Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Number 1963: Halloween eye-candy from Reed Crandall and Neal Adams
The two stories today are from Creepy #14 (1967), which I missed when it was published, and have not seen until recently. I went into the U.S. Army in late 1966, and did not see most comics published in early '67. Years later I found out what I had missed was Neal Adams’ first story for Warren Publications. Old-timer Crandall had been around since the beginning of the magazine, which is appropriate, since he was around at the beginning of the comic book industry.
In “Castle Carrion,” a sword-and-sorcery* story written by Archie Goodwin (who also wrote the Adams story), Crandall appears to have given Prince Valiant blond hair and taken him to a castle full of the walking dead. “Curse of the Vampire” is drawn in Adams’ dramatic realistic style, with his dynamic page and panel layouts. It followed the Crandall story, so readers got a chance to see the old giving way to the new.
It is hard to describe what impact an artist like Adams had on comic books in the late sixties. There was just no one like him. He had started out drawing comic strips like “Ben Casey, M.D.” and done work for advertising companies before coming to comic books. I have substituted the four pages of original art found on the Heritage Auctions website for the printed versions. Except for re-sizing, I have left them as Heritage presented them. They are pages 1, 3, 4 and 7. The cover, illustrating the Crandall story, is by Gray Morrow.
Crandall had a couple of strokes, and in 1982, after eight years in a nursing home, died at age 65 of a heart attack. David Saunders has an interesting biography of Crandall in his Pulp Artists web site.
*Here are the illustrations Crandall did in '66-'68 for books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, in Crandall’s best pen-and-ink style, reminiscent of illustrators of the past. Warning: some nudity.