Creepy #143 (1982)

Creepy ended with issue 145, so this was very close to the end of the run for this famed comic magazine. With some mags, the end seems to come suddenly, while with others, like with the Warren mags, the end seemed to be in the making for quite some time. First the mag’s famous logo was changed by some good-intentioned editor. Then the mag moved from hand-lettered stories to machine-lettered. Now, of course, computer lettering is the way of the world. But at that time, the ugly machine lettering used in the magazne was annoying and distracting. Typeset lettering almost never worked back in the day. Even when EC Comics usd the lettering, it seemed off-setting and frustrating in the extreme.

Added to that was the fact that owner Jim Warren, an extremely powerful presence in his magazines, was away from them at the time. According to interviews, Warren had gotten sick – it’s unclear if it was mental or physical illness – and was spending less and less time at his offices. He was such a powerful presence at Warren Mags that the company sufferered from his absence.

In addition, Warren seemed to be behind the times in 1981 and 1982. The independent comics market was burgening at that time. Publishers like Pacific, Eclipse and Capital Comics seemed to popping up at the rate of one per month, promising new energy and a new creator-driven style that seemed to imply that an old era of comics was past (Pacific’s motto was "For the NEW Era in Comics"!) Warren, with its endless reprints and its constant art by Spanish and Phillipine unknowns, seemed out of step with its contemporaries.

At the same time, Warren opened up just a little bit as the host of some slightly different horror stories. Don McGregor, a most unusual comic book writer indeed, began doing some more work on the line. McGregor was, and stillis, unusual because of his intense passion for bringing a poetic energy and spirit to comics. McGregor once confessed to me that he "writes every comic book as if it is his last" and you can see that in every page he writes. He’s famous for the huge amount of verbiage his stories delivered; there’s a possibly apocraphical story that Marvel used to have to pay their letterers extra to letter McGregor’s stories.

Creepy 143 features two stories by McGregor. One, part two of the vampire western "Moral Blood", was pretty near incomprehensble for me. I’m not sure if that’s because of the cliched western accents of the main characters, or the fact that I haven’t read part one, or because it was just plain a bad story.

In this issue, McGregor has a second story, one very different from much of his other work. "The Spectator Who Wept" is a long, bizarre yarn about an alien invasion of Earth. The aliens invade Earth is response to a serial killer who’s been killing children in a large American city. The police are stymied while the killer keeps striking. In response to the murders, the aliens decide to abduct all of Earth’s children to their home planet. Violence and battles ensue, until a child with a rare blood disease appears and starts to help drive a plan to defeat the invaders.

Even as an aliens-invade-the-Earth yarn, this is completely preposterous stuff. I want desperately to trust McGregor in this story, but it’s so far-fetched and bizarre that the story brings irritation rather than pleasure. McGregor really could have used an editor in this comic, but unfortunately, there just wasn’t the oversight at Warren at that time.

Still, it’s cool to own such a low-circulation old school Warren book. 

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