My favorite this week just turned 30 years old: Marvel’s CREATURES ON THE LOOSE #13 (Sept/1971).
I picked this up as a back issue somewhere (probably an “indoor flea market” at the local mall) as a kid. What grabbed me immediately was the cover! I devoured all the monster reprint titles of the era (such as WHERE MONSTERS DWELL, MONSTERS ON THE PROWL, WHERE CREATURES ROAM and so on), and it was the Kirby and Ditko-based cover stories that really drew me in (please pardon pun). This was no exception. The story was “I Was Captured by the Creature from Krogarr!”, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, reprinted from TALES TO ASTONISH #25 (1961). (The guy reacting on the cover was redrawn for the reprint–presumably to make him look more dramatic/frightened.)
The splash page art is basically the same–a freakin’ alien monster stepping out of the TV set! WTF?! That was insane, especially back then. (We’re talking decades before the movie “The Ring”. Sorry, Kirby did it first!)
There were two other stories in the issue: a new one titled “Where Walks the Werewolf” written by Len Wein and drawn by the great Reed Crandall, and “Midnight on Haunted Hill” by Larry Lieber & brother Stan with art by Kirby & Dick Ayers. But to be honest, I don’t recall those at all (though I’m sure I fondly would, if I looked at a copy). It’s the Krogarr story that remained burned into my cerebrum for over a quarter century. Even the name was cool–KROGARR! (What was with the two “r”s? Typical “Stan havin’ fun.”)
I know, today it sounds like the name of a supermarket chain spoken in a pirate voice–but when you’re ten or eleven years old, it’s just awesome. What I recall most vividly is the first couple pages: a guy watching TV and then suddenly the picture fuzzing out and being replaced with this weird alien face. The monster then walks out of the TV screen and hypnotizes the guy! The way Kirby drew the sequence–two or three panels of the creature emerging–was just perfect. My mind filled in the gaps so that the scene was like watching a slow-motion movie. That was Jack’s magic. Nearly every story played out like animation, like I was seeing it all unfold and pulling me in. So much more impactful than watching “motion-comics” these days. When your mind adds the motion, it stays with your mind a lot longer.
I haven’t read the story in years. I’m sure I’d think the plot is Silver Age goofiness. But that art and storytelling? Nothing but classic, inspired fun.