Archive for the ‘Christmas Covers’ Category

Posted Saturday, December 24th, 2022 by Barry

Vault of Horror (1950) 35

“Ho, Ho, Ho! And what would you like for Christmas? Have you been a ghoul little child! I hope so, for with the Christmas spirit all about us, the editors thought it would be fitting to give our story for this issue a little Christmasy feeling! It’s Christmas Eve! And all good little children are tucked in their beddy-byes fast asleep! Ho! Ho! A perfect atmosphere for a Christmas tale, eh?

…And all through the house…”

Vault of Horror (1950) 35

So begins Santa’s narration for the cover story of Vault of Horror issue 35.

The cinemaesque storyboard-pages tell the tale as a noir piece of fiction, shadows and angles as much a part of the plot as the characters. Two feet and a dead body book end pages two and three of the story; a killer in heels absently singing a holiday tune as she prepares to dispose of the body.

To paraphrase a pop song, “Death is what happens while making other plans.” Such is the course of the tale’s trail as it weaves to involve a sinister character from outside.

The best laid plans of killers often go astray with innocent help as a special Santa makes his call upon the naughty.

The Vault Keeper reveals himself to be the story’s author as readers are left wondering what became of the protagonists.

Next in line is Tombs-Day from the Crypt of Terror and a mummy come for revenge.

 Beauty Rest allows the pageant winner to retain her looks forever.

Shoe-Button Eyes is another holiday horror offering as a little boy is given the gift of sight – at the expense of his brutal step-father.

And All Through the House was originally adapted for the big screen for a movie version of Tales from the Crypt. Later it was translated to television for an episode of the popular Tales from the Crypt that aired on HBO.

Vault of Horror was a bi-monthly comic book published by EC Comics from 1950 to 1955. The title became a casualty during the purge of “unwholesome” comic books in the mid-1950s.

Posted Friday, December 23rd, 2022 by Barry

Spider-Man, Fire-Star and Iceman at the Dallas Ballet Nutcracker (1983)

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was in its third and final season when Marvel and the Dallas Times Herald teamed again for this mash up of Texas transgression.

Peter Parker and Bobby Drake have accompanied their soon-to-be former team mate, Angelica Jones, to her new home in Dallas, Texas.

While there, the trio decide to take in the Nutcracker as performed by the Dallas Ballet. Peter’s Spidey sense jangles as the three stand outside the theater. Investigating, they soon discover the nefarious plot to disrupt the performance by stealing the props.

Spider-Man, Fire-Star and Iceman at the Dallas Ballet Nutcracker (1983)

Daddy Longlegs, a mercifully one-and-done villain, is found to be responsible. His plan is dismantled by the threesome leaving Daddy Longlegs high and dry on an ice pillar.

Peter, Bobby and Angelica attend the performance which is spelled out by writer Jim Salicrup and illustrated by Jim Mooney.

This teaming of Marvel and the Dallas Times Herald was the last. Already they two had collaborated with a back-to-school edition (Pipeline Peril) and Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders- special (Southwest Showdown) featuring Spidey and the Hulk, Web Head and the Dallas Cowboys (Danger in Dallas) and Spider-Man on his own against the Kingpin (Christmas in Dallas).

The Dallas Times Herald suspended publications in 1991, officially closing its doors December 8 of that year.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends aired from 1981 to 1983 on NBC Saturday mornings. It would continue in reruns for another two years.

In its second season, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends accompanied the Hulk cartoon billed as The Incredible Hulk and the Amazing Spider-Man. Stan Lee began narrating during the second year.

Season one featured 13 episodes, while season two only aired three – each featuring the origin of the three heroes – and the third and final season showcased eight new shows.

Amazing Friends became the launching pad for new mutant Angelica, known as Firestorm. She would debut in comic continuity in Uncanny X-Men 193 in 1985 followed by a four-issue mini-series.

Prior, a Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends one-shot was released in 1981. The book loosely adapted The Triumph of the Green Goblin animated episode. It is not considered part of the canonical legend.

The series opened the original MCU featuring an unprecedented cast of co- and guest stars including the Black Knight, the X-Men, Loki, Shocker, Shanna the She-Devil, Beetle, Mysterio, Red Skull, Thor, Magneto, Juggernaut, Sunfire, Captain America, Daredevil, Hulk, Iron Man, Namor, Doctor Strange, Dr. Doom, Chameleon, Electro, Green Goblin, Kingpin, Doctor Octopus and the Scorpion.

