Saturday, February 6, 2010

He was Death on cleats!


Classic Creepy Comic Covers - EERIE #79 (November 1976)
Art by Ken Kelly


Undoubtedly inspired by the success of their annual Christmas issues, Warren Magazines decided to try a number of "themed" issues during the late 70s, but few were as gonzo - and fun - as the November 1976 and 1977 offerings of Creepy and Eerie. Now, technically the latter did not do theme issues, as Eerie had become a venue for a variety of series that Warren had developed (Memo to filmmakers; there's some low-hanging fruit just waiting to be turned into incredible movies, as their "Night of the Jackass," "The Demons of Jedediah Pan" and "Hunter" are virtual storyboards for instant classics). But in the Fall of 1976, as leaves turned to gold, the covers of these two magazines turned vibrant green and blood red. Creepy #84 sported a cyborg pitcher, hurtling a live hand grenade from the mound and right at the reader, and Eerie #79 suspended its serial policy for the last tale of the issue, a wacky excursion into gridiron grue called "Sam's Son and Delilah," courtesy of author Bruce Jones and the art team of Carmine Infantino and Al Milgrom (the former having been summarily dismissed from DC after a lifetime's commitment to the company, the latter on leave from Marvel). They company repeated the experiment one year later, even though the four sports-themed covers ('77's featured football and basketball) fronted some of the worst-selling issues in the company's last years. Gluttons for punishment, Warren even released the two '76 covers as posters, the perfect companion to those nubile, scantily clad Frazetta ladies languishing in the embrace of a beefy barbarian. You know, for teen Horror fans who wanted to prove they were, you know, tough.

The MVP for the Sports/Horror issues (Sporror? Horts?) was writer Roger McKenzie, a facile wordsmith who demonstrated at a number of companies the knack of writing in a style to match the demand. Not really possessing a unique voice of his own, he could approximate the style of any of Warren's other authors, but excelled when creating his own grisly EC-esque variations, or poignant tales that all but called for Rod Serling to step out at the end and deliver a postscript. "Elixir," about an aging hockey player and his longing for youth and vitality, was a nice, lyrical effort. McKenzie would also go on to stints writing Captain America, Ghost Rider and Daredevil for Marvel, and is the oft-overlooked scribe of Frank Miller's first issues on the character. He's been MIA since the early 80s. Where be you, Mr. McKenzie? The Jar is a big fan.

Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday, gentle Jarheads. And keep an eye out for commercials for Shutter Island and The Crazies. So it won't be a totally Horror-free experience...

2 comments:

Planet of Terror said...

Ugh, the cover art recalls the Oakland Raiders and I f-ing hate them.

Huge fan of Infantino though.

senski said...

Infantino did an amazing amount of work for Warren 'round about this time. They were surprised when he started camping out at the offices and churning out page after page. In its way, the Warren folks found it a bit sad - he was so used to coming in to an office every day at DC...

They're worth checking out also for the wide variety of inkers they employed for him, cause everyone wanted a crack at a legend's pencils. The story "Country Pie" in Creepy #83 is fascinating - pencils by Infantino, inks by Bernie Wrightson!

BTW, the Raiders speak very highly of you, PoT...