Morlock 2001 Or Should I Say How I Would Save Comics!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink! Have you readers ever sat and thought about how little we as humans know about the depths of our oceans as well as the vastness of outer space? I mean think about it, who knows what ocean life lives on this planet with us that we have never laid our eyes on, and who knows what alien life forms are on planets we have yet to discover! Have you readers heard of this weird yellow blob like creature that can heal itself that was on display at a Paringings Zoo? Yeah, this slime mold has no brain and yet can problem solve; it can self heal quickly and can eat plus digest even though it does not have a mouth! The yellow blob creature can also move, and this strange fellow makes me think of strange creatures from space in media like the symbiote in Marvel Comics Spider-Man issues or even the meteor goo from the Creepshow segment “The Lonesome Death Of Jordy Verrill”…in other words Space and the Unknown is scary! And before we get into our comic review for this update that is the Atlas Comic series Morlock 2001, I do have something to say about the state of the comic book industry, but first let’s talk about ‘Wicked Lips” by Iggy Azalea!

As you long time readers know, I am a fan of rapper Iggy Azalea and in 2020 she released another E.P. that was called Wicked Lips and featured four tracks and was sold via her website. So is it any good? Well let’s give it a listen! Track one is “Lola” and features Alice Chater and is a great and catchy song. Iggy is on point with Alice singing the song’s hook and it will get stuck in your head! Track two is “Not Important” and has a catchy beat and is full Iggy. She seems to be rapping with an attitude on this track and this makes the song very entertaining, a solid song but not her best work. The third song is called ”The Girls” and is a girl power song that also features Pabllo Vittar and once more Iggy is on it with her lyrics and rap, while Pabllo delivers the song’s hook! A good song with some great Iggy rhymes. The final track is called “Personal Problem” and is a good track and feels like a diss track toward someone who has crossed Iggy, and reminds me of the classic 90’s style tracks of rappers who had beef. Over all this E.P. is a great release from Iggy to hold over fans for the next full album release. I am sure you are asking what I think the best track of this release is, well for me it’s Lola as it really is a fun and catchy song! If you like Iggy like I do, track this release down on CD, vinyl or MP3 as it’s worth a listen.

All through my youth into adulthood I have been a comic book reader.  I started like most kids my age, reading kids comics and superhero comics that I would pick up at the grocery stores or convenience stores. And characters like Spider-Man, Captain America, Incredible Hulk, Superman, Batman and Hawkman were all on my must read list and all mentioned still hold a place in my heart and their classic issues are all still read in my household. I can remember going to a UDF with my mom and brother and getting a copy of Transformers from Marvel Comics off a spinner rack and being so hyped to read it once I got home. I have other UDF spinner rack memories as well like getting the issue Justice League Of America # 240 and thinking the issue’s villain Dr. Anomaly was a major threat to our heroes. Of course he was not, but that issue made me think he was! I also have so many great memories of getting comic books from the magazine aisle at Big Bear, the grocery store my family shopped at, and rushing home to read the newest adventures of Captain America or The Hulk. Grocery stores and convenience stores were a perfect place for me to get comic books and helped not only get me hooked but also kept me hooked. But sadly for some reason comics have vanished for young readers to discover these comic heroes off the shelves of grocery & convenience stores.

Also when I was a kid, comic books used to target what kids liked via toys, cartoons, movies, video games and TV shows. Being a kid of the 80’s, you could get comics based on toys like Masters Of The Universe, Thundercarts, Silver Hawks, Care Bears, G.I. Joe, Transformers and M.A.S.K. to name a few. And cartoons like Camp Candy, Little Dracula, Flintstone Kids, Real Ghostbusters, Ren & Stimpy, Beavis & Butthead all had comic books as did WWF Wrestling, WCW Wrestling, ALF and so many more TV shows! Video games got into the action with Super Mario Brothers, Sonic The Hedgehog, Legend Of Zelda and Bayou Billy in readers’ hands delivering enjoyable new adventures for things we loved. And let’s not even get into the fact Star Wars, Star Trek, Last Starfighter, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Robocop, Terminator, Bill & Ted and many more film franchises as well got the comic book treatment. And what was nice was that at garage sales and antic shops you could find old comics based on classic cartoons and shows like Bugs Bunny, Yogi Bear, Happy Days, Welcome Back Kotter, Scooby-Doo, Mickey Mouse, Diver Dan and even The Rifleman…they had something for every kid of all tastes in entertainment. I mean heck even fast food restaurants had comics that they would give away free to kids, like who could forget Adventures Of Big Boy or even The Adventures Of Captain D’s? Oh and let’s not forget that Spider-Man with the kids show The Electric Company had the “Spidey Super Stories” issues for kids in the 70’s that were ones that I loved as a kid! But oddly enough, it seems Marvel and DC hardly focus on making comics based on cartoons, toys, movies or games…and fast food places have cut out the free comics from their menus a long while ago.

Another amazing thing that was around and a big deal when I was a kid was the Sunday Funnies that came in the Sunday newspaper and would feature comic strips of Garfield, Far Side, Denise The Menace, Family Circus, Blondie, Andy Capp and all the others and this felt like another great way to get us youngsters into comic books as who didn’t love Garfield in the 80’s. Every kid I knew read the comic strip and bought the paperback books that collected the strips. I as well always bought the Andy Capp books as for some reason I always liked the drunk…and his snack food. Those paperback comic strip books were so amazing, and I loved getting them from garage sales and book stores and still get them to this day and read them! One other thing I feel helped myself as well people my age and older get into comic books was magazines like MAD and Cracked that had humorous comic strips that made fun of popular movies, shows and pop culture of the time of release. Plus they delivered original characters like Spy vs. Spy as well the two magazines mascots Alfred E. Newman (MAD Magazine) and Sylvester P. Smythe (Cracked Magazine) both who were well loved goofy funny men. But with time and over blown prices, the parody magazines are a shell of what they were with MAD being the last man standing and hardly published. Sunday Comics in the newspaper are hardly looked at by kids nowadays as most households only get their news online. It’s a shame as these events as well are two more ways younger readers are not discovering the joys of reading comics and building the bonds with characters.

