Sunday, November 17, 2013

Number 1473: Throwing some light on Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows was a very successful daytime soap opera during its five-year run, but I never saw it! In my area the local ABC affiliate decided to show local programming instead of Dark Shadows, so those greedy bastards station executives wouldn’t have to share advertising revenue with the network. Even though I didn’t see it I couldn’t escape hearing or reading about it, including the comic book version.

I'm showing Dark Shadows #1 (1968) from Gold Key. It’s drawn by Joe Certa, who might be just as well known as the artist on the long time “Manhunter From Mars” feature for DC Comics. Before that Certa had drawn horror comics for Harvey, so he was no stranger to the macabre, as this splash page of original art from Witches Tales #12 shows. (Thanks for Heritage Auctions for the scan.)

I don’t believe Certa used photo references for the characters. They look enough like them, I guess, to satisfy whomever was in charge of licensing the comic. Jonathan Frid (Barnabas) was a tall and distinguished actor, and in places in the comic he is drawn curiously stunted and out of proportion.

Frid crowns Miss American Vampire. This is the kind of job being a TV star of a cult show gets.

Maybe more than just Certa worked on this comic book. While Grand Comics Database gives Certa credit for pencils and inks I believe that John Celardo may have assisted with the inks. They look more his style. Just sayin'. You don’t need to bite my neck if you disagree.


Daniel [] said...

I first saw an episode of Dark Shadows before my local peer group had discovered it. I remember calling to my mother, as Barnabas was about to attack some sleeping woman, that there seemed to be a vampire on a soap opera.

I sincerely tell you that you didn't miss that much. Yes, it was remarkable that a soap opera veered-off in the direction of horror-fantasy. But the writing was pretty slap-dash, with lots of quick-and-dirty borrowings from familiar horror movies; the special effects were distinctly cheesy; and the actors had to learn and deliver a lot of material very quickly.

Pappy said...

Daniel, I have seen episodes of Dark Shadows on VHS and DVD, and I wasn't particularly impressed. I'm struck that it was more of a pop culture phenomenon than something of any real quality.

But to Dark Shadows fans, I won't argue that what I saw had a certain eerie charm. A show, soap opera or not, with vampires, werewolves, vengeful ghosts, etc., just can't be all bad.