The Red Skull episode has been deleted from the Disney+ schedule due to the portrayal of Nazi swastikas and the phrase “Heil Hitler.”

The idea of Amazing Friends would be resurrected throughout the next few decades. In Spider-Man Family: Amazing Friends (2006) issue one, a back up story, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Co-Workers, was included for the 25th anniversary of the animated series.

Brian Michael Bendis gave the series a nod in Ultimate Spider-Man. The cover of issue 118 paired Spidey, Iceman and Firestorm. Rather than Angelica, Bendis used cast member Liz Allan.

So, unless a traditionalist, give the Nutcracker a pass and relax with some animated Marvel goodness.

Posted Wednesday, December 7th, 2022 by Barry

Season’s Greetings From DC Comics

DC Comics gave the paying public a shot of Christmas in 1978 with this quartet of comic books.

        Kicking off the season was Green Lantern/Green Arrow (1960) issue 113 which hit the stands November 30.

        Lantern, Arrow and Black Canary survive a Christmas eve complete with kidnapping and volcano in That They May Fear No More.

        A group of musicians find themselves prey to Granny Bleach and followers. They feel pregnant Marcy who is with musicians will birth the chosen one who will keep the suddenly active volcano dormant.

Season’s Greetings

        Lantern is able to divert the lava flow and save the town.

        Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas from Batman (1940) 309 was covered back in December 2018. Slip back there for a rehash of events between the Dark Knight and Blockbuster. It was on the spin racks December 14.

        Ross Andru’s non-descript cover belies the festive Happy New Year…Rest in Peace! behind Bizarro’s toothy grin in Superman (1938) 333. It was released December 28.

        The Brave and the Bold (1955) 148 is another book covered in 2018. The Night the Mob Stole Xmas! was originally reviewed in January of that year though released December 28 of 1978.

        While none of the above-mentioned books made the highlight reel for 1978, DC made an effort.

        What did make the nightly news included the Great Blizzard of 1978 hitting the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes January 25-27 killing 70.

        By February 5 through the 7, the blizzard had worked its way to the New England states. An estimated 100 people died and $520 million in damage resulted.

        As winter started to come to a close, other matters took the spotlight as the year progressed. In March, Charlie Chaplin’s remains were stolen from Cosier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.

        Dallas became known for more than assassinations and football with the debut of the series of the same name April 2. It would give birth to the modern-day primetime soap.

        In May Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds hit his 3,000 MLB hit.

        The first test tube baby was born in Oldham, Greater Manchester UK in July.

        Pope John Paul I succeeded Pope Paul VI as the 263rd Pope in August.

        September and Camp David hosted the Camp David Accords with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat.

        President Jimmy Carter authorized the Susan B. Anthony dollar in October.

        In December, serial killer John Wayne Gacy was arrested. He would later be found guilty for the deaths of 33 men and boys between 1972 and 1978.

        All in all, a busy year capped off with some DC goodness for the holidays.

Posted Thursday, December 1st, 2022 by Barry

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) 3

Santa’s Little Helpers is the third and final installment of Tex Avery’s Droopy holiday series.

Droopy and Spike tie for Elf of the Year. With the honor comes shotgun on Santa’s sleigh Christmas Eve. Due to FAA regulations, only one may ride along. To determine his plus one, Santa devises a contest in which the best elf for the remainder of the time will be allowed the ride.

Spike’s nefarious plans to prove Droopy incompetent are his undoing. Sabotaging the toys only seems to bring down the antagonist until a package delivers an unexpected – and unwanted – surprise to Santa.

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) 3

Screwball Squirrel headlines in Giga-Bitten.

Starring in the second feature, Squirrel and co-star Meathead prove themselves computer frauds.

Another of Avery’s creations, Screwy was a magician of sorts. The anthropomorphic squirrel was able to pull objects out of thin air. The Sciuridae family member was guilty of breaking the fourth wall long before it became fashionable.

However, his career was short lived, appearing in only five shorts: Screwball Squirrel in 1944; Happy-Go-Nutty, 1944; Big Heel-Watha (1944), The Screwy Truant, 1945; and Lonesome Lenny, 1946.

Hanna-Barbera brought the rodent back in 1993 on Droopy, Master Detective airing on Fox Kids.

For April Fool’s Day 1997, Cartoon Network aired Happy-Go-Nutty from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Screwy would remain retired until 2013 when he guested on Tom and Jerry’s Giant Adventure. In 2019, he returned on Tom and Jerry’s Show in the Double Dog Trouble episode.