Back in the late 90’s, Marvel and DC really did something stupid, and no, I am not talking about flooding the market with mass amounts of comic as they tried to play land grab with each other for retail space. What they did that was dumb was take their issues out of grocery stores and convenience stores and only focused on comic shops. They also sold their souls to Diamond Distribution, a direct market company that has sucked the profits and fun out of comics for so long that in 2020, DC Comics tried to run far away from these tyrants of comic sales. And with kids no longer finding comics at grocery stores or convenience stores, they had to hope that the youngsters would wonder into their local comics shop and pick up issues and discover heroes and villains they liked all the while not being distracted by all the other items at the shop like toys and card games. Marvel and DC also got away from doing kid friendly comics and started to focus on the terrible 90’s trends of poorly scripted comics that only focused on art that would be cool for posters (thanks, founders of Image Comics!) and weirdly proportioned characters. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great comics during this time as well, but there was a ton of bad ones. And when Image Comics came into the game, it really became all about releasing first issues with Marvel and DC mostly doing gimmicks that flooded the market and caused the masses to buy terrible issues with the term collectors edition, and many buyers thinking the had their kids’ college fund in them. That’s right, the 90’s created more buyers than readers, and when the bubble busted, they found out that their Youngblood # 1, Superman # 75 and X-Men # 1 were not worth the thousands they thought. And with that, these buyers moved onto the next big thing they thought would make them tons of money…and these bad stories and generically created characters chased off actual readers.

I now want to share my thoughts on how Marvel and DC can not only save the comic industry but also themselves…and keep in mind I am talking about the mainstream comic industry as the indie world is strong and is delivering amazing comics for all readers! The first thing they need to really do is cut the land grab mentality. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. Deliver comics that are well written and drawn! Marvel and DC need to stop looking at each other as the enemy and realize that most comic readers will check out comics from both as long as again they are releasing worthwhile issues. Face it guys, comics is now a niche and we need to all work together. They need to stop bringing in celebrities in to write comics, many of whom don’t help sales and or even finish the run they were brought in to do, and yet cost the company money to bring them in! Again I must also say if the celebrity is really into comics and has a track record of not flaking on projects bring them in for sure, but don’t over pay them as we all know that there is no major money in comics now.

Stop with the massive events that crossover into every book they have going to finish storylines. This disrupts the flow of comics you are reading and if you don’t care about the massive meaningless “epic” crisis, it takes the fun out of reading your titles. I mean if I am reading Superman and am invested into what’s going on with him and his story, I don’t want a crossover with whatever is going on that’s taking away from his story. Don’t get me wrong, epic events are great and can be fantastic, but don’t overuse them. Make them mean something and seem special when they do come around. The current reason they are doing events is to try and pull in extra sales and to help lower selling books by tying them in. I cannot stress enough that when they do a major event, make it mean something that is not forgotten less than six months after the final issue in order to set up the next event.

At this point both Marvel and DC need to listen to their readers and not people on social media who are not reading comics. Don’t get me wrong, fans can be negative about everything, but don’t cater to people who don’t understand comics or ever read them. Everyone has an opinion, I mean heck this essay about the comic industry is just my opinion about what I think is wrong with the world of comics right now…but the difference is that I have been a comic reader since I was a kid and still read comics to this day. And Marvel and DC are also trying way too hard to be topical with current events and topics, and while comics have always tackled real life issues, the modern effort just at times seems soulless, hollow and done for their own back patting cheers.

Stop bringing the movie/TV universe into the main comic lines. Keep them separate as the movies work for the big screen and sometimes don’t on the pages of an issue as they change the history of classic characters as well as storylines in order to fit into the moves at times…and to that myself and I know several other readers say no thank you. If you want to do comics based on the films, create a new branch like “Marvel Movie Comics” and keep the movie lore to those issues. The comics need to be separate from the other media lore.

Both Marvel and DC also have to stop forcing characters into already established characters names and costumes! I am all for updating characters and allowing them to grow, and I am even fine with established characters taking the reigns like Sam Wilson (The Falcon) becoming Captain America as it made sense…but I don’t like when they take characters with no rhyme or reason and place them in that persona just to once more please non-comic readers or just plan lazy writing. And lazy writing is my next way they could make a change for the good. Stop many of these terrible stories and lackluster series from tarnishing characters and chasing off readers!

Getting young readers back into comics is a must! Don’t get me wrong, they do a great job of promoting characters to kids via movies, toys, video games, cartoons and other merchandise…but they have done a poor job of getting them to want to read a comic book. And in order for Marvel and DC to survive as comic book companies, it is very important that they bring in young readers who will grow up and continue to read them. Right now the vast majority of readers are older and with time and bad writing and art even that readership is shrinking. In order to get young readers into comics, they need to first get comics back into grocery and convenience stores and have comic racks in them and allow kids to discover the wonders of comics and get parents to buy them as impulse buys just like candy and soda. They need to lower the cover price, make the comics affordable and by doing so parents are more likely to buy them for their kids while in line as well as allows kids to once more afford them on allowance money. Think about it if a kid has $10.00 with modern comic prices they could only buy 2 issues and not have much money left for snacks…but if they make comics geared towards kids only say $2.00 an issue, they could buy 3 issues and still have a ton of money left over for snacks. Another thing they should do is make comics for kids that are based on popular cartoons, toys, video games and even novels that kids crave and by putting them in stores and in the right areas, kids will see them and want them! I mean stock them in the toy aisles as well as near the registers and even maybe get them in places like Family Dollar and Dollar General. Marvel is owned by Disney who owns the rights to so many amazing properties and they have a playground of cool IPs they could make into comics for kids, why not make comics based on “Pirates Of The Caribbean”, “Star Wars”, “Spider-Man”, “Lion King”, “Maleficent”, “Indiana Jones” and even “Mickey Mouse”! While DC is owned by AT&T who owns Warner Brothers who owns amazing IPs that would make amazing comic books for kids like “Goonies”, “Gremlins”, “Harry Potter”, “Willy Wonkda”, “Lego Movie”, “Scooby-Doo”, “Wizard Of Oz” and even “Bugs Bunny”. And yes I can hear you readers saying but Marvel and DC do have comics based on Star Wars and Bugs Bunny…and while they do indeed they are over priced and issues on Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes characters are not even stocked at many comic shops. Plus comics based on the likes of “Fortnite”, “She-Ra”, “Pokemin”, “Baby Shark”, “WWE Wrestler John Cena” and even something like “King Kong” or “Sports Mascots” would and could bring kids in. Make comics for kids and allow them to find them super easy and build the next generation of readers.

