Pre-Code SCI-FI HORROR Comics by SPIDER-MAN Artist JOHN Romita

Pre-Code HORROR and SCI-FI Comics by Popular Marvel SPIDER-MAN Artist JOHN Romita

Pre-code horror comics by John Romita.  Romita was a very popular Spider-Man artist for Marvel Comics.  John Romita Senior, born January 1930, passed away at the age of 93 in June 2023, after many decades of acclaimed work in the comics industry.
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Romita is well known for his work for Marvel Comics in the 1960’s and 1970’s doing art for notable titles like The Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers, and Daredevil.
As an Atlas artist doing a  lot of pre-code horror comics for Stan Lee, Romita ended up drawing about 200 stories for Atlas between 1951 and 1957 in all genres including horror, sci-fi, crime, jungle comics, westerns, war, and romance.
Marvel’s Masterworks volumes featuring pre-code horror comics by John Romita on sale now.

John Romita Beginnings In the Comics Industry

A graduate of the Caniff School of Art, Romita began his career at Atlas Comics ghosting stories for artists Les Zakarin in 1951.   Working for Marvel in the early 1960s he started drawing Daredevil.  He then followed Steve ditko on The Amazing Spider-Man his most acclaimed comic book series.

Fortunately, Marvel has reprinted many of the Atlas Comics Series in multiple volumes. These books feature pre-code art by John Romita, Sid Shores, Joe Sinnott, Russ Heath and many more. See the link on this page. Years before the Marvel superhero boom, Romita lent his young talent to Atlas pre-code horror comics.  These titles include Menace, Marvel Tales, Astonishing, suspense, and Journey into Mystery.

Romita’s Atlas Pre-code Horror Comic Art

Today we’re looking at some of the Atlas horror comics titles that John Romita Drew starting in 1951 with Strange Tales number three, published October of 1951. Romita did pencils for the story The Man Who Never Was. Astonishing number seven, December of 1951, Romita did pencils and inks for “Out of my Mind.” Astonishing number 24, April of 1953, the story “Poor Wilbur,” doing both pencils and inks. In Marvel Tales number 108, August of 1952, a story called “The Guillotine.” Marvel Tales number 127, October of 1954, Romita drew a story titled “A thing of Evil.”

Menace, Mystic, and More

“Flying Saucer” was a story he rendered in Menace number six, 1953. Menace number eight October of 1953 called “The werewolf was Afraid.” In Menace number 11, 1954, he did the pencils and inks for a story called “The Robot.” Mystic number 25, December of 1953, a story titled “Vampire” with Romita supplying the pencils and inks. “Speed Carter, Spaceman” issue number one, September of 1953. He drew the story called “Venus Earth’s twin sister,” supplying the pencils and inks. In Spellbound number 13, March of 1953, Romita drew “The Dead Men.” Strange Tales number three, October of 1951 “The Man Who Never Was” pencils. Strange Tales number four December of 1951″IT,” supplying the pencils and inks.
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I hope you enjoyed this look into John Romita’s pre-code horror comics period of the 1950s please like And subscribe and thanks for watching.
Romita’s pre-code horror and sci-fi comics are available through Marvel’s Masterworks volumes on sale here

Harvey HORRORS Black Cat MYSTERY Pre-code Comic Book series vol 1 August 1951

Harvey HORRORS Black Cat MYSTERY Pre-code Comic Book series vol 1 no 30 August 1951 – PART ONE

harvey-horrors-black-cat-mystery-30
Harvey Horrors presents the Black Cat Mystery series of pre-code horror comics in volume 1 from PS Artbooks. This Volume covers issues 30 through 34 and today we are going to be looking at issue number 30 from August of 1951.
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Black Cat Origins

Before it became Black Cat Mystery it was simply called Black Cat the darling of comics. Why you ask? In the 1940s, Black Cat was a masked female crime fighter living in Hollywood California and that series was very popular for years. It lasted issues 1 through 29 and in 1951 as every other publisher was turning to horror, crime, and science fiction so was Harvey.
The transition from Black Cat darling of the comics to Black Cat mystery Comics. With Black Cat Comics number 29 they had already started transitioning into the Black Cat mystery horror comics.