He continued to be in the public eye as shorts showcasing Screwy were featured on Warner Bros home releases The Thin Man Goes Home, Dragon Seed, The Clock (1945), Undercurrent and Looney Tunes Platinum Collection Volume 2.

Screwy was also a fixture of the comic book medium. He would appear in Our Gang Comics, Tom & Jerry’s Winter Carnival issues one and two, Tom and Jerry’s Winter Fun issues three, six, seven and eight; Tom & Jerry’s Summer Fun issue one, Tom and Jerry 213, 231 and 232; Golden Comics Digest issues three, five, eight, 18, 22, 28 and 41 for Gold Key Comics; Tex Avery’s Wolf and Red, Tex Avery’s Screwball Squirrel and various issues of Droopy.

Posted Monday, July 25th, 2022 by Barry

Vampirella Holiday Special (2021)

Yeah, I know, the only cool spot is in the house with the central air blowing.

It’s July. What do ya expect?

And, here we are, showcasing a Christmas comic book.

Well, it’s Christmas in July. Suck it up, buttercup.

To offset the heat, here are a few Christmas chronicles from the horror-story hostess. Or, she was, until issue eight of her self-titled magazine when she moved to lead character.

Vampirella first appeared under the Warren Publishing imprint in the black-and-white Vampirella beginning in 1969. She was created by Forrest J. Ackerman and Trina Robbins, running a total of 112 issues. The book ceased publication in 1983.

Harris Publications picked up the pieces when Warren went under due to financial distress. Vampirella returned to the printed page in ongoing and mini series between 1991 to 2007.

After a three-year hiatus, Dynamite Entertainment continued chronicling Vampirella’s adventures which it still does.

This holiday special showcases three stories, the first being The Fright Before Christmas by Will Robson.

Vamprella is hunted by humans set on bringing her to heel by legends of Christmas past, present and future. Dissention causes their downfall and the holidays are happy for the supernatural folk again.

A Christmas vacation goes awry when Kaiju threaten Hong Kong in Vampire Bells by Vincenzo Federici.

Finally, Vampirella saves Christmas when Santa and Krampus have a knock down, drag out. Sleigh, by Vincenzo Carratu, is a silent story with a stranger ending.

The book featured 10 different covers, some just variations on works by Joseph Michel Linsner, Roberto Castro, Bruna Sales, Vanessa Tolentino and Ron Leary. Model Rachel Hollon appeared on both the cosplay and virgin cosplay covers.

Vampirella Holiday Special (2021)

Posted Tuesday, December 28th, 2021 by Barry

Scooby-Doo (1997) 43

It’s another holiday mystery for the Scooby and the gang in Nutcracker Not-So-Sweet.

Agnes DeMillions needs help to save the Geoffrey Ballet Company’s rendition of A Christmas Carol. The ghost of the Nutcracker is threatening one of the stars of the show, Rudolfo Kaspenov.

Scooby-Doo (1997) 43

Scooby-Doo (1997) 43

Matters come to a head opening night when the Nutcracker ghost strikes in front of packed auditorium. Some trickery and trusty trap by Fred bring the villain to justice while Daphne dances in a dream come true.

The Nutcracker and the Mouse was written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816. The Prussian author’s tale is a whimsical, and fictional, account off Marie Stahlbaum’s favorite toy, a nutcracker. It comes to life to defeat the evil mouse king then takes the girl to a magical kingdom.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Russian composer, and Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, choreographers, translated the story into a ballet based on Alexandre Dumas’s adaptation.

A Christmas Carol is a novella by Charles Dickens. It was originally published in 1843. Though released December 19, all copies were sold out by Christmas Eve. Maybe the greatest legacy of the story is the use of the term Merry Christmas. Having been vocalized as early as 1534, Dicken’s usage cemented it in Victorian vernacular. It has been continued ever since.

The second feature, Mascot Madness, take the gang back to school to foil a ghost dead set on keeping tradition alive.

Scooby-Doo and the gang have been a part of the four-color world since 1970, a year after they were unveiled on Saturday morning television. The original series would last 30 issues, published by Gold Key Comics.

March of Comics would feature the gang in four issues beginning in 1971 in issue 356. They would appear once a year until issue 391 in 1974.

Charlton Comics picked up the license from Gold Key in 1975 with an 11-issue run with Scooby-Doo…Where Are You! Marvel Comics would publish nine issues entitled Scooby-Doo from 1977 to 1979. With the animated Saturday morning feature Scooby’s Laff-A-Lympics, they would showcase the Great Dane in 13 issues of Laff-A-Lympics from 1978 to 1979.