Again bringing kids back into comics is important for the survival of the mainstream industry, as is getting comics back in grocery stores and convenience stores! Writing and drawing better issues is a must to bring in new and older readers back. Stop changing the history of characters by bringing in the movie and show lore, stop putting characters in the role of established characters, enough of just following hot topics to make yourself seem edgy when most of the time it has zero heart to said story or character. I don’t want to read my comics digitally and nor do I like graphic novels but 100% offer them for those who do.   All I am really saying is make comics fun again and make changes soon before comics as we all know it disappears.

Wow, okay I am sorry that I had to get on my soapbox. Normally I only do that for Sparkle/Blood Scream Comic releases, but I just felt I needed to get this off my chest as Marvel and DC I feel could be doing way more to help the comic industry and save not only themselves but also comic shops from going the way of the dinosaurs and sent the to long box in the sky. And I have to stress they need to bring in newer and younger readers by creating high quality comics with character we love, new characters we care about and amazing storylines that draw us in! But let’s not talk about them anymore, and let’s take a look at Atlas Comics. a great indie company that was gone to soon who got lost in the shuffle of DC and Marvel’s retail land grab of the 70’s! Morlock 2001 was a series set in the future and follows a hero who was grown in a lab and helps make the world a better place. I want to think my pal Jason Young for these issues and making this update possible. I want to also remind you readers that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comics stay to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. Now lets see what Morlock 2001 has in store for us, and if it still holds the same feeling I had about it when I first read it way back many moons ago…see what I did there with the sci-fi themed reference?

Morlock 2001 # 1  **1/2
Released in 1975    Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics     # 1 of 3

In 2001 Professor Kroschell is a man that is doing experiments in his greenhouse in a time when the government has outlawed books and free thinking, and while attending to his plants and genetically made massive pods, the cops appear and murder the Professor in cold blood and take his pods to a government facility. Time passes and one of the pods opens and inside is a man that they name Morlock who can speak and the government takes time studying and teaches him, and when they find out his touch infects people with a deadly mold they use him to eliminate creative enemies of the state who write poems and novels. Morlock hates killing for them and is about to quit when he meets Lynda at the park she tries to friend him as well as talk him into staying with his government job and that killing for them is the right thing to do. Morlock spends time thinking about his job, and decides that he is quitting and when entering the office he over hears Lynda talking to his boss as she is not his friend and was hired by the government to try and get him to accept his job of killing for them! Morlock in a rage transforms into a massive plant like creature and rampages through the government lab and eats Lynda before making his was to Professor Kroschell’s burnt down greenhouse where he finds his journal and learns he was the first in a line of Pod Super beings that was being made to overthrow the government and that the monster inside him can be controlled by a serum that sadly has very little left. As Morlock wonders away the government has issued a reward on his head and has labeled him a threat to society!

This first issue of Morlock 2001 is a great start to this short-lived series and showcases a world that has our government outlawing creative works like writing, books and independent thoughts and when they kill and steal a professor’s experiment they get a tool in their quest to kill those who cross them when a man is hatched from it. But they soon learn that the being can not be controlled and he has his own mind on what’s wrong and right, and well when mad turns into a killing monster! Morlock himself is a man born from a pod who is a blank slate, but learns fast and hates that he has a touch that turns people into mold statues. He knows that killing is wrong, but is torn as those who are teaching him are insuring him he is doing the right thing. You see Morlock is a conflicted and confused hero who has a dark side much like the Hulk from Marvel Comics as if he gets mad he turns into a planet like monster that kills to stop his hunger. The bad guys of this comic is clearly the government and the cops who kill and bully the world in order to fall in line, in other words they are terrible tyrants who crave power and control. Lynda is a young woman you think is truly going to be the friend of the strange planet man Morlock, but you soon find out she is a bad person who is only being nice to him to get him to kill for his job. This is a great start to the series and is way better then I remember it being when I read it as a kid, as when young I thought it was a little boring as it was not action packed like the comics I was reading at the time like Batman and Captain America…now as an adult I find the story well paced and the character of Morlock to be interesting. The cover art his well done for the time and for sure would be eye catching for readers of Sci-Fi comics. The interior art is done by Allen Milgrom and is really sold and reminds me of Marvel Comics are from the same time period. I would say check out the first issue of Morlock if you are looking into Atlas Comics as it’s a good place to start. Now let’s see what issue two has in store for us and if it will be better then I remember!

Morlock 2001 # 2  **1/2
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics     # 2 of 3

Morlock is stuck in the city and the police and even citizens are looking for him as the government has a massive bounty on his head. And once found his only escape is jumping on a passing train and hiding in a freight-car and after passing out from the stress of the chase he is woken up by a trio of mask wearing goons who try and rob him of his gloves and they pay with their lives as the mold of his touch grows all over their bodies and kills them. But his luck runs out as he is discovered by a train worker and taken to the station, as the worker calls for the cops Morlock transforms into the Planet Monster and kills and eats the worker before escaping into the countryside. Morlock turns back human and takes a nap under a tree, but is woke by a scream of a little girl and he rushes to see what the trouble is and finds that she is surrounded by two shaggy leaf type monsters, and with the help of the girls father who uses a flamethrower on the monsters the threat is over and Morlock finds a new safe place with the father and daughter. The man is Bertling and he as well is working on making planet people in order to fight for freedom against the government, and his daughter is Karen a young girl who is blind but could regain her sight if only her dad could get the money needed to pay for the surgery. While Morlock sleeps, his new friend Bertling watches the news and decides he will turn Morlock into the cops in order to get the money to help his daughter see again. He then locks Morlock into a shed and rushes to call the cops, but Karen hears what’s happening and lets Morlock out and unlucky her he has transformed into the planet monster who kills and eats her! By the time Bertling gets out to the shed he finds the goo that is left of his daughter and swears to get revenge on Morlock who himself is now back human and is upset his monster side killed a kid.

