Monday, January 11, 2010

Number 665

Twice told tale

Yesterday's posting was of a Sheldon Mayer science fiction story told both through Mayer's original art and the printed story. Today we also have something with two versions.

It looks like plagiarism. Someone at Eerie Publications, producers of some of the schlockiest black and white horror comics of the late '60s though the '70s, came up with the idea of just re-drawing old horror comics stories. After all, it'd save them from having to pay someone* to write a story, and who'd know, really? Well, the Eerie Publications folks probably didn't figure on the obsessive-compulsive comic book types who love this sort of trivia. Obsessive-compulsive types like Pappy, for instance.

The black and white version, "It Cried For Blood" is done by a Spanish artist whose signature looks like Torre Radiso. Let me know if I'm wrong (as I'm sure someone will). It comes from the April 1979 issue of Weird Vampire Tales Volume 3 Number 1,** and is a near word-for-word knockoff of "Name From the Nether World" from the early 1950s Ace comic, Web of Mystery #17.

You can read "Name From the Nether World" at Karswell's The Horrors Of It All blog.

*I'm assuming here. They could have paid. I just don't know. They re-drew several old stories, many from Harvey's horror comics line.

**It could also have showed up in other publications from this company. They continually recycled stories amongst their magazines.


Daniel [] said...

I think that the primary purpose of redrawing stories wholesale was to give the buyer the impression that the content were new. Whether, in that context, the stories themselves were appropriated without the nicety of licenses, I dunno.

On the one hand, I don't imagine that the Harvey of the late '60s and earlier '70s — offering stuff such as Richie Rich and Caspar — would have wanted the public reminded by litigation that they had once produced pre-code horror. On the other hand, for that same reason, they might have been willing to sell their rights at bargain rates, and Myron Fass (Eerie Publications) would then be better insulated against rivals using the very same material. Meanwhile, he probably could have found an awful lot of orphaned material if he wasn't worried about competition.

Mr. Karswell said...

Oeconomist is totally right, it was probably more about updating the look of the stories to make them more groovy for the 60's and 70's... less suits and hats, more moustaches and pants flare! (and less aprons and more cleavage!) Farrel / Superior was another pre-code publisher that Eerie ransacked for their black and white mag remakes. I dig it all.

Kirk said...

I have no opinion about whether this was plagerized or not, but I find the whole black-and-white/color issue kind of interesting. Is there actually a law or regulation or something that states that if a comic is in color than it's a "comic book", and thus kid's stuff, but if it's in black-and-white, it's a "magazine" and thus for adults?

Pappy said...

Kirk, I think it had more to do with being sold on magazine racks rather than comic book spinners, and they didn't submit to the Comics Code for approval. To me a comic book is a comic book, but apparently distributors considered the magazine size and lack of color as to whether it was a comic book.

As for whether there was plagiarism, we'll probably never know, and I accept the reasoning of oeconomist and Karswell it was probably to make the stories more modern looking.

Mike H said...

Pappy- you're spot on with the assessment that Eerie Pubs "borrowed" the stories as a cost cutting measure. They needed new material to compete and there was a plethora of nearly forgotten stuff just waiting to be redrawn.

Dick Ayers told me that he was given xeroxed copies and told to make it gorier. Keep the dialog balloons and text the same (of course, some of the more verbose stories were pruned prior to being assigned to an artist). Everything except the title was to be recreated.

It's funny, your second paragraph is very similar to a passage in my book THE WEIRD WORLD OF EERIE PUBLICATIONS, which is coming in Fall 2010 from Feral House.

Oh crap... I think I just threw in a plug... :)