Note the header “Strange Tales of fear and Terror,” Black Cat with Mystery comics in small type below it. And of course the image depicting Black Cat all tied up. Yes another classic Black Cat bondage cover with a threatening witch taunting her.

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Black Cat Action Becomes Horror

We have an introduction by Peter Crowder of PS art books. Harvey Horrors presents strangest Tales of fear and Terror – Black Cat mystery volume 2. This is prepping everybody for volume two which was about to come out and of course there are five volumes in all.

On the right this is the cover to issue number 30 August of 1951 and you will see that indeed Black cat, our female crime fighter is still on the cover but she’s now being menaced by these mutant creatures including this one insect-like creature which inexplicably has a human head.

This is the last time we see Black Cat on the cover of Black Cat mystery. The cover is by Lee Elias who also drew a lot of the Black Cat comics in the 1940s. Here are some rather amusing ads for cute animal comic books from Harvey. Rags rabbit, little Max, Chick Young’s Daisy and her Pups.

Black Cat Speaks

black cat speaksOn the index page the Black Cat speaks. “That’s right all of you lovers of Terror packed weird and exciting Adventure! Black Cat reaches a new high in Mystery and horror. You’ll be seeing me in stories more thrilling and more terrifying than ever before.”
“I won’t appear in all of the amazing accounts myself but each one of them is a story I want you to share with me because I found it exciting. Chills will race up and down your spine as you read these strange unbelievable Tales of fear and Terror! Your imaginations will be fired by the snarling monsters, blood thirsty Ghouls, and brutal mind-buckling criminals. The book is all new! All different! Every page is colorfully crammed with dripping suspenseful episodes that will thrill you. Join me in my new book Black Cat mystery!”
We have the various tales that are in this issue number 30. The Thing from the Grave, No Werewolf must kill, Gateway to Death.

Roadmaster Bike Ad

Here is another ad: “Ride Roadmaster, the only bike with bumpers!” That’s Roadie Roadmaster. A very sharp looking bike. 1951, folks, you know when bikes and cars actually had style.

END PART ONE – Watch the original video here.

Jim Steranko COMIXSCENE 3-ALL HORROR Comics Issue-March 1973 Supergraphics-PART ONE

Jim Steranko COMIXSCENE 3-ALL HORROR Comics Issue-March 1973 Supergraphics-PART ONE

comixscene 3 horror comics issueJim Steranko’s Comix Scene issue number three, March 1973, the all horror issue.  Comixscene was Jim Steranko’s publication through Supergraphics and it lasted six issues from 1972 to 1973 before becoming Mediascene.   Mediascene picked up with issue number seven in 1973 and went until 1979. In 1980, Steranko launched Preview Magazine. Preview ran from 1980 to 1994.
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Contents of Comixscene Number Three

Comixscene #3 showcases the faces of fear from the thrilling 30s to the scary 70s.  Werewolves, monsters, vampires, ghouls, zombies, the unliving and the undead. The horror characters and comics of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I’ll wait to greet you on the pages inside. Plus more news, reviews, and articles than ever before! Special feature: Frogs – a nightmarish Parable told an exciting new comic format.
Steranko creates his first story in three years. A way-out experiment in form and content equal to an eight-page comic story. Enjoy!

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Jim Steranko Introduction to Comixscene 3

Comixscene was definitely much more text oriented than Mediascene which we will be looking at in future episodes. That being said, the info inside is invaluable. In the editorial, Steranko begins by saying, “Take a good look around you and you’ll have to agree with this: horror comics are here to stay. The same trend that surfaced in the 1950s and 1960s has manifested itself again. This time more firmly entrenched in all popular media than ever.”

