Sunday, 30 July 2017

The most forgettable comics I have ever owned - Part 19: Werewolf by Night #28.

Marvel Comics, Werewolf by Night #28, Dr Glitternight, Gil Kane cover, attacked by bat creatures, helpless blonde
As all regular readers know, the only reason for this blog to exist is so I can declare that I don't remember things.

And that can only mean that it's time to once more plunge into the Vale of Forgetfulness and revive the feature that tries to elevate ignorance into an art form.

It does strike me that, when I was young, I must have really really really loved Werewolf by Night, as I seem to have had zillions and zillions of issues of the thing.

This is odd, as my recollection of that time is that I didn't particularly like it. The werewolf seemed to be neither use nor ornament and seemed to have pitiful fighting skills for a lycanthrope.

Then again, I didn't particularly like Superman and I had great piles of comics featuring him as well. Undoubtedly the past is a strange and mysterious place.

Did I like the issue to the left of this very post?

I don't have a clue, as I don't recall anything about it. In fact, as with all the comics I've covered in this feature over the years, if I hadn't once accidentally blundered across the cover on the internet, I'd have been blissfully unaware that the issue had ever existed, let alone passed through my hands.

Who was Doctor Glitternight and what was he about? Beats me. I do know he sounds like someone who couldn't make up his mind if he wanted to be in a Pub Rock band or a Glam Rock outfit and, so, ended up sounding like someone unnecessarily fond of Prog. For that matter, was Doctor Glitternight his real name and, if so, just where did he get his doctorate?

According to the internet, he was some sort of ancient being from another dimension, who practised necromancy and turned Jack Russell's sister into a blue werewolf demon thing. I do vaguely recall the blue werewolf demon thing - and far preferred her to the werewolf who was supposed to be the star of the comic - but all memory of her mystical creator still eludes me.

Anyway, what really matters about him is that he enabled Gil Kane to produce a truly striking cover. Only a lunatic would be fail to be impressed by the work Kane put into drawing all those bat things and by the elegance of the picture's composition. It's also nice to see the blonde from the covers of all those Conan mags putting in a guest appearance. She really was the hardest working woman in comics.

As part of my in-depth research for this post, I've done a Google search for images from this issue - in the hope that they'd jog my memory - and haven't found a single panel from it, which suggests that I'm not the only one who's forgotten its existence.

I can only assume it must be down to whatever magical powers it is that Doctor Glitternight possesses that so little trace can be found off him in the murky realm that mortal men call the World Wide Web. Truly his abilities are awesome.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Glitternight!
He was some kind of sorcerer from another dimension (or maybe this dimension, I dunno) who wore a big cloak that would make him look like a deranged kite when he flapped around. A kite of evil!
What was he after and why was he hassling a werewolf? I don't know.

M.P.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I really don't see how you can enjoy that Kane cover?

I mean, if you can't see 3 feet up someone's nostril on a Kane cover I feel it wasn't a strong effort.

Oh, I do have several tubes of glitter in the kids' arts/crafts drawer in case anyone is short? You don't have to be a villain to inquire.

Steve W. said...

I do genuinely think that, "Doctor Glitternight," is one of the worst names for a villain I've ever encountered, especially as he was seemingly, meant to be incredibly powerful and sinister. I mean, it's not exactly, "The Dread Dormammu," is it?

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the title of a Bowie album.
"Dr. Glitternight and the Lizards from Venus."

M.P.

Anonymous said...

As names go, Dr Glitternight isn't quite as bad as the Yuck Monster, which I seem to recall also appeared in this storyline.

Werewolf by Night was always a bit rubbish, but the artwork of Mike Ploog and Tom Sutton made the early issues worthwhile. Especially Sutton, now I think about it, who seemed even more feverish than usual... But by this point it really was a complete waste of time.

Its funny, isn't it Steve, how you (that's a general you, rather than you in particular) could end up with loads of issues of a comic that you didn't like much. That was down to distribution I reckon - its easy to forget how some US comics, often the better ones, could be hard to find before the age of the comic shop.
How often did you buy comics you knew were going to be terrible, just because you had the habit and that's all that was available?
Theres no other way to explain how everyone seemed to have more than one issue of the Human Fly.

-sean

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean, you hit the nail on the head! I bought Avengers 93 and the next I found was 101!!! at my nearby grocery store which had at least 1 full spinner rack of comics! Crapshoot for distribution indeed!!! And I did buy comics I didn't really want just for a fix! Some actually turned out to be enjoyable and reasonably memorable for a 10 year old.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

The problem is the older I got the more critical I got. The Cat #1 was cool to an 11 years old but I remember reading it again 20 years later and not able to understand why I bought it. Maybe I thought the yellow costume was "hot"???

Steve W. said...

Casting my mind back, I don't think I ever bought a comic that I thought was going to be rubbish. I always bought them on the assumption that, if I liked the cover, that meant I was going to like the comic. Clearly, when it came to, "Werewolf by Night," I never quite learned my lesson.

