Papercuts: Marvel’s Chamber of Chills

Papercuts: Chamber of Chills from Marvel Comics

By Ryan “HB” Mount

 

In the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s DC Comics was not the only producer of many horror genre comics.  Marvel seemed to be in an arms race against DC with the amount of horror comics they were producing at the exact same time.

Chamber of Chills was just one of Marvel’s titles and it was published from November 1972 through November 1976 and ran for 25 issues.

Much of these books remain uncollected and unavailable digitally, making the only way to consume these titles is visiting your local comic shops and searching back issue bins or tracking them down online.

Chamber of Chills #1 (Marvel)

This was a heck of a first issue.

First issues are always difficult.  Typically, it is either a cold opening with just enough to grab onto or on the other side of the spectrum, it is an info dump and ruins a series before it event gets started.  Well then, how do you start an anthology series that has no overarching story thread and give readers enough to want to come back for the second issue?  This issue solves that quandary.

It was hand curated by Stan Lee and Roy Thomas in a true collaborative effort.

Out first tale might have been the most straight forward tale of Werewolves with a very specific twist.  The turn was so great, that to this day, I have not seen it been used in any other interpretation of Werewolves.

The second tale was written by Stan Lee himself.  For a man known for his fantastical tale, this was a very dark, reality based commentary on the prison system.  It was the darkest tale of the three.  Stan was certainly playing with his narrative style as most panels were surrounded by dialogue which may have been perceived as over writing but the last panel makes it all come together and deliver a crushing blow.

The final tale was clearly to appease Roy Thomas who spent much of his career introducing sword and sorcery tales into the Marvel Universe.  However, the actual tale was written by Gerry Conway, another great comic writer of the 1970’s.  The story was mainly one of a barbarian, but with modern day consequence.

It is clear that the further most horror anthology series are published, the quality begins to dip and rely more and more on reprints, but this first issue was simply spectacular.

Each tale was very well written and the art complimented it well.  While there was no top notch artists listed on the creation of this book, they all did their best with workman style art that still holds up over time, perhaps more than even those of newer generations.

Ratings: 4.5 out of 5

  

Chamber of Chills #2 and #3 (Marvel)

Issue #2 contained two very different tales of Vampires. One in the Old West and another millions of years into the future.  Hard to image back to back tales featuring similar monsters being compelling, but one was more of a cursed story and the other one felt like the original Alien film, only the aliens were vampires.  The third story was another Roy Thomas influenced tale of sword and sorcery which may not entirely fit the genre, but would certainly appeal to a larger audience.

Issue #3 may have contained less sword and sorcery, but ventured into adventure genre comics with a horror bent for the first tale.  The real gem of this book was “All the Shapes of Fear.”  Written by George Effinger and art by Don Heck, it clearly took place during then present day and had the artwork to match.  However, it was one of those haunting tales with a tale of redemption and if you can find this issue in the wild, might be worth picking up.  It may be one of my favorite anthology style stories featured in any comics.

Ratings: 4 out of 5

Chamber of Chills #4 (Marvel)

The main highlight of this book, was that one story contained very early artwork of comic book legend, Howard Chaykin.  While it was done in a style of that time and looks much different than modern era Chaykin, it still had elements that he uses today.  Each character has his signature strong chins and was already drawing very seductive and sultry women into his work.

If you are a fan of Howard Chaykin, this issue may be worth tracking down just to be able to see his early starting points.  While the overall issue was fine, filled with weird and interesting tales, his artwork began to stand out even back then.

Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Chamber of Chills #5-#7 (Marvel)

Issue #5 marked the beginning of the reprints for the series.  The issue contained four total stories, with three being new and one tale a reprint of a previous pre-comic code story.  The unfortunate part of the reprint is that there was no credit given to the artist or the writer in the book.  Also, given that it was surrounded by modern storytelling, it really stood out amongst the issue and not necessarily in a good way.

Issue #6 was three more tales, with two new stories at the beginning and the final tale one being a reprint.  This issue overall felt fresher than #5.

Issue #7 was fine, but it already seemed like this was the end, even though there were 18 more issues to be printed, the remarkable care and thought put into issue #1 seemed long gone.

Ratings: 3 out of 5

 

After the publication of #7, #8 began to be all reprints of older materials.  And #7 also happens to be the last issue that was available immediately.  Overall, I think if you are a fan of Marvel from the 1970’s this should be a series you track down.  If you want to see where modern horror anthologies really started to take their shape, I’d also recommend these first 7 issues.

 

If you like what you read, make sure to like it and share it.  Follow me on twitter @hebruise and let me know what you liked, what you did not, which horror books you are into and your suggestions to be reviewed!

Papercuts: 03-22-2017

Papercuts: March 22, 2017

By Ryan “HB” Mount

This week, we take a look at the reintroduction of two fan-favorite characters, Vampirella and Marvel’s Man-Thing with new jumping on points and big departures from status quo of the characters long histories.