This second issue is fantastic and brings a true monster side of Morlock out as he proves that he does not care who is in his way when he goes full monster! So like imagine if the Incredible Hulk on a rampage killed the kid hero team Power Pack and once turning back to Bruce Banner having the memories of doing so, cause that is the horror Morlock faces by the end of this issue! The plot of this issue has Morlock on the run from the government who want him captured, and also he finds that a scientist is working on more planet people like him, and sadly he makes an enemy of him! Morlock clearly in this issue hates that he can not control the planet beast that lives inside him, and while he kills also by his touch he also clearly has a good side as he want to save the day and do the right thing. And it’s really sad when he kills a total of four people in this issue and not even meaning to! Bertling is a scientist that is creating planet base people as well and his are always in full monster mode and attack anything, and when Morlock as his planet monster kills his daughter he becomes a true nemesis for our hero as he wants revenge more then anything! The Government is trying so hard to find their missing plant man and are hot on his trail. This is a very good issue and has a great mix of action and drama and adds a new layer to Morlock as it shows emotion and sadness from him. The cover is well done and reminds me of a 60’s X-Men Cover and the interior art by Allen Milgrom again and is topnotch stuff. Issue two is better then the first issue and once more is way better then I remember it being, and this is shocking as back in my youth when I discovered Atlas Comics thanks to Hal at comic shop Bookie Parlor I enjoyed almost all of them, and Morlock was on my list of so-so issues…and I am here to say I was wrong as they are great! Let’s see what issue three has in store for us, shall we?

Morlock 2001 # 3  **1/2
Released in 1975     Cover Price .25     Atlas Comics     # 3 of 3

The police bust into the lab of a scientist and murder him for owning books, while outside is Morlock who was going to this scientist for help and he needs more serum in order to keep his Plant Monster side at bay, but knows that he needs to turn into the monster to enter the lab and kill off the police and see if he can save the scientist! The police have burned all the books and the scientist lies dead on the ground, but what they don’t know is that the Morlock Planet Monster is outside and kills and eats many of the police before passing out and turning back into his human look. But something happens when the dead scientist as he rises and feels no pain, he is now calling himself the Midnight Man and he finds Morlock and drags him to safety! Meanwhile the government hears from two of the cops who ran away from the planet monster attack and is still gathering information about Morlock to bring him down as he is now considered a threat to the nation of America! Morlock finds himself in the now shut down New York subway system with Midnight Man and a band of freedom fighters who want to over throw the government, the group is calling themselves Midnight Men! As they are gaining numbers their hidden subway base is found out by the police and is under attack and as the Midnight Men are clashing with the Cops, Morlock is starting to turn into the Planet Monster when he is shot and killed by Midnight Man who in turns tells his team to retreat and is about to push a button that will blow them all up…and so ends the issue and the series!

I am going to say this I was wrong when I was a kid about Morlock, as reading it now as an adult I found it to be a really solid and fun read and showcases why Atlas Comics could have been a great alternative to DC and Marvel in the 70’s if they only would have lasted! The third and final issue in some ways is a major letdown as the focus goes off of Morlock and starts to focus on the scientist turned masked rebellion fighter Midnight Man and his band of fighters! Morlock in this issue goes on a rampage as the Planet Monster then passes out, wakes up asks a million questions and then when he is turning back into the monster he is shot and killed by a man he thought was his friend and could be savior…he is way to down played as he needs to be the hero not the generic Midnight Man! Speaking of Midnight Man he starts the issue off as a scientist who owns books who is then set on fire, who survives bad burns with no pain and then decides he is going to put on a mask and costume and become a leader of an army to fight the government, in other words he is very generic and lame feeling and way to much time is spent on him. The group the Midnight Men as well don’t do much besides mindlessly following Midnight Man and agree to is plans that are clearly thought up on the spot…in other words they are sheep that flow a clueless lamb who’s idea is to shoot and kill Morlock when he is the worlds best hope! The government is as cold blooded as ever as they not only want book readers, our heroes dead but also will kill their own to keep things secret. I think it’s a shame that this issue ends on such a bad cliffhanger as it looks like Morkock is dead and that the series would have continued to fallow Midnight Man as even the cover downplays the series original hero, I think a dumb movie was going to be made by this change for sure and I would guess this change was coming due to writer Gary Friedrich taking over and Steve Ditko who was on art as the idea of Midnight Man was very dated even by 70’s comic standards. The cover on this one was ok and pretty eye catching even if the books title Morlock was hidden by the Midnight Men logo. The Ditko art is great and has a real classic comic book look to it. Over all Morlock is a good comic book series from Atlas with the first two issue being sold and kind of jumping the shark with the third. Check out the artwork below to see the styles used in these three issues.

Morlock 2001 has a very interesting storyline that seems right at home with the Sci-Fi films of the 50’s-70’s like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Omega Man, Soylent Green, etc. and tells a cool story about a world that education and having your own thoughts makes you an enemy of the state. Just imagine if all your favorite books in the world where taken away from you and burned in the streets just so you could never read them and have your own ideas that where not given to you by your government…frightening isn’t it? I also really wish that Atlas Comics didn’t close up before they could truly finish their storylines, as how this stands now Midnight Man has not only killed Morlock but also himself and his men with one click of a button, and that’s truly a shame. But we can not cry over split milk and cant wish what never was meant to be, so with our next update we will be leaving the year 2001 behind and will be going out for Pizza and also talking about a Fast Food Mascot turned Horror Host and of course I am talking about the host of Master Pizza Theatre, the one and only Rocky Rococo! So until next time read an Atlas Comic of three, watch a Sci-Fi film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Oh and do you like to buy a full pizza or by the slice?

