Comics from Hell: The Horror Films That Spawned Comics – article

  • Escape of the Living Dead is a five-issue comic book mini-series originally published from September 2005 to March 2006 by Avatar Press and written by John A. Russo as a sequel to Night of the Living Dead
  • Escape of the Living Dead: Fearbook is a single issue comic book originally published August 2006 by Avatar Press and written by Mike Wolfer and is a sequel to Escape of the Living Dead.
  • Escape of the Living Dead: Airborne is a three-issue comic book mini-series originally published from September 2006 to November 2006 by Avatar Press and written by John A. Russo and Mike Wolfer and is a sequel to Escape of the Living Dead.
  • Escape of the Living Dead Annual #1 is a single issue comic book originally published March 2007 by Avatar Press and written by Mike Wolfer and is a sequel to Escape of the Living Dead.
  • Escape of the Living Dead: Resurrected is a collection of the whole series originally published January 2008 by Avatar Press. It contains all ten issues of the story: the original 5 issue series, the 3 issue Airborne series, the Fearbook, and the Annual.

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  • Night of the Living Dead
  • Night of the Living Dead 2011 Annual
  • Night of the Living Dead Annual #1

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  • Night of the Living Dead: Back From the Grave
  • Night of the Living Dead: The Beginning #1
  • Night of the Living Dead Holiday Special #1

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Further Romero-spawned zombie fun was explored in a series of three Dawn of the Dead comics by Steve Niles and Chee and a five issue run of Land of the Dead, by Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriquez.

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Away from zombies, Romero was 50% of the talent behind 1982’s Creepshow, his collaboration with the famed novelist, Stephen King. As the film itself revolved around the stories in a pulp EC-type horror comic, it was natural that art should imitate… well, art and so it came to pass. The graphic novella was published by Penguin imprint Plume in July 1982, echoes the stories in the film and consists of five tales, two of which are based on earlier prose stories by King, while the remaining three were written specifically for the movie. The book’s interior art is by Bernie Wrightson with Michele Wrightson, with a cover by Jack Kamen.

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  • “Father’s Day”
  • “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” (based on the short story “Weeds”, first published in 1976)
  • “Something to Tide You Over”
  • “The Crate” (based on the short story “The Crate””, first published in 1979)
  • “They’re Creeping Up on You”

There is no introduction or afterword of any kind, although on the back cover it states “Stephen King conjures up five jolting tales of horror.” Interestingly, the short stories “Weeds” and “The Crate” have never been collected in a King book and both remain uncollected.

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Ghostbusters

The Ghostbusters franchise spawned various comic books published by various comic book companies through the years starting in 1988 and continuing to the present day. These comics have ranged from being based on the The Real Ghostbusters animated series, to more straight up themed comics based on the characters from the 1984 film.

The very first comic book addition to the Ghostbusters franchise was The Real Ghostbusters. It was a comic series based on the animated series of the same name – NOW Comics and Marvel Comics shared the comic book rights to the property. NOW Comics had the rights for publication in North America, while Marvel had the rights in Europe. Some of the Marvel UK issues reprinted material from the NOW Comics series, and vice versa. Publication of the series began on March 28, 1988.

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NOW Comics began their series in August 1988. The series ran for two volumes, two annuals and one special, the first volume running for 28 issues. The series was primarily written by James Van Hise, with the exceptions being issue 4 by La Morris Richmond and issue 21 which featured Marvel UK reprints due to production delays. John Tobias, Phillip Hester, Evan Dorkin and Howard Bender were among the pencilers for the series.

The series was on hiatus for a time due to the publisher’s financial difficulties, but was subsequently re-launched. The second volume ran for four issues, one special (The Real Ghostbusters Spectacular 3-D Special) and two annuals (one regular and one 3-D). The series had a main story that ran from the 3-D Special through issue 4, followed by back-up stories reprinted from the Marvel UK run. They also contained game pages and health tips for kids and parents. Several issues of volume 1 and the main issues of volume 2 used covers taken from the Marvel UK run.

NOW Comics also published a 3 issue miniseries in 1989 called Real Ghostbusters Starring in Ghostbusters II that was collected as a trade paperback.

A spin-off series of the popular Ghostbusters character Slimer was also published. NOW Comics published a series that ran 19 issues from 1989 through 1990, as well as spawning a one shot special called The Real Ghostbusters 3-D Slimer Special. Some of these issues were reprinted as a trade paperback in 1991.

When IDW Publishing licensed the comic book rights to the Ghostbusters property, they began to reprint the Now Comics series in a multi-volume series of trade-paperbacks called The Real Ghostbusters Omnibus beginning in October 2012.

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Marvel UK published a magazine-sized comic for 193 issues that also spawned 4 annuals and 10 specials. The series started its run on March 28, 1988, starting five months before the NOW Comics series. Each issue contained three to four comic stories, a prose story alternating from a regular tale to one narrated by Winston Zeddemore, a prose entry of Egon Spengler’s Spirit Guide typically discussing the entities in the comic, a bio of a character or ghost that appeared in the series, and a short Slimer strip. The comics featured a rotating line-up of creators, including John Carnell, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Brian Williamson, Anthony Williams, Stuart Place, Richard Starkings, and Helen Stone.

The series ran weekly and eventually began to feature reprints from the American comics as well as stories that appeared previously in the series. The American comics were often broken up into four to five parts, and incorporated the failed Slimer! series beginning with issue 121. The last original story ran in issue 171 with the remaining issues beingreprints from the earlier comics and the American books.

Four annual comics were produced in a hardcover format. Each book contained several comic strips, full-page Slimer strips, and prose stories. The books also included game and activity pages, and reprints of bios found in the regular books.

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Over ten years after the end of The Real Ghostbusters comic books, the property returned to comics courtesy of the Quebec based comic company 88MPH Studios. They published a four issue mini-series titled Ghostbusters: Legion that ran from February through May 2004. It was written by Andrew Dabb with pencils by Steve Kurth and inks by Serge LaPointe. Unlike the previous comics, this title (as well as future titles by other publishing companies) would be presenting the characters the way they were portrayed in the original 1984 film but set in 2004 instead of 1984, more serious themed and less cartoonish than The Real Ghostbusters series.

The storyline of Legion saw the return of the four Ghostbusters and the principal cast from the movie. Set six months on from the Gozer incident (in this universe having occurred in 2004) the series was designed to follow the Ghostbusters as their initial fame faded and they returned to the regular chore of busting ghosts on a daily basis. The series sees the team run ragged as a spate of supernatural crimes and other related occurrences plague the city.

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Prior to its release, the miniseries featured five pieces of promotional artwork featuring all four Ghostbusters. Two other pieces of promotional artwork were also featured on the back of the comic books once the miniseries had begun. These featured a promo of a melting Stay Puft Marshmallow Man featuring the phrase “S’mores Anyone?” and a promo of Slimer featuring the phrase “Vermin Problems?”

A special ‘Christmas card’ was created specially for the site, drawn by well-known Ghostbusters prop member Sean Bishop and coloured by one of the comic production staff.

When IDW Publishing picked up the franchise they took the opportunity to introduce the characters to other strands already well-known – these included escapes with Mars Attacks! and X-Files.

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Godzilla and other Kaiju

Japan’s most famous monster has appeared in a range of comic books that have been published in its home country and the United States.In his native Japan, Godzilla has been featured in various comic books since his inception in 1954. These comics for the most part were black and white publications known as manga, the vast majority of these were adaptations of the films. Every film from Godzilla up to Godzilla 2000 received a comic adaptation with the exception of King Kong vs. Godzilla. All the films from Godzilla vs. Megaguirus through to Godzilla: Final Wars did not receive a comic book adaptation.