Harvey Comics tackled the franchise next with a few issues reprinting stories originally run during the Charlton years. The exception would be Hanna-Barbera Presents All New Comics in 1993, a one-shot.

Archie Comics added Scooby to its stable of characters from 1995 to 1997.

DC is currently Scooby’s wrangler having taken possession of the license in 1997. The titular Scooby-Doo is currently the longest-running comic featuring the gang.

Cartoon Network Presents ran 24 issues with a Scooby and Scrappy-Doo story in each book.

Scooby-Doo! Team-Up lasted 50 issues before it was shut down, 2013 to 2019.

Scooby Apocalypse ran 36 issues, 2016 to 2019.

The most recent incarnation is The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries debuting this year.

Posted Friday, December 24th, 2021 by Barry

Zombie World Home for the Holidays (1997)

“When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth.”

So sayeth zombie master George Romero from his second foray into the world of walking corpses, Dawn of the Dead.

It’s also been said, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.”

Zombie World Home for the Holidays (1997)

Zombie World Home for the Holidays (1997)

Both quotes ring true for Gordon Rennie and Gary Erskine’s zombie holiday.

Greg Mathieson and wife are spending Christmas Eve in Connecticut with his family.

The Mathiesons are old money. First class on the Mayflower type of money. The patriarch continues to live in the family homestead built shortly after the dust settled after the first Thanksgiving.

It’s a family tradition for “the clan” to gather on the holiest of eves. Greg and wife are some of the stragglers, but not the last. That slot is reserved for cousin Carol who babbles a tall tale about the dead eating the living.

Her story is dismissed until Dan Rather confirms it on the evening news.

As if on cue, the town cemetery comes (un)alive as the past begin to claw their way back to the surface. Chief among them is papa Methuselah Jeremiah Mathieson. At last count he was the first among the 234 Mathiesons interred there.

And, now they want to come home.

When an Alamo stand fails, the family really are all together – for the first time.

Rennie is a Scottish comic book writer best known for White Trash: Moronic Inferno and strips in the English 2000 A.D. He has also penned several novels in the Warhammer Fantasy line.

Fellow Scottie, Erskine, penciled the story. His resume includes Knights of Pendragon and Warheads for Marvel UK, work on 2000 AD, Star Wars titles for Dark Horse, several collaborations with Garth Ennis and Justice Society of America.

Hope you Christmas Eve is less eventful, but never let your guard down too much.

Posted Thursday, December 23rd, 2021 by Barry

Cracked (1958) 243

Cracked finished out 1988 with Santa, Baby New Year’s and Father Time on the cover-dated March 1989 issue.

Receiving top billing was a parody of the ensemble western Young Guns entitled Young Buns. Guns starred Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemasko, Terence Stamp, Terry O’Quinn, Brian Keith and Jack Palance.

The film received mixed reviews and is generally forgotten.

A seasonal His Jolly Jolly Jolly…is Not Just Idle Folly! rhetorical rhyme follows Santa through an updated version of a Night Before Christmas.

Vic Bianco and Wally Dickens Brogan followed the one-page wonder with an updated, television version of Scrooge called Screwge. Pop culture icons of the day dot the pages as Dickens’ Christmas Carol is trampled.

Cracked (1958) 243

Cracked (1958) 243

Skipping ahead, Form and Function Scopes Out Santa!

Santa’s gear is broken down this two-page spread.

A few pages later John Severin pokes fun at the big guy in a one-page In-Santa-Ty offering up a few one panel jokes at Mr. Claus’ expense.

Cultural action hero of the 1980s, Sly Stallone, was featured in his Rambo persona in Sly Stalloon’s Greatest Xmas Hits!

No word play was off limits as readers were beat over the head with song titles like The Little Bomber Boy, Nuclear Winter Wonderland, Do You Fear What I Fear, Twas the Night Before Doomsday, Joy to the War! I Saw a Commie Kissing Santa Clause and the list goes on. All available on record, cassette, 8-Track tape or CD (Compact Disc).

Not really.

It’s a Wonderful Life is recast in It’s a Wonderful Laff.

Chevy Chase is George Barley, John Belushi is the angel Clarence, Cher is Mary and New York Mayor Ed Koch is tossed in for what writer Tony Frank thought would be a laugh. The parody plays out like the source material without the charm.

