Growing up a comic reader in the 80’s and 90’s, the market was flooded with lots of options with many coming from the big companies like Marvel, DC and Archie, and during this time a powerhouse in the world of comics was Malibu! And like all good independent comic companies, they did a line of Horror Comics and even had some they mixed with humor. For this Undead File, we will be taking a look at one of their more humorous offerings in a series called Bones! This weird comic series is one that has been in my life since 1987 when one of my Dad’s close friends bought my brother a stack of comic books for his birthday. The first issue was in that pile, and it quickly became a comic that we both read and I became a fan of. And now in 2018 I am going to revisit that first issue and read the rest of the issues for the first time! So grab your anti zombie repellant as we head into the old bone yard and see what flesh eating ghouls we can find along the way.
First I want to give a crash course history lesson about Malibu comics before we get to all the spooky dead stuff, so sit back and enjoy. Malibu Comics was created in 1986 by Dave Olbrich, Tom Mason and Chris Ulm and was an independent comic company that was trying to get a foothold in the comic industry. They started very small with their releases being creator owned titles that were in black and white. Their first release was Ex-Mutants with other titles like The Fist Of God, G.I. Mutants to follow, among many others. And very quickly they also gobbled up Eternity Comics, Aircel Comics and Adventure Publications and in 1989 those imprints did the Horror, Action, Drama and Adult Comics while Malibu was just for Superhero titles now. In 1992, Malibu was the company who published the first books from Image Comics and helped lead the fight against Marvel and DC that were dominating comic shops. Before 1993 Malibu had been releasing some great titles under all its imprints, but it was The Ultraverse line of comics that made them truly stand out by delivering cool new high quality hero characters like Prime, Night Man, Mantra and Sludge to readers. They also upped their paper quality and used a great digital coloring process in order to make them stand out from their competition that now included Image Comics who became self published. Their Ultraverse comics did well for them, and many of the characters became popular with comic readers even getting the characters toys and in the case of Night Man, his own Live-Action TV Show! In 1994, they even opened up a branch called Rock-It Comics and did comic books based on popular bands like Black Sabbath, Pantara and Lita Ford.
But sadly the comic industry was in a decline due to the main two, DC and Marvel, pumping out gimmick filled releases of death of heroes, hologram & foil covers and all other types of cash grabs. Sadly comic buyers were limiting what comics they bought at the time and companies like Malibu suffered as readers dropped them from pull lists and still stayed with the comics of Marvel and DC. Malibu tried to stay afloat by cancelling lower selling titles. By mid 1994 DC Comics had shown interest in buying Malibu to own their characters as well as their coloring style, but by November of that year Marvel Comics stepped up and bought Malibu Comics and barely used the characters and had them mostly in crossover books before they disappeared shortly after 1996. Many rumors have went around comic shops on why Marvel does not use the characters anymore with much of the talk coming down to money as it’s said that for every Malibu title created now in comics, the creators of the characters get 5% of profits. Other rumors that have been spoken are that the characters just do not fit in the currant Marvel plans all the way to the small hum that something is in the works with Malibu characters coming back to the Marvel Universe. With the character Topez showing up in Thor: Ragnarok, maybe there is hope. I would love to see Night Man in Daredevil comics, Prime join The Avengers and Prototype join sides with Iron Man. Will this happen in the future? Well, that’s up to Disney and Marvel.
One of the world’s scariest places is said to be in the underground of Paris, France and houses over six million skeleton human bodies that many have been their sense the 1800’s! This place is called the Catacombs Of Paris and is a maze of tunnels with no lights that is filled with the dead and long maze like tunnels that easily a person could get lost in. Being lost in the catacombs I am sure is a nightmare for many of you and in fact this has even been the topic for some horror movies like “As Above So Below” and “Catacombs” showing that this area really is a scary place. In the early 1990’s an explore went into the catacombs armed with his video camera and shot all that he seen down in the tunnels that are forbidden for people to go into, while walking around he finds lots of rooms filled with bones and skulls and even some drawings on the walls from explores of the past. But during his time down their something seems to spook him and clearly as the tape goes on he is slowly building up to a panic as he realizes he is lost and the tape ends with him dropping the camera into some water on the ground and he runs off into the dark! So was this man truly in a state of fear that allowed him to make a terrible decision by leaving behind his camera that had the only source of light for him or was he being chased and possessed by the spirits of the dead? No one know for sure if this man ever made it out of the catacombs as his body nor he has ever been found. This lost explores video can be found on YouTube and aired on the ABC Family show The World’s Scariest Places”.
