The name of artist Kerry Gammill was familiar to me from his work at DC Comics in the early to mid-90s. After moving to Marvel for a few years, he left comic books and worked in advertising. In a panel on Thursday evening at Comic-Con, Gammill explained his return to comics and the formation of his own company, Monsterverse Entertainment.
The first comics he remembers reading as a child were contained in magazines like Creepy. When he decided to return to comics, he wanted to “do comics” that he’d want to read. Gammill is now publisher, editor-in-chief, writer and artist for a series called Bela Lugosi’s Tales from the Grave, of which the second issue was available at Comic-Con.
Monsterverse editor and marketing director, Sam F. Park (Gammill’s cousin), practically gushed over slides representing pages from the comic. And I have to agree with him; Bela Lugosi’s Tales from the Grave is a beautiful comic that attracts top artistic talent. Each issue is printed in color on heavier-than-normal stock and contains a handful of stories in its 52 pages. There are no ads and the cover prices is only $4.99.
In each issue, a likeness of Lugosi introduces some stories and stars in others. Since many of his films are in public domain, the pages of the comic will likely contain adaptations of them or even sequels. For example, an upcoming issue will feature The Devil Bat Returns, drawn in the style of the original movie, which means it will be in black and white.
A favorite feature of Park’s is Dr. Vornoff and Lobo. The characters played by Lugosi and Tor Johnson in Bride of the Monster are represented as Claymation-like figures in adventures Park calls, “Robot Chicken meets Pinky & the Brain”. Issue #3 of Bela Lugosi’s Tales from the Grave will be available in September.
Gammill and company may be proud of Bela Lugosi; however, their graphic novel, Flesh and Blood, is even more of an achievement. Modeled after the British monster movies of the 1950s and 1960s, the story is a completely original creature mash-up featuring Carmilla Karnstein, Dracula, Van Helsing, Dr. Frankenstein, a werewolf and more. It’s the Hammer film we never got to see, but have always dreamed about.
|The art is a little cartoonish, but I like its style. If you read closely, there are Easter eggs for Hammer fans. Some nods are obvious, such as one of the character’s name being “Ward Baker”. (Roy Ward Baker directed for Hammer, among others, Scars of Dracula and The Vampire Lovers.) Although most of the characters don’t look like they did in the movies, Dr. Frankenstein does suspiciously resemble Peter Cushing.
It’s sexy, too. In later years, Hammer became as famous for its “glamour” as its gore. Flesh and Blood doesn’t shy away from the heaving bosoms. Book #2 of Flesh and Blood is now available. Both volumes also contain a couple of articles and a backup series loosely based on another Hammer staple, Professor Quatermass. Flesh and Blood is written by Robert Tinnell and drawn by Neal Vokes.