Friday, January 9, 2015

Poe 1969, Pt. 2

(Continued from Poe 1969, Pt. 1)

CHAMBER OF DARKNESS  2
"THE DAY OF THE RED DEATH"

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.

For about a decade their massive output was stifled after their publisher Martin Goodman had foolishly allowed his accountant to con him into shutting down his own distribution company to sign with someone else, who his accountant was probably getting kickbacks from.  Too bad he didn't realize his new distributor was under investigation by the Feds for racketeering charges, and within months was shut down, taking Goodman's comics with them!  He was only able to keep going by signing with yet another outfit-- who was owned by National (later DC), who limited his monthly output.  This went on until he SOLD his company to Perfect Film, who quickly moved his operation to another distributor.  Before long, Marvel's output increased dramatically.  Sales were going down across the board, but by putting out MORE and MORE product, he was apparently able to make up the losses.

One of the genres Marvel had long specialized in was horror.  This had been mostly eliminated in the 60s in favor of superheroes, but when they started losing sales, other genres were looked into again.  In late 1969, 2 new anthologies debuted-- TOWER OF SHADOWS and CHAMBER OF DARKNESS.  It became obvious to me that Goodman liked doing 2 bi-monthlies instead of 1 monthly, as not only did each book sit on the newsstands a full month longer before being returned, but it also took up twice as much shelf-space, thus squeezing out his competitors.

Despite the MOUNTAIN of horror books Marvel published at the height of the early-70s horror boom, strangely enough, I've only been able to locate 3 POE adaptations from that period.  Which brings us to...

     "THE DAY OF THE RED DEATH".

This was the 8th comics version of this story, following Marvel's ADVENTURES INTO WEIRD WORLDS #4 (Spring'52), Charlton's THE THING #2 (Apr'52), Continental's CLASSICOS DE TERROR #9 (1960), Marvel's STRANGE TALES #83 (Apr'61), Dell's THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH Movie Classic (Aug-Oct'64), Warren's EERIE #12 (Nov'67), and Taika's ALBUM CLASSICOS DE TERROR #3 (1967), the last one about 2 years earlier.

The art was by veteran Don Heck, perhaps most famous for the early run of Iron Man in TALES OF SUSPENSE.  Although his style fell out of favor late in his career as far as super-heroes went, in his early years he was revered for his work in various genres, including crime, westerns, romance, and... HORROR!

Perhaps to set this one apart from the previous adaptations (especially the excellent Tom Sutton version only 17 months earlier), adapter Roy Thomas elected to set the story decades in the future, at a time when the entire world was wracked by plague, and only the corrupt super-rich could afford "safety".
To my astonishment, I found this EXACT same idea was reused 6 years later,
as an episode of The CBS Radio Mystery Theater!!!

In what appears to have been a last-minute change and butcher-job paste-over, the regular "host" of the magazine was removed and replaced by 2 images of the company's Editor-- with Thomas' dialogue done in the style said Editor was known for.  However, for ETHICAL reasons, I have SURGICALLY REMOVED those images along with the connected dialogue, and REPLACED them with one of MY OWN characters, Professor Willard Wier.  Apart from being the leader of a team of crime-fighting monsters, he's proven here to be a good horror host as well.  Since 1975, he's consistently been one of my favorite and most fun characters to write.  (The credits have been modified as well to reflect the changes.)

The cover is listed at the GCD as by John Romita.  I suppose... Most of Marvel's art from this period had a far-too-"generic" look to it anyway.  At least there's NO mistaking Don Heck's work for anyone else's!  This is possibly my favorite story from him during this entire period.

CHAMBER OF DARKNESS  2
cover by JOHN ROMITA   (Marvel  /  December 1969)
"THE DAY OF THE RED DEATH"
     (inspired by "The Masque Of The Red Death")  /  Version 8
Adaptation by Roy Thomas  /  Art by DON HECK
Revised art, text & lettering by HENRY KUJAWA
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
EL ENTERRADOR  4
cover by JOHN ROMITA   (La Prensa  /  Mexico  /  April 1970)
Both TOS and COD began featuring reprints only a few issues into their run, always a bad sign and an indication of just how cheap the publisher really was.  The story was reprinted in an Annual just 3 years after it originally appeared.

CHAMBER OF DARKNESS SPECIAL  1
Cover by JOHN ROMITA   (Marvel  /  January 1972)

Original story & art Copyright (C) Marvel Comics
Revised art, text & lettering Copyright (C) 2014 HENRY KUJAWA
Professor Willard Wier is a Trademark of HENRY KUJAWA

Scan of CHAMBER OF DARKNESS #2 from the Heritage Auctions site.
Scan of CHAMBER OF DARKNESS #2 interior page 1
     from the Random Happenstance blog.
Scans of CHAMBER OF DARKNESS #2 remaining interiors
     supplied by Mike Cannon, Jr., with special thanks!
Scan of EL ENTERRADOR #4 from the Bartolomeu40 blog.

Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa

For more:
Read about Edgar Allen Poe at Wikipedia.

Read about Marvel Comics at Wikipedia.
Read about Roy Thomas at Wikipedia.
Read about Don Heck at Wikipedia.
Read about John Romita at Wikipedia.

Read about Basil Rathbone at Wikipedia.
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.

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

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!)


See my Edgar Allan Poe overview at this very blog!

(Continued in Poe 1970)

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