The Sandman Saves Christmas

A campy good time awaits in this rare Kirby Christmas story!

Unusual Heroes: Dell's Dracula

Dell's Monster turned Superhero gimmick is campy fun.

Horror-Mood: On A Pale Horse

How would you like to have the Grim Reaper's job? Zane finds out!

Mystifying Marvels: Krull #1-2 (1983)

A forgotten 80's Sci-fi movie and it's forgotten comic adaptation!

DC Diversions: EKKO

Dr. Hawks dons the Ekko suit as murderballs and mayhem await!

Spotlight: Gene Day's Black Zeppelin

A plethora of hidden gems await in Day's dream anthology.

Unusual Heroes: Captain Zilog! #1

Ride the rails of insanely outdated computing technology with Captain Zilog!

Rockin' Bones #1

Monsters, Aliens and Punk Rockers...oh my!

Goin' Underground: Monolith

A couple of Larry's turn out an underrated comix gem.

Cult Classic Comics: Freakwave!

Get your Fog-Mask on, it's time to ride the Freakwave!

The Phenom of Phase

Fanzines never had this much firepower!

The Skull Killer

Pulp Fiction + Underground Comix = Classic

Saga of the Victims

70's exploitation at it's best.

The L.I.F.E. Brigade

Cheesy characters flourish within an underground art style.

Light Comitragies

A strange relic from the psychedelic era.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Science Addiction: Invasion '55 (Apple Comics, 1990)

I love sci-fi movies of the 50's...especially those that fall under the "Alien Invasion" category. It Came From Outer Space. Invaders From Mars. Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers. In those movies, there is nothing more dreadful than a saucer full of little, green bug-eyed baddies with giant laser guns, prancing around the suburbs and zapping all of the housewives, dogs, and policemen into oblivion.

Apple Comics and writer Chuck Dixon (Robin, Birds of Prey) came up with a cool idea at the turn of the 90' tap into some of that 50's sentiment towards U.F.O.'s and aliens and bring it back to the forefront in comic form. And together with international artist Lito Fernandez, they did just that. Invasion '55 is a three-issue series about a small town in New Mexico dealing with an alien invasion in the fall of 1955.

And to those that have watched and enjoyed a 50's sci-fi movie, there really isn't anything new here as far as the story goes. The aliens land, we witness them being discovered...and then watch as they begin killing everyone that gets in their way. A greaser named Ricky watches as his friend gets fried into a bucket of KFC by one of the aliens, but is able to defend himself and escape with one of the alien's guns.

 Ricky proceeds to run around town only to find everyone else is dead and the aliens seem to have taken over. These particular aliens are a strange bunch. They sport satyr-style legs and helmets out of Star Wars, apparently don't say much and like to throw dead humans into a giant pit. There is no warning, no declaration of war...nothing. Just a bunch of weird-looking aliens getting ready to make the world's largest human bonfire.

Besides Ricky, the other characters in the story include a boozing Air Force pilot who is in flight during the invasion, and a young boy named Jimmy who makes a wild discovery of an underground network of the aliens while looking for his teacher.

Dixon's writing is good and maintains the feel of a 1950's sci-fi invasion movie. The story's one downfall is that it doesn't introduce anything new or exciting to the concept. It's really just an homage to the movies it's portraying here, simple as that. Fernandez's artwork is fantastic though, and gives the story much life. He inserts tiny little details into his drawings here and there, and really gives you the feeling that you're witnessing an invasion during that time period.

I've only had the pleasure of reading the first issue, but my interest was perked enough to seek out the rest of the series. Invasion '55 is nothing complicated or mind-shattering, just a fresh take on the alien invasion genre in simpler times...when life was easier, safer and innocent...and complete hysteria was triggered by flying U.F.O.'s and the outpouring of man-killing aliens. Check it out.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Goin' Underground: Bat Comix #2 (Rodney Schroeter, 1982)

Bat Comix #2 is a rare underground comix released circa 1982 by Rodney Schroeter. A self-published work, this issue features two of Schroeter's original stories, "Death Shoots the Works" and "The Curious Case of the Croaked Calf Caper". Schroeter had previously released a superhero parody comic called "The Weirdo", which also makes an appearance in this issue.

