The Forgotten Dusty Vault Of Doomnation

Welcome back to Rotten Ink!  Lately I have been thinking about the new boom of independent comic companies who’s issues have found life not only at your local comic shops but also online on their official websites as well as crowd funding sites like Kickstarter and Indie Go-Go giving us more selection to choose from besides Marvel, DC, Image, Archie and Dark Horse Comics, all of whom have been around for the long haul of the rise and fall of comic book popularity. I mean companies like IDW, Boom and Action Lab, among many others, have their issues in Diamond Previews while companies like Eibon Press, Rough House Publishing and Digital Phantom Press all deliver their comics directly to the reader and cut out the middle man. Even Jason Young and myself have gotten into the act when we opened Sparkle Comics and its sub branch Blood Scream Comics as we also wanted to deliver high quality comics to our readers and be creative with our friends. But back in the mid 80’s – early 90’s, lots of independent comic companies popped up and tried to deliver black and white comic books to cash in on the 1985 success of Mirage Studios who had a huge hit with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Many of the companies had their own mutant animal books who knew Kung-Fu or were like elite task force fighters.  Many Horror books were made during this time, and while some companies were made on the spot to try and cash in, many others suffered as the market began to be flooded with poorly made and drawn comics that filled comic store shelves and burnt readers with their terrible stories. With such titles as “Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils”, “Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters” and “Cold Blooded Chameleon Commandos” being pushed upon readers, the independent comic company bubble burst in the late 80’s, and as quickly as the boom happened, it imploded on itself and many companies folded up or were bought out by the other companies while others just faded away to have their issues end up in dollar bins. This update is about one of those comic companies that I knew about when I was a teenager thanks to a local comic shop that had them in stock and my favorite comic in their short-lived life called The Vault Of Doomnation.  So sit back and enjoy this quick “looking back” update, below is my tribute to some of the comic companies from the past that left the comic racks way too soon.

One of those pop-up companies was B-Movie Comics, who started in 1986 and by 1987 was out of business with only four titles under their belt with only two of those titles having more than one issue! The company’s titles were “B-Movie Presents,” a series that lasted four issues and was about fake movies like Tasa Congo Queen and Matrix The Accelerator. They also had “Vault Of Doomnation!” a horror comic anthology much like Marvel Comics series Dead Of Night that very sadly only lasted one issue. And they had “Eric Preston Is The Flame,” a generic Superhero comic that lasted one issue. And lastly another Superhero comic called “Reacto-Man” that appears to have lasted a total of three issues. From what I can gather, B-Movie comics was based out of Indiana and was a creator owned company that had Mark Paniccia as owner and maybe editor in chief, and they were a company that tried to make it big with the black and white independent comic boom of the mid-eighties but could not compete with all the competition. Mark Paniccia, later in his comic career, would go on to work for Malibu Comics, TokyoPop and Marvel Comics where he still works as an editor as of the time of this update. It’s been hard to find direct info on this company as they did not last long enough to make an impact and many websites, blogs and chats I have read all have different information on what comics they released and how long they stayed in business. Their logo was white and black and had a man behind a camera, and this logo, while not all that eye catching compared to other companies, always stood out to me as I was always mesmerized by shot-on video-films and shows like “Moraine Playhouse Theater” on MVCC and other horror and science fiction movie stuff, and their logo reminded me of the small guy trying to make big entertainment. I first learned about B-Movie Comics thanks to Mavericks Cards and Comics when I was a teenager and started shopping there. While going through the back issue boxes looking for old Horror Comics, I stumbled upon the comic Vault Of Doomnation! and can remember buying it for $1.85 and taking it home and reading it in my room in Waynesville and enjoying the horror stories, and if memory serves me correct, I read it during a thunderstorm! While gone and by most accounts forgotten, I for one enjoyed B-Movie Comics and thank them for making their tiny mark on the world of comic books. Below are some comics they released as well as the company’s logo.