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For the most part there were anywhere from two to four different adaptations of each film (the first comic adaptation of Godzilla vs. Biollante was called Godzilla 1990, while the second adaptation of Godzilla vs. Mothra was called Godzilla vs. Mothra: Great Study). Most of these comics (in particular the comics from the 1950s through the 1970s) were published in children’s magazines such as Bokura, Bouken Oh, and Shonen, while others were published in yellow pages-sized monthly or weekly publications, while still others were published as one-shots and sold in cinemas. Many of the latter comics (1980s–1990s) were published by Shogakukan Comics, Tentomushi comics, and Kodansya Comics. In the early 1990s, many of the original adaptations from the original series of Godzilla films were compiled into two pocketbook-sized volumes and reprinted by Bamboo Books.

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Most of the time these adaptations would deviate from the original films and flesh out characters or add scenarios to the stories that were not present in the original film. Outside of these adaptations many of the original Godzilla films also received Asahi Sonorama book and record sets. These illustrated comic-style book and record sets featured painted artwork within.

Godzilla was also featured in original stories – a sequel story to the original film was published in 1955 called The Last Godzilla, while a sequel story to Godzilla Raids Again was published in 1958 called Godzilla 2: Anguirus Strikes Back. In 1979, the Japanese edition of Starlog featured a two part illustrated story written by Katsuhiro Otomo called A Space Godzilla. Part one was featured in issue #4 (Farewell Earth) while part 2 was featured in issue #6 (Return to the Stars). In 1991 an anthology style comic featuring different stories by different writers and artists was published called The Godzilla Comic. This was followed in 1992 by The Godzilla Comic Strikes Back: Gigantes(sic) The Fire Comic. These 2 comics featured varying styles of stories. The stories would range from typical Godzilla tales, to comedic stories, to violent stories, to even “adult” themed stories that featured nudity.

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In 2014, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Godzilla and the 40th anniversary of the company’s own Big Comic Original Magazine, Shogakukan Inc. released the comic Big Comic Original Godzilla Special Issue. This one-shot comic featured twenty one Godzilla themed comic stories from the industries top manga artists and writers.

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Through the years since 1976, there have been various Godzilla comics published by different comic book publishing companies in America. These range from promotional comics to comics published by large mainstream comic companies such as Marvel Comics.

The first Godzilla comic published in the United States was actually a small promotional comic. In the summer of 1976 (as part of the publicity promoting the upcoming U.S. release of the film Godzilla vs. Megalon), a small 4-page comic book adaptation was published by Cinema Shares International Distribution Corp. and given away for free at cinemas. The comic featured no credits (so the artist and writer are unknown) and featured no cover. It was magazine-sized and published on newsprint. The comic is infamous for getting names of some of the major characters wrong as Jet Jaguar is referred to as “Robotman,” and Gigan is referred to as “Borodan”.

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It was actually another giant scaly beast who first came under the scrutiny of American artists. Gorgo appeared as far back as 1961, penned by Spider-man legend, Steve Ditko and with stories penned by Joe Gill. The series spanned 29 issues after a comic based on a film about a giant ape in London by the title of Konga proved a success for Charlton they try again with another English produced B-film, this titled Gorgo, both released at the same time as the films, the comics run for 23 issues each, a pretty good run for a Charlton comic at the time, as well as being the stars of Return of Konga (2 issues,) Return of Gorgo, (1 issue) and Revenge of Gorgo (2 issues,) there are also two less successful monster books, Reptilicus, based on herocially inept B-movie from Sweden, which runs for 2 issues, and Reptisaurus which ran for 6 issues and is only marginally based on Reptilicus.
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From 1977 until 1979, Godzilla starred in a 24-issue run of comics written by Doug Moench, drawn by Herb Trimpe, and published by Marvel Comics entitled Godzilla, King of the Monsters. The series thrusts Godzilla completely into the Marvel Universe. In a nod to King Kong vs. Godzilla, Godzilla first appears by exploding out of an iceberg near Alaska; although, how the prehistoric creature came to be trapped again in ice is never revealed – the beauty of comics are that the audience is generally very accepting of wild inconsistencies. Over the course of the series, he crosses the continental United States and eventually ends up in New York City.

Godzilla’s appearances in the Toho films are alluded to in a few issues. In at least one issue, Godzilla seems like the lesser of two evils. He clashes with a monster far more evil, who generally acts more like an actual animal, albeit one with unusual levels of intelligence. Despite such allusions to the films, Godzilla is depicted as more animal-like than as the highly intelligent, perhaps sentient, creature depicted in the majority of the films by the time of the comics’ printing (1977), in what is considered the Showa period of Godzilla films (1954–75). This version of Godzilla, while intelligent, is not the protector of mankind; however, he does, at times, exhibit compassion for human characters such as “Dum Dum” Dugan, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who is tasked with his capture, destruction, or repulsion from America, and Robert Takiguchi, the grandson of Japanese scientific expert Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi, who regards Godzilla as a hero and who is depicted as being Godzilla’s only friend. Unlike other characters whose actions, thoughts, and feelings are told through thought balloons, Godzilla’s are narrated externally via captions.

Godzilla encounters not only agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. during the course of the series but many other heroes in the Marvel Comics universe. Among them are the now-defunct group the Champions (sans Ghost Rider, though he was a member at the time), the Fantastic Four, Devil Dinosaur, Moon-Boy and the Avengers, along with a brief cameo by Spider-Man in the last issue of the series.

Godzilla also fights other gigantic monsters, including Yetrigar, a King Kong-esque giant primate, and the alien Mega Monsters. Red Ronin, a giant robotic entity created specifically for the series, reappears in Avengers, Solo Avengers, and an issue of Wolverine, in which Godzilla is given an oblique nod, being referred to as a “Time Lost Dinosaur,” presumably to avoid legal action by Toho. Marvel had, by then, lost the rights to depict Godzilla. Red Ronin also appears in the series Earth X.

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Godzilla, Yetrigar and Red Ronin participate in a three-way brawl in the Grand Canyon. From Godzilla King of the Monsters #11. (June 1978). Published by Marvel Comics. Art by Herb Trimpe and Ernie Chan.

Between February 1979 and July 1979, Marvel had the comic book rights to both Godzilla and the Shogun Warriors. While the characters never crossed paths in their respective comics, artist Herb Trimpe (who did the artwork for both of the series) drew a variation of Godzilla andRodan alongside Daimos, Great Mazinger, Raydeen, and Gaiking on the top page of a comic book ad soliciting the Shogun Warrior toys. Mattel Toys (who had the license to the Shogun Warriors) also had the licence to produce toys based on Godzilla and Rodan at this time. Also around this time, Marvel had prepared another story featuring Godzilla where he would have battled Dragon Lord. But since the copyright had expired, they modified Godzilla into a dragon like creature named The Wani for a story published in Marvel Spotlight vol. 2 #5 (March 1980).

Despite the loss of copyright, Marvel would continue to use Godzilla for several years afterward. In Iron Man No. 193, one of Godzilla’s primary antagonists from the original series, mad scientist Doctor Demonicus, captures and mutates Godzilla so that he no longer resembles his Toho namesake. This altered version of the monster would appear in Iron Man #193 and would return in No. 194, and #196. His last appearance was in The Thing No. 31, where he is actually referred to as Godzilla.

Outside of this, Godzilla has been referenced or spoofed in other Marvel comics. In The Web of Spider-Man Annual No. 2 from 1986, the character Warlock from The New Mutants turned into Godzilla and then King Kong during a rampage through New York City. In The New Mutants Annual No. 3 in 1987, the Impossible Man turns into Godzilla during a battle with Warlock who turns into Red Ronin. In The Amazing Spider-Man No. 413 from 1996, Spider-Man battles a huge robot toy Godzilla (among other giant robotic toys) brought about by the villain Mysterio. In the opening issue of The Mighty Avengers from 2007, a creature bearing a resemblance to the Heisei (1980s and ’90s) Godzilla, appears alongside other giant monsters sent to attack the surface world by the Mole Man. When this issue was solicited in Marvel Previews via a sneak peek page, the creature had Godzilla’s distinctive dorsal spines but when the actual comic was published, the dorsal spines had been removed. Godzilla is also mentioned in the 2005 one shot comic Marvel Monsters: From the Files of Ulysses Bloodstone and the Monster Hunters. In Astonishing X-Men No. 36 (which was published in 2011), the monster Fin Fang Foom is rampaging through down-town Tokyo. In one panel, he passes by a building that has a Godzilla billboard on its roof.