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!

Body Count The Forgotten Horror Series From Aircel

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place for me to share my past, present and future! On this update, I want to chat a little about independent horror comics and my love for them! Growing up I was a avid comic reader, and super heroes like “Captain America”, “Batman”, “Spider-Man”, “Superman” and “The Incredible Hulk” were what I was reading at almost any given time as those were comics that we could find at the local grocery stores and comic racks at convenient stores. Besides the superhero comics, I also read lots based on toy lines, books and cartoons like “G.I. Joe”, “Masters Of The Universe”, “Transformers”, “Conan The Barbarian” and “Thundercats” that were also easy to find. The only horror comic titles I had were copies of “Werewolf By Night”, “Swamp Thing”, “Tomb of Dracula”, “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”, “Godzilla” and “Man-Thing,” all mostly obtained at garage sales that acted as another source of a way for me and my brother to get comics. Growing up in a small town like Waynesville made it super hard to find out about other comics as it did not have a comic store (besides antique store Spencers that carried back issues of Power Man and Secret Wars 2). The closest ones around were Dark Star in Yellow Springs, Mavericks in both Kettering and Centerville and my all time favorite store Bookie Parlor that was also in Dayton/Kettering, and my parents would only take us to these stores from time to time when I was really young and more so when I was around 12 or 13. I can remember discovering that comic companies like NOW, Innovation, Eternity, Malibu and Epic were cranking out comics based not only on super heroes but also horror and science fiction comics and being blown away at the huge selection that comic shops had us readers able to choose from as I was used to the magazine section of Big Bear and Hearts in Lebanon where I got most of my comics from other than the subscriptions that my Mom and Dad would finally break down and get me and my brother. The good old Marvel Comics subscriptions through the mail was where I would get my issues of Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Amazing Spider-Man delivered to my waiting hands, but the worst part about it was our mailman would fold the issues in order to place them in our mailbox leaving the issues with a bend down the center! But while I loved my super hero adventures, I was a Monster Kid so I also loved to read about the night time terrors of Dracula from the pages of Tomb Of Dracula, the inner struggle of Jack Russell the Werewolf By Night, the stomping rampage of Godzilla as well as the burning touch of Man-Thing who I always enjoyed more than Swamp Thing in the comic world…I know it’s because I am a Marvel Guy. The only independent horror comics that I owned and had access to were from Gold Key and Whitman and were such things as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and some very beat up and in some case coverless issues of Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery that my brother Bryan shared with me. But my love for horror comics really exploded when visits to the local comic shops started to happen more often and my parents started to enjoy the fact I was reading a bunch and encouraged me to choose comics and even paperback novels I would enjoy.

The first time I walked into the Bookie Parlor, I was a fan as the owner Hal and his wife Sue were super nice to me and my brother, and after coming in for a few times and spending money Hal would start to let me know when he got new back issues of Hulk and Captain America in. At the Bookie Parlor, I discovered Atlas Comics and its characters like The Brute, Son Of Dracula and their series like “Tales Of Evil”. And at Bookie Parlor is where I found comics by Epic based on the Clive Barker films “Nightbreed” and “Hellraiser” and started my obsession with the Nightbreed and Rawhead Rex cross over. It was also where I discovered Eternity Comics and the fact they made comics based on Full Moon Entertainment films likes “Subspecies” and “Puppet Master” that I had to have and read. Claypool was another comic company Bookie Parlor introduced to me who made comics based on “Elvira Mistress Of The Dark”!

At Mavericks Cards and Comics in Kettering, a place I would later work for, I met owner Jack who always treated me and my brother like we were his friends and would also give us discounts as well as free comics.  During these early years is when I met Jason Young who years later would be one of my closest friends as well as Jeremy Hoyt! While shopping Mavericks I discovered NOW Comics who made comics based on the TV Show “Twilight Zone” and horror film “Fright Night” as well as Innovation who did comics based on the films “Psycho”, “Child’s Play” and “A Nightmare On Elm Street”! Another independent comic company Mavericks introduced me to was Apple who did weird adult horror comics like “Dracula In Hell” and another company, Blackthorne, who shocked me with comics based on the film “Waxwork” and TV Show “Werewolf”. Between these two stores my want and need for horror comics was in full effect as I would buy whatever ones I could get my hands onto, from comics based on killer “Jack The Ripper” to ones based on classic monsters like “Phantom Of The Opera” and even ones that I had no idea what they were even about before buying like “Body Count.”  All I knew was that I needed to read them all! During this time I also started buying Topps Comics as they had many amazing titles out like “Dracula Frankenstein War”, “Bram Stokers Dracula”, “Satan’s Six”, “Jason Goes To Hell” and “Jason vs. Leatherface” and with Dracula Frankenstein War started my first ever comic store pull list. During this time was also the birth of me having to have all the comics based on horror films as many of the films I loved had adaptations and new comic killing adventures for them as such titles as “Re-Animator”, “Halloween”, “Army Of Darkness”, “Night Of The Living Dead”, “Blair Witch Project”, “Pumpkinhead” and so many more from many different comic companies all had comics based around them. For me the comic killing sprees for these movie monsters was another way to add to the characters’ legacy and a way for fans to get a little more while waiting for the next film.

During this time as well I didn’t give up on Marvel Horror as I went out of my way to get more and more issues of Werewolf By Night and the others as they also filled the need to read horror comics. During this time was a true magical age for horror comics as besides the companies mentioned above you had Arrow, Fantaco, Aircel, Northstar, Chaos, Dead Dog, IDW, Avatar, ONI, Fangoria and many others publishing and making horror themed comics from the late 80’s thru the mid 2000’s with each delivering blood and gore filled issues. But during what I call the Golden Years of Horror Comics also came the crash of the 90’s when Marvel and DC once more went to war to dominate the shelf space at comic shops and by putting out so much product, they forced many amazing companies to go under as did cut throat politics in the industry among small press companies. The companies that have fallen to the comic rack in the sky that I miss the most and wonder what they would be making now if still around have to be Topps Comics, Fangoria Comics and Dead Dog Comics all of whom were some of my favorite companies going and all who delivered some amazing horror comics into readers hands. During these years horror comics were coming out less and less, and many of them were not based on horror films as they were just original titles mostly based on vampires or zombies with 2003’s Walking Dead from Image being the biggest horror comic title in years.