Zombie Cop is a 1991 shot on video film directed by J.R. Bookwalter that is a cheesy horror film that I really do think would make a great comic book series that mixes the elements of action, horror and camp. So for you readers that don’t know what this movie is about here is the write up from our friends at IMDB “During a drug raid, a narcotics officer confronts a strange Voodoo priest named Dr. Death, who is chanting. The officer and the priest shoot it out and they both wind up dead. Later, the two rise from their graves and return to the land of the living as zombies. Dr. Death is resurrected with a new mission in mind, to take over the world. The “zombie” cop enlists the aid of his old police buddies to stop the mad priest.” yeah it’s as cheesy and over the top as it sounds. My idea for this comic series would be that it would be set in modern times and Zombie Cop is still working for the side for good, but something wicked this way comes when a relative of Dr. Death shows up in town and wants revenge and raises demons to run amuck and take down Zombie Cop. The comic would have the odds against Zombie Cop and the demons would be very mean spirited and brutal in their killing ways and would be more gory than the film. If we did the book at Sparkle Comics I would say that for writer besides myself I would like to see Natalie Claude tackle it and if I had to choose an artist I would say Marc Gras Cotes or Jason Gilmore would be my choice. If another company was to tackle this I would like to see Rough House Publishing or a returning Fangoria Comics do it. Will Zombie Cop ever be a comic book…only time will tell.
Speaking of Horror Movies on April 15 2018 I held another Horror Movie Marathon at my cousins Stephen’s house that was filled with good food, great friends and lots of movie watching! The attendance was small but once more filled with fans who love Horror and love to be around friends and were Stephen Alexander, Theresa Daniels, Juliet Fromholt, Josh Weinberg, Jason Young, Jeremy Hoyt, Todd The Fox, Queen V, Sarah Sharp and Garrison Kane. As always we started this event at 7am with the first film being the 1945 film “The Vampire’s Ghost” that was about a Vampire in Africa that is the target of voodoo and Americans who are wise to his blood sucking ways. The low budget Horror Comedy “Swamphead” was next and about a cursed killing severed head that targets a group of friends out camping. The third film of the day was released by Dead Alive and was called “Mr. Ice Cream Man” about a murderous merchant of ice cream who targets a young man on his birthday. The 2016 film “The Crooked Man” took the fourth film spot and was about a nursery rhyme legend that is real that goes on a killing spree years after a young woman is charged with one of his past crimes is freed from an asylum. The werewolf film “Night Shadow” was next and was about a werewolf on a killing spree that leaves on family and the cops into a world of horror. The sixth thriller of the day was “The Headhunter” as 1989 release about a evil sprit brought on by voodoo on a killing spree in Florida and the two cops that have to stop it from claiming more heads for it’s trophies. “Sweatshop” was next and followed a massive brute in a wielders mask killing some party planers and goers during a warehouse rave. Next we had another Horror Comedy that was called “Bonejangles” that has a supernatural killer along with the cops who captured him being stuck in a small town that is being over taken by an evil witch and her undead minions, oh and did I mention Elissa Dowling stars as the witch! We needed to add some Italian Horror to the mix so “New York Ripper” was next up and is a slasher film about a duck-talking killer who targets women in the streets of the Big Apple. What would a Horror Movie Marathon be without a Fullmoon Entertainment film so I unleashed “Unlucky Charms” a film about a leprechaun and his magical friends being used by an aging model to drain the youth off models on a reality TV Show. Next up was the locally shot creature feature “Don’t F*** In The Woods” about a giant turtle like humanoid that kills any one foolish enough to make love in his woods. And our final film of the night was the 1976 Horror, Martial Arts and Gang movie called “The Devil’s Express” that has a New York kung-fu master taking on a Chinese demon freed in the subway tunnels by the foolish actions of on of his students. Over all another great all day Horror Movie watching marathon spent with good films, great friends and tasty eats.