While working on this update back in October 2016, I was feeling very nostalgic for the past and with a slow day at work on October 7th I left work early around 1:30pm and along with pal Josh Weinberg we headed to my true hometown Waynesville to check on a rumor that the old Dairy Corner was torn down and a new Dominos Pizza was up in its place.  Sadly enough, the rumor was true and a place I loved as a child was gone and a soulless major chain restaurant was in its place.  I’m really letdown that the Waynesville board let this happen. We could not stop at the antique stores in Waynesville as Main Street was blocked to get ready for the Sauerkraut Festival that was gearing up to take place the next day. So we drove to Lebanon to visit Peddler’s Mall as Josh had never been there and I wanted to soak up the past again of being in the old Big Bear and Hearts (Big Bear Plus) and walking into that place always reminds me of toys, comic books, Cracked and MAD Magazines and breakfast cereal as at the time the had the largest selection I had ever seen, and this is where we would get these items growing up. Walking around that place, I shared a few stories with Josh about when it was the iconic grocery and department store as we looked at vintage antiques and collectibles. As we left, I wanted to see if maybe behind the building if the original Big Bear Plus store signs were left behind as in the main lot the only thing left to show Big Bear was even there is a parking lot sign. While driving behind the building, it was clear that sadly the signs were gone but we did find on one of the loading docks they had signs for each department like meat and dairy, and after getting out of the car to snap a pictures, I noticed that the dock must have been a hang out for kids as broken beer bottles and pill bottles littered the ground. As we left the parking lot, it hit me that it really is a shame that Big Bear went out of business and that stores like Kroger and Wal-Mart were the ones who put the nail in its coffin as they did with other stores like Cub Foods in my area, but as they say, you can’t live in the past you must live for the future, and while I know I have chatted about Big Bear on here before I wanted to also share the pictures I took that day with you friends and readers, so enjoy.

So I am sure you’re wondering if I found anything at the Peddlers Mall in Lebanon on that trip, and I must say I sure did as I found a big Imperial Godzilla just like the one I got from my Aunt Laverne and Uncle George for my birthday when I was a kid for $25.00. This toy also triggered memories of the past from having Godzilla fight with my 12” Incredible Hulk Mego figure during my Toy Wars to Sarah Fix hanging out in my house on Pittsfield chatting about it while looking for a Horror Movie to watch when I was a teenager. The other item I found was an old rubber caveman figure that looks lots like a Jiggler from the late 60’s that was only $2.50! The one items I regretted not picking up was the Starting Lineup figure for golf legend Arnold Palmer as I had been on a kick of drinking the drink named after him that’s a tea and lemonade mix as it was only $4.00 and a Blue Falcon and Dynomutt metal lunchbox that was $25.00. Below is a picture of Godzilla and The Caveman I took on the day I bought them both.

When leaving Peddlers Mall, we decided to drive once more through Waynesville, and we ended up driving down the old street I lived on Royston Drive where I really realized that I 100% really do miss that neighborhood and all the kids that my brother Bryan and I use to run around with in our youth. So many great times of playing baseball, football, basketball, ball tag, Nintendo games and toys were had on this street. 645 Royston Drive was the only home that I have ever lived in that felt like just that home.  My old room on the second floor just above the garage with the terrible white wall paper with flowers was a place that I played with toys, read comics and paperback novels, worked on my own short stories and drew up my own comic book characters and monsters. The walls of my room was covered with posters of Bart Simpson, The Joker, Pro Wrestler The Great Muta and many more pop culture characters, I also had a very old and vintage blackboard that was in my room that I would draw pictures of Swamp Thing and Spider-Man on with colored chalk and even made fake boxing and pro wrestling event brackets. A hallway and a bathroom separated my room from my brother’s and I always knew that he was close if ever an emergency were to happen. So many great memories is in that house from watching Commander USA on TV to playing Nintendo against my Dad to even hanging out with my pet mice Grey and White and all the fun times of making crafts with my Mom and even reading comics in my brothers room, this truly was my favorite house I have ever lived in. I can’t really express just how magical that house and the neighborhood were to me, and no matter were I live I will always be a Waynesville Spartan! Below is a picture that my Mom took of the house just after my Dad bought it and I am proud to share it with you my readers and friends, and I will have to end this little segment that if it ever went back up for sale and I could afford it I would love to buy that house and live their again!

