‘Four Color Memories’ by K. Patrick Glover - Installment the Second, in Which Fear and Loathing is Entirely Appropriate


3940193696_427a4674bb‘Four Color Memories’ by K. Patrick Glover

K. Patrick Glover is the writer of the upcoming webcomic The Invisible Skein, which is being illustrated by Amanda Hayes, and the first chapter of the story is set to appear on the web on December 14th.

‘Four Color Memories’ is a column about the comics of our youth, full of nostalgia for the days when heroes were heroes and villains were villains, before the Avengers were DARK and before the Lanterns were BLACK.

This week’s column falls on Halloween, so he has decided to look to the classic horror comics of the 50s, 60s and 70s, including Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula, and DC’s House of Mystery. Ahhh, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore…

Installment The Second,

In Which Fear and Loathing is Entirely Appropriate

HomforsaleAs I sit at my desk, sorting through a week’s worth of notes and trying to pull together a theme for this week’s sophomore column, the ghost of Dr. Thompson politely taps me on the shoulder and says, in a drunken slur, “Hey, it’s Halloween, dummy!”

I push aside my stack of notes and wonder if this sort of thing is going to happen a lot. There are stories that Robert E. Howard often saw the ghost of Conan as he wrote about the barbarian king. I wonder if Roy Thomas was ever haunted by Howard’s ghost as he translated those stories into comic form.

This probably isn’t the right week to admit this, being Halloween and all, but I don’t actually believe in ghosts. I am a skeptic on most things and as the Great Detective once said, “no ghosts need apply.” That said, I love ghost stories. I love to read (and occasionally write) about things that go bump in the night.

In fact, the one story I can truly recall scaring me was… wait, I’m getting ahead of myself! First, let’s talk a bit about that love of spooky stories. It’s a love that probably started with late night TV, back in those days before cable and satellite and 900 stations of infomercials. Back when the little indy stations ran black and white creature features every Friday and Saturday night and they all had their own local ghoul hosting the movies, usually with a bad, Transylvanian accent.

It’s where I got my first exposure to Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. I watched vampire movies back when vampires were creepy and evil, long before the pale, emo silliness that is Twilight and its clones. I watched stories about Frankenstein and the Wolf Man, haunted houses and giant bugs, mummies and zombies. I saw Santa Claus fighting Martians and Peter Cushing battling Daleks.

Those movies, collectively, led me straight to DC’s marvelous horror anthologies like House of Mystery and House of Secrets (and Plop, but that’s a comic for another column). With a roster of amazing talent, these riffs on the classic EC comics of old told creepy tales that kept me hiding under the covers, reading by flashlight long past my bedtime.

Each of these books had their own host, Cain in House of Mystery, Abel in House of Secrets. Yes, that Cain and Abel. A basic mythology began to emerge around the hosts and their respective houses. Eventually, during his ground breaking run on Swamp Thing, Alan Moore brought the two brothers into the forefront of a story that, with later embellishments by Neil Gaiman in Sandman, became one of the building blocks of the Vertigo universe.

Isn’t the evolution of things fascinating?

Equally of interest to me, at the time, was Marvel’s slate of monster books: Tomb of Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Werewolf By Night, Ghost Rider, and Son of Satan. A creepy 70s mishmash of horror icons and the super hero infested world of Marvel, it was not uncommon to see Dracula battling Dr. Strange or the Werewolf duking it out with Iron Man.

After their 70s heyday, most of these titles vanished from the stands (the lone survivor being Tomb of Dracula, which held on a while longer due to the fantastic work of Marv Wolfman and Gene Colon.) The characters remained, though, and continued to pop up in the least expected of places. Anyone remember Daimon Hellstrom’s appearances in West Coast Avengers?

Following DC’s success with Vertigo, Marvel made several attempts at reviving their horror characters, with varying degrees of luck. Ghost Rider had a nice long run in the 90s, but the rest of the Midnight Sons line faltered, and the Strange Tales line died a rapid death before it really got rolling.

Marvel also produced a wonderful line of black and white horror magazines in the early 70s, but it was years later that I discovered those treasures, which included: Dracula Lives, Monsters Unleashed, Haunt of Horror, Tales of The Zombie, and Vampire Tales. Every one stacked with a talent roster that included Roy Thomas, Steve Gerber, Neal Adams, Chris Claremont, John Romita, and too many more to name.

There were even a few ghost stories in the mags, and those are the ones that always appealed most to me, especially haunted houses. The story I alluded to earlier: back in 1980, I read The Amityville Horror. I was twelve. Now, at the time, my parents and I lived in a nice, two bedroom apartment in Cockeysville, MD (don’t bother with jokes about the name, believe me, I’ve heard them all.) The bathroom was right across the hall from my room. At night, the only light source was the glowing red dot from the smoke detector.

Now, if you’ve read The Amityville Horror you might recall the little boy’s evil invisible friend, who appeared only as a pair of glowing red eyes. I think some of you can see where this is going. I wear glasses, both now and then. If I don’t have my glasses on, things like indicator lights seem to double in my vision. One little red light becomes two little red lights, or two glowing red eyes.

300px-Werewolf_by_Night_11I was halfway through the book when the phenomenon revealed itself to me in the hallway outside my room. The next morning, looking at the smoke detector, I realized what had happened and I laughed at myself.

It was still several weeks before I mustered the nerve for any more late night trips to the bathroom.

And with that, I’ll draw things to a close. If I’ve piqued your interest in some of these classic tales, you’ll be interested to know that a lot of these books are available in collected editions. Marvel’s Essential line of trades include 2 volumes of Marvel Horror, plus volumes dedicated to Tomb of Dracula, Ghost Rider, Tales of The Zombie, Frankenstein’s Monster and Werewolf by Night. DC’s Showcase Presents line has several volumes each for House of Mystery and House of Secrets. So pick up a book and relive some of my memories for me. Tell Cain and Abel I said hello.

K. Patrick Glover

Ancillary matters
– As I said last week, Amanda Hayes is hard at work, drawing the first storyline of a new web comic written by yours truly. If you’d like to look at some of the promotional art, you can find it at http://www.theinvisibleskein.com. The comic itself begins on December 14th.

I also plugged our store last week. If you gave it a visit, thank you. If not, you still have the opportunity, just hop over to our online store at http://www.cafepress.com/invisibleskein.


Related posts:

  1. ‘Four Color Memories’ by K. Patrick Glover - Installment The First, In Which Parameters Are Set
  2. Comic Book Review - Fear Agent #22
  3. Hypergeek’s Hot Picks – Top Comic Book Recommendations for the Week of Wednesday October 28st 2009
  4. Hypergeek’s Hot Picks – Comic Book Recommendations for the Week of Wednesday 5th August 2009
  5. The (Not So) Daily Review, Or: How I Got Lazy and Neglected to Update My Blog


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