But the show stealer in this one is clearly, "Death Shoots the Works". This is a brilliant story, and after only reading this recently, I consider it to be one of the best (and underrated) underground gems I've ever encountered. This is a story about what happens when Death makes a mistake and collects the wrong soul for God. The current Death has become old, and he is supposed to take Alf Abernathy's life but instead takes Alf's twin brother Ralph. And even though a huge safe falls and lands on Alf's head...he is able to walk it off, while his brother mysteriously dies moments later, leaving Alf dazed and confused.

Death is rewarded with a surprise party and a sparkling platinum watch, while Alf mourns the loss of his brother and eventually moves on, gets married, and raises a family of four. But fate is confused, and Alf makes a bad decision by trying to stop a rapist in action that gets him killed also.

The problem is...Heaven already has an Alf Abernathy (his brother Ralph took Alf's name to avoid going elsewhere) and he is not wanted there, which causes Alf to throw a finger at the keeper of Heaven's gates...and then he takes off on a trip through the nether-worlds, eventually recreating himself and believing he has found his family in a happily ever after moment...or did he?

 Schroeter weaves an intricate tale of death and dying, with an interesting take on what happens when a soul "passes through the veil". This is great stuff, and is the type of fictional story that could lift someone up who might even fear their own impending, future death. It brought a smile to my face and I've re-read it thrice over now. The art is very well done for amateur work and is often hilarious, triggering laughs at images without any text. The artwork during Alf's death-trip is entirely surreal, capping off an end to a unique work. I am very impressed with this story and applaud Schroeter's efforts.

The other stories in Bat Comix #2 are decent: "The Weirdo" introduce us to a superhero of the same name, who has to deal with getting his tail kicked by "The Old Dame Broad Squad" which is a bunch of crazy old ladies. And "The Curious Case of the Croaked Calf Caper" is a strange one about two buddies with a dead pig...and plenty of time to kill.

Pages from "The Weirdo":

It is unfortunate that this appeared to be Schroeter's last work, as any future artistic endeavors seem to be nonexistent. Although he writes a note declaring a third issue was in the works, it was never released, and even the first issue of Bat Comix is extremely rare and hard to find.

There is only one other copy of Bat Comix #2 for sale online right now, which is actually in better condition than the one I have and is available at I would recommend jumping on this copy, as it should be a good long while before any other copies shall surface.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Unusual Heroes: Nightslayer #1 (George R. Reid, 1983)

As an obscure comics fan, sometimes a cover can easily seduce me, no matter how corny it's contents might be. Such is the case with Nightstalker #1, which I found while surfing through Lone Star Comics' inventory. He's got a gun! He's got an axe! He wears a cape and executioner's hood! And if you are a bad guy...he's coming for you in the dark of the night. I love this cover, it perfectly captures the essence of the hero. And the black and blue coloring really enhances that nightslaying vibe.

This is a self-published comic written and penciled by George R. Reid, which I believe is the only work he has ever released in comic form. Although the comic advertises a second issue, it's status is virtually non-existent on the 'net. Not to be confused with DC Comics' Batman villain of the same name, Nightslayer is your typical cut-and-paste type of crime-fighter.

The premise is that the Nightslayer (we never learn his real name) is on his second date with a girl named Jennifer when she is gunned down late at night on the streets of New York. The killers get away, and instead of looking for someone new to date...the guy trains to fight and designs his own weapons, and somehow creates a bullet-proof costume. Then he begins looking for the killers, while slaying all the other nocturnal baddies in the meantime.

The cops want to find the Nightslayer as the news heats up over his killings, and some douchebag named Phenom decides to get in on the action and find him first. Rambo, anyone?

The pencils are actually pretty good in spots for amateur work if you overlook the Phenom character. But the story is dreadful and feels rushed, and the characters aren't nearly as fleshed out as they should be.

