Monday, August 25, 2014

Number 1622: Two vampires and a werewolf

These three tales from pre-Code Atlas horror comics feature three very distinctive artists. Russ Heath drew “The Village Graveyard,” which originally appeared in Adventures Into Unknown Worlds #4 (1952). My scans are from the reprint in Marvel Comics’ Giant-Size Chillers #1 (1974).

Matt Fox drew “I Was a Vampire” for Uncanny Tales #6 (1953), which was reprinted in Giant-Size Dracula #2 (1974). While lacking the professional polish of Atlas artists like Heath or Everett, Fox’s oddball art has an eerie quality. His stiff figures (“stiff” has more than one meaning here) is instantly recognizable. Fox did work for Weird Tales, and had his detractors. Ray Bradbury, for one, referred to “Those terrible Matt Fox horror covers” [for Weird Tales].* But as much as I admire Bradbury, I disagree with his opinion of Fox.**

Finally, the aforementioned Bill Everett did a werewolf story for Menace #9 (1954), in a tale of a dog-hater who has the bite put on him.

*Becoming Ray Bradbury by Jonathan R. Eller, page 91.

**More Matt Fox, this time inking Larry Leiber in some early '60s Marvel Comics. Just click on the thumbnail.


TheUUShadow said...

Three good ones Pappy.

Thanks for your site. After working 3rd shift I had to come home and dig a grave for my elderly Chow. I needed something to cheer me up and these filled the bill.

Pappy said...

Aw, gee, sympathy. I have had the same experience in saying goodbye to a beloved pet, and it is like burying a member of the family.

Brian Barnes said...

Let me suggest a theme for one of your week-long postings -- "lovingly rendered breasts week." I know this is my second comment in as many posts on this topic, but the amount of work Heath puts into this (including making sure the nipple is part of the draping) is enough to make Wertham rise from the grave, himself!

Let me second your praise for Fox. He doesn't have the fine layout and draftsmen skill that somebody like Krigstein did (an artist with a similar recognizable but not realistic style) but I think his more cartoon-y style works really well when given the proper story. Potentially not cover material (some of his covers are a little bit too odd to sell, I would think) but it often works, and works here.

Fox is kind of ahead of his time, his art does resemble the later 60s "hot rod" gross art.

Very "Atlas" stories. It's hard to describe what that means, but you can literally pick them out of a line-up (even without the noticeable beginning text and "The End" part.) The hard cover collected Menace is something everybody should have in their collection.

Pappy said...

Brian, in comic book jargon aren't those lovingly-rendered breasts known as headlights? And Heath has them on full-beam.

I think of Matt Fox as more of a fan artist than pro. Nowadays his art would be considered outsider art to the world of fine art. His mind held really strange visions, and when they came out through his fingers they had an effect. I believe so, anyway.

Darci said...

"The Village Graveyard" story reminds me a bit of Robert Bloch's "The Cloak" (Unknown, May 1939).

AB said...

Contra Bradbury I've always been attracted to Matt Fox's covers for Weird Tales. I also liked the few comic book covers he did. Until this post, I'd never seen any interior work by Fox. It's amateurish in a good way ... kind of a like a poor man's Wolverton. He definitely looks more like a late '60s underground cartoonist than a '50s comic book artist. It appears Fox did his own lettering for this too, ala Wolverton's Atlas stories.

Pappy said...

AB, I think your comparison with Fox and some of the late sixties underground comix artists is apt. Like some of the cruder UG artists, Fox appears self-taught.

He may have been inspired by Wolverton; I believe another crude self-taught artist inspired by Wolverton was Fletcher Hanks, he of the infamous and wild stories featuring Stardust, Fantomah, et al.

Pappy said...

Darci, I have "The Cloak" in a couple of different anthologies, including one on my nightstand right now, Weird Vampire Tales, edited by Weinberg, Dziemianowwicz and Greenberg. I keep thinking I need to read the story and compare it to "The Village Graveyard" but something always comes up.

I have these two bite marks on my neck, see...and I wake up tired and listless. My wife says I look white as a sheet and my doctor says I'm anemic...