Like always this was a super fun event and one that I always enjoy doing with friends! Like before I have chosen Stephen to give you his choice for the Golden Turkey of the day as well as his top three films as he was along for the horror ride from start to finish. Me being the host of the event and this fun little blog will go first and for me the Golden Turkey of the day had to go to Night Shadow as I found it to be a very boring and uneventful werewolf movie that sadly barely showed the beast until the very end, this one I had high hopes for and it just didn’t deliver a scary werewolf horror film. I also want to say that Swamphead almost made my Golden Turkey pick as it was really silly, but at least I chuckled a few times and that made it safe from getting the worst pick. The # 1 film of the event for me was New York Ripper as it’s a sleazy Italian Horror flick done by the godfather of gore Lucio Fulci and has a weird duck talking killer and plenty of nudity and gore to please fans of splatter. # 2 for me was The Vampire’s Ghost as I loved the mixture of voodoo and vampire and the African setting helped add to the over all mystery and thrill. I also really liked the bug eyed evil performance of Jon Abbott who played the vampire. My # 3 was a little harder to pick as I enjoyed many of the other films but I think I would have to go with Sweatshop as it was an over the top splatter film that had lots of brutal killings done to goofy raver kids. But to be fair Headhunter and Devil’s Express almost took this spot as all three were close in enjoyment for me and all for different reasons. For Stephen the Golden Turkey of the marathon was Swamphead as he had this to say about it “It was just completely ridiculous and there was so much that just made no sense.”! His # 1 film was The Vampire’s Ghost as he said this about it “I have an affinity for those old black and white horror films”. His # 2 was The Crooked Man as he almost was going to make it his number one. And his # 3 was Devil’s Express! And for a runner up he wanted me to let you readers know that it was New York Ripper. So with another Horror Movie Marathon in the books, I look forward to the next one as they really are a wondering time to be had.
The Golden Massacre award that is presented to the one killer who has the biggest body count of the day went to The Beast from the film Sweatshop as he smashed and crushed a little over 20 people in the movie! One of the best kills in the movie for this Horror fan was when The Beast rams a woman’s head through a metal grate on an elevator leaving her face looking like hamburger meat…really brutal. So here is to you The Beast for being the killing machine of this Horror Movie Marathon!
So now that the dead are all around use we should maybe find some shelter in this old tomb and hope that all the old undead that use to live here are out trying to find some human flesh to eat. So as we close this rusted old door I would like to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and making this update possible. As the sounds of the dead echo off these stone walls I want to also remind you all that 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 the Undead Files and take a look at Bones!
Bones # 1 ***
Released in 1987 Cover Price $1.95 Malibu Comics # 1 of 4
Seymour was an advisor to the King of Myrill and was well respected and loved his pampered life. The Kingdom was set as they had technology, food and peace, all was perfect…that is until the King died and with this his loyal soldiers and Seymour were murdered and placed in the tomb with him. Years pass and Seymour wakes up in the tomb rotting and yet alive and surrounded by The King and his Men who as well are rotting and they all have a hunger for human flesh! But things soon get bad for Seymour as he is picked on and bullied by his fellow undead in the tomb and finally decides that he has had enough and walks out of the tomb for good and into the Kingdom that is now in ruin and ran by Trolls! After being caught and beheaded by the Troll King, our skeleton hero as only a head pieces a new bottom together from bones in a body pit and is able to escape the Trolls but during his escape falls into a water well and washes up on shore and found by two young alive children.
This first issue starts off with a bang as we have Seymour’s skull flying through the air and landing in a massive body pit. From their we are treated to his back story of being a man who had the respect of his King and the Kingdom’s people, to becoming an Undead Ghoul who is teased and bullied to becoming a Skeleton on a mission to live and make his own way in the world of chaos around him. And reading this comic again after all these years, I found it still as enjoyable and still as brutal in spots as I did back then with the most gruesome scene being when the guards spear and kill Seymour in order to bury him with the King. Seymour as a man and undead is a peaceful man who enjoys to write plays, poems and stories and is wise and smart when coming to dealing with other people. But because he is such a good guy also makes him an easy target to be bullied by those who are stronger than him, but during this first issue we see him not only use his mind to survive but also his killer instinct as he takes out his anger on two sarcastic skulls stuck in the pit with him using a large rock. Plus at the end of this issue it makes you wonder what adventure awaits Seymour and will he eat the kids that find him to stop his hunger. The King and his Men are just undead ghouls now who just want to eat flesh and stay hidden in the tomb and play cruel pranks on Seymour. The Trolls are large, fat foul creatures who are lazy and as well like to kill the living and anything else including their own kind! Plus they are simple minded and that’s why Seymour is able to trick them and escape their Kingdom. The cover for this comic is very eye catching and I love the fact our hero is pounding on a tomb door for his life as a shadow of a Troll is sneaking up behind him. The interior art is also fantastic and is the style I love for independent Horror Comics of that time and is done by Bryon Carson who I would have love seen do a few comics based on Horror Movies. So to sum it up issue one of Bones is fantastic and really makes me look forward to reading the next issue, and whats cool is this will be the first time I have read the rest of this series!