I have worked a number of jobs over the years and many of them were lots of fun, and I have met friends I still have at many of those jobs like Odd Lots, Krogers, Replay Media, Mavericks Cards And Comics, Buy Backs and Hotel Liquidations to name a few, but the one I miss the most hands down over the others is the video rental store Blockbuster Video on S. Smithville Road, a place I worked when VHS was still the king and was even around when DVD pushed them out of the stores and into the dumpsters out back. I was there for the roll out of the Rewards Project as well as when they started to take in trades! I meet many of wonderful women that I was able to take out on dates that were employees and customers and I had many of weird moments from grown women flashing me their boobs for free rentals to weird prank calls for films that never were made. It was a place I worked mornings as well as many late nights and was a place that always seemed fun even during the busiest of days and with most annoying customers. It was also a place I worked that acted as the set for many of the shot on video films I made from “Werewolf Of Ohio 2: 10 Years Before” and “Cocktober Blood” and even though Blockbuster policy was to not allow filming, my bosses always were cool about it. I was never a manager and was a full time CSR that was paid well and even had 2 weeks of paid vacation a year and won many bonuses from winning contests as well as was one of the fastest movie scanners in the area. I can remember around Halloween time one of my managers would allow us to watch Horror films instead of the Blockbuster TV tape/disc that we were supposed to play at all times, and when we would leave, I would hit play on the player and with store dark and at late at night movies like Phantom Of The Opera would be playing on the TVs. I really do miss this job and also really miss the world of Video Rental stores.  No matter what people tell me, scrolling through Netflix’s very limited horror selection will never take the place of walking through a video rental store’s Horror section! The Blockbuster Video I worked for was one of the last to close in the area, and when they finally closed the building sat empty for a while and within the last 2 years it has been split into three smaller stores with a pizza place on one side and on the other end is a pharmacy with the middle still empty and most of the Blockbuster shelves and counters still in there. Here is a pic that Josh and I took on January 11th of the middle section of what is left of Blockbuster Video that was a big part of my working life. As well as one of my old name tags I found in the old Independent B Movie studio!

Also on January 11th Josh Weinberg and I decided to visit some of the top locations that we used for some of our most “popular” shot on video films! It was a perfect day for it as the weather outside was chilly and rain was in the forecast, and we selected to start a look back at a location that we at Independent B Movie called “Suicide Hill” as it was the final place we used in our first film Teen Suicide that was shot back in 1998 where the character Matt played by Matt Hoffman killed himself after being bullied by cruel classmates. This location is in a park in Kettering, Ohio and was also used in such films we made as Werewolf Of Ohio, Tree-Man Christmas, Cocktober Blood and Vigilante C: The Hunt For Man-Beast among many others and I must say the location has changed very much as the hill is now over grown with weeds and tree branches and the amount of trash near it was saddening, we stood around for a few moments and chatted about Teen Suicide and just how overgrown the area had became. After a few minutes we left and started to our next location. Below is a picture still from the movie as well as one taken on Jan 11th to show you just how much the area has changed.

The next location we went to was used for the 2003 supernatural ghost flick Farmer Joe directed by Mike Ritchie that we all called “Farmer Joe’s Barn” that acted as the cursed area that the killer farmer would stalk his prey as well as have the powers to change the weather. And as we pulled up, we were saddened to see first hand that the barn had been torn down by the church that owned the land it was on and in its place was now just grass and four basketball hoops.  Worse, the land that was behind the barn had been sold and over priced giant homes now sat where the characters’ cursed crop fields used to be. Josh and I did our best to try and figure out just where the barn and its green doors used to sit on the now blank land and chatted about the production of the film and funny moments of filming under Mike Ritchie’s direction. Josh had to take a business call, and I just walked around not only remembering the filming of Farmer Joe but also the fun filming day of Vigilante C: The Hunt For Man-Beast that took place on that land, I also remember fun times hanging out at that barn with Jennifer Perkins and Misty Altick looking up at the stars in the sky. As the weather got colder, we headed to our next location and chatted a little more about Farmer Joe and the comic in the works from Blood Scream Comics being done by Jeff Potter and Juliet Fromholt. Below are pictures of the barn from the film to that day of our visit.