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The Marvel Comics atlas (under the article on Japan) states that the Age of Monsters began in 1954, which is evidently a reference to the original Godzilla film. Additionally, the entry mentions that Godzilla returns years later and is the reason for the construction of Red Ronin and the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Godzilla Squadron. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Godzilla-hunting ship, Behemoth, has recently resurfaced under the command of Amadeus Cho in The Incredible Hercules #115. Yuriko Takiguchi, too, has reappeared in recent years, having been recruited by Beast to join his X-Club in Uncanny X-Men #506. Another monster resembling Godzilla served as the “self-destruct event” for Takiguchi’s lab on Kunashir Island.In 2006, Marvel reprinted the entire 24 issue run of Godzilla, King of the Monsters as a trade paperback collection called Essential Godzilla, King of the Monsters. Like all of Marvel’s Essential line, the series was published in black and white rather than colour, like in its original printing.

In 1987, Dark Horse Comics acquired the rights to Godzilla and for the next 12 years published various comic books and trade paperbacks based on the character. These ran the gamut from back up stories in anthology titles, to one shots, to mini-series, to an ongoing series, as well as various reprints in the trade paperback format. In 1987, they published a black and white one shot comic called Godzilla King of the Monsters Special. Between 1988 and 1989, DH published a 6 issue mini series simply called Godzilla. It was a translated version of the Japanese manga of the film The Return of Godzilla, which was based on the Japanese version of the film rather than the Americanized version, Godzilla 1985. This series was reprinted in the trade paperback Godzilla, which was issued in 1990 and then reissued in 1995. It was also reprinted in colour in the mini series Dark Horse Classics: Terror of Godzilla #1-#6 from 1998–1999.

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In 1992, an illustration of Godzilla (provided by Arthur Adams) was published in San Diego Comic Con Comics #1. Also that year the one shot Godzilla Colour Special was published. It would be reprinted as simply Dark Horse Classics Godzilla in 1998.

In 1993, Godzilla was featured in the anthology series Dark Horse Comics in issues #10 and #11. That year Godzilla was also featured in a pair of one shot comics. Urban Legends, which dispells the dual ending myth from the film King Kong vs Godzilla, as well as Godzilla vs Barkley, which was based on the commercial Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley. This comic was also published in Japan.

In 1995, Godzilla appeared in the one shot comic Godzilla vs. Hero Zero. That year Godzilla starred in an ongoing series called Godzilla King of the Monsters that ran from issue #0-#16. This series was published from 1995 through 1996. The series features several new monsters for Godzilla to battle and a story arc in which Godzilla was flung through time by a would-be archvillain, who uses him to cause the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, sink the Titanic, and even pit him against the Spanish Armada. Godzilla would be flung into the far flung future as well and would rampage across it before returning to the modern day. The last issue of the Dark Horse series sees Godzilla flung back into time to just a few hours before the asteroid, which supposedly destroys the dinosaurs impacted on Earth, and fights an alien creature. This issue first seems to have an ‘it was all a dream’ ending, as Godzilla wakes from his slumber in the modern day. But then a twist is thrown into the ending. Godzilla is shown staring at a piece of his opponent’s tail that is still in his hand from where he had ripped it off in the final moments of their battle before the impact.

In 1996, Godzilla appeared in the anthology series Dark Horse Presents in issue #106, as well the miniseries A Decade of Dark Horse in issue #4. Also that year some of the earlier published material was reprinted in the one shot comic Art Adams’ Creature Features.

Finally in 1998, Godzilla appeared in trade paperbacks and miniseries that were simply reprinting earlier material. This included the mini series Dark Horse Classics: Godzilla King of the Monsters #1-#6 and the trade paperbacks Godzilla Age of Monsters and Godzilla Past, Present, Future.

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In 2010, IDW Publishing obtained the rights for the license to Godzilla, and began publishing a new 12 issue series in March 2011, called Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters. Originally titled Godzilla: Monster World, the new series launched with a painted cover by Alex Rossas well as a record 100 plus variant covers that were mostly retailer incentives. This promotion allowed comic book shop owners to have personalized variants featuring their store being demolished by Godzilla’s foot, if they ordered over 500 copies. Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters No. 1 was therefore able to sell out of its first printing. In August 2011, IDW released a comic called Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters 100-Cover Charity Spectacular. The comic featured all the unique covers of the comic book smashing variants of issue No. 1 via a cover gallery. Proceeds of the sale went to benefit the International Medical Corps for Tsunami relief in Japan. The 12 issue series was collected as a three volume trade paperback.

In May 2012, IDW began publishing a new ongoing series, simply called Godzilla. The series ran 13 issues. In November, they began collecting the series as a three volume trade paperback collection. On April 2014, the entire series was collected as a deluxe trade paperback called Godzilla: History’s Greatest Monster.

In June 2013, IDW began publishing their third ongoing series called Godzilla: Rulers of Earth. They began collecting the series as a multi-volume trade paperback collection in December 2013.

Outside of the ongoing series, IDW also published various miniseries. They published a 5 issue miniseries called Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths from June–October 2011, that was then collected as a trade paperback in November.

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A 5 issue miniseries called Godzilla: Legends from November 2011-March 2012. The series was then collected as a trade paperback in June. A 5 issue series called Godzilla: The Half-Century War was published from August–December 2012. It was collected as a trade paperback in May 2013.

Another 5 issue series called Godzilla: Cataclysm was published from August to December 2014. In June 2014, IDW published a one-shot comic called Godzilla: The IDW Era. This one-shot gave a brief overview of all the various IDW Godzilla series in publication over the past 3 years.

Unlike the previous companies who licensed Godzilla, IDW was able to acquire the rights to other Toho movie monsters. IDW initially announced Godzilla, Anguirus, Rodan,Mothra, King Ghidorah, Kumonga, Hedorah, Gigan, Mechagodzilla, Titanosaurus, Battra, Space Godzilla and Destoroyah, but have recently added Moguera, Varan, Manda, Baragon, Gaira, Sanda, Ebirah, Gorosaurus, Gezora, Jet Jaguar, Megalon, Biollante, Orga, Megaguirus, Zilla, Monster X and Keizer Ghidorah to their acquired monsters.

 The Hills Have Eyes

Surely one of the more unusual comic-book adaptations of a horror film was The Hills Have Eyes, Wes Craven’s 1977 classic, successfully remade in 2006 by Alexandre Aja – folk of a nervous disposition will be relieved to hear that both sequels were ignored. The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning is specifically a graphic novel prequel to the 2006 The Hills Have Eyes. It was released on July 3, 2007, and distributed by Fox Atomic Comics. The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning tells the story of the original families who refused to leave their small New Mexico town once the U.S. government began above-ground atomic testing. Spanning multiple generations, this dark tale reveals how these once good people slowly devolved into murderous mutants.

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There have recently been rumours that Rob Zombie may be interested in turning the novel into an animated film – you can’t have everything.

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Just to prove me wrong, here’s an even more unlikely adaptation – House I was clearly too obvious so in October 1987, Marvel Comics released a comic book adaptation of House II. It was written by Ralph Macchio, with artwork by Alan Kupperberg on pencils and Kupperberg,Hilary Barta, Danny Bulanadi, Jose Marzan Jr. and Pat Redding on inks.

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Jaws 2

…and from one surprising comic sequel to another. If Jaws 2 the film is famous for anything, it’s that it isn’t Jaws 3-D. Marvel had an ill-advised run at one-off specials to tie in with major releases. Major might not be the best word – Xanadu, Santa Claus the Movie and Octopussy were all given the mouse treatment, in retrospect, a kiss of death.