We are now in 2017, and over the past two years, independent horror comic companies are back on the rise and are making some amazing and entertaining stuff. While the bigger companies like Image, IDW, Boom and Devil’s Due are putting out horror comics with titles like Lord Of Gore, Godzilla, Kong Of Skull Island and Walking Dead, it’s also the smaller guys who are coming into your comic shops and online stores with some amazing stuff that is bringing back the boom of these comics that has been long dead for to long.

My favorite small press company is Eibon Press, run by Shawn Lewis who is also the owner of t-shirt company Rotten Cotton.  They are doing amazing comic books with releases based on Italian director Lucio Fulci movies like “Zombie” and “Gates Of Hell”! They also have titles based on such films as “Laserblast”, “Maniac” and many more including an original series called “Bottom Feeder” in the works. Another cool thing about Eibon is that they have what’s called the Eibon Sleeve that is like a record sleeve for your comic.  They also back it with all types of great stuff like stickers, trading cards, bookmarks and even vinyl records!

Action Lab has a sub company called Danger Zone that has put out some great spooky series and mini series like ones based on Full Moon films “Puppet Master”, “Gingerdead Man” and “Trancers” as well as original titles like “Final Plague”, “Southern Dog” and “Blood & Dust”. While it seems at this time the Full Moon comic deal has come to an end, I have faith that their editor-in-chief Shawn Gabborin will unleash more horror themed comics to the market.

Small publisher Lion Forge has released the series “Night Trap” alongside other horror themed books like “Mad Balls” based on the spooky toys. This company prices their comics at a great price at $2.99 each and sadly seem to be gone or on hold as I have not seen much from them in Diamond Previews as of late. But while their fate of physical comics is up in the air, they still tried to make a small mark for Horror Comic readers.

Rough House Publishing run by Derek Rook has brought back two classic horror comics from the graveyard as they have released “The Dead Omnibus” as well as new issues of “Gore Shriek” with a comic based on the remake of the film “Nightmare City” coming soon. This is a company I cannot wait to see what else is coming from as rumors of music and other cool media items have surfaced as has lots of gossip about what’s in store for the comics they are doing.

The Blood-Shed Publishing has a series called “We Kill The Dead” on the way that showcases over 20 movie slashers from independent horror films doing battle with a government elite team. This is a mini series and rumors of new horror comics from them have been floating around. This is one comic company that is attached to a horror news website that you might want to keep your eyes on.

Space Goat is a company that has been around since 2014 making comics as well as board games. They have also delivered some great horror comic titles like “Evil Dead 2”, “The Howling”, “Zombie Camp” and “Forty Coffins” to name a few. And I also want to give a shout out to Titan Comics who have been doing their best at delivering entertaining spooky comics like “Anno Dracula”, “It Came” and even have Hammer Horror comics with “The Mummy” and rumor of “Captain Cronos Vampire Hunter” coming soon! Plus American Mythology is doing some great comics and even one based on the Adam Green film “Hatchet” as is Alterna who has titled like “Croak” and “The Chair” to name a few so as you can see the world of horror comics has lots of great companies doing amazing things.

When opening Sparkle Comics alongside Jason Young in 2016 and after getting friends and amazing artists like Damien Brunk, Jason Gilmore and Scott Scarborough joining the comic making family, I knew we had to make horror comics so we even opened a branch we are calling Blood Scream Comics that is slated to showcase gore and more mature style horror comics with the all ages and teen horror comics coming out via the Sparkle label. Sp far for Sparkle Comics, we have the free online comic called “Don’t Play With Monsters” that features foolish kids coming across monsters who are not as cute as they appear. “Shocking Macabre Theater” is an anthology comic that has Dayton, Ohio horror hosts Dr. Creep, A. Ghastlee Ghoul and Baron Von Porkchop sharing twisted tales with a stranded motorist. We also have “The Wolf Hunter” based on the shot on video film of the same name that was directed by Matt Hoffman who also played the title role and has The Wolf Hunter killing werewolves in the state of Ohio. We have a series called “Unknown Creatures” that features tales of cryptozoology creatures with the first issue being about the Flatwoods Monster! We also have 12 page issue # 0’s in the works that are based on shot on video films from Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video that will feature stories based on “The Sadness”, “Farmer Joe” and “Scars” and will allow our readers the chance to vote on which horror baddie will get a full # 1 issue! With many more amazing horror comic titles in the works, we hope to entertain readers with spooky, gory and twisted tales. One thing I am the most proud of is that via Blood Scream Comics we will be doing issues based on the films of Paul Naschy as well as have comics based on films from such companies as Warlock Home Video, Massacre Home Video, Brain Damage Films, Scream Time Films and Nevermore Productions in the works as well as comics based on pro wrestlers who fit the horror theme! So there are lots of great spooky reads are coming your way via Sparkle and Blood Scream Comics.

Sorry for being so long winded; it’s just I really do think that it’s a great time to be not only a horror comic reader but also just a comic reader in general. And I really do feel that horror comics have a bright future with many of these companies turning out very high quality comics that are well written and well drawn driving the market back up for the independents. But let’s get focused on the comic I have chosen to review for this spooky epic update and that’s Body Count, a silly horror comedy comic that I discovered at Mavericks Cards And Comics when I was a teen and bought and read and enjoyed for the wacky killer and the large chested heroine…oh and the over the top kills. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic, Ebay and Lone Star Comics for making this update possible and having these issues in stock so that I could own them again and cover for this review. So if you’re ready, check your brain and taste at the door and let’s dive into a late 80’s and early 90’s horror comic that will have you screaming with fear and laughing after with joy. I also want to note that even as a youngster I never could find the 4th and final issue so this will be my first time reading how this story ends! Oh yeah I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story! So lets take a look at Body Count!

