Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Time to Find a New HMO Covers

No one likes surgery, but imagine if the team in the OR consisted of skeletons, zombies and assorted ghouls. Well, it seems that many, many editors thought that this would make a great cover theme. I was quite surprised by how many covers feature this set-up. Let's take a look at a handful of them.

The cover to Mysterious Adventures #16 is one of my favourites. I love how the 'Doctor' is pleading with them to stop the operation, explaining that he 'doesn't need an operation', rather than 'you're just a bunch of skeletons. I'm often not a fan of a ton of cover dialogue, but it works well here - as we know these skeletons are seeking revenge. This series from Story Comics is pretty tough to find, which is a shame as it features a ton of great covers - the majority of which feature a skeleton.

Jerry Grandenetti and Creig Flessel team up for the cover to Black Magic #3, a series that reprints old Simon and Kirby stories from the 50s series of the same name. I'll never quite realize how these patients manage to get all the way to the operating room before they realize that something is not quite right. This team of Satanic ghouls at least appeared to be somewhat competent. I meant to flip through this issue last night to confirm, but I've got a feeling that this story doesn't appear in the issue.

Let's travel back to pre-Code days with this cover from Strange Fantasy #2 from third tier publisher, Ajax-Farrel. This one features a slight twist on the theme, as the team of undead 'doctors' are simply attempting to revive one of their own. A zombie rebellion might take a while to gather steam if every single zombie requires surgery before hitting the mall. I'm not sure who drew this cover (as I have trouble IDing most of that company's output) -but the one zombie in centre background has the sunken eyes that Don Heck was doing at the time. I've only ever owned on book from this series, and I can't really say that it was the highlight of my pre-Code horror collection.

As I've said on here before, DC's Secrets of the Haunted House is a fun little title that is sometimes overlook when 70s horror is discussed. The cover to issue #21 is particularly strong. I am a bit confused, though. While the 'Doctors of the Devil' appear to be ghouls or zombies, they decided to turn their patient into some sort of Lion Man, kind of like Simbar from the Doctor Spektor series (if you know who I'm talking about, you read waaaay too many comics). While Wrightson, Adams, Cardy and Kubert are often, and justly, praised for their fine cover work for DC in the 70s - I feel that Luis Dominguez should be included in those discussions are he cranked out a ton of great covers, such as this one.

By now, we're familiar with the scene portrayed on the cover of Crypt of Shadows #16. The GCD notes that this cover was pencilled by either Ron Wilson or Ed Hannigan. It further states that Nick Caputo provided the info. As Nick visits this blog from time to time, perhaps his can clarify. I really don't know myself - my initial thought after glancing at it was actually Larry Lieber. This is one of the many reprint titles published by Marvel in the 70s that are a great source for affordable Atlas-era horror stories. Sadly, the secret is out, as I've noticed that prices on this creeping steadily upward over the past few years.
Well folks, that a quick look at "Time to Find a New HMO Covers". As I'm in Canada, I can assure my American readers that while universal health care has it flaws, it never gets quite this bad.


~P~ said...

Ah, yes... the Skeletal surgical team...

Have you seen THIS one?

It was one of the first such instances that I came across when, as a lad, I began reading comics (and one of the issues that hepped me to grok Doctor Strange).


The scene DOES take place in the comic... however, a clue to it's occurrence is that he's knocked unconscious and wakes on the table.

After defeating the ghoulish surgeons, he THEN has to battle the (sorcerously enhanced) spirit of Hippocrates!

Lastly, he's transported back in time to relive some of his worst moments as a derelict, until they prop his drunken self up in front of a surgical table and force him to perform an operation on a young woman (meanwhile, his fractured hands are shaking... as well as from the D.T.'s)...

It is then that he wakes and finds that he was under a spell and was about to perform a sacrifice on his female companion.
The whole thing a mystically induced shadow-play.

Good issue.


Scott M said...

I hadn't seen that one. Boy, it really reminds me of another cover, but I can't quite remember which one. I swear this is a swipe or quasi-swipe, but my memory is foggy.

I'll also amend my statement about Black Magic #3. I did go back and check out the issue - there is indeed a story "The Courts of Sleep" that reflects the cover.

Anonymous said...


Nick Caputo here. About the Crypt of Shadows cover, Lieber did pencil many covers, but this one looks more like Ron Wilson to me, although I'm not 100% sure. Wilon did plenty of covers for Marvel in all genres in this period, many times over Romita cover roughs (he mentioned this in an interview recently). It makes it hard to tell sometimes whose particular style you're seeing.

I always enjoy visting your site which has a nice mixture of comics and interesting discussion.

Nick Caputo

Scott M said...

Thanks for the input Nick - always appreciated.

I've been making my way through the Marvel Two-in-One Essentials Vol 2. so I've got Wilson on the brain, and can definitely see it now.