COVER STORIES for 05/13/2007
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #105
Welcome, faithful readers (and those of you joining us for the first time) to the 105th 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...
And once again we return to another quartet of issues of the other-reality Charlton title, "Drive-In Movie Classics!"
With the 29th issue of "Drive-In Movie Classics," it was time to adapt another older movie that was, to be honest, not great! The cover art, adapted from the movie poster, features a creature that's nowhere to be seen in the film or in the comic!
The artwork in this issue seems a bit rushed... as though the artist, Fred Michaels, was trying desperately to get ahead of schedule! Writer Joey Allen's son, Jason, told me that about this time, Charlton was considering going to a double-sized version, featuring two movie adaptations per issue, and so they were, indeed working to get ahead as much as possible. He also mentioned that the two families went on a vacation together to California the year this issue came out (1964 - this was the July 64 cover-dated issue), so that may have been part of it, too.
You may recall in the last segment of CTNM, I mentioned that Fred was trying to get in touch with some of his buddies who lived in Los Angeles who he knew from his fanzine days - Jason says that part of the vacation to California involved meeting up with a few of those friends, but given how young he was, he doesn't remember much about the trip!
Wow, my copy of issue 30 was certainly yellowed, wasn't it? "Viking Women and the Sea Serpent" was, if I recall, a movie made overseas in one of the Scandinavian countries, and redubbed for US release. Fred's artwork in this issue definitely didn't look as rushed as in issue 29 - then again, I believe I've noted before how he enjoyed drawing pretty women, and this adaptation was full of them!
You'd think that Fred and Joey hated doing issue 31's adaptation, featuring the Ed Wood, Jr. movie "Bride of the Monster," but as it turns out, the two men were fascinated by Ed Wood's movies - apparently they were just bizarre enough to overcome the budgetary limitations!
Honestly, the comic book turned out much better-looking than the movie did! It seems that the duo were determined to make their adaptation look like the movie that Ed Wood envisioned in his mind, without regard to the actual budget. It would be about another five years before they got a chance to adapt Wood's "magnum opus," "Plan 9 From Outer Space"!
Anyway... according to Jason, Fred and Joey actually received a letter from Ed Wood after the publication of this issue, thanking them for doing such a great job adapting the movie! However, Jason never actually saw a copy of this letter, so it's possible that this was something that Fred and Joey made up (Joey apparently claimed to have received a lot of letters from people who worked on the movies they adapted, but that the box was lost during a move... and it's not beyond a parent to try to make themselves sound more important to their children than they really were).
Issue 32 featured another then-current (relatively speaking) movie release - "War-Gods of the Deep," another of those movies that looked better on the poster than on the big screen! I'm not sure when this movie was released, but since this was the October '64 cover-dated issue, it probably hit the newsstands about August, or maybe even July... so it's possible it may have been concurrent with the movie's release!
You'll note that this issue wasn't nearly as yellowed as issue 30... it was a bit of a crap-shoot with the conditions of these issues, as you can see! Naturally, back in the day these came out, there wasn't much in the way of comic book preservation techniques... certainly no acid-free bags or boxes, no mylar snugs! As a matter of fact, it's a miracle that Joey actually hung onto all his comp copies until he passed away, and his son Jason inherited them (and later sold them to Alternate Reality Comic Shop owner Phil Serling, who sold them to me and put me in touch with Jason). Fred, apparently, gave away his comp copies when his comics work dried up to neighborhood kids... but I'm getting way, way ahead of the story, aren't I?
Anyway, as you can see, the four issues of "Drive-In Movie Classics" I featured this time around weren't based on the greatest of movies... but it wouldn't be too many more issues before Fred and Joey were able to do an adaptation of one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time - and you'll see that in the next edition!
Oh, and about Charlton converting "Drive-In Movie Classics" to a double-feature title? It didn't happen until the September 1965 issue (and even then, it only lasted three issues... and you'll see those in due course!).
So that's the four issues of this title 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," in which I'll present some covers that revisit a previous topic, 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 !