Body Count # 1  **1/2
Released in 1989    Cover Price $2.25    Aircel Comics    # 1 of 4

Winter Falls College is a high priced school where the students are watched by the hotheaded Dean Burns and make fun of simple minded janitor Wanker. Professor Chill is a science teacher and has caught the eye of his student and assistant Becky who will does what she can to get him to notice her.  From short shorts to tights shirts, she brings her A-game, and together they are working on a formula that will in theory turn a nerd into a jock.  After they leave to get some dinner, a pair of students looking to steal knock over the formula and rush away telling Wanker about the mess in the lab. Wanker, being simple minded, takes a taste of the formula goo and it starts to melt him and flings his body into a deep sea divers suit.  He dons the helmet and becomes a crazed killer, and his first victims are the two thief kids that meet their ends with a mop through the head and a telescope through the eyes! When Prof. Chill and Becky return to the lab they find the dead bodies as well as the missing formula and call Dean Burns who heads to the lab to cover up the murder. Meanwhile Wanker is still on his killing spree and drops power cables into the pool killing three students by electrocution causing a power outage and as he is leaving the pool area, he catches Dean Burns and makes him drink Drano! As Chill and Becky leave the lab, they find the bodies and guess that Wanker must have drank the formula and is now a killer and is headed toward town!

This comic is just as silly and over the top as I remember it being when I first read it in my mid teen years. The plot is very much like an 80’s B-movie horror film as a geek puts on a mask and murders those who tormented him, the setting is a college, and the victims are all mean spirited and selfish people who are killed in horrific ways. Professor Chill is our hero, and while smart, he is also pretty goofy and has a hint that he does not really know what they heck he is doing in the lab.  While a goof, he still remains calm with all the bodies pilling up around him and it’s clear he is thinking of ways to stop the killer. Becky is a typical hot chick who showcases her amazing body and uses it to get her way, but when the killing starts she also becomes hysterical and screams her head off in fright! While she is just a scared woman now, it’s clear that she is in for the long haul with her man Prof. Chill. Wanker is just a simple minded janitor who is mistreated by both staff and students and after tasting the foul smelling formula goo, he transforms into a brutal killer who is on a rampage of revenge.  He also turns ugly and disfigured from the goo and wears a diver’s helmet as his killing mask. Wanker is cold and brutal with his best kill being the telescope through the eye as it’s so brutal and gross, it made my own eyeballs hurt! The gore is slightly over the top.  Not on the level of Arrow Comics’ The Dead but it’s more brutal than IDW’s The Fly: Outbreak so Gorehounds have a little splatter to make them happy. The true nature of the comic is also horror comedy as many silly lines are delivered by characters as is cheap sexual jokes that are fitting and add to the cheesy fun of the comic. The cover is okay and does not truly do justice to what the comic is about and the art inside is cartoonish and done by Dave Cooper, fitting for this style of horror comic. Over all, this is an above average horror comedy comic that acts as a build up for this four issue mini series.

Body Count # 2  **1/2
Released in 1990     Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     # 2 of 4

Professor Chill and Becky, along with a device they created that picks up the chemical that created the killer Wanker, head out into town to see if they can find him before he kills again. Meanwhile two fisherman in a boat are not so lucky as the now farting and stinky Wanker sets his sights on them and kills one by crushing his head and leaves the other in a state of shock wandering the roads when he runs into Chill and Becky who take him into town and try to warn the law of the killer on his way. Meanwhile Wanker has found a new pair of college victims who are on a motorcycle joyride as he decapitates the man with a fish and causes the woman to be flung from the bike and smash into a tree! Chill arrives at the police department, and the Sheriff and Deputy rush off to the College before they even could hear why they are running! As Prof. Chill and Becky wonder what they can do to stop Wanker, the police run into the killer that leaves the Deputy dead from a ricochet bullet and the sheriff is bull rushed into some bushes, After the screaming stops Wanker appears, this time around bigger in size!

The rampage of Wanker continues as he makes his way closer to town with murder and destruction on his sick and twisted mind. Professor Chill and Becky come up with a tracking devise that goes off when the killer is around and can also be used to save others, as it’s a warning to the approaching death dealer. They also try the best they can to get help and rush an injured scared to death man to the local law office only to be greeted by the world’s worst police officers! So as you can see the pair of scientists have done all they can up to this point to try and save lives of the townspeople. The Sheriff and Deputy are as backwoods as they come and think everyone is an alien or a communist and are easily slaughtered and out smarted. Wanker is now turning worse and is smelling terrible, becoming more ooze-based with even more of a thirst for blood. He is slowly making his way to the town and killing almost anyone that gets in his way, but oddly enough he allowed one of the fisherman to live! It’s shown that bullets can’t kill and stop Wanker as he is shot a number of times by the Sheriff and simply shrugs them off like Michael Myers from Halloween. Plus at the end of the issue, he grows in size and makes you wonder: did he eat the sheriff or can he body jump like in the films The Hidden and Jason Goes To Hell. The best kill in this issue has to be the decapitation of a collage age brat on a motorcycle with a fish! It’s an over the top and dumb kill but is hands down my favorite in the issue. The blood and gore is once more present and not terribly over done. The cover this time around is better and shows Wanker in all his slimy glory, and the art once more is done by Dave Cooper and is well done for this style of horror comedy comic. And just like the first issue, this one is holding up to what I remember and was a fun read and makes me look forward to reading the next issue again after all these years.

Body Count # 3  **1/2
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.25    Aircel Comics    # 3 of 4

Becky and Professor Chill are at the bar in Winter Fell and trying to get the locals to believe them about the Wanker Killer that is heading their way, but no one does no matter how hard they try. Meanwhile Wanker stalks and kills a young man on a date by ripping his head off and than turns his attention to the young man’s girlfriend who is running toward town to warn others. Chill and Becky next try to warn the town barber shop of the killer’s rampage but she as well meets her fate by the hands of Wanker who snaps her neck. Chill and Becky run around town trying to warn people of the killer after the barber shop also gives them the high hat as does the post office and the mayor who allows his bodyguard to beat up Chill on his front lawn. In the end Chill and Becky spot Wanker now in town and run to the town’s switchboard operator, and they phone the National Guard and talk to General Howitzer who tells them they are on their way.