Bones # 2 **1/2
Released in 1987 Cover Price $1.95 Malibu Comics # 2 of 4
Seymour awakens and is hungry and wants to scare and eat the kids, but he soon finds out these kids are brats and they rip him apart and fling his skull into a hot water gauzier firing him our like a cannon ball and through the window of Ursula who works for the Boy King Drake in the Kingdom of Spontoon and after Seymour and her chat she takes the skull to the King and his Knight Maddog who want to know the location of Myrill as they want to steal all the gold that has been left behind. Maddog bullies both Seymour and Ursula until he gets the location and after doing so he and his men set out to bring back the riches and Seymour tells Ursula that he has sent them on a death mission as the suns heat and the goblins that await them will for sure end Maddog and his men’s lives. Ursula tells Seymour about the murder of the prior King and that he was beheaded and she thinks Maddog was the murder! Seymour then tries to get Ursula to be on his side to take over the Kingdom and his plan includes killing the Boy King and she does not want to have anything to do with it and plans to smash Seymour with a hammer when Maddog enters the room with an arrow in his forehead and looking for answers to why he was backstabbed.
This second issue has Seymour once more being the victim of bulling as two youngsters rip him apart and torment him for their own amusement. And after this torment he at least finds himself in a Kingdom with what he thinks is a new friend. In this issue Seymour is really loosing his human side as he really wants to eat humans and is going through a weird power hungry rage as he thinks that he should have taken the thrown at least once in his lifetime. I also like that in this issue he uses his mind in order to try and get ride of the King’s right hand man who has also has a very dark side. Ursula is a woman who practices necromancy for the Kingdom who is very bored in her job and hates most of the people in power as she thinks they are the ones who beheaded and murdered the former King. Sadly for her the scheme of Seymour has put a target on her back as the Knights think she was apart of their slaughter. The Child King Drake as well seems bored with being in charge and just wants toys and ponies! The real evil s.o.b in this issue is the head night named Maddog who is calling the shots more than the King and who uses intimidation and death to get what he wants, and he is so strong that even an arrow to the head does not stop him! This issue leaves us on a major cliffhanger as well as Ursula is about to smash Seymour and Maddog has returned and is in a clear rage….wonder who will survive and what will be left of them! The cover of this issue is ok and is nothing special and looks like a number of other independent comic covers that are filling quarter and dollar bins the would wide. Bryon Carson once more does the interior art and it’s as good as the first issue and I must say I enjoy his work. Well this second issue is a solid follow up and proves this series has gas in its tank and makes me look forward to reading issue three.
Bones # 3 **
Released in 1987 Cover Price $1.95 Malibu Comics # 3 of 4
Maddog is not pleased and wants to kill both Seymour and Ursula and his blind rage is making him charge like a bull, and Ursula uses a spell and makes a T-Rex appear to distract the mad knight. But the T-Rex does not slowdown Maddog who attacks the beats and rips it apart with his bare hands and Ursula pulls a trap door switch that causes her and Seymour to fall into a bottomless pit. The Pair fall for days and finally find that the pit is not so bottomless as they land in a village filled with simpleminded people who believe that they are Gods that have fallen from the sky. Old Coot is their King and he has Seymour and Ursula locked into a hut, were Seymour comes up with a plan to rule the village and build his own empire! In the morning as Seymour speaks one on one with the villagers telling them that they are all now soldiers and not farmers, Ursula goes to Old Coot to try and warn him of the uprising, but the old King admits he don’t care as he himself only uses the villagers for his own gain and as they talk Old Coot is crushed by a fallen horse that is ridden by Maddog who has lead his army into the bottomless pit to get revenge on Seymour and Ursula! The Knights kill most of the villagers and take Ursula prisoner and football kick Seymour into the ocean.
