Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! - The Flintstones Meet Frankenstein


Time wise it would seem impossible, but Fred Flintstone did meet face-to-undead-face with Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy and the Wolf Man. How in the seven circles of cartoon hell could this happen? Sit back, read and all shall be revealed.
It should be noted that in the real, non-cartoon world of the 60s, monsters, particularly the classic Universal versions, were extremely popular. The Shock Theater movie packages, as well as programs like The Munsters and The Addams Family, put creatures of the night forefront on kiddie radar. The result was a plethora of tie-ins, including model kits, toys, books, trading cards, comics, and much more. Specifically regarding comics, there were official licensed Universal Monster comics, including Frankenstein, Dracula and The Creature From the Black Lagoon from Dell Comics (later Gold Key Comics). Dell also published truly awful superheroic versions of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Werewolf. DC and Marvel had monster fascimilies turning up in their superhero, humor and mystery comics.
And it was in April 1966 when the modern stone-age family encountered monsters. On the TV series, Fred had already encountered the Gruesomes, who lived in the house on the other side called Tombstone Manor. More Addams Family than the Munsters, the Gruesomes appeared through the
5th season, but vanished in the 6th and last season when the Great Gazoo appeared on the scene.
The 33rd issue of The Flintstones comic series had an atypical cover. Rather than the usual nondescript gag cover, this issue featured a blurb for the meeting of caveman and monsters, promoting the lead story of the issue, titled "The Flintstones Meet Frankenstein and Dracula."
Now, it should be noted that these animated versions of the horror icons didn't just pop up out of the blue. The HB versions of these popular creatures were created for Hanna-Barbera's Monster Shindig record album (released on the company's own record label). While the cover art for the album was classic HB, the title song was so so.
Meanwhile, in the Flintstones comic, the story opens with a group of Wilma's cousins leaving
after a visit. Fred makes a big deal about how eccentric they were and suggests his relatives are superior. Just at that moment, a telegram arrives declaring that Fred's cousins, "The Chipstones." are coming to visit, with no further details. Fred's never met them before, but still maintains his
relatives are more normal than Wilma's.
Meanwhile, in the cave lab of Dr. Frankenfurter, the scientist is playing with his time machine when he scoops something out of the distant future. That something is four monsters: Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy and the Wolf Man. Seeing these creatures, the scientist faints, allowing
the creatures to run rampant.
The monsters immediately come upon the Flintstones residence. Of course, regardless of how hideous they look, Fred assumes that they are his cousins and lets them in an effort to keep his neighbors from seeing them. In addition, by calling them "cousins," the monsters immediately take a
liking to him...though they didn't like his tidy home all that much.
Wilma comes home and encounters these creatures in a string of flat, bad gags, including encountering the Mummy in a broom closet (it's sort of like his tomb home), the Wolf
Man chasing Dino, and Frankenstein, talking in a Boris Karloff accent, looking for black widows in the basement (the Flintstones had a basement?). Fred and Wilma then decide to get these creature cousins out of their house by taking them on a picnic, and that's where this already strange story gets loads stranger.

 Out wherever they are, Fred suggests a game of hide-and-seek. Fred counts while the monsters hide. In a disturbing twist, what none of them realize is that there's an escaped criminal with a primitive gun hiding out in the area. He takes Fred and Wilma hostage and makes them row a piece of petrified tree over a lake of bubbling, hot lava to an island.
The monsters, who have already become quite affectionate with the Flintstones, decide that they must rescue their friends. Dracula sends Frankenstein to walk across the lava, which he does with no problem.
 Frankenstein finds that the crook has trussed up the pair in a tree over the lava and threatens to cut the rope holding them above it if the big green guy does anything foolish. Frankenstein backs off and goes back over the lava. The Mummy steps up, climbing into a tree and tying one of his bandages up to a branch. He then swings the very long way across, wrapping his bandage around the Flintstones so that cutting them down quickly is impossible.
The Mummy moves quickly (?) tying up the bad guy, too, just as the police arrive to take him into custody.
As coincidence would have it, the revived Frankenfurter also arrives immediately afterward to take back his monsters. The monsters leave with the scientist, no doubt returning to the 20th century. Back home, Fred's cousins have arrived... and in all sizes they each have an exact copy of Fred's limited animation head. Wilma gets in the last word on the whole story, as shown here...
Just a note on the above: I'm not sure what this comic sells for in today's unfortunate phoney price guide propelled market. I'm guessing, like a lot of Gold Key's disposable kiddie oriented (and read repeatedly) product of the era that finding this comic in decent shape might be hard to do.
Good luck!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Trick Or Treat Surprise - Roger Corman's The Raven -- The Comic Book

Those of you who are old enough and have a good memory may recall that filmmaker and producer Roger Corman once attempted to launch a line of comics based on films he
had created for drive-in fare.

Cosmic Comics hit comic book store shelves in 1995 featuring the titles Death Race 2020, Caged Heat 3000, Rock and Roll High School, Little Shoppe of Horrors and others. Unfortunately, they were very short-lived. What may interest you is that these were not the first comic book attempts to bring Corman's work to the four color newsprint page.

Back in the 60s, the book publisher Dell published quite a few comic books, many of which were licensed titles including Disney (Uncle Scrooge was the king of the heap, selling over 1 million issues per month), Looney Tunes, Little Lulu, Hanna-Barbera, TV shows and loads of one-shots based on holiday-themes and even horror movies (Universal, AIP).

It was in the Dell movie comics where Corman's work appeared. In the early 60s, Corman had seized upon an unusual bout of success adapting stories of the macabre and morbid written by Edgar Allan Poe, starting with The Fall of the House of Usher. Dell, which was allowed to publish without the censorship of the Comics Code, released three titles based on Poe films Corman directed: The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death and Tomb of Ligeia. Maybe the Comics Code thought these were adaptations along the lines of Classics Illustrated, which also had no CC seal.

As one might expect, the adaptations of the movies took liberties to fit their stories in just over 30 pages. They aren't really scary either. Still, Vincent Price's face prominently on the cover of The Raven serves to make this writer nostalgic for those days when horror could be conjured minus CG
effects and with great old school acting.

And now, The Raven...

Click on the page images to see larger legible versions. This comic adaptation may well be (c) & TM MGM, who own most of the AIP library of the era of the Corman Poe films. We present this comic just because we miss those old days, and it is Halloween.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trick Or Treat Surprise -- Captain America? Weird!

Over the years, I've seen a good number of oddball comic books in my journeys... quite a few were published when the comics biz was just trying to stay alive.

Here's one of the most unusual, featuring Captain America's Golden Age series out of gas, out of ideas, and nearly out of time.

In a last ditch effort that failed, Timely pushed the comic book square peg, Cap, into a round hole... a horror comic featuring the return of Cap's most sinister enemy. The title they changed Captain America to was Captain America's Weird Tales. There actually was another issue released after
this one with Cap's name still on it, but he was a no show.

Let's get to the main story. Click on the images below to see legible pages. Hopefully with understanding attained from reading this, we can all make this a better world.

Captain America's Weird Tales is (c) & TM Marvel Comics/Marvel Comics Characters and Disney. It is presented in fair usage for greater knowledge of the comics biz and for the betterment of all mankind.