The plot thickens as now Wanker is in town and no one believes the warnings being given by Chill and Becky who try every major place in town to spread the coming of a killer. Chill, who feels responsible for the Killer as his formula is what turned a nerdy janitor into a head crushing killer, must push as hard as he can to inform the townspeople as their deaths would be on his hands…kind of. After being beat up and called a communist by all the towns people he almost just walks away to let them deal with the approaching death, but he is reminded that he loves this little town that has acted as away for him to score with collage chicks and get away from his nasty wife. Becky tries to help spread the warning the best she can, but sadly she is just eye candy and no one really listens to her. Wanker is shown to be using the Sheriff’s body as a suit as he has half way crawled up the bodies back and controls it. Wanker is stronger now and after killing a couple on a date has entered town to cause some major damage. This issue only has two deaths and while violent, they are not super gory and a little toned down, with the best being the head rip off from the shoulders of the boyfriend. The story in this issue reminds me of “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” and “The Blob” as no one is listening to our heroes as everyone thinks their story is to over the top, and this brings more of the B-Horror Movie aspect out of this comic series. The cover is pretty good and once more captures what this series really is all about and the interior art is still done by Dave Cooper and is fantastic for this goofy, gory comic. This issue is filled with lots of humor and once more is a mix of redneck humor, slap stick and adult humor all done at the expense of Becky. Another fun issue just like I remember it and is the lead up to the last issue in the Winter Fell rampage of Wanker and his over sized divers helmet. So let’s move onto the fourth and final issue and discover how Wankers is stopped…or is he, as this will be the first time I have read issue four as I never could find it, so it will be a first time read for me!

Body Count # 4  **
Released in 1990    Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     # 4 of 4

Professor Chill and Becky wait in town, and the pressure hits Chill who feels bad about the rampage of Wanker as his formula goo is what created him! But before they can wonder if the Army can stop the rampage, they show up lead by the crazed and kill hungry General By-God Dry-Heaves McArthur who’s first plan of action is to blow up the bar with his tank as Wanker is inside killing off drinkers, but his attack fails to stop Wanker! The next target is the barbershop as Wanker enters it and kills off the barber and a man looking to get a shave, this time The General hits the business with a missile from a helicopter…it as well fails as Wanker is spotted again alive and unwell! Chill informs them that if they can capture it alive he might be able to cure Wanker and the Army turns on the Professor calling him a monster lover and boot him and Becky off the tank and head back into the hunt for the killer. As Becky and Chill hide the Army finds Wanker who is not scared of the tank and guns and charges causing The General to panic and order for the big bomb to be dropped, as the plan does so and the atomic bomb goes off our story ends with Chill hugging Becky and wondering what effect the radiation will have on Wanker!

The final issue is by far the weakest issue and I am pretty sure even in my middle teens I would have not been a super fan of this overly plotted army based issue that seemed to be rushed and with a very weak ending for the killers rampage. Prof. Chill and Becky are once more thrown to the side when the army gets mad that they want to cure the killer and not kill him like they want to do, but by the army turning on them and chasing them off is what saved their lives as they were able to hide as the bomb was dropped. These lovers are more just waiting to be saved as they have done all they could to save the townspeople and watch in horror as not only Wanker kills those who were rude to them but so does the army! The Army and their leader General By-God Dry-Heaves McArthur are fools who like to blow things up and really have no plan of action of how to really stop Wanker besides just that blow things up…reminds me of the army in Return Of The Living Dead. The townspeople are all crazy and rude and none of them want to believe that a killer is heading their way ready for mayhem and murder, and they get what’s coming to them for being such scummy people. Wanker who is still using the body of the Sheriff as almost a suit of armor is finally in town and wants to make his body count rise hire and hire by knocking off the towns people, and he proves that he is not even scared of a whole army as when they finally have him cornered he don’t back down he lunges forward to take them all one and their tank! His brutal and quite nature makes him like Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th) and Michael Myers (Halloween) but not taken as serious by the writer and creators of this comic mini-series. The issue has some blood, guys and kills but they seemed very toned down this issue as does the art done by Dave Cooper that seems very much rushed and lacks the appeal and moody nature of the issues that came before it. The cover as well is not all that great as it just showcases the army…yep, not the killer or even something that shows it’s a horror comic at all! While this might not be the best Independent Horror Comic series of the late 80’s and Early 90’s and by most accounts I am sure this is forgotten and issues can be found in .25 or $1.00 boxes around the world at comic shops, to me it is one that stands out and one I can remember picking up from Mavericks all those years back and reading them while sitting in my room in Waynesville and wondering just how the story was to unfold as I never could find this final issue….and after all these years finding a copy and reading it, while I am little disappointed in the way Wanker’s rampage came to an end I do enjoy the fact it was left wide open for another mini series that sadly never was made. If you love horror comics from the 90’s that have a hint of humor in them, I suggest you check out Body Count, as it is sure to please or at the very least entertain you slightly. Below is some artwork samples from the Body Count series and I should also note that artist Dave Cooper is known for his work on such comics as Suckle and Bent as well as he worked on Nickelodeon Magazine and co-created the cartoon “Pig Goat Banana Cricket” for the station.

I see lots of great horror comics on the horizon for us readers, and it really is a great time to be alive and a comic book fan. Body Count was one of the early independent horror comics I read and after all these years, it kind of holds up as I still find it entertaining, silly, bloody and gory with a lackluster ending. I would love to hear from you friends and readers about what horror comic you first remember reading when younger and even what horror comics are you reading now.  Leave me a comment as I would love to hear from you about this. So for our next update we are leaving Winter Fell behind and joining a underrated Superhero from DC Comics, the super android The Red Tornado! So until next time, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you soon for some DC Comics talk…