Our next stop was in Bellbrook for one of the main locations used in my first film, the 1998 classic Werewolf Of Ohio.  It’s a small little park near Dot’s Market. The site was supposed to be the location where the main character Josh played by Josh Weinberg’s family lived and in the shelter his sister wrote her name in the wood with the name being Kanny.  It was already there when we decided to film the found footage style shot on video horror film, and I was shocked to see the white painted name still there on the second to last beam; while it was faded it was still there! Josh and I laughed about a scene from the film that was shot in the shelter that had his character Josh having a breakdown that had him almost trip over a trashcan he was kicking! Behind the shelter was also another location from Werewolf of Ohio, a stream that acted as the characters’ backyard, and this location had changed as all the woods near the entrance have been removed as was the old muddy and gravel path that was near it. This location, while different, really did bring back memories of the good old days of Independent B Movie when me and my friends had no money but big ideas for horror movies. Josh and I chatted about the idea of doing a Werewolf Of Ohio 3, but we knew that if it is ever to happen, it would have to be now made as a comic book. After walking around for a while, the sky became darker and we decided to head to our final location and stop and get some lunch. Below is the stream from the past as well as the present.

Xenia was our final location visit, and after stopping at Roosters for some chicken wings, we headed out to what we have always called “Malice’s Bridge,” the main location for the final fight between The Wolf Hunter and Malice in both the 2003 film The Wolf Hunter and its sequel, the 2006 film Wolf Hunter 2. The rain was starting to come down as we made our trip to the bridge and all the way there we chatted about all the films and TV shows we had filmed at the bridge and memories of Wolf Hunter and Wolf Hunter 2 mostly. As we pulled down the street that lead to the bridge, we got a bad shock as the bridge was being blocked by road workers who looked annoyed that we were coming down the road! We turned around and decided to get some drinks at a gas station in Xenia and wait to see if the rain that was now really coming down would make the road workers leave, and we got lucky as when we got back to the bridge the workers were gone! Josh decided to stay in the car as the rain was coming down pretty heavy, but I did get out and noticed that the area around the bridge had been stripped of the grass and brush and was now just mud, I also noticed that much of the bridges wood was new and it appeared as if maybe some one set it ablaze as wood on some of it had scorched marks! Clearly this classic covered bridge has been the target of some arson and that’s a shame as the bridge is pretty damn cool and holds history as well as shot on video history. I quickly stepped on the bridge and had to laugh as some one spray painted on a support beam “I Love Matt” and I just imagined a fan of Matt Hoffman aka The Wolf Hunter painting that hoping that he would see it. After getting back into the car, I reflected on this day of visiting the old filming spots of Independent B Movies and realized that many of the classic set places have changed and many are now just gone, but it also made me miss the days of making movies with friends as being creative is something I have always loved to be. I want to thank Josh Weinberg for coming along for the ride on this look back and I think he as well had a great time looking back and slightly misses making SOV films as well. Below is a pic of Malice’s Bridge from the past falling apart and the second is from the present.

