Monday, November 17, 2014

Poe 1961, Pt. 1

(Continued from Poe 1960, Pt. 7)

STRANGE TALES  83

"MASQUERADE PARTY"

Here's one that might have completely escaped my notice, except for running across mention of it at several different sites.

Marvel Comics (at times in its early history sometimes referred to as Timely or Atlas) was always a 2nd-level publisher-- somewhere in the middle as far as quality was concerned-- whose specialty was flooding the market with imitations of whatever was then currently popular.

STRANGE TALES was one of many such anthology titles that started out with "horror", but then toned it down when the Comics Code came in, doing instead what might be deemed "mystery" stories, or, later, "giant monster" stories.  (Later still, "super-heroes" and other things-- but that's another project.)

What we have here is is a story that is either inspired by, or, a loose adaptation of...

     "THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH".

Perhaps the recent Roger Corman Poe film HOUSE OF USHER was part of the inspiration?  (Particularly, the fact that Corman had been considering "Masque" for its follow-up?)

     This was the 4th comics version of this story, following...
Marvel's ADVENTURES INTO WEIRD WORLDS #4 (Spring'52),  
Charlton's THE THING #2 (Apr'52), and  
Continental's CLASSICOS DE TERROR #9 (1960),
     ...the latter, the year before.

Unlike the previous two, but like the previous Marvel version, this was more in line with the 2 early EC Comics Poe adaptations, in being only very loosely inspired by the source material.

Supplying story, art & quite probably dialogue as well is STEVE DITKO, unquestionably one of the most unique stylists and voices in the history of American comics.  As I read this and studied the art, I became convinced that "Cara Frost" was modelled on a real person.  She reminds me either of a young Bette Davis, or perhaps an "evil" Lucille Ball.  Any ideas?  Enjoy!

STRANGE TALES  83
cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers   (Marvel  /  April 1961)
"MASQUERADE PARTY"  
     (adapted from "The Masque Of The Red Death")  /  Version 4
Story & Art by STEVE DITKO  /  Page 20
Page 21
Page 22
Page 23
Page 24
ALMANAQUE FANTASTICA AVENTURAS was one of many anthology reprints from Editora Taika in Brazil.  This particular issue features reprints of American comics, including stories by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko!

ALMANAQUE FANTASTIC AVENTURAS  1
cover by SERGIO LIMA   (Editora Taika  /  Brazil  /  January 1973)
CHAMBER OF CHILLS was originally a horror anthology from Harvey Comics that ran from 1951-54.  As with countless other defunct titles, the name was revived, in a very half-hearted, tacky way, by Marvel, in 1973.  The first 7 issues were a mix of new and reprint material (a sure sign of someone just trying to clog the newsstand shelves with "product").  After that, it went all-reprint.  The 16th issue featured a reprint of this story.  Note how, while the original publication of this story did not feature on the cover, that due to a word balloon, the new Kane-Palmer art actually BLOWS the shock ending of the story right on the cover!  It takes a special kind of incompetence to to that.  (I looked it up-- Len Wein was the Editor at this time!  So HE was probably doing the cover copy.)

CHAMBER OF CHILLS  16
cover by Gil Kane & Tom Palmer   (Marvel  /  May 1975)
SINISTER TALES  203
cover by BILL EVERETT   (Alan Cass  /  England  /  1984)
Finally, here's a tribute by artist James Edward Clark from the "Repanelled" blog.  There's a whole slew of these sort of things there.  Not really my thing, but it seemed worth grabbing & re-posting here.
Copyright (C) Marvel Comics.

Scan of STRANGE TALES #83 cover from the Heritage Auctions site.
Scans of STRANGE TALES #83 interiors from the Four Color Shadows blog
     with special thanks to Steve Thompson!
Scan of ALMANAQUE FANTASTICA AVENTURAS #1
     from the Guia Dos Quadrinhos site.
Scan of CHAMBER OF CHILLS #16 from the Heritage Auctions site.
Scan of SINISTER TALES #203 (1984) from the GCD site.
Scan of James Edward Clark illo from the "Repanelled" blog.

Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa

For more:
Read about Edgar Allen Poe at Wikipedia.

Read about Marvel comics at Wikipedia.
Read about Steve Ditko at Wikipedia.
Read about Steve Ditko at the Steve Ditko site.
See more of Steve Ditko's work at the Ditko Cultist blog.
See more of Steve Ditko's work at the Steve Ditko Comics Weblog site.