Vampirella #1 (Dynamite)

After reviewing the #0 issue, there was a ton of mystery of where this series was heading.  I never would have thought from #0 that we were getting Vampirella in dystopian future Los Angles.  Perhaps as comic readers, we should welcome drastic changes and see where the story leads before rushing to conclusion.

This should not come as a surprise, but it felt like Paul Cornell was writing another episode of Doctor Who and not Vampirella.  There was a huge world presented with a lot of mystery and not a lot of explanation.  There was also some future speak dialogue which was alright for an opening issue, but hopefully does not bog down the story for the long term.

The art in this issue was fantastic.  While I appreciate the mood that the zero issue had set up, this set up a much different landscape.  There are remnants of Kirby and Moebius in the design work and spoke to my sensibilities.

There is also something to be said about a book taking a lot of chances.  There appears to be another narrative happening outside the panels on the page and certainly not conventional, I again think that a book taking some risks, should be something given some praise.

While this book is anything but traditional Vampirella, there are so many interesting things happening that this new launch deserves several issues before making a full judgement.

Ratings: 4 out of 5

Man-Thing #1 (Marvel)

If you were a child of the 1990’s and you saw that teen horror writer, R.L. Stine was writing a comic book, you would naturally be excited.

While for a long time, Man-Thing has been a lumbering and haunting character with oddly defined powers of portal jumping and instilling total fear into people, Stine decided to take the character in a completely new and different direction and is bound to rub some longtime fans the wrong way.

After reading this issue, you are left wondering if Stine had recently watched the 2005 film, Man-Thing which wanted to tell a funny story of how that film came to be made.  There were certain references from character designs to statements from characters in the book that leads us to that conclusion.  I was unsure if Stine was going for a Howard the Duck type of story for this book, but there the writing was not clever enough to hook readers.  The departure was so far removed from the original character that many old-time fans will have nothing to grab onto and new readers won’t have enough either.

The art was fine and seeing Man-Thing on the page was a real treat, when it came to everything else, it seemed clunky and rushed.

Ratings: 2.5 out of 5

 

Quick Cuts:

Zombie Camp #1 – This is a book has its issues, but it is intended for kids. Enjoy the simplicity.  Ratings: 2.5 out of 5

The Darkness Visible #2 – Mike Carey continues to tell a compelling story of a society where demons and humans struggle to co-exist.  A couple more layers added on in this issue.  Ratings: 3 out of 5

Eclipse #5 – New Arc.  Go back and pick up the trade, then jump in. Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Grim Tales of Terror (Vol. 3) #2 – Teen horror meets idle hands. Ratings: 2 out of 5

Grim Tales of Terror (Vol. 3) #3 – New art style for the book. Typical fare. Ratings: 2 out of 5

Richard Corben’s Shadows of the Grave #3 – The art alone is enough to add this to your monthly reading, but the creeps and scares keep it essential for any fans of the genre.   Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Lady Killer 2 #4 – Dexter meets Mad Men. Beautiful art.  Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

Spook House #3 – Horror Anthology for kids! Ratings: 3.5 out of 5

When not writing about horror comics, Ryan enjoys long walks on shark infested beaches or at least watching them on the screen.  If you like what you read, tweet out the link to the column and use the #papercuts.  If you want to read more, follow Ryan @hebruise and look his other comic columns and interviews over at Two-Headed Nerd.com.

Renfield’s Re-Collections part 4 “The Devil Made Me Do It”

Welcome back to another edition of every nerd, geek, and horror collector’s wettest dream! (Yeah, I really just wrote that.) This week is a special edition that I’m going to “deadicate” to Twitter fiend Katie Garwood @moonrisesister for the direct inspiration for the theme of today’s fiendish flea market shopping spree, as well as Kitty @spwkitty for watching The Omen at the right time when Katie and I were in goofy moods and setting off this wing-ding whirlwind of wicked widgets that you might be interested in for your man cave, bat cave, or the old bat’s birthday rave! So step right up for this hellacious ride through demonic décor, tickets for a whole seat are free, but you’re only going to need the edge!

T.O.

The Omen One Sheet Movie Poster

http://www.ebay.com/itm/THE-OMEN-1976-ORIGINAL-ONESHEET-MOVIE-POSTER-GREGORY-PECK-/161263683476?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item258c108794#ht_174wt_1193

If you Google movie posters you will see such details listed like “one sheet, half sheet, etc”. This is a general description of exactly what it is. The “one sheet” is actually a “whole sized, one piece poster”. Again as I have stated in earlier articles, the original movie posters prior to the mid 80s measured 27 x 41 inches, slightly larger than the ones today. This accounted for the use of the white border around the artwork. This along with the name of the movie on the lower right border and production company at the lower left help collectors spot a fake. Finally, look for the fold lines. Again, prior to the mid 80s posters were shipped folded (about 95% were folded unless the theater owner picked them up directly from the printing company) with one vertical line and three horizontal lines. Stains, rips, and push pin holes lower the value. The Omen one sheet poster can go for about $50 and up in good condition.