The original It’s a Wonderful Life was released in 1946 starring James Stewart and directed by Frank Capra. It was based on the short story, The Greatest Gift by Phillip Van Doren.

It’s a Wonderful Life was a box office disaster when released. The film earned eternal life when it fell into public domain and was picked up by fledging television stations during the medium’s infancy. It has since been lauded as one of the greatest films of all time.

In 1990, the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress added it to its archives.

Posted Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021 by Barry

Crazy (1973) 16

The third time really wasn’t the charm for Marvel Comics.

Still under the Atlas Comics moniker in 1953, the Marvel Comics to come published Crazy as a comic book. It lasted seven issues.

Crazy (1973) 16

Crazy (1973) 16

Now under Marvel Comics, the company attempted to dust off material from its now defunct Not Branch Echh title with a second four-color offering. This one only lasted two issues before it, too, was canned.

The third titular Crazy was done as a black-and-white magazine in an attempt to ride the coattails of the uber popular MAD Magazine and lesser clone, Cracked. Crazy as a magazine would last 10 years and 94 issues.

Issue 16 featured its nebbish mascot holding up a line of angry children as he spewed his wish list to Santa. The cover was trumpeted as a “special Xmas Rated Issue.”

The lone holiday feature was the Movie Monsters’ Christmas Lists featuring the wants and wishes of Dracula, the Mummy, King Kong, The Werewolf, the Creature (from the Black Lagoon), Godzilla, Doctor Frankenstein and the Invisible Man. All were compiled by Michael Pelowski.

The remainder of the book featured the standard fare such as a twist on Marriage Vows, Carsick Child, Spinoffs of Jaws, etc.

The main feature was penned by Len Herman and rendered by Marie Severin as they took on Good Times in Gook Times.

Good Times began as a popular prime time sitcom developed by executive producer Norman Lear. It aired on CBS from 1974 to 1979 featuring a black family of five living in the projects of Chicago trying to make a living.

James “J.J.” Evans Jr. became a break out hit and the series soon devolved to one liners from the skeletal star as his catch phrase, “Dyno-mite,” was shoe-horned into each episode.

Severin was just one of the industry legends who contributed to the magazine. Others included Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Vaughn Bode, Harvey Kutzman, Mike Ploog, Basil Wolverton and Mike Carlin. Marvel mainstays Roy Thomas and Marv Wolfman would take turns editing the publication.

Posted Monday, December 20th, 2021 by Barry

MAD (1952) 132

Holiday wishes from MAD Magazine herald a new regime in the White House and a new era as the publication matures.

Lester Krauss is responsible for the simple cover; mascot Alfred E. Neuman reflected in a red ornament.

Only two features reflect the season. Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men is a three-page photo spread spoofing world leaders, personalities and enemies making nice for the holidays. Featured are Richard Nixon, Edward Kennedy, Dr. Timothy Leary, Rev. Billy Graham, Gen. William Westmoreland, Gamel Abdul Nasser, Golda Meir, Mao tse-Tung, Chaing Kai-shek, Jacqueline Kennedy, Jacqueline Susanne, Muhammed Ali, Tom Smothers, Dick Smothers, Hugh Hefner, Pope Paul VI, William F. Buckley, Stokley Carmichael and George Wallace.

The second is The Month Before Christmas. Frank Jacobs teamed with Don Martin for their version of Clement Clark Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas with a current-day consumerism bent.

MAD (1952) 132

MAD (1952) 132

More topical subjects included Nixon’s the One; a single-page gag predicting the next eight-years with Tricky Dick at the helm. If anyone had known what would happen… Ronnie Nathan and Jack Rickard handled the jab.

Sergio Aragones presented his look at protests and demonstrations over a four-page spread.

Fellow Mad man Al Jaffee presented a one-page What New Trend is Destroying a Time-Honored Theater Art?

Also on board for the issue were Larry Siegel and Mort Drucker with The Academy Awards Show We’d Like to See. The talented Drucker lampooned Dustin Hoffman, Joseph Cotton, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Raquel Welch, Vanessa Redgrave, Ali McGraw, Warren Beatty, Lee Marvin and James Coburn. Addressed were new categories based upon the current sexual mores portrayed in films.

Dave Berg took five pages to present The Lighter Side of Birthdays.

Antonio Prohias checked in with two Spy vs. Spy features.

The remainder of the issue spotlighted slapstick and one-offs in the usual manner that kept the magazine at the forefront of modern culture for decades, finally becoming an icon.