Scott's Classic Comics Corner: The Short Life of Skywald

Every now and then, I take a look at an old comic book publisher. This time around, Skywald takes center stage.

Skywald publications had a very short (just over 4 years), but interesting life on the spinner racks. Founded by Israel Waldman, a man most noted for repackaging old comic book stories in the late 50s and early 60s, and Sol Brodsky, a long time Marvel editor. They published a number of books in both colour and black and white, to varying degrees of success. Here’s a look at some of their stuff.

Although Skywald may be best remembered for its black and white magazines, they did publish a number of short-lived colour comics. Piggybacking on the success of the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid movie, Skywald put out a number of western books. Both Butch and Sundance had their own titles, and were joined by Blazing Six Guns, Wild Western Action and The Bravados. These books were a mixture of new stories and reprints from defunct publishers. The new stories were written by either Len Wein or Gary Friedrich, and the artwork was provided by the likes of Tom Sutton and Dick Ayers. There are loads of great reprints, with a few Bulls-eye stories by Jack Kirby being the real highlights.

Skywald also dipped its toes into some other genres. Jungle Adventures is a rather fun, if a bit derivative, jungle series. The lead strip was Zandar, draw with great energy by the underappreciated Jack Katz. Reprints filled the rest of the books, including nice work by Everett Raymond Kintsler and the Iger shop. Skywald’s sole romance title, Tender Love Stories was also a mixture of new and reprinted materials. The Heap is a title worth noting, as he was the original muck monster. The Heap had been appearing the Psycho magazine, but Sol Brodsky felt he could make it in the four color world as well. This story was written by Bob Kanigher with artwork by Tom Sutton. The rest of the issue contains an eclectic mix of pre-Code horror.

Now, let’s get onto the horror books! I should really say ‘Horror-Mood’ as that is the term Skywald editor Al Hewetson coined for the line of black and white magazines. Nightmare #1 was cover dated December, 1970 and the series lasted a healthy 24 issues in addition to 3 Specials. This title had a serialized Frankenstein sequel by Tom Sutton and the tremendous Human Gargoyles strip written by Hewetson and beautifully drawn by Maelo Cintron. You will also find early work by Mike Kaluta and John Byrne hidden in this series.

Psycho was a companion title to Nightmare, debuting a month later. Tom Sutton’s Frankenstein series and the Human Gargoyles began in this series before migrating to Nightmare. This series featured The Heap; who was not the same character that Hillman published. Edgar Allen Poe fans should take note of the strong adaptations by Al Hewetson. A collection of those tales alone would be terrific. This series also features some nice early work by Gene Day. Psycho totaled 24 issues, with 3 Specials/Yearbooks.

Scream was the final of the 3 Horror-Mood books, not launched until August, 1973. I lasted only 11 issues, with a long hiatus between issues 10 and 11. Scream was really no different than either Nightmare or Psycho, except perhaps in that it features mostly younger and/or international artists. More Poe adaptations can be found here, but the real reason to track down Scream is the Saga of the Victims strip. I can’t quite find the words to describe that one, but it is unlike anything else found in mainstream mags of the era.

Skywald put out a few other black and white magazines, including Hell Rider, a predecessor to Marvel’s Ghost Rider. In addition, Cime Machine ran for two issues in 1971. These were 100% pre-code reprints with gorgeous new covers by Tom Palmer. I’ve never seen these, but I sure would love to get my hands on them as I’m always up for reading some older crime stuff.

So, that’s Skywald in a nutshell: a brief and somewhat inspired experiment from the 70s. Most of these books can be found with relative ease, but the prices are climbing higher and higher.

For more comic book chatter, stop by my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent

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