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Broadly speaking, the comic sticks to the action of the film, adding and taking away as one might expect. What might not be expected is the titular shark leaping out of the water to eat a helicopter. The artwork is not half bad, inevitably less impressive than the incredibly enticing cover but with surprisingly gratuitous scenes of innocents being devoured, complete with inky blood. Ensuring that Universal get the requisite amount of coverage for their film, the comic begins with a short chat with the film’s director, Jeannot Szwarc.

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Killdozer!

Novella, film, band and, bringing up the rear, comic, Killdozer! truly is the gift that keeps on giving. Originally harking from the pen of Theodore Sturgeon, one of the few works he conjured up during the 1941-1945 period when he suffered from chronic writer’s block, the tale tells of a work crew building an airstrip, only for them to accidentally unleash an ancient being which, naturally, possesses their bulldozer.

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It wasn’t until 1974 that it broke free of its leafy shackles to burst onto unsuspecting TV screens as one of the best-loved TV Movies of all-time; shonky, ridiculous but always satisfying. The same year, Marvel flexed their publishing muscle to bring it back to paper-form, as part of their 8-issue strand, ‘Worlds Unknown’, subtitled, “A Thing Called…Killdozer!”. Due to timing issues, the cover proclaimed, “As seen on TV”, though the comic hit the newsstands before the transmission of the film. Written by Gerry Conway, best known as the creator of The Punisher, and with art work by Dick Ayers and Ernie Chan, the issue follows the action of the novella closer than the film, though shares the latter’s bizarrely sluggish threat, entertaining but difficult to unequivocally defend. Particularly fun is the cover, artistic license giving the motorised marauder’s eyes, eyebrows, a voice and a bucket at the front equipped with spiky teeth, none of which actually appear in the strip.

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King Kong

Echoing the trend for acknowledging influences both old and modern, the Great Ape has throughout the decades featured in numerous comic book publications from several publishers.

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From the film’s first appearance, comic adaptations of King Kong have continued to be popular. The producers of both the original 1933 classic and its sequel, Son of Kong, RKO, recognised the potential and featured comic strips in their press-books which accompanied the films and also serialised in national newspapers on the run-up to release. These were presumed lost but an example was sold at auction for $15,000 in 2007.

In Japan, the cartoon version of King Kong appeared in a comic strip in issue No. 34 of the Japanese magazine Shonen Magazine. In this issue published in 1967, Kong battles a living version of the Statue of Liberty. This strip was based on the American cartoon series which was animated in Japan by Toei Animation. Shonen Magazine would publish numerous strips based on the 1960s King Kong cartoon throughout the shows run in that country featuring adaptations of various episodes but also original stories as well.

Staying away from America, a 1965 Mexican comic company called Ediciones Mexico published a series based on King Kong. The series was published with fully painted colour covers but with sepia and white interior artwork. A new issue was published every Wednesday and the series would run at least 185 issues. The series was originally called The Gorilla (El Gorilla) before being renamed a few issues later to The Gorilla of the Forest (El Gorilla del la Selva). A few issues later in 1966, it was renamed again to King Kong. At this point the series was now being published by a company called Editorial Orizaba. They continued as the publisher until 1972 when a company called Joma would take over.

The next King Kong comic from Latin America was King Kong in the Microcosmos. The publisher of the series was Editorial America and it was published around 1978, and lasted roughly 35 issues. This comic was about a group of aliens who lives in the Microcosmos and they are facing a war in their planet. Searching for a warrior to help them in this war, they found a gorilla who was chased by a group of hunters and take him and some of the hunters to their planet in order to win the war. They reduced Kong and the other earthlings and once they were in their planet they reversed the effect and Kong became a huge gorilla who helped them.

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In 1964, the British comic company IPC Media created a character in the pages of Valiant Comics called Mytek the Mighty. This character was a giant robot ape that was built by a Professor Boyce. He appeared in various issues published by IPC well into the 1970s. When these comic strips were published in France from 1972–1974, the character’s name was changed to King Kong the Robot. When the 32 issue comic was reprinted as various collections it was renamed Super King Kong.

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Monster Comics, an imprint of Fantagraphics Books, produced a six-issue black and white comic book in 1991, adapted and illustrated by Don Simpson, and authorized by director Merian C. Cooper’s estate.

It is not, in fact, based on the 1933 film, but instead on the 1932 novelisation by Delos W. Lovelace, and thus differs from the movie in numerous places. Notably, the ship is called the Vastator instead of the Venture and the characters of Charlie the Chinese cook and Second Mate Briggs are absent, replaced by a character from Lovelace’s novel named Lumpy. The comic also contains several scenes not found in the film including the infamous (and long sought after)  “spider pit” scenes and extra encounters with dinosaurs by the search party. Other notable changes include the addition of a character totally original to this comic, Denham’s assistant Wally, and an extended sequence of several dinosaurs joining Kong in attacking the native village.

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In the 1990s, Dark Horse Comics was publishing comics based on popular movie monsters such as Alien, Predator, Gamera and Godzilla. They wanted to base comics on King Kong as well. There were plans on doing a comic adaptation of the 1933 film, as well as pitting King Kong against the Aliens, the Predators and even the Rocketeer (in a story written by Dave Stevens). Furthermore there were plans on producing a Tarzan vs King Kong (aka Tarzan on Skull Island) story as well by Frank Cho. But the problems over thecomplicated and muddled rights to the King Kong character killed these plans. The most Dark Horse was able to do was feature King Kong in a one page segment in the one shot comic Urban Legends published in 1993 that dispels the dual ending myth from the film King Kong vs Godzilla.

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In 2005, Dark Horse Comics and DH Press were able to strike a deal with Universal to license and produce tie-in comic books in connection with King Kong. This included King Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World a direct comic book adaptation of the 2005 remake. They were also able to strike a deal with Joe DeVito a year earlier, to publish an illustrated novel (in both hardcover and softcover editions with differing cover art) called Kong: King of Skull Island. This story, by Joe DeVito, was an authorized sequel to the original King Kong story commissioned by Merian C Cooper’s estate.

The novel’s story ignores the existence of Son of Kong and continues the story of Skull Island with Carl Denham and Jack Driscoll in the late 1950s, through the novel’s central character, Vincent Denham (Ann Darrow does not appear, but is mentioned several times). The novel also becomes a prequel that reveals the story of the early history of Kong, of Skull Island, and of the natives of the island. On the novel’s official website; it has stated that it would become a major motion picture. It does not have a release date yet.

Kong has also appeared in ‘cameo’ appearances in many other titles, from Marvel favourites to the long-running British title, 2000 A.D.

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Halloween

It seems remarkable that the many films of the Halloween franchise were not enough to satiate either audiences or artists of all kinds. The first Halloween comic was published by Brian Pulido’s Chaos! Comics. Simply titled Halloween, it was intended to be a one-issue special, but eventually two sequels spawned:Halloween II: The Blackest Eyes and Halloween III: The Devil’s Eyes. All of the stories were written by Phil Nutman, with Daniel Farrands—writer for Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers—assisting on the first issue. Tommy Doyle is the main protagonist in each of the issues, focusing on his attempts to kill Michael Myers. The first issue includes back story on Michael’s childhood, while the third picks up after the events of the film Halloween H20.

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 These comics were based on Daniel Farrand’s concept for Halloween 8; he had been approached by the producers to pitch a follow-up to Halloween H20. His idea was to have Tommy Doyle incarcerated at Smith’s Grove for Michael Myers’ crimes, only to escape and reunite with Lindsay Wallace. Together, they study the journals of Dr. Loomis and find out more about Michael’s childhood. The movie would have explored Michael’s time at Smith’s Grove and relationship with Dr. Loomis, before returning to Tommy and Lindsay, who are attacked by the adult Michael Myers. Upon defeating him and removing his mask, they discover Laurie Strode, who has taken over her brother’s mantle. Farrand’s logic was that, since Jamie Lee Curtis was contracted to cameo in Halloween 8, they should make that cameo as significant and surprising as possible. Although the studio did not follow up on his pitch, Farrands was able to tell his story in comic book form.

