Monday, May 21, 2012

Number 1161: Joe Certa's vampire and werewolf

Joe Certa, another journeyman comic book artist who began his career in the 1940s, was the longtime artist on "J'onn J'onzz, Manhunter From Mars" for DC, and was also drawing for Gold Key in the '60s. The fine work he'd done for Harvey's horror comics in the '50s put him in good stead with GK titles like Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery and Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

These two shorts, "The Vampires" and "The Monster of Auvergne," are both from Ripley's #4 (1967). Since Gold Key wasn't covered by the Comics Code Authority they could show vampires and werewolves, which were prohibited at the time by the CCA. (The Code restrictions were lifted eventually, when the little kids who were being "protected" from such mythical creatures in the late '50s and '60s were either going to college, or even if still young, had seen much worse on television.) Certa's "Vampire" came out just about the time the story of the "original" Dracula, Vlad the Impaler—well known in Eastern countries—was beginning to become known to Westerners. Certa apparently used no references when he drew the historical panel of "Drakula."

Certa was born in 1919, and died in 1986.


Gumba G Gadwa said...

I don't believe it!

I love the concept of the werewolf sticking it's head in somebody's window and mocking them. It's one thing to be a murderous fiend, but do you have to be such a jerk about it?

Pappy said...

Gumba, besides being able to bite people and rend them into pieces, apparently being a loup garou gives one the opportunity to gloat.

If you had the choice, would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf? I can think of advantages to both.

"100Aliases" said...

Huh. Wonder why they didn't use the more famous "Beast of Geuvadan" name.

1966-7 was a good year for Stoker in comics; CREEPY ran an adaption of "The Squaw" just a few months in earlier in the 13th issue, and that Christopher Lee's Treasury of Terror book ran an adaption of 'Dracula's Guest'. Too bad they didn't have any pictures of him for reference.

Gumba G Gadwa said...

Werewolf, easy.

Not because Werewolf By Night is my favorite comic series ever, either! :)

As a vampire, you are a corpse for eternity, endless seeking blood to survive. I'm trying to ignore twilight, but the original myths made vampires sexual beings by their mesmeric powers, not by being pretty. They were walking corpses. What good is it to mesmerize whatever sex you want, only to kill them?

As a werewolf, you can pass for human whenever you want, and you can survive on regular human food and you don't necessarily have to be evil ... and you don't have to kill your lovers. :) You can be who you are right now, and then revel in the power when you like.

Pappy said...

I probably wouldn't make a good vampire or werewolf. I look away when blood is drawn from my arm. I'd be a big sissy when it came to feeding time. I wonder if a Bloody Mary would substitute for real blood...?

That aside, it makes more sense to be a werewolf for this reason, silver is expensive and wood is cheap. In this economy no one is going to be melting down silver to make bullets. So a few peasants get ripped asunder? No big one is gonna get my silver and make ammo with it! But making a wooden stake, even with a particular kind of wood, is a lot cheaper.

Pappy said...

100Aliases, I was there when those adaptations came out, bought them off the stands and still have them.

When I visited Otto Binder in 1970 he was looking for extra copies of his Ballantine Books adaptation of Dracula. After returning home I found several in a half-price store, and he sent me one back signed. I still have that, also.

Something interesting: he told me he was paid $500 for his script, and Alden McWilliams $1500 for the art. It's peanuts today, but in the '60s it wasn't terrible.

Kirk said...

I'd rather be a vampire.

Gumba writes: "As a werewolf, you can pass for human whenever you want, and you can survive on regular human food and you don't necessarily have to be evil ... and you don't have to kill your lovers. :) You can be who you are right now, and then revel in the power when you like."

I don't what the original myths say about this, so I can only gp by the werewolves of which I'm most familiar: those found in the Universal/Lon Chaney movies of the 1940s. Larry Talbot, the character Chaney played, wasn't at all evil. That is, as long as he remained in HUMAN FORM. Once a werewolf, his conscious disappears. As far as I can tell, so does any memory of being Larry Talbot in the first place. There's no evidence that, as a werewolf, he has a human level IQ. This may, in fact, prevent him from being truly evil as his killings aren't premeditated. The werewolf no more murders people than a cat murders a mouse, as he operates by pure instinct. But the bloody results are the same. In human form, Larry Talbot can do nothing about those results, which is why he's always so guilt-ridden afterwards (something that Chaney, an otherwise so-so actor, was pretty good at portraying.)