Read about THE CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER at Wikipedia.

Read about THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH at Wikipedia.
Read the complete story at the xroads.virginia.edu site.

     Audio:
Hear the Basil Rathbone recording!
Hear the CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER episode!

     Comics:
Read the Bill Everett RED DEATH adaptation!
Read the Bob Forgione RED DEATH adaptation!
Read the Manoel Ferreira RED DEATH adaptation!
Read the Steve Ditko RED DEATH adaptation!
Read the Frank Springer RED DEATH adaptation!
 

Read the Tom Sutton RED DEATH adaptation!
Read the Nico Rosso RED DEATH adaptation!
Read the Don Heck RED DEATH adaptation!
Read the Dino Battaglia RED DEATH adaptation!   (coming soon!)
Read the Ricardo Villamonte RED DEATH adaptation!
 

Read the Richard Corben RED DEATH adaptation!
Read the Wayne Howard RED DEATH adaptation!   (
coming soon!)
Read the Francisco Agras RED DEATH adaptation!   (
coming soon!)
Read the Flavio Colin RED DEATH adaptation!
Read the Auraleon RED DEATH adaptation!   (
coming soon!)


     Misc:
Read the Steve Ditko HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Steve Ditko RED DEATH adaptation!
Read the Steve Ditko RAVEN story!

See my Steve Ditko tribute!
See Steve Ditko Books IN PRINT at Steve Ditko Comics Weblog.

See my Edgar Allan Poe overview at this very blog!

(Continued in Poe 1961, Pt. 2)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Poe 1960, Pt. 2

(Continued from Poe 1960, Pt. 1)

American International Pictures  /  Roger Corman

 "HOUSE OF USHER"

This is a special page, a diversion from the purely comics-based focus of this project.  While there have been countless Poe-based films over the decades, arguably the most signnificant may be the 1960 "HOUSE OF USHER", produced and directed by Roger Corman, and with a screenplay by Richard Matheson.

According to the book "BRILLIANCE ON A BUDGET", which was both an informative and highly amusing overview of Corman's career, the director had gotten tired of the usual habit of doing a double-feature for the drive-in circuits in B&W over a 2-week schedule.  Inspired by the revival of 1930s & 40s Universal horror films on television, and the recent gothic revival in color from Hammer Films in England, he proposed a single color film with a 2-week production schedule, based on the works of Poe.  "USHER" had been filmed multiple times by then (and would be again in the years since), and like Arthur Conan Doyle's "THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES" or Bram Stoker's "DRACULA", has continued to prove popular with audiences.

Expanding a short-story to feature-length can prove challenging, but Matheson, already a veteran of science-fiction and horror, including Rod Serling's tv series THE TWILIGHT ZONE, was more than up to the task.

Movie poster, painting by Reynold Brown
As anyone following this blog may have noticed by now (either from the comics versions or from reading the actual Poe text), in the original story, the writer, an old friend of Roderick Usher, goes to visit him at his family home in response to an urgent plea for help, to see if he can be drawn out of a terminal state of anxiety and depression.  Alas, it doesn't work, and once there, he briefly sees Roderick's deathly-ill sister Madelaine, who dies shortly after.  Rather than bury her immediately, she is interred temporarily for a 2-week period, as part of a bizarre family "tradition".  Afterwards, Roderick's uneasy behavior continues to increase, until he at last reveals that many in his family suffer from catalepsy-- an illness giving the appearance of death-- and that he is terrified that his sister may have been buried alive!  When this proves to be the case (Roderick's overly-acute sense of hearing revealed to him long before this that she was, in fact, not dead yet), and she violently breaks free of her coffin and confronts him, the shock causes him to die of a heart attack, even as she too expires.  Fleeing from the scene, the narrator then witnesses the house ITSELF collapse and vanish into the swampy mire it stood in, all trace of both it and the family that resided there, gone forever.