Comixscene contents

On the right side of the page, we have future histories of comics planned and a list of Super Graphics products you can order. On the right hand column are all staranko’s books including the History of Comics number two, a fantastic Steranko encyclopedia of superheroes.
Get all three books for seven dollars and fifty cents, folks!

Horror Comics and Comix on the Newsstand

Horror on the newsstand! We’re looking at Marvel, DC, and Indie Comics that had hit the newsstands in early 1973. I love that he starts off with an image of Richard Corbin’s FANTAGOR and he talks about it. It’s very interesting because the magazine is called Comixscene with an X and there’s always that talk of what’s the difference between Comics c-o-m-i-c-s versus comic c-o-m-i-x.

The Difference Between Comics and Comix

richard-corbenI think Richard Corbin sums it up very well in this quote. “There are all kinds of differences between the regular comics and the underground Comics. The first underground horror books were tongue-in-cheek parodies of old EC’S. Even now, most of the stories have a humorous intent. The most obvious differences to the Casual Observer are that the undergrounds are mostly black and white.

The artwork is sometimes amateurish and there is an emphasis on everything that is forbidden to the regular Comics. The Underground stories are usually creations of an individual and can be good or bad but are usually uneven. The overgrounds are assembly line efforts and are not good or bad but always even.”

Horror Comics in the Spotlight

Let’s take a look at some issues. As I said Fantagor, you have Swamp Thing on the scene, Vault of Evil, Werewolf by Night. I believe that is issue number six of Tomb of Dracula introduces Blade the Vampire Slayer. DC is on the scene with House of Mystery and House of Secrets and then of course we have Marvel with Supernatural Thrillers Issue 4 and issue number five which feature the Living Mummy.

Cultism versus Consumerism

bill-everettThere is a nice little obituary on the great Bill Everett by Steranko. Some book reviews here. Cheap Thrills an informal history of Pulp magazines by Ron Goulart. The golden days of fanzines. You have to love it. They mention Graphic story World which was very hot. Funny World was another really high-end fanzine.

Next is a very interesting article by Byron Priest called Cultism versus Consumerism. “The analysis in this article is based upon an association with the comics industry. It is not meant to be construed as the result of methodical research. Where do you buy your Comics? A candy store? All right, where else? A drugstore? Fine. A supermarket? Okay. Now let’s change just one word in our question. Where do you buy your comics with an X? The answers change too a head shop, a record store, and of course, through the mail. Comics and Comix. The difference is much more than just two letters and more than just the presence or absence of censorship. It’s a whole concept of cultism versus consumerism.

Comics and Comix Production and Distribution

The limited run Comics as opposed to the mass-produced superbooks of Madison Avenue. Comics are produced in the hundreds of thousands. Few Comix Reach This level. The companies behind the comix are growing ambitious and enterprising yet commercially impotent. There are many such Publishers currently in the business. Ripoff press, Apex, Print mint, La comics, and the crop comic works as well as a large number of Easy Come Easy Go outfits who spring up periodically. Unfortunately for these young entrepreneurs their main business Outlet continues to be mail order oriented. Small head shops from Boston to Milwaukee to Los Angeles send in requests for certain amounts of certain titles or large quantities of an entire line of comics and receive their order in the mail. With the Advent of Skull, Young Lust and Fantagor comix, undergrounds are moving towards some regularity in the frequency of publication but as a whole they are still sporadically released.”
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END PART ONE
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Comic Book Artist JOE SINNOTT – Early Days of ATLAS Pre-Code and MARVEL Silver Age

Comic Book Artist JOE SINNOTT – Early Days of ATLAS Pre-Code and MARVEL Silver Age

