Saturday, February 18, 2017

Iron Shadows in the Moon Part One

Iron Shadows in the Moon
Part One
By John Buscema and Alfred Alcala (art) and Roy Thomas (story)

One of the most impressive pieces of artwork in a 70s comic is that created by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala for the February 1975 (issue No. 4) of The Savage Sword of Conan

It's based on 'Shadows in the Moonlight', a Robert E. Howard story that appeared in Weird Tales in April,1934.

Althought the copy of SSoC that I scanned 'Shadows' from is beat up and browning from age, when scanned at 300 dpi, the artwork holds up very my opinion, very little artwork presented in comics since, has approached the level of skill displayed in this one issue of a comic magazine that was printed on cheap-grade paper.

To my eyes, it looks like Buscema supplied the breakdowns, while the majority of the 'real' artwork was done by Alcala, as his distinctive pen-and-ink style is apparent in every panel.

I'm going to post 'Iron Shadows in the Moon' in two parts; part one is below, and part two will be in my next blog post.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Battle for the Planet of the Apes Part VI

Battle for the Planet of the Apes
Part VI of VII
by Doug Moench (script) and Virgil Redondo (art) 
from Planet of the Apes (Marvel / Curtis) No. 27, December 1976

The copy of the magazine I scanned these pages from was water-damaged and the pages are warped, something that a scan at 300 dpi makes all too clear.

However, the high quality of the artwork from Virgil Redondo is apparent despite the defects in the pages.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Book Review: Aton

Book Review: 'Aton' by Irving A. Greenfield

3 / 5 Stars

Irving A. Greenfield wrote a large number of novels from the 60s into the 90s, in genres as varied as softcore porn, historical, thriller/adventure, western, and sf. Used copies of many of the these novels still are available, although some (like Succubus: A Novel of Erotic Possession) fetch steep prices. 

Greenfield apparently continues to write today; a number of Kindle titles with his byline are available at

In the Fall of 1975, when I began my sophomore year in high school, another student brought in a copy of the just-published (i.e., July 1975) novel Aton. It was avidly read and passed hand-to hand through most of the freshman and sophomore classes all that Fall.

Having read Aton meant you knew what other students were talking about when they name-dropped ‘Nempie’, ‘Pula the Boar’, and the classic phrase, ‘I am a Man Amongst Men !’

With its explicit violence and sex, Aton made the novels we were obliged to read in English class – like A Separate Peace and To Kill a Mockingbird – utterly insipid.

Whatever you may think about its literary merits, Aton has an outstanding cover, its lurid red and black tones a masterpiece of paperback cover art. Although the identity of the cover artist is unfortunately not disclosed, he or she stands alongside the great James Bama as a master of paperback marketing.

As far as the novel goes, Greenfield knew what his reader wanted: within the first five pages, there is a graphic act of violence and cannibalism. Add in a scene in which Aton – the lead character – guides a woman’s hand onto His Manhood, and the potboiling is complete !

The novel is set in an un-named Bronze-Age location. The tribe to which Aton belongs are rather primitive hut-dwellers with a theology centered on animism. As the novel opens, Aton is contemplating challenging – via a duel to the death –his father Nempie for leadership of the tribe.

But even as Aton maneuvers to strike at an increasingly belligerent Nempie, events conspire to change his world view: for Aton has been foretold to be A Man Amongst Men; a Beginning…….

When re-read after the passage of over 40 years, Aton is a mixed bag.

There certainly are sufficient Splatterpunk passages, ones recounting all manner of atrocities. These impart genuine momentum to the narrative for the book’s first three quarters. There also are plentiful passages in which visions of the afterlife, and its scheming Gods and Spirits lend a fantastical quality to the narrative.

However, the final chapters of Aton reveal flagging effort on the part of the author. These chapters eschew the intense action of the earlier passages of the book to instead dwell on increasingly laborious conversations on metaphysical matters between Aton and the tribal shaman, an elder named Zell. Whether these exchanges reveal a mental and philosophical enlightening on the part of Aton, fulfilling his destiny as A Man Amongst Men, is up to the reader to decide, but I found the novel’s ending to be unconvincing.

Summing up, despite its failings, its fantasy-inspired sequences and liberal Cro-Magnon Splatterpunk character makes Aton one of the more offbeat and unique novels of the mid-70s. This one is worth picking up.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Man with Legs

The Man with Legs
by Al Sarrantonio (story) and Doug Potter (art)
from Weird Business (1995), edited by Joe R. Lansdale and Richard Klaw

'The Man with Legs' is a short story by Al Sarrantonio that appeared in the anthology Shadows 6 (1983). A year later, it was included in The Year's Best Horror Stories: Series XII (1984) which is where I remember first reading it.

Sarrantonio uses Upstate New York as a favorite location for some of his horror fiction, and this particular story also seems to be set in an industrial city in that region. 'Legs' does a very good job of evoking the atmosphere and sights of a Northeast city neighborhood on a cold Winter's day, and will undoubtedly bring back memories to Baby Boomers who grew up in those places.

This comic adaptation of 'The Man with Legs' appeared in the anthology Weird Business (Mojo Press, 1995). While I can't say that Doug Potter's artwork is all that memorable, it is serviceable for a story that stands on its own as a example of unique, creepy horror.