COVER STORIES for 09/16/2007
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #123
Welcome, faithful readers (and those of you joining us for the first time) to the 123rd installment of Cover Stories, the weekly column in which I, Jon B. Knutson, present a group of covers with a common theme (unless I'm doing an installment of one of the sub-series of Cover Stories, 1-10 or this week's installment)!
This time around, it's time once again for...
We're still looking at Drive-In Movie Classics, but this installment, there's something new, too!
Now, you may be wondering just how in the heck Charlton was able to produce a comic book adaptation of "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein" (in issue 46) and still make it past the Code!
The answer to that is... "Very carefully." Or perhaps it should be said, "Very creatively!" Since the Code wouldn't allow the undead (or reanimated dead), there were some liberties taken with the story. The Teenage Frankenstein of the title is not made from a dead teenage boy by any means... instead, the boy in the terrible car crash used for the experiment is explicitly said not to be dead, but rather terribly disfigured, and he becomes a monster thanks to the surgery undertaken by Doctor Frankenstein and the doctor he's talked into working with him!
Oh, and you may have noticed the cover looks a little weird here... while most of the copies of Drive-In Movie Classics I got were printed very well (an anomaly for Charlton), the cover of this issue definitely has some registration problems!
Oddly, the art looks even more polished this issue than in the previous issue. As I said in the previous installment, Fred Michaels, the artist, had taken on some help doing breakdowns, and this freed Fred up to concentrate on the rendering. He'd been doing inks on the book as well up to this point, but it appears that with the greater workload over the past year or so, Fred must've been looking for someone to take over the inks, too. Unfortunately, the inker is as anonymous as the break-down artist is. So, that makes three people involved in the artwork, making it a pretty major production job!
Joey Allen, the writer, wasn't really that much busier... unless (as his son, Jason suggested after the last CTNM column, that perhaps Joey was the mystery breakdown artist). I suppose it would make sense... when scripting the book, it would give him a little more control over how the book was paced!
As I've mentioned before, when a true classic came up to be adapted by Joey and Fred, they really stepped up their game, showing how much they enjoyed it! And in issue 47, adapting "The Incredible Shrinking Man," they went all out! There's a heavy Steve Ditko influence in the art this time around... especially closer to the end of the book, when the faucet's dripping water menaces the shrinking man... the water is done in definite Ditko style!
It's a good thing that Fred enjoyed drawing Robby the Robot when they adapted "Forbidden Planet," because it gave him something to enjoy in issue 48's adaptation of "The Invisible Boy"! Having never seen the original movie, I can't say for certain, but it seems that the movie was adapted in a way to make Robby even more prominent than he was in the original movie!
Another film that wasn't a classic was issue 49's "Not of this Earth," but the adaptation's a pretty good read, anyway. It's entirely possible that Joey, realizing that these movies were being adapted nine years since they'd been in the theaters, there was very little chance anyone but them would remember specifics of the plots, so he could play around with them a bit more, sort of re-editing the movie in many ways.
Although on the other hand, since 1966 was one of the big years for monster movies on TV, there was always the chance that an adapted movie was going to be on the tube when the comic came out!
Now, let's go back two months... for the same month that Drive In Movie Classics 48 came out, the new companion title, "Fantastic Film Classics" hit the stands, and the first issue featured "Invasion of the Saucer-Men."
Why did Charlton do a spin-off title? Well, there were a few reasons. The biggest one was probably economics... DIMC must've been selling well enough by that time, and so they figured that another title might sell just as well. Another reason was possibly that they figured FFC would adapt the older movies, while DIMC would adapt current movies (I suspect they were still hoping to actually sell copies in the drive-ins).
This kept Fred and Joey as busy as they were during the double-sized issues of DIMC, but since there had been a few issues of DIMC that weren't double-sized, it gave them a chance to get a bit ahead of the game!
The inks on this title look different than on DIMC, so I'd imagine there was a different inker there... not that I have any idea who did the inks on either book!
Issue 2's adaptation of "The Monster That Challenged the World" shows how it's a lot easier to keep the monsters looking good on a limited budget in comics compared to a minimal budget in the movies! The creature looks much more menacing in these pages than it did on the screen. I think they made it bigger, too!
So that's the five issues for this edition of "Comics They Never Made," so let's shut down the Kurtzberg Alternate Reality device, and get ready to look at comics you can actually find at a local convention... next time around!
Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," where I'll present the return of "Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!" And in the meantime, you can check out my blog at http://waffyjon.blogspot.com for other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !