Wednesday, November 27, 2013

This Is The Diary of Danny Drake

This Is The Diary of Danny Drake

Truly, it should come as no surprise that I am a fan of "Hellblazer"...

And since this series survived to Issue 300 in tough, comic-book times meant that lots of other people enjoyed the trials and tribulations of John Constantine as well. And why not? This series has some of the best written comic scripts in the past 20 years. To me, Hellblazer validated the comic medium into an adult medium. It was 'For Mature Readers Only' from the very beginning, and not just because of naughty pictures.

While I've enjoyed certain issues immensely, my favorite Hellblazer of all time has to be issue 56 "This Is The Diary of Danny Drake". There have been some amazing story arcs over this remarkable run, but this particular issue always struck a deep chord with me. A simple, done-in-one story of the lengths someone is willing to go to. I liked this frightening story because it reminded me of all those 'tragic twist of irony' tales from the comics of old. You make a deal with the Devil, and the Devil bends the rules...

Garth Ennis takes us to a pretty familiar place... After all, men have been bartering their souls in fiction with the Infernal Realms since the days of Faust. But then he throws in John Constantine... a man who once sold his soul in a very calculated fashion to three Devils just to get out of lung cancer... Cheeky bugger.

While John Constantine is no hero... he's a saint compared to Danny Drake. In true horrific fashion, Danny Drake shows us how far fear and desperation will take a man. Good stuff, Mr. Ennis. A nice retelling of a classic with a familiar end.

I'm not a huge fan of David Lloyd's art. Yes, he did "V for Vendetta" and that worked well. But his Chiaroscuro style never seemed right for newsprint and a 4-colour press to me. It's distinctive to be sure, but would be better suited for covers than interiors. To each his own, I suppose. Nonetheless, the story certainly works even if it has more stippling than I'm used to.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Papa Don

Click image to open link.

Over three years ago, way back on April 25, 2010, I had posted that I had located an old comic story I fondly remembered from my youth entitled "Papa Don". So, in the spirit of Hallowe'en, I've decided to (finally) upload that story for your enjoyment. Sure, it's no horror classic, but apart from picking up a rare old back-issue copy of SoHH #17, where the heck else would you find it?

This story was originally printed in October 1979. At that point, the mystery titles from DC had enjoyed a good 10-year run, but the Fall of the House of Mystery was beginning to show as 1980 approached. The DC mystery comics seemed stuck in the past... even trite. The Comics Code was suited for certain plot archetypes - and that shallow well had run dry. Even worse, those comic-buying kids were now looking up at the stars... and buying 'Star Wars' and 'Superman' comics!

Oh the power of movies... 

But horror comics never truly die... OK, they do, but then they rise from their inky graves and reinvent themselves! So let's hear it for zombies everyone! But let's remember where they came from...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Consumed By My FanFiction

Sorry I haven't been posting. I've been writing a massive Bruce Wayne FanFic entitled "Elsewhere". 

FanFic's give comics a lot of love. They're sort of like those old Marvel "What If?" comics without the pictures. And Jean Grey would burn you to a crisp, Logan... 

Anyways, it's interesting to see different takes and situations on characters we know and love, even if there are no pictures.

If there are any FanFic readers out there, feel free to check mine out. No slash, honest!!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I Made You Pie

A Christmas Greeting that I'm a little late on...

This is an Adobe Flash file that I was experimenting with for "scrolling panels". I think comic panels when made dynamic have a lot of potential. This is a simple one panel story that pans downward to the conclusion. Click on the image to jump to the link on then use Click On Image to start.

I'm lazy and Photoshop-filtered the background. The rest of the amateur artwork and colour-job is mine.

Warning: There is a little adult humor and blood.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

...And All Through The House...

Merry Christmas Johnny Craig...
Wherever you may be.

Vault of Horror, issue 35

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Karen Berger Leaves The House of Mystery

Another of the seven signs of the comic book apocalypse...

My favorite editor of all time is leaving DC comics. For those of you who do not know Karen Berger (and you should), she is/was the executive editor and senior vice president of DC's Vertigo imprint. She also brought Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman to DC and was editor on "The House of Mystery" back in the 'I...Vampire!' days until the end. She has three Eisner awards.

The very fact that Vertigo is folding is very sad. These were among the best comics available over the past 20 years. With tiny print runs. A lot of printed literature has small print runs these days, replaced by the pixel. That's evolution.

Whatever her future endeavors, I wish Karen Berger all the best and thank her for her stewardship of the many works which impacted my life.

How cool is Karen Berger?

The above page of Karen Berger, Len Wein and Paul Levitz in the House of Mystery's dungeon would have Women's Rights advocates... on edge... as we see a young lady (Karen Berger) in chains with throwing axes embedded into the walls around her. Obviously some sick, fanboy, bondage fantasy...

Karen Berger scripted that page.

Looking at it artistically (as you should), it can be interpreted as the editor saying "I live and die by my work." That's Karen Berger everyone.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Next-To-Best Two Pages In All of Comics

On the previous post, I speculated that the legendary Alex Toth created two pages (he scripted, drew, inked and lettered those two pages) that were so powerful, they launched a new title into DC's months-old 'mystery' boom for 85 issues. That was 1968 and the title was "The Witching Hour".

Jump forward to 1984.

Horror comics are all-but-dead with the last regular issue of House of Mystery #321 having appeared on stands exactly one year earlier in 1983, the last of DC's big mystery line. Charlton Comics canceled its long-running Ghostly Tales and Scary Tales the same month this next comic was published. Marvel's Secret Wars plows over the rest of the field to set the new stage for comics, the blockbuster super-hero cross over. Kids just don't like that scary stuff anymore.

Alan Moore wasn't writing for kids.

You may think I'm going to showcase the ground-breaking work of Moore et al in the 'Saga of the Swamp Thing' #21, The Anatomy Lesson. This one even made JK Parkin's and Chris Mautner's #1 spot on their Six comics that scared the $#!@% out of us list. Fantastic issue and revolutionary treatment of the title character. Launched the horror genre in comics into an entirely new direction.
What's interesting is that the Swamp Thing actually made his debut during the peak of DC's mystery titles in House of Secrets #92. One wonders what would have happened had Alan Moore taken over 'The Witching Hour'?...

But issue #21 wasn't the one that disturbed me.

No, that came eight issues later.  'Saga of the Swamp Thing' #29's Love and Death gave me two of the most powerful pages I can think of. Pages 2 and 3 scared me. I wonder how many people noticed that something was missing from the cover of 29 when they bought it? Take a look below and see if you can figure out what's missing:

Did you find it?


That's right, it's missing the Comics Code Authority. Couldn't get it through the censors. Issue 21 got through, this one did not. DC was forced to put it out without Code approval... and discovered a remarkable thing. It was still  carried by vendors. This single issue (in my humble opinion) led to the formation of DC's Vertigo imprint 9 years later, the irrelevance of the Code and the "Suggested For Mature Readers" tag.

The two pages?

First of all, I've always liked Abigail Arcane. She was 'Beauty' to Swamp Thing's 'Beast'. She's been cast as the victim on numerous occasions, but she's a pretty remarkable lady. Unlike many characters in comics, she's not motivated by hate, revenge or even a sense of justice. Nope, Abigail is a lover. Despite being the niece of one of the most evil characters in all of comics (and that's saying a lot!), Abby always pushes forward and leads with her heart, for better or worse.

Can you imagine how I felt, when after turning one single page, I had to bear witness to this?!

Right away, Moore has you.

Abby had suffered some immense tragedy that has (quite literally) brought her to her knees. You will read the next 18 pages feeling slightly sick to your stomach until... There's hints, there's foreshadowing, but... When you finally get to the 'big payoff' on the 2-page spread of the third and second last pages, you see why this issue never made it past the censors at the code and never could...

Moore's run on Swamp Thing has been collected numerous times in numerous editions. Pick it up.