Reid included a second story featuring a hero called Star Angel, presented here:

This is one of those comics that you look at and realize the artist had lots of potential, but he could have used a writer or should have put more originality into the stories he wanted to tell. But it is good enough for an 80's underground release, and I'd say there are only about 500 or less of these babies floating around. Pick one up if you see one, and let the Nightslayer live again...if only for one more night.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Just Plain Strange: Power Comics #1 (Power Comics Company, 1977)

Power Comics #1 came to fruition in Lansing, Michigan where writer T. Casey Brennan (of Creepy fame) brought together a group of writers and artists in the hopes of creating and publishing their own comic series.
Released in 1977, the first issue featured four stories, one of which featured Dave Sims' first aardvark. Sims had been working on Cerebus the Aardvark around the same time, which would be released later that year.

Here's a quick overlook of each story:

A Gift of Wonder - Written by Brennan and penciled by Vince Marchesano. A short story about how a man of the mystic arts is sensing the world of magic interloping with reality.

                             Page from "A Gift of Wonder":

The Belt of Americe - Story by Jerry Younkins with art by J.J. Friel. Tells the tale of Valkus the sea-dweller, whose curiosities of the land above leads him to leave the waterworld behind. There he finds a woman in distress and saves her from an onslaught of Beast Men. He is brought to the Queen Americe where it is learned that the Beast Men are preparing to take the city. Together with the power of the Queen's belt, Valkus uses his powers of the occult to destroy the Beast Men, but he loses the spell of transformation needed to stay on land and is banished to the sea.

                                  Pages from "The Belt of Americe":

Nightwitch Rising! - Written by Grant Stevens with artwork by Skip Williams, this story explains the origin of Nightwitch. It begins with the trial of Hemsut,  the last witch of Atlantis. She is persecuted for her powers by a hooded order called The Twelve. Hemsut believes in the power of Ka, which she unleashes on the unsuspecting order.

This event ends up becoming a dream for a woman named Onyx Moro(first day on the job at a mental institution), who happens to be dreaming while connected to a REM scanner that disconnects during the chaos. Fast forward to a mental patient (who is really the demon Azimuth), who escapes and starts killing everyone...including throwing Onyx out of the window, 32 stories to her death.

Hemsut appears to Onyx moments before her death and explains her true purpose, that she is a descendant of Atlantis and wields the power of Ka. Onyx can either die or be reborn with her true Ka powers, which she chooses, and Hemsut and Onyx merge into one being...the Nightwitch. The story ends as the Nightwitch fights and destroys Azimuth, then returns all of the hospital's employees to a point in time before the incident occurs, curing the mental patient in the process.

                               Pages from "Nightwitch Rising!"

                              Back cover of Power Comics #1 depicting Nightwitch:

A Boy and His Aardvark - Written by Brennan and penciled by Dave Sims, this is the story of a boy and his aardvark...and a dad and his penchant for guns. It's an odd one, but it's pretty cool to see a pre-Cerebus aardvark in the story. Check out the full five-page story here:

As you can see...the Aardvark has the best lines. Power Comics only lasted five issues before the group of collaborators moved on to other projects. The artwork is well done and although the stories are hit and miss, the Nightwish origin is nice to see and the Sims' aardvark would be key for collectors. Well worth a pickup.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just Plain Strange: Summer Goes Slowly (Greg Vondruska, 2006)

What better way to celebrate the last days of summer by talking about one of my favorite summer memoirs. Created by artist Greg Vondruska (with publishing help by the Arts Council of Hillsborough County), Summer Goes Slowly is a collection of comic-strips based off of Vondruska's childhood. We see Greg's first kiss, watch Doctor Who with his friends, take a bad fall off his bike, get teased at school and much more. It's a childhood almost anyone can relate to, especially if you grew up anywhere between 1978-88.

Reading Summer Goes Slowly will really take you back, and it's surprising how often another kid's childhood can mirror your own. Watching Greg awkwardly ask girls out, get hit with his retainer on, or just enjoy a piece of pizza felt entirely similar to my own youthful memories...which made the book an even more enjoyable read.

At 48 pages, Summer Goes Slowly will fly by and you'll be done with it in ten minutes...but it will be a book you'll want to come back to, if only to channel the memories of your own childhood. Check out more of Vondruska's work at