With Superman, I think I really liked his comics but didn't realise that I did at the time.

Anonymous said...

Ok Steve, fair enough, rubbish is a bit of an exaggeration. But you never bought an issue of, say, the Invaders - which always seemed to be on sale, at every newsagent - with a vague sense of resignation?

Which isn't to say that you might not also have liked comics in ways you didn't quite realize at the time. I think maybe that ties in with what Charlie was getting at about changing tastes around the age of 10...

-sean

Anonymous said...

Well, the Invaders was a bait-and-switch. You had wonderful Kirby covers inked by John Romita Sr.,no less, and then you opened it up and you got...a mess. In my opinion it was a mess.

M.P.

cerebus660 said...

I can only sympathise with Sean - I too bought many fairly useless comics as a kid just because they were the only things on offer. Yep, even the Human Fly which was painful beyond words. Picking up a ropy issue of The Champions or Ghost Rider was doubly galling in the age when Marvel UK stopped importing the FF, Spider-Man, Hulk etc. so it wouldn't supposedly detract from the sales of their reprints...

Anonymous said...

The Human Fly was craptacular.
Yeah, I bought an issue too, just to see what the deal was.
I got swindled! Swindled by Marvel.

M.P.

Joe S. Walker said...

They REALLY had a werewolf character named "Jack Russell"??

Charlie Horse 47 said...

OK... Regarding the Invaders... I was able to deal w/ Frank Robbins b/c he drew like many artists did in the early 40s. I never felt it was a bait-and-switch. It was more like the cover is from the 70s and the interior from the 40s.

Perhaps I was conditioned for that by DC's 100-page giants which might have an Aparo Batman story and then 80 pages of 1940s art which looked like Frank Robbins' art.

Even Simon/Kirby art was quite rough in the 40s, 50s, and early 60s. (Then for a few years in the lates 60s and early 70s, after a long career, Jack was the "King!")

Just curious... did DC sell their 100-pagers, in the early 70s, in the UK? They are gems.

I remember the Human Fly. It seemed to suck. That's all I remember about it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's a good point, Charlie. Robbins was a very competent illustrator (I think I had an Encyclopedia Brown paperback as a kid he illustrated, and well) but I think he struggled with super-hero comics. Just not his venue. I can understand a guy trying to earn a paycheck in a job that might not be a good fit. Believe me, I understand. No reflection on him.
He was a pretty good comic writer, on Batman in the '70's. He wrote some good stories, very noir, '40's style stuff which was a good fit for the character.

M.P.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I'm not expert in "pop" art but it seems his style was a lot like some other comic book and newspaper comic artists back in the 30s, 40s, 50s... e.g., Terry and the Pirates / Steve Canyon by Caniff.

But, put him on a big page like a comic book, instead of just tiny sketches / head shots / whatever from a comic strip in a newspaper, it's hard to make the transition I would guess.

Anyhow, I more/less learned to put on "nostalgic 1940s glass" when I saw his work in the Invaders and got to accept it.

I never realy accepted it for the Shadow though, from DC. Kaluta set the gold-standard for film-noir / 1930s art in those first few issues of the Shadow. Robbins following Kaluta was like Heck following Colan on Daredevil... a very unenviable situation for all but the most accomplished artists I would think.

M.P. you are Stateside I take it, not in the UK?

Anonymous said...

Yup, I'm an old grizzled veteran of the U.S. Army, just like you. Late of the 1st Armored, the Combat Engineers, the Air Cav, ex-history teacher, and about twenty crappy jobs I won't mention.

M.P.

Steve W. said...

Joe, they really did call their werewolf Jack Russell. That's how classy the strip was.

Charlie, they did indeed sell the 100 page DC comics. I had a bunch of them and I loved them.

Reading all this love for the Human Fly makes me realise I have to write a post about him. It may be appearing tomorrow some time.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, Frank Robbins drew like Milton Caniff in the same way that Keith Giffen used to draw like Jack Kirby - ie yes he did, but not really, not in the ways that count.
Although to be fair to Robbins, that's a good point about needing to adapt the style for superhero comics.
Kaluta was much better at purposefully evoking an older look.

Cerebus, I've read that about imported Marvels and the UK reprint titles in a number of places, but has it ever been reliably confirmed?
My sense is that it was more haphazard than that - if there was any logic to distribution, we seemed to get the less popular titles. Its almost as if the publishers were off loading their returns on us (surely not! Smilin' Stan would never treat true believers like that, would he?).

-sean

Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP - which aircav??? (Steve- sorry for sidebar.). I was in 11th Combat Aviation Bde out of Schwabish Hall and Illesheim for 4 years.

cerebus660 said...