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One Good Scare was released in 2003; it was written by Stefan Hutchinson and illustrated by Peter Fielding. The main character in this comic is Lindsey Wallace, the young girl who first saw Michael Myers alongside Tommy Doyle in the original 1978 film. Hutchinson wanted to bring the character back to his roots, and away from the “lumbering Jason-clone” the film sequels had made him. One Good Scare came about because Hutchinson wanted to produce a comic book to celebrate the series’ twenty-fifth anniversary; it was to be sold as a collectible at a Halloween convention in South Pasadena. Due to the positive reception to One Good Scare, Hutchinson hoped to use the comic as a “demo” for getting a distribution deal, but was unable to due to rights issues.

Whilst waiting to acquire the rights to publish more Halloween comics, Stefan Hutchinson worked on the documentary Halloween: 25 Years of Terror with Malek Akkad. Together, they developed ideas for possible Halloween stories that would be “connected into a larger tale, so the idea was that it would use the serial aspect of comic books to create different storylines than would be possible in the films”. On July 25, 2006, as an insert inside the DVD release of 25 Years of Terror, Hutchinson released Halloween: Autopsis. Written by Hutchinson, and artwork by Marcus Smith and Nick Dismas, the story is about a photographer assigned to take pictures of Michael Myers. As the photographer, Carter, follows Dr. Loomis he begins to take on Loomis’s obsession himself, until finally meeting Michael Myers in person, which results in his death.

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Rob Zombie’s reboot of the film series ensured that any Halloween comics would not be contradicted by upcoming films, allowing Hutchinson creative freedom. Malek Akkad was approached by Devil’s Due Publishing with the possibility of producing a line of Halloween comics, and he and Hutchinson worked to make them a reality. Hutchinson was convinced by the strong support of One Good Scare that the comic books would have an audience. In 2008, Stefan Hutchinson released the first issue of his new comic book, Halloween: Nightdance. This is a four issue mini-series, and it does not contain any characters—other than Michael—from the films. The four issues are titled, “A Shape in the Void”, “The Silent Clown”, “A Rainbow in One Color”, and “When the Stars Came Crashing Down”. The first issue, “A Shape in the Void”, takes place on October 31, 2000, so that it falls between Halloween H20 and Halloween Resurrection. Issue one follows Michael as he stalks Lisa, an eighteen year-old girl with insecurities and “a chronic fear of darkness”. Hutchinson explains that Nightdance was an attempt to escape the dense continuity of the film series and recreate the tone of the 1978 film. Michael becomes inexplicably fixated on Lisa, just as he did with Laurie in the original Halloween, before the sequels established that a sibling bond was actually his motivation for stalking her. The aim was to once again establish Michael Myers as a “credible and dangerous force”.

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August 2008 saw the release of Devil’s Due’s Halloween: 30 Years of Terror to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Halloween franchise. This comic book one-shot is a collection of short stories inspired by John Carpenter’s original. “Trick or Treat” features the MacKenzies, unseen characters from the first film who Tommy and Lindsey run to for help. “P.O.V.” shows a murder from the point of view of both Michael and his victim, “Visiting Hours” sees Laurie Strode reflecting on how her life could have been had her brother never found her in 1978, while “Tommy and the Boogeyman” reveals that Tommy Doyle grew up to write comic books featuring Michael Myers. In the final story, “Repetition Compulsion”, Dr. Loomis tries to predict where Michael will strike next on Halloween, 1989. Writer Hutchinson explains that H30 came about because, unlike previous decades, there was no Halloween film coming out in 2008 to acknowledge the occasion.

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Devil’s Due released three-issue mini-series Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode in late 2008. Written by Hutchinson with artwork from Jeff Zornow, the story bridges the gap between Halloween II and Halloween H20 by focusing on Laurie Strode in the aftermath of the 1978 murders. Hutchinson explains that Laurie is “trying to get better and trying to repair, but where do you even start after going through such horror? How do you even try to resume normality when you don’t know what that is anymore?” Although Michael appears in the series, it is not clear whether he is real or if the traumatised Laurie is seeing things. Hutchinson is not a fan of the revelation that Laurie and Michael are siblings and took steps to address that problem in the story. He wanted to avoid the “bloodline plot of the middle sequels”, which he felt demystified the character of the Shape, and approach the story so that “it becomes almost incidental that she’s his sister”.

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Krampus

Released in November 2015, Michael Dougherty’s Krampus: Shadow of Saint Nicholas tells a new story based on his 2015 horror comedy film Krampus from Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures.

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Buy: Amazon.com

A Nightmare on Elm Street

…and since we’re considering long-running franchises, here’s another which for many is the gift that keeps on giving. The popularity of the A Nightmare on Elm Street film series has led to several comic book series published by Marvel Comics, Innovation Publishing, Trident Comics, Avatar Press and WildStorm Productions. After the success of Freddy vs. Jason and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake film in 2003, New Line Cinema created their “House of Horror” licensing division which licensed the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise to Avatar Press for use in new comic book stories, the first of which was published in 2005. In 2006, Avatar Press lost the license to DC Comics imprint, WildStorm Productions who has since published several new stories based on the franchise.

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In 1989, Marvel Comics released Freddy Krueger’s A Nightmare on Elm Street as a black and white comic book published in a magazine-sized format. The first and only storyline was the two part “Dreamstalker” written by Steve Gerber with art by Rich Buckler. Other than the inclusion of the characters Amanda and Freddy Krueger and the fictional town of Springwood, Ohio, the story does not fit seamlessly into the continuity of the films and even contradicts the film continuity in several places. The series immediately proved to be Marvel’s top selling black and white magazine, even outselling the long running Savage Sword of Conan magazine, but despite distributors soliciting the title through the fifth issue, Marvel quietly cancelled the title after only two issues had been released. New stories had been written and submitted by Buzz Dixon and Peter David. Speculation arose that, despite Marvel clearly labelling the book as a mature readers title, Freddy Krueger’s A Nightmare on Elm Street could have caused image problems for the publisher who generally catered to younger readers. In 1990, Steve Gerber told Reading For Pleasure that Marvel had cancelled the book in anticipation of pressure from various anti-violence advocate groups that were actively protesting violent media in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

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In 1991, Innovation Publishing picked up the A Nightmare on Elm Street license and published three series based on the franchise, before the company filed for bankruptcy in 1992. All three series were written by Andy Mangels.

The first series was the six issue Nightmares On Elm Street which featured a collection of protagonists from the first five films, including Nancy Thompson,Neil Gordon, Alice Johnson and Jacob Johnson, uniting to fight Freddy Krueger in his own nightmare world. The first two issues of the series featured Nancy’s return as a spirit in the Beautiful Dream, the place Kristen dreamed her into after she died, and revolved around Freddy killing Nancy’s college room-mates. The events of the next four issues take place in the time period between the A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare films.

The second series, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, was an adaptation of the film of the same name. The third issue of the series was published in both normal and 3-D formats. The 3-D issue was published in order to recreate the last ten minutes of the film which also used the visual effect. The three issues were also collected and published as a trade paperback.

The last series to be published by Innovation was A Nightmare On Elm Street: The Beginning. The three issue mini-series served as a direct sequel to Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, as Maggie Burroughs continues to have nightmares about her father, Freddy Krueger, following the events of the film. Traveling back to Springwood with Tracy, another survivor from the film, Maggie researches Freddy’s life leading up to his death at the hands of the Springwood parents. Only the first two issues of the series were released before Innovation’s declaration of bankruptcy, leaving the third issue unpublished and the story incomplete. Mangels has since made the original script for issue number three available on his website.

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In May 2005, Freddy Krueger returned to comic books, for the first time in thirteen years, with the A Nightmare On Elm Street Special written by former Chaos Comics founder, Brian Pulido and published by Avatar Press in association with New Line Cinema’s “House of Horror” licensing division.

