New Reviews of Old Comics
This title always struck me as being one of those oddball titles that were more of a joke than a good comic, much less a classic. Frank Miller Daredevil, Alan Moore Swamp Thing, those are classic comics. Werewolf By Night? Who even wrote that? Were there any cool characters? Wasn’t it just a rip-off of the classic horror movie? That’s what I thought until I read an issue; this issue as a matter of fact, and I sure didn’t expect to change my opinion when I picked it up.
“Evil In Every Stone No Longer Hiding” is a very long and rather odd title, but it was written by Doug Moench, and fits the actual story that Don Perlin provided the art for. The tale is narrated in first person by Jack Russell who also turns into the Werewolf By Night (probably because “Wolfman” is owned by Universal Studios). He’s trapped in a castle with his friends Topaz and Elaine, with the splash page of Jack being attacked by another werewolf in a fight scene that lasts a couple pages until Topaz remembers her psychic powers and uses them to convert the werewolf back to a human who quickly bursts into flames. Then Jack’s sister, Lissa unleashes a cry for help which sends the gang up to her room where they find her dangling from the end of a rope with her father at the other end. But they save her in time. Next we get the story of Belaric Marcosa who once inhabited the castle, living a life of debauchery that cost a lot of people their souls. When a shadow beast appears the Werewolf By Night appears for another multi-page fight scene. The issue ends with the cliffhanger of Belaric returning to his castle, bringing one of Jack’s friends to dangle at the end of a rope, a motif that is seems to a prerequisite for this issue.
This is one of the wordiest comics I think I’ve ever read (did Doug Moench get paid by the word?), but it was actually effective with the first person narration. The overall vibe was something of a cross between a horror story and a mystery, which is pretty cool. When I first started reading I thought I would get bored with the heavy narration, but with each panel my curiosity about how this story was going to play out kept growing, so essentially I couldn’t put it down. The art wasn’t my favorite, like a step above what you might find in the average Charlton horror comic, but it was serviceable enough for a 1970s horror comic.
Surprisingly I enjoyed Werewolf By Night. I guess this is a fairly collectible title so my odds of finding more in the bargain bin are slim at best, though I guess if they’re in the condition this particular copy is my odds suddenly get better.
File under “Celebrity Letters:” this issue had a missive by Fred G. Hembeck, which we can assume to be the noted comic satire cartoonist whose characters stood out with knobby elbows that had swirls inside them.
Notable Ad: There were ads a plenty in this issue. It seemed like for every two pages of story there were two pages of ads right after it. We’ve got Marvel posters, army men that make noises and the usual ads for junky magic tricks, kung-fu lessons and passive muscle building techniques. The one I enjoyed the most was on the inside back cover from Cindy Press Ltd out of New York City. This ad is selling full color iron-on transfers for the patriotic price of $.76 cents (and up). They were selling everything from “Betty Boop” to “Zig-Zag University,” “Paul Newman” to “Little Orphan Annie.” Whether these transfers stick on to your t-shirt longer than a week, who can say? The really cool thing is the new innovation in transfers that are the “NEWEST, the GREATEST, the BIGGEST, the BEST”; Tuck Ins. These are transfers that sit on the lower half of your t-shirt (or other shirt apparel) so it looks like the transfer is coming out of your pants. Examples are a gun (duh), a crab (doesn’t seem like something you’d want to advertise, but OK), a rocket (men only) and a neon sign that says “EAT” (get it?) Considering I grew up during this time and don’t remember Tuck Ins at all I’m guessing they really didn’t have much staying power. Interesting concept though.