HAUNTED THRILLS Video Archive Part One – JOE SINNOTT: The Early Days Working for STAN LEE at Timely/Atlas which would roll into Marvel Comics. Remembering John Severin, Marie Severin, John Buscema, Jack Kirby, John Romita, and more. Interviewed by Mike Lyddon during Albany Comic Con, 2019.
This is unedited video of the Joe Sinnott interview used in Mike T. Lyddon’s documentary HAUNTED THRILLS now playing on YT.

joe sinnott comic book artist early days with stan lee atlas marvel

Joe Sinnott – “You could always fall back on the westerns and in fact the first story I ever did was a western called “The Man who Wouldn’t Die.” It was a three-page filler for one of the Western Comics. From that time on I’ve been with Stan ever since.  At that time as you know June 1950 the Korean War started so naturally we started doing a lot of war books. I did so many war books we had so many titles and of course EC started it all they they put out some great books.  They had some great artists like John Severn and and Wally Wood.  Stan tried to duplicate what they were doing and we we turned out some good books.  We had Gene Colan who did excellent work and people like that.”

EC comics line Folds

“Of course later on when EC comics folded, John Severin came over and did some work for for Stan at Atlas.  Al Williamson people like that that had worked for EC but EC was one of the first Comics to fold because of the comics code which came out in the early 50s. We had so many good artists, Johnny Romita for example and of course Russ Heath. He did some great westerns and Great War Stories.  He did great covers.”

The great artist John Severin

“My all-time favorite was John Severn. I thought he did the best. No one could do a western or war story like he could but John was not big on superheroes. He was so versatile, look at all the crack magazine covers he did down through the years. I talked to him on the phone but I never met him never got to meet John. I knew his sister Marie very well and we did a lot of things together. Marie she was a great a great penciler she had a great sense of humor she was a great colorist. She was just a great all-around Talent and she’s not doing too well now physically.  We all think a lot of her and try to keep in touch with her.”

John Romita and John Buscema

“Johnny Romita came came over from DC where he was doing a lot of romance books.  He did great Romance Books.  He came over probably in the early 60s and the same way with John Buscema, the greatest talent in comics. No one could draw like John Buscema.  His Conan and Tarzan!   He hated superheroes but he he did great stories for Thor, The Fantastic Four and and he and I worked together for many years.  Some of my best stuff I feel was when I did work for John Buscema.  I can’t say enough about him and of course Kirby.  He was the king of comics and he was really a cartoonist whereas Buscema was an illustrator.

Jack Kirby

Jack was he was a great cartoonist and he could tell a story like no one else, especially his fantasy type work. We all know his Fantastic Four changed the whole direction of comics in the 1960s.  It’s amazing if if you look at the the volume of work that that Jack did. I’m not saying he couldn’t ink but his work was not the same when he Inked it but he was a beautiful penciler and uh I never had a bit of problems with any of his stuff. Once in a great while with any any penciler you had to help them along a little bit. Stan used to give Frank and myself and Tom Palmer, people like that, young artists that were just coming into the field. Rich Buckler for example and Jim Starlin. Stan knew how to juggle his artists and look at all the great books he turned out.”

Joe Sinnott On Working For Stan Lee in the early days

joe sinnott working for stan lee and atlas comics

“I started with Stan like I said in 1950. I did my own pencils and inks right up until about 1962. So in other words, for 12 years I did nothing but my own pencils and I ink my own work. There were westerns, war stories, horror, science fiction, romance…the whole bit. In the early 60s, Jack Kirby came over to Marvel. Stan couldn’t get us couldn’t get anyone to Ink Jack’s story and it was a monster book. He called me up and said, ‘Joe could you ink the story? It’s a short story by Jack Kirby.’ “And so I told him I thought I could so I inked Kirby’s story and he liked the combination of my ink and Kirby’s pencils. Looking back, I often say to myself, you know, maybe I changed too much of Kirby’s art but then I got back on the track and tried to Ink them just the way Jack penciled his stories because he was a great penciler.”

From the pre-code comics documentary HAUNTED THRILLS now available  on Youtube.