Events from the A Nightmare On Elm Street Special would carry over into the A Nightmare On Elm Street: Paranoid three issue mini-series, published later that same year. Due to Avatar’s erratic publishing schedule, the second and third issues of the series were not released until summer, 2006. The mini-series was followed by a stand alone issue titled Fearbook before Avatar lost the New Line “House of Horror” license.

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In 2006, WildStorm Productions, a publishing imprint of DC Comics, acquired the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” license and, in October of the same year, began publication of a new ongoing comic book series.

The first story arc, “Freddy’s War”, centered on a teenager named Jade, who moves to Springwood and learns about Freddy Krueger. Along with her father, a former army ranger, and a young comatose girl, Jade confronts Freddy. After the “Freddy’s War” arc’s completion, a story about Freddy employing a teenager to kill the girl who helped Jade and her father was released. The second story arc, titled “Demon of Sleep”, detailed a group of social outcasts who, after realizing they are being killed off one by one, decide to summon an Aztec sleep demon to battle Freddy. The last issue, released in June 2007, was about a worker at a fast-food restaurant who was dreaming about Freddy killing other people, until Freddy killed him.

In 2007, Wildstorm announced its plan to cancel their ongoing New Line horror comics in favor of publishing mini-series and specials based on the movie franchises. The ongoing A Nightmare on Elm Street series would come to an end after an eight issue run and be replaced by a mini-series, late in 2007.

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In September, Wildstorm released New Line Cinema’s Tales of Horrors, a one-shot issue featuring separate stories concerning Freddy Krueger and Leatherface. The Freddy Krueger story was written by Christos Gage and Peter Milligan and involves Freddy dealing with an inhabitant of Springwood who has taken to copying his murder style, in a story aptly titled “Copycat”.

Freddy next appeared in the six-issue Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, an intercompany crossover with Dynamite Entertainment. The story serves as a sequel to Freddy vs. Jason and The Evil Dead trilogy, based on the original Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash film treatment by Jeff Katz. The comic book series was written by James Kuhoric and illustrated by Jason Craig. A six issue sequel titled Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors followed in 2009 and featured a large cast of supporting characters from the A Nightmare of Elm Street and Friday the 13th film franchises.

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Leprechaun

With an utterly unwarranted seven films (and counting) in the series, it’s difficult to fathom how the franchise has survived this far, let alone spilled over into the comic medium. However, this is indeed the case and actually started before the first film was even released – prior to the release of the original Leprechaun, Trimark Pictures released an eight-page comic book prequel to the film. The story presented in the book is contradictory to the events of the film in several regards, such as depicting Daniel O’Grady as a lowly farmer and inhabitant of Ireland (instead of America) who obtains the Leprechaun’s gold not by capturing the creature (as was stated in the film) but by following a rainbow.

In 2008 publishing company Bluewater Productions announced that it would release a Leprechaun comic book series, which began in May 2009. Written by Zach Hunchar and illustrated by Kris Carter, the series follows the Leprechaun (who is revealed to be named Lubdan and is also the king and last of his species) as he battles rival race the Clurichaun and travels the world in search of his gold, which was stolen and auctioned off on-line, with the reluctant help of the geeky Ethan Thomas and his friends. With only four issues released, the series was seemingly cancelled, as no new issues have been announced.

Plans for a four-issue comic book crossover between the Leprechaun and Warlock series, which would have been written by Nick Lyons and released in late 2009, were made, but did not come to pass.

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Nekromantik

A brief and entertaining aside – in 1990, Phil Tägert released a limited (to 1000 copies) comic as an unlikely print version of Jorg Buttgereit’s notorious Nekromantik. Alas, the comic is somewhat amateurishly drawn and features none of the explosive gratuitous and innards fornication that the film would lead you to expect. Regardless, the comic is highly prized amongst collectors.

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Plan 9 From Outer Space

Ed Wood’s 1959 film Plan 9’s reputation for alarming ineptitude actually straddles a blurred line of charming quaintness, a quality which has ensured it has lasted far longer in the minds of the masses than a good many other films from the 1950’s.

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In 1991, Eternity Comics released a three-issue series titled Plan 9 from Outer Space: Thirty Years Later!, which served as an unofficial sequel to the film. Bluewater Publishing also told the story of what happens after the film in Plan 9 From Outer Space Strikes Again!, a 26-page one issue affair. Fifty years after the alien invasion unleashed the unspeakable horror of Plan 9, a corrupt team of government scientists reactivate the zombie horde in order to lure the aliens back to Earth! Their sinister plan: steal the most hideous weapon known to intergalactic intelligence. Only conspiracy theorist, Eugene, and his mother, a former professional wrestler, can expose the shadowy agenda of the government as they fight off the growing zombie horde. This time, a new alien force invades Earth: the revolutionary followers of the martyred Eros. Eugene and his mother join forces with the last remaining heroes of a corrupt government. Together, they must thwart Plan 9 once again, with all life in the universe hanging in the balance.

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Re-Animator

Based originally on the story by H.P.Lovecraft, the first interpretation was actually routed in the action of Stuart Gordon’s 1985 film, Adventure Comic’s Re-Animator – Dawn of the Re-Animator.

Dawn of the Re-Animator is a prequel to the movie, detailing the adventures of young Herbert West as he struggles not only to prove that his serum works, to avoid arrest for murder, and at the same time, to not lose his University funding!

West’s troubles begin when he uses the serum on his colleague Dr. Gruber, apparently dead from a heart attack. Unfortunately, there are some rather grisly and eye-popping (literally!) side-effects, none of which seem to include Gruber’s reanimation. This, of course, brings him into conflict with the police, the University’s Board of Inquiry, and Gruber’s estranged daughter.

Meanwhile, the powerful Erich Metler, a man obsessed with immortality, wants the secret of West’s formula, and has already unleashed his zombie thugs to retrieve it.

The four-issue run was the work of Dan Danko with artwork by Joe Malaga.

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It was a combination of Lovecraft’s tale and Stuart Gordon’s film adaptation which eventually led to Dynamite Entertainment’s Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator. 

Dr. West has made a deal with a mystery man who promised West that if he Ash committed to Arkham Ayslum, the mystery man would show the Doctor how to use the Necronomicon to fulfill his dreams of raising the dead. Dr. West fulfills his part, but the mystery man doesn’t trust him and chops off his head.

This doesn’t kill West, because he has experimented on himself and apparently already defeated death. It is later revealed that the Dr. West who made the deal is in fact a mirror version, and a Deadite trick. The Mirror Doctor is tricked into looking into a mirror and is replaced by the true Doctor who leaves the arrangement he doesn’t feel responsible for.

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Herbert West was featured in a story arc in the Hack/Slash comic book series but this ran into trouble after a legal battle over the ownership of cult zombie movie Re-Animator spilled over from the courtroom into the comic book world and forced them to choose between pulling the series or getting dumped by their distributor.Creator Tim Seeley’s heroine Cassie Hack run into Stuart Gordon’s version of Lovecraft’s Herbert West as part of a storyline subtly titled “Cassie & Vlad Meet the Re-Animator” – publisher Devil’s Due pulled the run from issue 15 onwards to avoid further trouble. Ultimately, they worked out the distribution themselves though ended the connection with the character soon after.

Last but not least, Zenescope modern update of the classic H.P. Lovecraft story, ‘Herbert West: Reanimator’ sticks closest to its roots. Four volumes followed West’s exploits, the joint talents of Axel Machain (Artist), Joe Brusha (Author) and Dan Wickline bringing them to the page. The four issues were also collected into one handy tome.

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 SAW

One of recent times most successful franchises had just one crack of the whip (so far) at an inked version, though it was some way into the series before it made an appearance.

SAW: Rebirth’ is a non-canonical internet comic book published by IDW Publishing. It was written by R. Eric Lieb and Kris Oprisko with art by Renato Guedes.

