Creepy #58 (1973)

The other day I mentioned Don McGregor, one of my favorite comics writers. He wrote a lot of comics in the 1970s, including one of the first true graphic novels, "Panther’s Rage", starring the Black Panther, in Jungle Action. He also wrote the adventrues of Killraven, Warrior of the Worlds in Amazing Adventures (reprinted in the Essential Killraven book, now on sale an a cool comics shop near you), and Sabre, one of the first original graphic novels of the ’70s.
 
More important than his resume, though, is McGregor’s writing. Don mentioned once in his Yahoo Group that he wrote every story as if it were the last one he would ever write, and that’s obvious in his writing. McGregor wrote a lot in his stories. He may have been one of the most verbose writers of his time. Letterers, back when actual people did lettering, useed to hate lettering McGregor’s stories – one letterer actually got Marvel to pay him extra per page when he lettered McGregor’s stories.
 
Which would suck except that McGregor had this wonderful prose style, an intense and thoughtful sort of floral writing style, that would intensify and deepen a story. Paired with an appreciative artist like Gene Colan, Craig Russell or Billy Graham, McGregor’s scripts would add immensely to the stories he would present, providing context and emotion and intelligence to the wonderful art.
 
Creepy #58, from 1973, represents some of McGregor’s first professional work, but it’s still awfully great work. He has two stories in this horror anthology. The first, "An Excuse for Violence," explores race relations on a college campus where a vampire is killing only black girls. The second, "The Walking Nightmare", explores a post-apocalyptic world where people are driven insane with rage, and explores the horrible power of anger.
 
"An Excuse for Violence" is an especially interesting story. Like all McGregor comics, it’s all about people. McGregor never fled from interesting or important themes, but never forgot that people are more important than the themes. In this story, we see the violence through two guidance counselors at the college, one black and one white, and see how the violence and unrest at the school causes fraying in their relationship. At the same time, we see an objective view of the scene, where everyone seems to be holding their breath expecting the inevitable:
Yet within each group are seperate individuals. Within the cluster of tormented people that listen to Philip Maynard, some chant with rage. Others weep in sorrow. A few murmur the words of the chant for feat of being the oitcast in their own group …and even a few who wish to hell that they were somewhere else.
That’s classic McGregor: getting into the heads of everyone at the scene, giving readers a 360-degree view of what’s happening, using the power of comics to have story and art leverage each others’ strengths. And when the inevitable happens, and violence breaks out, the evil that men do to each other is much worse than the evil a vampire does to one small person.
 
Yeah, McGregor might have been a bit florid or verbose for some. But I’ll take passion over brevity any day.
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