I am having such a great time looking back at the past and thought, hell, let’s also cover a Horror Movie Marathon that was held on July 23, 2017 at my cousin Stephen’s house! For me, the Horror Movie Marathon is very special and is an event that has brought many good times to my life hanging out with family and friends while watching the scares on our TV screen. This event was semi well attended and many of my friends showed up to enjoy the blood, guts and scares that was selected to show as Stephen Alexander, Theresa Lopez, Josh Weinberg, Juliet Fromholt, Jason Young, Todd The Fox and Garrison Kane all showed up throughout the day. The first film of the day was “Dark And Stormy Night” a modern flick that has a classic retro feel about a mansion under attack on a stormy night by two hooded killers during a will reading. “Dangerous Worry Dolls” was the second film about a woman in prison who is possessed by a worry doll that causes her to kill those who stand in her way. The shot on video film “The Dummy” was next up and follows a killer doll that is making short work of a group of friends thanks to a voodoo lady who put a curse on them. The 1991creature feature “The Runestone” was next up and was about the Norse wolf Fenrir running wild in modern times to try to bring on the end of the world! The low budget slasher film “Hayride 2” was up next and brought back the killer from the first film who still has lots of blood to spill and even targets a hospital on his rampage. The creepy film “Child Eater” was next in line to scare us and was about a freak that lives in the woods that kills, eats and steals the eyes of children! Finally got to watch the female slasher film “Blood Widow” about a crazed masked female killer who lives in an abandoned house and has targeted the new neighbors and their friends. The 2017 creature flick “The Raking” was next and follows a group of collage kids looking into a creepypasta creature that turns out to be real! The retro style film “Beyond The Gates” followed and is about two brothers having to play an old VHS Board Game in order to save their souls and their dead fathers. My cousin Stephen picked the next film called “Pitchfork” that follows a crazed masked killer who has a pitchfork for a hand as he kills a batch of partying youngsters. And the final film of the night was “The Slayer” about a creature on the loose on an island who wants lots of death and no happy ending.

This marathon was lots of fun even if the turn out was not packed and was filled with good food and great drinks and great horror movie talk with amazing friends. For me the worst film aka the Golden Turkey of the night was The Raking as I found it to be a very boring slow paced film with dorky characters and a monster that was way under used. Now as for my top three favorite films of the night, I would have to say my # 1 was Blood Widow as I enjoyed the killer and the atmosphere reminded me of the independent horror films of the 80’s not to mention it also had some pretty brutal effects with a leg snapping being the stand out…you should have heard all of us when this happened. The # 2 film for me was Beyond The Gate as I loved the retro feel to the film and it was short and sweet and filled with some great bloody effects. And # 3 was Dark And Stormy Night a great throwback parody film of the 30’s and 40’s haunted house films! I need to also say that I enjoyed The Slayer and The Dummy as well. Another great Marathon was in the books and here is to many more to come!

The killer of the marathon was Fenrir from Runestone who had a body count of over 30 people with many of them coming from massacring a whole SWAT Team! He was brutal in his killing nature and showed no mercy! So the Golden Massacre Award proudly goes to Fenrir for his over 30 kills.

So while we cannot live back in the past, we can indeed remember it and share our memories with family and friends keeping those adventures alive and well. So now that we looked at old film locations from the past, I think it’s time for us to travel back into the world of B-Movie Comics and to their spooky Vault of Doomnation that is filled with chills and thrills and aims to scare with the terror it holds within. Not sure if you notice, but this Vault is super cold and the walls have slime and it looks like this message is etched into the stone “Remind Your Brave Readers That You Grade These Comics On A Scale Of 1 to 4 And You Are Looking For How Well The Comic Stays To The Source Material, Its Entertainment Value And Its Art And Story…The Have Been Warned!” weird I wonder what ghoul from this comic left this message for us. I think we better just all sit together and share in this comic that was a favorite of mine in my youth and avoid the monsters that await outside.

