from Apex Novelties. It was to be a preview for his major work, thetwo volume, Maus, which won a Pulitzer Prize.

•    Instead of being published by the Marvel Comics Group it was published by Magazine Management the group that owned Marvel

•    Stan Lee was the publisher, (apparently) but never took that title. He was called Instigator, at least for the first three issues.

•    In it’s final issue, Mr. Kitchen, in a letter to readers, discusses the difficult a main stream company had with publishing an underground comic. He mentions copyright issues which means that Marvel wanted to own the strips while underground artists always owned their strips. Marvel had to give up that right for the last two issues to be published.

“I Killed a Zombie!”  By Tony Isabella

    July 1953. Writer and editor Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett kill a man and turn him into a zombie for a memorable story in Menace #5. The undead creature rebels against his zombie master when ordered to kidnap his own daughter. It should be noted this was a kinder, gentler zombie than the brain eating, intestine-chomping monsters who have captivated fans in recent years.

    1973. Writer and editor Roy Thomas remembers the story and recasts its unnamed “hero” as ruthless businessman Simon Garth for the black-and-white Tales of the Zombie magazine. The original is reprinted the first issue, sandwiched between new Garth stories written by Steve Gerber.
    Late 1974. Editor Tony Isabella—that would be me — is told that Tales of the Zombie #8 will be the final issue of the title, vic­tim of a general slump in Marvel’s horror-magazine sales. Thinking the charac­ter wouldn’t be of much use in Marvel’s color comics, I went to publisher Lee for permission to “kill” the Zombie in that final issue. Stan thought it was a great idea. With Gerber having moved on to other assignments and since it was my idea to give the Garth series a definite ending, I assigned this finale to myself and Assistant Editor Chris Claremont. I plotted the story and wrote full scripts for its first and third chapters. Claremont wrote the middle chapter, the one that had to cover the most ground. It was my way of recognizing his budding, but clearly immense, talent. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Shortly thereafter, I decided to leave my staff position at Marvel and go freelance. Among the last editorial duties I performed were editing Claremont’s script, having him edit my scripts and sending the scripts to the Philippines to be drawn by the amazing artists of that island nation. Once the finished art arrived at the Marvel offices, it would be up to Don McGregor and David Anthony Kraft to see my final issue through production. As I handed over my editorial crown, I had no inkling I would soon have to kill Simon Garth again.

    Imagine my surprise, weeks later, when incoming editor Don McGregor called me wondering where the final chapter of the three-part story was. He’d received the art for the other parts from the Philippines, but there was no record of their getting the script for or drawing the end chapter. Worse, with the deadline for the issue mere days away, I couldn’t find my copy of the script.

    With Don’s blessing, I called in a crew of weekend warriors to come to the Marvel offices and finish that final chapter. I rewrote my script, handing ‘the pages to artists Ron Wilson and Pablo Marcos as I finished them. My memory is uncertain, but my crew included Mike Esposito, Frank Giacoia, Alan Kupperberg and Duffy Vohland. I’m pretty sure Joe Rosen lettered the first and last pages. I can’t recall exactly how many hours we worked, but, come Monday morning, we’d killed the Zombie for the second time.

Imagine my surprise when Tales of the Zombie was then un-canceled and it was decided that Simon Garth should be un-canceled, as well. Gerry Conway wrote “The Partial Resurrection of Simon Garth,  but the art for that 30-page story never made it to the Marvel offices in time for the next and, ironically, last issue of the magazine.

Simon would stay dead... for at least a little longer.

© Tony Isabella