The comic book is a prequel to SAW, as well as the entire series. It delves into the origins of the tortured John Kramer and his sinister alter-ego, Jigsaw, whilst also fleshing out Jigsaw’s past and motivations and answers some unexplained questions from the first film, such as how he knew all his victims and how a dying old man could concoct such elaborate traps. SAW: Rebirth was remade around the release of SAW V with a new animation style to supplement the previous and slight edits.

The comic fit neatly into the first three films’ storyline – it was discovered that John worked in a toy division, from where he may have acquired his sinister puppet, Billy. It was also discovered how he was familiar with all of his subjects from the first film. It was revealed that John’s loss of hair from the first film is not due to chemotherapy but rather him shaving his hair. Rebirth also marked the first appearance of Jill Tuck, John’s former wife, who later appeared in SAW III, SAW IV , and SAW V. (Betsy Russell, who was cast as Jill after the comic came out, bears little resemblance to her character in the comic). Frustratingly for the comic’s writers, SAW IV’s back-story on Jigsaw contradicts the one in Rebirth. Here, John Kramer is not a toy designer but a successful civil engineer and devoted husband to his wife Jill, who ran a recovery clinic for drug users. A robbery and assault from one of the clinic’s patients resulted in the loss of her unborn child, leading John to become detached and angry, which ultimately resulted in the divorce of the couple.

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Shaun of the Dead

The 2004  zombie comedy film directed by Edgar Wright and written by Wright and Simon Pegg, enjoyed a surprising amount of success outside of its native Britain and the combination of the re-flourishing zombie genre and well=practised British humour left many wanting more. Although two further vaguely connected films, Hot Fuzz and World’s End (dubbed ‘The Cornetto Trilogy’) reunited several of the cast members, it would take two separate comics to delve back into the film’s original world.

2000 AD produced a Shaun of the Dead strip called “There’s Something About Mary” written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, with art by Frazer Irving. The strip was published as part of the run up to the film and followed Mary, the first zombie, and other characters. It was also added as an extra on the DVD release of the film.

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IDW Publishing produced a comic book adaptation of the film, written by IDW’s editor-in-chief Chris Ryall and drawn by Zach Howard. It was published as a four-issue mini-series in 2005. The comic was released with the full backing of both Wright and Pegg who also gave the creators access to unseen material.

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Starship Troopers

Bending the rules slightly here – the surprisingly entertaining 1997 film is, of course, based on an equally entertaining book by Robert A. Heinlein, a fact reiterated on the comic’s cover. However, the visuals of the two license-holders –  Dark Horse and Markosia, borrow heavily from the film. Dark Horses’ graphic stories take the opportunity to explore the un-filmed Bug attack on Port Joe Smith, the back-stories of some of the minor characters and also a prequel of sorts, leading into the action of the film itself. The ferocious pace of the film is echoed in print, as are the sexual tensions but this does not mean there is any lack of technical information or attention to detail.

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Markosia owned the rights in the UK, an opportunity they have clearly grasped with both hands with already five substantial stories explored. These take a broader over-view of the war between humans and arachnids, the dynamic of the seemingly robotic bugs balanced by the emotions of desperation of the humans.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre

With such a rich history, iconic characters and, in fairness, such frustratingly hit and miss sequels, it is fitting that Leatherface and his family have been represented in the comic world.

In 1991, Northstar Comics released a miniseries titled Leatherface — a loose adaptation (and frankly, the looser the better) of Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III — that ran for four issues. In 1995, Topps Comics released Jason Vs. Leatherface, a three-issue miniseries that had Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th fame moving in with Leatherface and his cannibalistic family.

After the success of the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, New Line Cinema set up a “House of Horror” licensing division which licensed the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise to Avatar Press for use in new comic-book stories, the first of which appeared in 2005. In 2006, Avatar Press lost the license to the DC Comics imprint, Wildstorm, which subsequently published new stories based on the franchise.

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Northstar’s entry worked from the original script by David Schow and the heavily edited theatrical release of director Jeff Burr, but had more or less free rein to write the story the way it should have been told. The first issue sold 30,000 copies.” Kirk Jarvinen drew the first issue, and Guy Burwell finished the rest of the series.

The comics, not having the same restrictions from the MPAA, featured much more gore than the finished film. The ending, as well as the fates of several characters, also changed. The roles of the Sawyer family members and their personal backgrounds are also elaborated on, for instance Mama reveals that Grandpa was adopted into the family, Tinker is revealed to be a former hippy and Tex is seen to be the more sane family member, actually showing some signs of remorse.

After completing Leatherface, Northstar planned to publish other Texas Chainsaw Massacre miniseries and one-shots, which included an adaptation of the original 1974 film (previews of the first two covers of the miniseries were included in Leatherface #4) written by J. J. Birch, Tim Vigil and Val Mayerik; and two original one-shots entitled The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Portfolio (produced by Dave Dorman, J. J. Birch, Vince Locke and Guy Burwell) and Leatherface Special, written by Mike Baron, which would have explored Leatherface’s childhood. All of these comic projects went unpublished.

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In 1995, Topps Comics released the three-issue miniseries Jason vs. Leatherface, a non-canonical crossover between the Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises, written by Nancy A. Collins with art by Jeff Butler. It is very much the kind of head-spinning concept that only a comic could get away with.

The series premise involves accidentally placing Jason Voorhees, the main antagonist of Friday the 13th, on a train headed for a dumping ground in Mexico when Crystal Lake is drained of radioactive waste by a company. Running amok on the train, Jason kills its crew and causes the vehicle to crash in Texas, where he meets and befriends Leatherface and his inbred family (consisting of Cook, Hitchhiker, Grandpa and several other original relatives, all of them dead). After he lives with the family for a day, relations between them and Jason ultimately sour due to a series of misunderstandings, which result in Leatherface and Jason battling. In the end, the Hitchhiker apparently kills Jason with a sledgehammer and the family dumps him in a nearby lake. But Jason arises several hours later and decides to begin trekking back “home” to Camp Crystal Lake, away from the place that encouraged dangerous things such as friendship.

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In 2005, Avatar Press began to release Texas Chainsaw Massacre comics, set in the continuity of the 2003 remake of the original film, but serving as prequels to the film. The comics had a multitude of variant covers, such as “Gore”, “Terror” and “Die Cut”.

The first comic released, a one-shot entitled The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Special (written by Brian Pulido and drawn by Jacen Burrows), involves three escaped convicts and their two female companions encountering the cannibalistic Hewitt family after a botched robbery of Luda Mae Hewitt’s general store. The Hewitts kill all the convicts but keep one of the females, Charity, as she is pregnant. After Charity miscarries she escapes, only to be murdered by Leatherface.

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After the release of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Special, Avatar printed a three-issue miniseries entitled The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Grind — written by Brian Pulido with art by Daniel HDR. The miniseries involves a bus full of choir-girls, along with their teachers and the teachers’ daughter, becoming stranded in Texas when their bus breaks down near the Hewitt house. When the two teachers leave to seek aid, Leatherface kills them, while Hoyt finds the girls, plants drugs on them, and locks them in the Blair Meat Company where they wait for Leatherface to kill them. The Hewitts kill all the girls apart from one who escapes, only to be arrested and placed in an insane asylum after Hoyt uses a letter (written by her to her abusive father, and in which she professes to having recurring homicidial thoughts) to make it look like she killed her friends.

The final release by Avatar Press, the one-shot The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Fearbook, had text written by Antony Johnston with art by Daniel HDR and Mauricio Dias. The premise of this one-shot involves a quartet of friends in the midst of a cross-country trip who run afoul of Sheriff Hoyt, who forcibly takes them to the Hewitt house, where Leatherface kills them all except one, a girl named Lucy, whom he knocks unconscious; Leatherface, when Lucy awakens, puts on a mask created from her boyfriend’s face and hammers one of his own masks onto her before forcing her to dance with him as she succumbs to her injuries.