Vault Of Doomnation! # 1  ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price $1.70     B-Movie Comics   # 1 of 1

“Zombi” in a graveyard a grisly murder has taken place and the grave of John Smith has now open and appears like it was opened from the inside.  Around the grave, two bodies are found that have been murdered. Jenell Adams is one of the investigating officers, and she and the cemetery caretaker go to look up the history of John Smith, as across town on the stormy night a Zombie is roaming around and kills the mayor and his wife. After this second murder, the Commissioner takes her off the case and Janell’s mind is working over time as she uncovered that John Smith was a fake name and the young man in the grave is an unknown person. And after another murder, Janell notices that many of the victims are wearing a strange ring with a lightning bolt on it and finds that it’s the symbol of an occult and that the Commissioner is in fact a member of it and that the zombie was in fact the son of two of the occults victims and he has come back from the gave for revenge! “Valentine’s Day” is the story of Nick Wheeler who is a playboy who has married rich older woman Ellen Hayes as he thinks she will die soon and he will get all her estate. Nick is annoyed when the older woman does not die fast enough from old age as he wants to be with a younger woman named Liz and needs the money to do so and his wife to be out of the way. After pushing her down the stairs Ellen dies and Nick is able to be with Liz…but love never dies as Ellen returns from the dead and wants what’s hers and that’s Nick’s heart! “Something Evil” is about a family who’s TV grows and evolves and becomes a living gross ooze life form that attacks the family and the world with monsters and characters from TV and Movies that are playing on the stations. In the end, the world is over run by the gross TV goo and a TV is born from the goo. Our final story is “That’s My Boy” and is about a father and a hired private investigator find the house of his estranged wife and have the goal to get his son back, but soon they find the wife had killed the son who now returns from the dead in order to tell his dad he loves him and to avenge is death by killing his own mother.

The Vault Of Doomnation is a horror anthology comic that I feel is often overlooked by Horror Comic readers who often just write it off as a generic independent comic that is found in the cheap bins at comic stores and conventions for a $1.00 or less, and while this comic is not ground breaking or blood chilling scary, it is a good classic style horror comic that is filled with four creepy tales that mostly deal with the dead coming back to get revenge on the living. The first tale Zombi seems like it might have been inspired by the 1986 film Zombie Nightmare as it has a young man who was wronged coming back to get revenge for himself and his family. I should also note it oddly also feels like The Crow that was released in 1989 but done with way less backstory, could this story have inspired both The Crow and Zombie Nightmare…I doubt it. Valentine’s Day is also about a murdered victim returning back from the dead to get revenge, and this tale seems like it could have been right at home in an issue of The Vault Of Horror. Something Evil takes always the zombies and ads in a Goo that is created by a TV that torments a family and later takes over the world.  This one is a cool story but kind of feels out of place art-wise. The final story That’s My Boy brings back the undead and has a Dad having to find the body of his son who was murdered by his ex-wife who in turn is killed by the zombie son! This one as well could have been at home in an issue of Vault Of Horror or even Twisted Tales. Some of these stories have blood and violence with the first two stories bringing the most to the readers and the last two stories more play on fears and shocks. The art varies from cool independent comic style to more armature punk rock style doodles, with the best art for me being Paul Fricke who did the art in That’s My Boy and the weakest for me is Scott Barker who did the art for Something Evil. My favorite monster of this issue is the zombie of Ellen Hayes the old bride who was murdered as she reminds me of the zombie bride from The Video Dead. The cover for this comic is very cool and is eye catching for independent horror comic readers and over all this is a fun comic with cool classic horror stories that will entertain those looking for a spooky good time. Vault Of Doomnation might not be a must own comic for readers, but is one that I think fans should read. Check out some of the art from this comic below and see some of the horrors that await you in this Vault.

Vault Of Doomnation # 1 is one of those comics that really does make me think back to my youngers days and shopping at the local comic shops like Bookie Parlor and Mavericks and how amazing it was to uncover Horror Comics and Superhero Comics that I have never heard of and buying them to rush home to read in my room or in the living room next to the fireplace. But again, you can’t live in the past, and I still very much enjoy going to a local comic shop like Bell, Book And Comic and finding new comics that I have never heard of. For our next update we are leaving the dusty old box of Horror Comics and looking at another character that is overlooked and underused by DC Comics, Jonni Thunder! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a horror movie or two, make your own shot on video movie and as always support your local Horror host! So see you next time as we go on a case with DC Comics most underused detective!

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