Thursday, 27 August 2015

Pat Boyette's 'An Old Man' & 'Survivor'

Here's a couple of takes on the same story from Mr. Experimental himself, Pat Boyette. It's taken me a long time to get into Boyette's work, being a cast iron example of the kind of thing I hated as a kid. Too weird, too ugly, too out there. I still wouldn't say I absolutely love it as an adult, but what I do love is Pat's willingness to throw everything into the mix, be it odd camera angles and page layouts, or mixing media, colour and black & white as he does here.
An Old Man appeared in Ghost Manor in June of 1976, and it's a great, bleak, mournful tale. Then, in June 1983, Archie Goodwin gave Pat the chance to do it again in Epic, with better production values, and Survivor is even better.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Saga Of The Victims

The Saga Of The Victims ran in Scream, and was one of the best things Skywald and it's head honcho Al Hewetson ever did. Archaic Al always came up with great ideas, but was always more interested in mood ( The Horror Mood as he called it ) than logic in his stories. If it was weird and strange, that was enough for Al, it didn't have to make sense.
As a result, Victims deliberatly makes no sense at all, gets crazier and wilder with each suceeding page, never mind each installment, and the best thing to do is just let yourself go with it.
Our two heroines, Josey and Anne, don't go with it and fight the madness every step of the way, even though they have no more idea of what's happening than we do.
As a grindhouse feature in comic form, the girls look to be based on blaxploitation actress Teresa Graves and swedish hottie Britt Ekland:

Though they could just as easily be Pam Grier and Margaret Markov, then starring in a bunch of low-budget exploitationers like The Arena:

Victims was never finished at the time, Skywald going out of business before Hewetson could explain just what the hell was going on in his magnum opus, though he did get a chance to wrap things up years later in a one issue piece that properly ends the series. By all accounts, it comes to a bit of an unsatisfactory close, but I'm not sure I actually want an explanation, as that would dilute the absolute barking madness of it all. Some things are better left unsaid.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

A Puppy Named Schatzi

Dog lovers look away now. They say the first casualty of war is innocence. In actual fact, it's a cute little puppy named Schatzi, but they probably couldn't get that on the posters.
This is probably the best known Enemy Ace story, as a tiny chink of hope and sunlight enters the tortured existence of perennial gloom merchant Hans Von Hammer.
With issue after issue of Von Hammer bemoaning the futility of war, it feels quite weird seeing him happy and smiling in this tale, but just as he knows he's destined to die in flames over no man's land, we know that The Hammer Of Hell's rose tinted future with his new best friend is doomed, even if we hadn't seen the cover.
He even introduces Schatzi to his only other friend and Harbinger of Death, the mysterious black wolf in the forest. A sure sign that the little guy isn't about to get his own back-up strip.
Amazingly, Luck Is A Puppy Named Schatzi isn't cheesy and cloying, mostly due to tough guy Joe Kubert's unflinching art with the superbly researched aerial battles, Von Hammer's hopeful, doomed expressions and Schatzi's final, awful fate.
War, is indeed, hell for puppy's.