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After Avatar lost the rights to Texas Chainsaw Massacre and to New Line Cinema’s other horror properties, Wildstorm started an ongoing series written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning with art by Wesley Craig, under the direction of editor Ben Abernathy. Once again, this series featured the continuity established in the 2003 remake.

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However, unlike Avatar, Wildstorm’s series contributed to the mythos by picking up one year after the film ended, effectively generating a sequel: Leatherface has one arm, Erin has been placed in a mental institution, the FBI have Sheriff Hoyt’s offices under investigation, and an uncle of Pepper (a victim from the film), one of the senior agents on the case, has the Hewitts in his sights. The storyline followed two new sets of characters, along with the Hewitts themselves: the team of FBI agents, led by the vengeful Agent Baines, and a TV news-crew, led by local anchorKim Burns, eager for a new scoop on the murders in Fuller, Texas.

The series also expanded the roles of some of the more minor characters from the films, such as the Tea Lady, Henrietta and Jedidiah. Whereas the films portray these characters as some of the more relatively harmless members of the family, the comics showed them as just as demented and depraved as Leatherface and Hoyt; in one scene, Henrietta and the Tea Lady rape a drugged FBI agent in an attempt to impregnate themselves, and in another Jedidiah kills an FBI agent (who has attempted to arrest his family) with a cleaver to the face. Wildstorm also introduced members of Leatherface’s extended family not present in either of the two films: Ezekiel “Zeke” Hewitt and Shiloh Hewitt. During the storyline, the characters discover that the other residents of Fuller know of the Hewitts’ activities and are complicit, living under a “code of silence” and not interfering. At one point, Kim Burns escapes the Hewitts’ “family dinner” and arrives at a local bar, only to be refused the use of the phone (“we don’t want no Hewitt trouble”) by the patrons before being dragged out by Leatherface himself. At the conclusion of the storyline, KIm crashes the Hewitts’ truck, sending Leatherface careening out the back, and escapes onto the highway and into the night, wielding Leatherface’s own chainsaw.

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In 2007 Wildstorm announced its plan to cancel its ongoing New Line horror comics in favor of publishing mini-series and specials based on the movie franchises. The ongoingThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre series would come to an end after a six-issue run. Replacing them two months later came The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Cut!, a one-issue special written by Will Pfeifer and with art by Stefano Raffaele. This issue would take place thirty years after the first film, with a group of film-students seeking to document the Hewitts. One month later, a second special, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: About a Boy, written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and with art by Joel Gomez, would follow. This issue featured a back story on Thomas Hewitt as a child prior to the events of The Beginning. A third one-shot titled “Hoyt, By Himself” reunited writers Abnett and Lanning with artist Wesley Craig and focused on Hoyt’s past, in particular expanding on his time as a POW during the Korean War and perforce taking up cannibalism to survive.

In September 2007 Leatherface appeared alongside Freddy Krueger in the first issue of New Line Cinema’s Tales of Horror in a story entitled “The Texas Chainsaw Salesman”, written by Christos Gage and Peter Milligan. In late 2008, Wildstorm started a three-issue miniseries, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Raising Cain, written by Bruce Jones with art by Chris Gugliotti. The miniseries centers around two members of the Hewitt family, twin brothers separated at birth: Cain and Abel, with Abel raised by the Hewitts and Cain by a normal, loving family.

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 The Thing

As far back as 1976, the John W. Campbell, Jr. novella, Who Goes There?, upon which both 1951’s The Thing From Another World and 1982’s The Thing are based was also published in comic book form in issue 1 of Starstream (script by Arnold Drake and art by Jack Abel).

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The Thing from Another World is a four-part comic miniseries published by Dark Horse Comics, it served as sequels to the film (The Thing From Another World, The Thing From Another World: Climate of Fear, The Thing From Another World: Eternal Vows, The Thing From Another World: Questionable Research), featuring the character of MacReady as the lone human survivor of Outpost #31 and depicting Childs as infected (The Thing From Another World: Climate of Fear Issue 3 of 4). Questionable Research explores a parallel reality where MacReady is not around to stop the Thing and a suspicious scientist must prevent its spread, after it has wreaked destruction on Outpost 31.

Darkhorse have recently released a prequel story to coincide with the release of the the Thing (2011). The Thing: The Northman Nightmare is set hundreds of years before the events of the movie and tells the tale of how Vikings have a nasty encounter with the Thing.

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In January 2010, Clarkesworld Magazine published “The Things”, a short story by Peter Watts which retells the film events from the alien’s point of view and paints it in a much more sympathetic light by describing the Thing as an alien with an innocent impulse to share with the human race its power of communion and its frightened, not to mention severely saddened, reaction when they attack it. If anything it resembles Franz Kafka’s story, Metamorphosis. The story received a nomination to the Hugo Award in 2011.

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 Toxic Avenger

Toxic Avenger is perhaps one of the best-suited horror film characters to make the cross-over to comics, such is the style of Troma’s brightly-coloured, schlocky superhero. From April 1991-February 1992, Marvel Comics published The Toxic Avenger comic. The comic was written by Doug Moench, drawn by Rodney Ramos, and Val Mayerik and lasted for 11 issues.The series focused on Toxie battling against the evil Apocalypse, Inc. and its demonic Chairman.

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The title was a mix of traditional superhero storytelling and satire, including the phrase “hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength” being repeated many times and Toxie’s “Tromatons” erupting when he was in danger similar to Spider-Man’s spider-sense. Marvel’s series also contained much in the way of “over-the-top”, cartoonish violence. No other Marvel characters ever appeared in the series, and Toxie never made his way into any other Marvel comic, although a crossover with Marvel’s RoboCop title was planned before that series was cancelled.

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In July 2000, Troma published an extremely rare comic book entitled The New Adventures of the Toxic Avenger. This comic was offered to people who donate $75 or more to TromaDance 2007.

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 Though not directly related the the films, Marvel Comics released an eight-issue comic book series, Toxic Crusaders. It had no regular writer. Each issue was written by such notables as Steve Gerber (issues #3 and #5), Ann Nocenti(issue #7), David Leach & Jeremy Banx (lead strip script & artwork) and David Michelinie (back up strip) (issue #8), Hilary Barta (issue #2), and Simon Furman (issues #1, 4, 6). A four-book mini series was written and drawn by David Leach & Jeremy Banx. The series was solicited and the first issue written and drawn before being cancelled along with all of Marvel TV tie-in titles. One issue was a direct parody of Captain Planet and the Planeteers.

In the UK, Fleetway published their own Toxic Crusaders comic book which would last for ten issues.

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Trick ‘r Treat

The 2007 horror anthology was a surprise fan (and some misguided critic) favourite and has developed something of a cult following. The segmented nature left it ripe for the picking to receive an EC-style make-over. DC Comics partner Wildstorm Comics had planned to release a four-issue adaptation of Trick ‘r Treat written by Marc Andreyko and illustrated by Fiona Staples, with covers by Michael Dougherty, Breehn Burns and Ragnar. The series was originally going to be released weekly in October 2007, ending on Halloween, but the series was pushed back due to the film’s back-listing. The four comics were instead released as a graphic novel adaptation in October 2009.

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In October 2015, Michael Dougherty’s four part Trick ‘r Treat: Days of the Dead is released with artists including Fiona Staples, Stephen Byrne (Buffy/Angel), Stuart Sayger (Bram Stoker’s Death Ship) and Zid via a Legendary Comics collection that paves the way for the Trick ‘r Treat film sequel.

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Buy: Amazon.com

Daz Lawrence, Horrorpedia

Wikipedia

9 Comments on “Comics from Hell: The Horror Films That Spawned Comics – article”

  1. Great article and helpful resource, but you forgot Motel Hell (IDW 2010). It’s totally new, but there’s also a Pumpkinhead series that just started.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. The article is MONSTER-size already but there were bound to be some that writer Daz wasn’t aware of. We’ll add these, plus The Tripper, which also spawned a comic version.

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