It's different for vampires. In most versions I'm aware of, the vampire retains whatever personality he had as a human. Thus, Louis of INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE and Barnabus Collins of DARK SHADOWS retain at least some semblence of their decency. Dracula's evil, of course, but that's because he was evil before he ever became a vampire (albeit not from the point of view of the people who live in the small part of the world where the historical Vlad Dracul lived. I once worked with a guy from Romania, and when I asked him about all this, he got a bit annoyed, and, in a thick accent, exclaimed, "They lie about Dracula!") OK, so a vampire's not inherently evil. Still, evil or not, he has to satisfy his blood lust, right? Well, there are ways around that. As long as you have no qualms about capital punishment (I do, but might put them aside were I a vampire) you could get your fill on Death Row. Or you can hang around dark alleys waiting for people to get mugged. The moment someone does, you swoop in. The vampire as superhero! True, the mugger would die in the process, but at least one little old lady would still have her purse. Or you could be a vampire version of Jack Kervokian, and relieve the terminally ill of their needless suffering. As long as you have their written consent, of course.

As for vampires being walking corpses, so what? As long as you can think, see, hear, talk, and move about, "death" would just be a matter of semantics.

Pappy said...

Kirk, I'm very impressed by your comment-essay, Which leads me to recommend your blog, Shadow Of A Doubt to others.

Since I've never been a werewolf or a vampire, nor, I suspect, have any of you reading this, I can only guess at what a werewolf knows of his humanity while he's under the spell of his lycanthropy. My assumption would be yours, that when taking on the form, the humanity is completely buried somewhere in an animal brain, and that animal's instinct takes over.

They don't take on the shapes of wolves, but there are sociopaths among us (John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, among others) who are almost lycanthropic in their need to kill. Perhaps myths of werewolves grew up around the deadly personality defects of some people.

I like your idea of vampires picking victims within the criminal world. A vampire would be mighty well fed if he only picked bad guys.

Kirk said...

Oh, man, Pappy, I wasn't expecting THAT!

I basically have two criteria for leaving comments. One is a simple quid pro quo: someone leaves a comment on my blog, so I leave a comment on theirs. All the how-to-blog books tell you to do that. The second criteria is if I read something on a blog that gets the wheels in my head turning. For some reason, perhaps because I was so immersed in it growing up, pop culture does just that. And comics certainly qualify as pop culture. In this instance, those wheels got some extra traction from your question and Gumba's answer right here in the comment section.

Thanks for the shout-out, Pappy, though I think some of your readers might be a bit disappointed with my blog. I only touch on comics occasionally, and if I show pictures, as I did in a recent post about Mad magazine, they're ones you can already find in about 100 different places on the Internet. In fact, I found them all on the Interent. My most recent post, about the deaths of two musical performers in the last week, is as far away from comics as you can imagine (though given the widespread disdain for the musical genre both operated in, some smartasses might say they BELONG in a comic book)

Didn't mean for THIS to turn into another comment-essay, but you got my wheels turning again. Thanks.

Pappy said...

Kirk, I know my readers have other interests than comics, and we're all interested in pop culture to one degree or another, or we wouldn't be gathering around swapping stories in the comments section.

I think you write well, and anyone who takes the time to read should appreciate that.

Mykal Banta said...

Pappy: This pains me. This really looks like Mike Sekowski's work to me. Tell me to shut up, and I'll go away.

Pappy said...

Mykal, there are certain things I look for in Sekowsky's work I don't see here, but there are also things I look for in Certa's work (faces, especially) that seem off. Some of it is in the inking, for sure. The Grand Comics Database lists Certa for penciling and inking, but I suspect if he penciled that he had some help on the inking, or it was done by someone else.

I'm getting gun shy of naming artists because of all those complicated factors that went into comic book art.

Mykal Banta said...

I know exactly what you mean about naming artists. I am not sure what possessed me here.

I can only say in my defense that I was asked a couple of years ago by Craig Yoe to help identify an artist in one of his book projects. The story in question turned out to be by Mike Sekowski. The give a way was the lean, haggard characters and (especially) the frown lines in the haggard expressions. I have become hyper-sensitive because of my experience about Sekowski's style. My emailing you was sort of knee-jerk, and I regretted it the moment I clicked enter.

I could be completely wrong about this being Sekowski - probably am - I usually am, it seems, whenever I ID artwork.

Rock on, Pap!

Pappy said...

Mykal, I agree about Mike Sekowsky's faces being lined and haggard, but he also drew some dumpy looking full figures in his whole-body poses, which is how I can usually spot his work.

I've just been going through some issues of Gold Key's Dark Shadows, credited to Joe Certa, and most of it doesn't look all that much like the Certa work I'm most familiar with, which is Manhunter From Mars. I believe he used ghosts or another inker on those Dark Shadows issues.

I've exhausted this subject and this is my last comment on the artwork for these few pages from a '60s comic book. What I'm telling you, Mykal, is you don't need to be shy about expressing an opinion to me. When it comes to comic book artwork—who did what—there are times when I'm feeling my way in the dark. It's nice to know I'm not the only one.