Sean - I've always believed that story about the import ban to be true ( and I'm sure I've read about it in a few magazines ) but I don't have any definite proof. It does however fit with my own experience of comic collecting. The core Marvel titles which were reprinted in the UK ( Spider-Man, The FF, The Hulk ) seemed to be readily available ( or as readily as they ever were in this country ) up until about 1973 when they seemed to vanish from the shelves for quite a while.
*Update - I've just had a look through my old copy of the Duncan McAlpine Comic Book Price Guide and it lists the following as ND ( Non-Distributed ) in the UK:
Spider-Man #121 - #214
Incredible Hulk #153 - #257
That's a lot of issues!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Wait! You UK guys didn't get Spidey 122?

Do you know Gwen Stacey died? It was like the most traumatic event in my comic reading life! (Besides swapping out Gene Colan for Don Heck on Daredevil and Captain Mar-vell and Mike Kaluta for Frank Robbins!)

On a lighter note, I hope some UK guys are reading, what does "anon anon" mean as a reply? Last night on Netflix, Father Brown said, "Cheerio" to Lady Felicia and she said, "Anon anon"?

Steve W. said...

Charlie, "Anon," usually means, "Soon," but I've only ever heard it used by people who are being deliberately archaic.

Thanks to Marvel UK, we all got to read of the death of Gwen Stacy. I'm still traumatised by it.

Anonymous said...

Cerebus, I don't think I ever even saw a US Spider-Man comic that wasn't an issue of Marvel Team-Up til after the 70s. At the same time though, it seemed to be easy enough to find US Avengers comics while the weekly was going.
Spider-Man and the Hulk were the most popular Marvels, so its not hard to see that alone as a reason the publisher might prefer to export titles that might well have more difficulty reaching sales targets otherwise.
I'm not so much disagreeing with you as saying it seems open to question still.

Btw, I was moaning about the Human Fly and the Invaders earlier, but I have to say that before 77 - during the period when Roy Thomas was editor in chief at Marvel and just after when it seemed like no-one was, and before the DC implosion - the publishers were more varied with their B-list. When the poor selling comics were likely to be Killraven or OMAC, it wasn't a problem at all...

-sean

Anonymous said...

Gwen Stacy is dead?!?

-sean

Charlie Horse 47 said...

OK - I admit to not retaining stuff as good as I used to and am going back to re-re-read Steve's wonderful column in BITBA...

But is Cerebus saying that the last issue of Spidey distributed / reprinted in the UK was 121? And then it started being distributed / reprinted again at #215?

I thought I generally understood Marvel UK was reprinting one issue of Spidey (or anything else) per week and they burned through the Spidey material in a matter of a few years given 52 issues / year were being reprinted?

Thanks for your patience. (Must be the good Chicago air I breathe, clogging up my arteries.)

Anonymous said...

No Charlie, he's talking about the US monthly not being imported for distribution in the UK.

Basically we got weekly reprint titles - the stuff Steve goes on about in the Marvel UK 40 Years Ago feature, like the b&w Super Spider-Man And Captain Britain, formerly known as Spider-Man Comics Weekly - AND the (then) current colour US monthlies like the Amazing Spider-Man or Peter Parker the Spectacular Spiderman. Or at least the ones that were imported ie not actually the Amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker...
The imports were printed with, say, 9p instead of 25c on the cover, but don't let that confuse you.
Clear?

-sean

Anonymous said...

PS I forgot to add - the British titles didn't reprint stories one for one, but broke up the original American stories into shorter weekly segments. (Remember - the weeklies were all anthology titles)
So, Spider-Man Comics Weekly would break up a single twenty or so pages of an Amazing Spider-Man story into three seven or eight page "episodes", often with specially (ie shittily) drawn splash pages at the start of each one after the first.
So they didn't burn through material quite as fast as you must have been thinking.

-sean

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Thanks Sean!

I am slowly putting the puzzle pieces together. So you had the comic we would read in the USA, just with a different price on it, and then you also had the reprint titles like the ones Steve is showing with Hulk and Dracula on the cover.

So Cerebus is saying ASM 122 - 214 were not imported and distributed in the UK with a 9p price on them instead of $.20 or $.25 price tag. When they were imported and distributed, was it fairly much the same month we had them in the USA or was there a lag?

Now I finally see why you gents are talking about the Invaders being for sale everywhere. Not as a reprint but as the actual comic with a UK price on it.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

You know... I suspect it's a hell of a lot easier for me to follow / collect DC Thomson annuals, here in the USA, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's basically it.

Silver age imported monthlies had the US 12c cover price, with a handstamped 6d somewhere near it (pennies being abbreviated to d back then in pre-decimalisation days - don't ask me why). I think the British price actually started being printed around... '72?
To reassure collector geeks (you know what they're like) worried about whether they were actually buying real, genuine first edition Marvels, Shooter once explained in the Bullpen Bulletins how the different cover variations - including pence prices - could all be part of the same press run.
I don't recall much of the actual explanation though. Sorry.

There was a slight lag with the US imports, so an issue cover dated August would actually be on sale over August.
And if you think that actually does make sense, bear in mind that the last page might say something like "continued next ish - on sale first week of June". That was really confusing to a small kid!

-sean

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