Here is a fun fact that you don’t care about: The Omen opened to theaters two months prior to me being born. My mother half joked about naming me Damien, until I came out with three red birthmarks shaped in a triangle on my forehead, the same as the mark of the Beast according to the movie!

BCMASK

Vintage Ben Cooper Devil Halloween Costume

http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-SPOOK-TOWN-HALLOWEEN-COSTUME-WITH-MASK-BEN-COOPER-DEVIL-1950s-RARE-/141242852804?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item20e2bae5c4#ht_93wt_1193

Now, I’m old enough to remember the shitty but had-to-have Ben Cooper Halloween costumes with a thin plastic mask that was held onto your head with a rubber band and an even thinner vinyl full body-short sleeve costume that ripped the first time you put it on. They were hotter than hell (temperature wise) and still are hotter than hell today (collectible wise). Many collectors buy these to bring them back to their childhood. THIS WAS AN AMERICAN STAPLE FOR HALLOWEEN! Anybody who was anybody went down to Kmart or the closest drug store and bought these for about only a couple of bucks (literally). The Ben Cooper Inc. Company held the market when it came to kids Halloween costumes from the 1930s -1980s when the company filed for bankruptcy and the factory burnt down mysteriously within the same year. (Things that make you go “Hmm”.) They had the licensing for most every fucking character from Darth Vader to Bozo, from Mickey Mouse to Frankenstein, from Wonder Woman to Snow White. If you could show it on either a large screen or small screen, this company made it. To think about it, the costumes from an adult perspective were rather stupid. It would have a picture of the character you were supposed to be on the chest rather than trying to make the costume look like the character.  Then with white Nikes and short plastic sleeves, that 4ft tall Incredible Hulk looked really freaking stupid walking around with a plastic jack-o-lantern begging for candy. Whatever, I’m still trying to find a Darth Vader one like I had when I was 5. (Side note – the clown mask that young Michael Myers wore in the Rob Zombie remake was made to look like a Ben Cooper design.) The masks are collectible if you can’t find the entire costume with box. The complete box will go for about $30 and up depending on the character.

sos

Marvel Son of Satan Comic #1 1975

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Son-of-Satan-1-Gil-Kane-1975-/390809371927?pt=US_Comic_Books&hash=item5afe0dc517#ht_331wt_1193

Well don’t think Marvel didn’t catch shit for this one.  Now that the Comic Code that censored comics had been lifted, Marvel set out to capture some curious deep pocketed kids with disposable money during the Satanic Panic of the 70s. Originally it was supposed to be called “Mark of Satan” but that was pushing the censors and Marvel settled for a kinder, gentler, demonic figure, Daimon Hellstrom. (Ah, aren’t “plague” on words great?) Anyway, this half-demon, half-human clings to his humanity side as opposed to his evil sister, Satana. (Again, with the “plague” on words.) Well I’m sure the hilarity ensues with this comic as it was canceled only a few years later being that no one gave two shits about a friendly son of Satan that is heaven bent on saving humanity. Snore. I wouldn’t pay much for it since it isn’t worth anything but a nap.

faustbeer

Faust Anheuser Busch Beer Tap Handle

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Budweiser-Faust-Devil-Raising-a-Beer-Glass-Figural-Beer-Tap-Handle-LAST-ONE-NR-/121270678465?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c3c4bb3c1#ht_41wt_1193

We’ve all heard the German tale of Faust who sold his soul to the Devil in return for knowledge. Well in the late 1880s Busch (as it was known at the time) brewed Faust beer which by today’s standards would be a dark lager. I’m not entirely sure when the beer was discontinued, but it was revived for a short time in 1995 when this handle was released in limited number. This is possibly the coolest item on today’s list in my opinion…even if the beer is made by Anheuser Busch which is considered “piss beer”. I’ve seen these handles go for $125 and up.

By the way, speaking of Budweiser, do you know how Bud Light and making love in a canoe are similar? They are both fucking pretty close to water! (Yeah, I just wrote that too!)

 

So that is all for this week’s deliciously demonic doodads. Hope you enjoyed the theme this week which once again was brought to you by my Horror-writers.net’ friends @moonrisesiter and @spwkitty. They have been extremely supportive of us at HW and also all these stupid little rants I go on every week. Plus they haven’t put a restraining order out on me like Kate Upton or Kat Dennings, so there’s that. Give them some love and follow them on Twitter. Tell them I sent you, and that “The Devil made me do it”!

Until you call on the dark,

Renfield Rasputin

BjMCqfWCAAIitSD

 Renfield Rasputin has been to the end of the internet. Twice.