Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hot Blooded

Quick post today with a picture of some really cool books from back in the day when you could find a horror section at Barnes and Noble. I remember buying these as they came out, up to around Volume 8 or so. It would have been around then that the horror section at B&N got axed, and the only writers found were King, Koontz and Laurell Hamilton. Oh yeah, and the never-ending output of V.C. Andrews. I saw later that the Hot Blood books were reissued in trade paperback, but without the garish covers. My own favorite of this trio is Hotter Blood, mostly because this collection was made up of all original stories, unlike the first volume, Hot Blood, which contained reprints. Not that Hot Blood isn't good. It is. Stories by greats such as Harlan Ellison, Ramsey Campbell, and Theodore Sturgeon among others. My one gripe (a minor one) is that there are few stories from the women in the field offered up. That changed in the volumes to come.

A Hot Threesome
These collections introduced me to new writers in the field whose books I would then go seek out in various bookstores around town. Writers like Ray Garton, Bentley Little and Thomas Tessier. They also contained a spirit of fun about them, like mini-grindhouse flicks, without the sketchy freaks who sit too close to you...unless that's your thing.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

CREEPY #29 - Sept 1969

Hands down, the best thing about this issue of CREEPY from 1969 is the cover by Vic Prezio.

CREEPY #29 - Warren Magazines, Sept 1969, cover by Vic Prezio
I really like the sexy, sinister with a hint of sleaze vibe going on here with Prezio's cover. I can just imagine plunking down 50 cents for this issue, then trying my best to keep my mom from finding it and throwing it out. Yes, back in the day, mothers had no problem throwing out our prized possessions. I remember finding a couple vintage paperbacks in the garbage that I'd taken from my grandmother's house on one of our trips, but that's another story. Since I was only in 1st grade in 1969 I'm fairly certain I had more interest in Hot Wheels than ghoulish chicks like the one shown here. That would come later.

The table of contents includes the cover story, "The Summer House" by Ernie Colon (art) and Barbara Gelman. Colon's art takes some limited psychedelic (for black & white) turns in a few panels, but nothing as cool as the cover happens in the story. "Angel of Doom" by Jeff Jones (art) and Archie Goodwin is a caveman/fantasy tale that's over and done and forgotten. These and other tales are kind of humdrum, nothing special until "The Devil in the Marsh" which is credited to Jerry Grandenetti (art) and Don Glut (story). I say they're credited in this particular issue, but I'm pretty certain the actual story is by H.B. Marriott Watson. Watson was an obscure Australian writer of mostly adventure and romance tales back in the late nineteenth century. Popular in his day he's pretty much forgotten now. I just happen to own a collection of his supernatural tales, of which "The Devil in the Marsh" is one. It was first published in 1893 and is pretty much the same story appearing almost 70 years later in CREEPY. I didn't see any mention of his name in the credit however.

Art by Keith Minnion (2004) in the Ash-Tree Press colletion
Art by Jerry Grandenetti / story by Don Glut for Warren Magazines 1969
All in all, it's an okay issue for CREEPY, but just okay. I don't think I'm alone in believing they got more daring in later issues, some of which I'll be sure to look at here. Still, there's nothing like opening one of these vintage mags and smelling the paper and digging the work produced for horror fans back in the day. And no pesky mother clucking her tongue at you, telling you how this stuff will turn you into a degenerate perv.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Last of the Beatniks

It's been a slow couple weeks here in The Ringer Files but I managed to get in a pretty interesting read in John Trinian's The Savage Breast. Unfortunately it wasn't in a format found in a cramped used bookstore in a forgotten corner of town. But that's the purist in me. Instead I discovered it via e-book thanks to Prologue Books.

This was an opportunity to read something by an author I wasn't familiar with. I selected it from a handful of writers that were new to me. Some years back, after I was finished with college, I was into a Beat Lit phase thanks to one of my English professors promoting them in a scholarly tome that only his students read. The Savage Breast falls into this movement, in a way. It's a study of a young, wealthy, and appropriately impulsive young woman, referred to throughout as D.B. D.B. is bored, rich and probably none to bright, having gotten herself roped into a drab marriage with another young man of means named Gordon Fitzroy. D.B. has dumped Gordon in a whirlwind of drinking and hooking up with a bohemian crowd out of North Beach. Enough hints are dropped that it's the early sixties, but it could easily be the height of the Beat Movement judging by the semi-artistic pursuits of the characters, namely tempestuous composer Harry Dazier, who D.B. sees in a dive bar one night. D.B. and Harry fall for each other among the ruins. Harry, following the tormented artists creed, wants nothing to do with D.B.'s money. D.B. doesn't want her wealthy father's interference with her life. Gordon Fitzroy, D.B.'s husband, decides that he'll get even with everyone through a flimsy attempt at blackmail. And out there in the fringes is Harry's weird brother, Sandro, depicted on the cover above. And yes, he's handy with a whip.

It's an entertaining book, being not quite a crime novel, and not quite a beat novel. It has some interesting observations and moves like a pre-psychedelic artflick in the mind's theater. And, thankfully, there is no excruciating dialog that so often turns up in books of this sort. It's not the great lost beat novel, but it's a decent visit to the scene for a couple hours on a rainy weekend.