British movie poster, artist unknown
Richard Matheson's screenplay, while maintaining intact the physical structure of the short story, actually totally upends it, as far as the characters and their relationships go.  In Corman's film, Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) arrives to visit Madelaine (Myrna Fahey), who he met, fell in love with and became engaged to while in college in Boston.  He has never met Roderick (Vincent Price), and is greeted with overwhelming resistence and suspicion.  Rather than a mere tragic, innocent victim, the film's Roderick becomes a genuine villain-- as he DELIBERATELY has his sister Madelaine buried alive, knowing full well she isn't dead, explaining at length that he "had to do it".  The film's Madelaine appears full of life and healthy, totally at odds with the corpse-like appearance she has in Poe's original story, thus making her fate all the more tragic and uncalled-for.  Even the loyal family retainer Bristol (Harry Ellerbe) is not innocent in the film, for as well-meaning as he seems to be, he knew full well what was going on, and was merely following his master's orders.  This is revealed when he asks, "Sir, was it really necessary?"

Mark Damon, Vincent Price, Myrna Fahey
Each time I watch the film, I continue to marvel at how well-constructed the storyline is, and what an amazing miracle Matheson succeeded in pulling off.  Although so different from the original, the film really works on its own terms.

Philip approaches the House Of Usher
It worked so well that Corman's bosses at American International insisted he do another one.  After briefly considering "THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH", instead, he tackled "PIT AND THE PENDULUM".  When I began watching Corman's Poe films in sequence (he wound up doing a total of 8 before finally calling it quits), I couldn't help but notice that in many ways, "PIT" contained many elements already seen in "HOUSE".  It reused so many, in fact, beginning with both films starting with someone arriving at the mansion only for the butler to try turning him away, that I began to jokingly call the film "HOUSE OF USHER 2".  But rather than be a cheap knock-off sequel, it actually builds and improves on the earlier film, in the same way as James Whale's "THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN" did.

What really caught me by surprise while doing this Poe comics project, was noting the various elements from the CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED version of "USHER" that turned up in the 2nd film.  This included the physical appearance of Vincent Price's character, the general look of the mansion's interior, and the appearance of the family physician --all of which were NOT in the 1st film.  The comic would have been in print when the film was done, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that it may well have inspired Corman, Matheson, or production designer Daniel Haller!

One of the special features in the film were a series of paintings, mostly portraits of the Usher ancestors, done by artist Burt Schoenberg.  In keeping with this blog's focus on art, here they are!

The House (allegedly painted by Roderick himself)
"Anthony Usher – thief, usurer, merchant of flesh"
"Bernard Usher – swindler, forger, jewel thief, drug addict"
"Francis Usher – professional assassin"
"Vivian Usher – blackmailer, harlot, murderess, she died in the mad house"
"Captain David Usher – smuggler, slavetrader, mass murderer"
--Roderick Usher to Philip Winthrop

The was, apparently, no comics adaptation of this movie.
However, there would be for several of the sequels!

Copyright (C) 1962 by Alta Vista Productions.

For more:
Read about American International Pictures at Wikipedia.
Read about Roger Corman at Wikipedia.
Read about Richard Matheson at Wikipedia.
Read about Vincent Price at Wikipedia.
Read about the film at the Cinefantastique Online site.
Read about the film at the My Movie Addiction blog.
Read about Burt Schoenberg's work at The Girl Who Knew Too Much site.

Read about Basil Rathbone at Wikipedia.
Read about THE WEIRD CIRCLE radio show at Wikipedia.
Read about Gladys Thornton at the IMDB site.
Read about the ESCAPE radio show at Wikipedia.
Read about Paul Frees at Wikipedia.
Read about THE CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER at Wikipedia.
Read about Kevin McCarthy at Wikipedia.
Read about Arnold Moss at Wikipedia.

Read about THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER at Wikipedia.
Read the complete story at the xroads.virginia.edu site.

Hear the Basil Rathbone recording!
Hear the Gladys Thornton WEIRD CIRCLE episode!
Hear the Paul Frees ESCAPE episode!
Hear the Kevin McCarthy CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER episode!

Read the Gus Schrotter HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Harley M. Griffiths HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Harry Harrison HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Steve Ditko HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Tom Sutton HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Jerry Grandenetti HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Cirilo Munoz HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Martin Salvador HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!

See my Edgar Allan Poe overview at this very blog!

(Continued in Poe 1960, Pt. 3)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Poe 1960, Pt. 1

(Continued from Poe 1959, Pt. 1)

MAD  55
Poe-Etic Injustice Dept:  "THE RAVEN"

So like, everybody remember that Harvey Kurtzman dude?  He split at one point, and Albert B. Feldstein stepped into the breach.  This was shortly after William Gaines decided to give the entire rest of the comic-book industry, who had corrupted the Comics Code to put him out of business, THE FINGER.
He transformed his highly-successful color comic, MAD, into an EVEN MORE highly-successful B&W magazine.  Excempt from the Code, it sold among the magazines.  And like, MAN-- it SOLD.

So it was that 6 years after MAD (the color comic) tackled Poe's...

     "THE RAVEN"

...MAD (the B&W magazine) decided to do it... AGAIN.  Wow.  But while Harvey Kurtzman kept every word of Poe's poem intact, and simply went wild with the pictures, writer Paul Laikin went completely off his head with the wordage.  Can you dig it?  Well, you'll have to... and groove on Mort Drucker's art while you're at it.  Mmm.

Hey.  Special thanks right now to "Pappy", without whom I might never have had a chance to read this myself.  What a guy!

Finally, a special note to the purists out there.  When published in the magazine, the first 4 pages were presented as 2-page spreads, requiring you to read across the top and then the bottom of both pages in sequence.  Obliviously, this would not work on this blog.  The pages, therefore, have been RE-FORMATTED to fit my screen.  If you have problems with your screen, well, that's not my problem.  ENJOY!

P.S.:  I really like the mouse!

MAD  55
cover by KELLY FREAS   (EC  /  June 1960)
"THE RAVEN"  /  Version 9
Adaptation by Paul Laikin  /  Art by MORT DRUCKER  /  Page 44
Page 45
Page 46
Page 47
Page 48
Copyright (C) Entertaining Comics (EC).

Scan of MAD #55 from the GCD site
Scans of MAD #55 interiors from "Pappy"

Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa

For more:
Read about Edgar Allen Poe at Wikipedia.

Read about EC Comics at Wikipedia.
Read about MAD magazine at Wikipedia.
Read about Albert B. Feldstein at Wikipedia.
Read about Kelly Freas at Wikipedia.
Visit the Kelly Freas website!
Read about Paul Laikin at Wikipedia.
Read about Mort Drucker at Wikipedia.

Read about Basil Rathbone at Wikipedia.
Read about Vincent Price at Wikipedia.
Read about Christopher Lee at Wikipedia.

Read about The Raven at Wikipedia.
Read the complete poem at the Poetry Foundation site.

     Audio:
Hear the Basil Rathbone recording!
See the Vincent Price performance!
Hear the Christopher Lee recording!

     Comics:
See the James William Carling RAVEN illustrations!
See the William Ladd Taylor RAVEN illustrations!
See the Gustave Dore RAVEN illustrations!
See the Galen J. Perrett RAVEN illustrations!
See the John Rea Neill RAVEN illustrations!   (coming soon!)

See the Ferdinand H. Horvath RAVEN illustrations!
Read the Harvey Kurtzman / Will Elder RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Wally Wood RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Mort Drucker RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Frank Springer RAVEN adaptation!

Read the Nico Rosso RAVEN adaptation!
Read the 2 George Woodbridge RAVEN adaptations!
Read the Richard Corben RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Peter Cappiello RAVEN adaptation!

Read the Paul Coker, Jr. RAVEN adaptation!   (coming soon!)
Read the Steve Ditko RAVEN story!
Read the Jeff Bonivert RAVEN adaptation!
     (Coming soon:)
Read the Ricardo Leite RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Jerry Gersten RAVEN adaptation!

Read the Gahan Wilson RAVEN adaptation!
Read the 1st Luciano Irrthum RAVEN adaptation!
Read the 2nd Luciano Irrthum RAVEN adaptation
     at the Canibuk blog!
Read the Thomas Eide RAVEN adaptation!
Read the 2nd Richard Corben RAVEN adaptation!

Read the Eureka Productions RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Stuart Tipples RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Mangosta RAVEN adaptation!
Read the 3rd Luciano Irrthum RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Yein Yip RAVEN adaptation!

Read the David G. Fores RAVEN adaptation!
Read the 3rd Richard Corben RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Edu Molina RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Duncan Long RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Terrier Studios RAVEN adaptation!

Read the Pete Katz RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Rebecca Tough RAVEN adaptation!
Read the Gareth Hinds RAVEN adaptation!

See my Edgar Allan Poe overview at this very blog!

(Continued in Poe 1960, Pt. 2)