This third issue is a weird one…wait this whole series is weird this one is just a little more odd as the plot is Seymour and Ursula falling throw a pit and landing in a weird village that thinks they are Gods that ends up being under attack from Maddog and his knights who want to take over the village and get cold revenge. Seymour in this issue is more and more power driven as he lies in order to gain power and wants to cause a war and eat human flesh! Seymour has slowly turned more and more evil over the past issues and it’s clear that while he likes Ursula he would turn on her if she got in his way. While Ursula is a good person who is a bad Necromancer and has been stuck in bad situations cause of all the ego driven power of Seymour. King Old Coot is a weird and yet wise man who has himself used his people to make his own life better, very cool and odd character. Maddog is one mean knight who is willing to fling himself and his men into a believed to be bottomless pit in order to get revenge on people who set him up to die, oh yeah and he uses his bare hands to kill a T-Rex! This issue slips a little and is not as horror and comedy filled as it seems more like a comic that had a little more of a message about peoples will to follow something. I do like that this issue leaves you on a cliffhanger as Seymour has been kicked out to sea, Ursula is a prisoner and could be killed by Maddog who has now taken over the village and claims it for his own! The cover of this issue is a little weak and once more screams cheap bin, the interior art by Bryon Carson is solid and good and to sum this one up its middle of the road a good issue but nothing special. So lets move onto the fourth and final issue of this cool Malibu Comic series.
Bones # 4 **1/2
Released in 1987 Cover Price $1.95 Malibu Comics # 4 of 4
Seymour’s head is eaten by a giant whale and while inside the belly of the beast he meets the skeleton heads of a pirate ship crew as well as see’s their ship and their Captain Long John Ugly who is mean but is quickly smashed by Seymour who finds a new body in the whale and now Seymour is the Captain and he comes up with a plan that frees him and his new ship and crew from the Whale. Seymour is filled with power and rage and wants his new undead pirate crew to help him get revenge on all those who he thinks have wronged him like Maddog, The King, Ursula and the Trolls and while heading their way they come across a small boat that is filled with wise and spiritual men who are all slaughtered by the word of Seymour who in turn feels bad for what he has done and this makes his crew kill him…and this time Seymour is dead and wakes up in Hell! He soon finds that he is on trail for all of the crimes he has done while undead and his being trashed by all those he has killed with the now dead Ursula being the only one to defend him. In the end Seymour defends himself and as this is only his first offense is sent to ghoul training and will allowed to go back to his Undead world, were he will be a better scary creature of the grave.
This final issue in the journey in the life and undead life of Seymour takes us from him building an army of dead skeleton pirates to being killed again and being put in the hot seat while being judged in Hell and while it was a cool idea with some cool moments sadly the send of Bones is a little of a letdown. Now let me explain why I feel this way during this four issue mini series we watch as Seymour was the most trusted right hand man of the King, then in death becomes a victim of bullies who then turns into a power hungry skeleton who wants to be a ruler who later feels bad for all the mayhem he has caused only by the end to be right back to being a power hungry goofy ball flesh eater…so while the character grew in the end it all was really the same for him. I really did like how in this issue all of the people/creatures he killed or lead to be killed all come back to share their story of how terrible he is so the likes of King Old Coot, Captain Long John Ugly and Ursula to name a few are all in Hell at his trail and it made for a great way to cameo all the characters from the past issues. Seymour while kind of a jerk in much of this series still is in his own way a likable main character who does do bad things that ends up hurting himself and others, but seems to really feel bad when he is faced with the horrors he has done…well that is until he is told he will get another chance. Seymour really is a character you find yourself loving and hating at the same time and that perfect for an undead skeleton who’s the star of a horror comedy comic. Ursula the poor Necromancer who meets her fate at the hands of the Knight Maddog is swept up into this twisted web of goofy horror thanks to Seymour and its kind of a letdown as your not really sure how she died. The Skeleton Pirates are a cool touch and were in this comic long before they became cool again in Independent Comics with Captain Long John Ugly and his dead parrot being the standouts. So while this series ends it clear that maybe another mini series might have been in the works as the ending is very lackluster and ends on a “Here We Go Again” kind of joke…pretty disappointing really. The cover for this issue is fun and pretty eye catching with the use of the color orange, and the interior art done by Bryon Carson is good stuff. So while the final two issues in Bones are just ok the first two issues are lots of fun making this a Horror Comedy Comic that I would recommend to fans of this style of humor and indie comics. Check out the art below to see the style of Bryon Carson as well as the glory of Seymour and his friends.
So it seems like the dead are starting to return to their graves and I really had fun looking back at Bones and reading some of the issues for the first time on this update. While doing this update I really did find myself missing Malibu Comics as they did so many great comics from Horror all the way to Superheroes and offered something different from Marvel and DC, but with Marvel owning them and not doing anything with them for many, many years we can only hope that they decide to someday bring the characters back to comics. But for our next update we are leaving the world of the dead behind and will again try to travel to space with Juliet as she takes a look at Forbidden Planet! So until next time read a independent comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. Hope your ready for a space time adventure my next update!