When I was a kid, I would skip lunch at school and keep my lunch money for the sole purpose of feeding my growing comic book addiction. By the end of the week, I’d have about $7-$10. Even then, however, comics were expensive. I’d have enough for a couple new titles, with some left over. One day, I decided to hit the quarter bin – where beat up, less popular comics were fated to live the rest of their pulpy lives.
This was where I discovered the Marvel Horror comics from the 1970s.
The significance of this moment is mighty. Here we have a kid who has extra money left over from his new comics looking to score as much comics/crack as he possibly can, combined with a healthy obsession of all things monster from watching the 50s black and white horror movies, and it became a match made in heaven (or hell, since we are talking about horror comics). I quickly snatched up my store’s back stock of Ghost Rider and Werewolf by Night, my two all-time favorites (I loved motorcycles and werewolves – how did Marvel know?). Marvel was concerned at the time that their reliance on superhero-only properties may eventually cause them difficulties down the road. Thus a horror line was created, but it was still infused with that inherent Marvel “over-the-top” storytelling. The monsters were almost heroes, in their own way. This, of course, made it super cheesy, and I loved every cheesy moment of it. I’d recount the tales of Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider to anyone who would listen, and thought it was a shame that no one would relaunch a new Werewolf by Night series (I actually still do lament that one).
There were others, too, that spawned from this line: Brother Voodoo, Man-Thing, Monster of Frankenstein, and Tomb of Dracula where the popular Blade character got its start (though ironically, the character is only successful on film – the comics never last more than a couple issues when relaunched for the sequels).
Yesterday, during a particularly stressful period, I took a break and visited the comic store. Nothing caught my eye… except for an Essential collection from Marvel… the Essential Monster of Frankenstein (Amazon). The Essential collections from Marvel are huge black and white reprints of their comics for cheap. Frankenstein, for instance, is only about $20 for a whopping 496 pages of awesome 70s Marvel Horror, dripping with cheese.
It wasn’t the Werewolf, or Ghost Rider, but it was good enough for me. I started reading it last night, and I got a nostalgic rush of thriftiness and splendor from watching monsters grotesquely dance across the page, causing doom in their wake. To come close to this feeling, to understand the magic of these comics, imagine listening to Rob Zombie in a black car hurtling down an abandoned, leaf-strewn road, or hell, just watch the Blade film. Rob Zombie read these comics, as did the makers of the Blade film, and it shows.
I walked outside this morning into the crisp air, smiling ear to ear. I’m still wishing as I did in my younger years to turn into a werewolf, possibly riding on a flaming motorcycle, to go kick Dracula’s and the Frankenstein Monster’s ass.
You can also browse through the Parlor archives.
Keep up to date with my email newsletter. Newsletters are sent at least quarterly.
Stay up to date with my Feed in your favorite newsreader!
Check out who is linking to me with my Technorati Profile.