Friday, April 20, 2007

The Monster Factory: Warren & Gredown


Date: 1976

The Monster Factory (The Incredible People-Making Machines?) by Jose Bea (Eerie #72?)
Games Around Reality by Jose Bea
Through The Door Of The Silver Key by Jose Bea (Eerie #76)
The Final Hole by Jose Bea (Eerie #73)
Short Trip To Old Age by Jose Bea
The Solution In A Mirror by Jose Bea
A Walk Through The Subconscious by Jose Bea

Just when you think you've seen them all something comes along that makes you go, "Ummmm...that shouldn't be...". This is one of those books.

For a fair while now there's been a few of us collectors trying to track down as much output from the (now defunct) publishing company Gredown. In the process we've all networked and come up with various theories, but one thing remained consistent, the belief that Gredown published material from the likes of Charlton, Skywald, Atlas/Seaboard, Archie, ACG and a handful of other, now long gone, companies from the American Golden Age. The boundaries were fairly clear - K.G. Murray reprinted DC and Warren, Yaffa and Kenmure (Kenmure was associated with Murray - more on Yaffa very soon) reprinted Marvel, as did Page, Newton and Horwitz, when they were still active. Kevin Patrick wrote about the Spanish Connection in relation to Gredowns a while back, that's more than worth reading before you go any further with this entry. Spiros Xenos has also began to document Gredowns and has compiled as detailed a checklist as I've seen to date with 238 confirmed titles (oddly enough I have exactly 128 of those titles on hand, and I suspect there's a few more around the place yet to be found). Somehow I think this book will now throw the feline amongst the feathery things. You see, the following book is a Gredown, that has Warren reprints in it. And not just any Warren, these stories presumably all come from one of the Warren flagship books, Eerie.

Now I have a few copies of the Australian version of Eerie, but not as many as I'd like to have. I do have the first issue, along with a smattering of Creepy and Vampirella and they were all produced from the Kenmure (K.G. Murray) group. So far it's clear cut - trust me on this - until now. The last two weeks has seen me buy two great boxes of mint condition Aussie reprints. Good for me as it's given me some stuff I didn't have previously and it's also enabled me to upgrade quite a number of my own collection. In the last box were two comics that made me sit up and take notice. The first was issue #8 of Nightmare, a Skywald title, issued under the Page banner. The book is made up of Skywald reprints and I'll scan/document it in due course. The second book is the one above - which was issued by Gredown, has all the hallmarks of a standard Gredown book and yet is made up solely of Warren reprints.

Some might argue that writer/artist Jose Bea reprinted and marketed his own material, but according to his Lambeck entry, that wasn't until 1982, a good six years after this reprint came out. Where things get really muddy is that, according to Richard Arndt's comprehensive Warren checklist only three of the books seven stories saw print in any Warren publication, and I'm even a bit suspicious about the first story because I don't have the original Eerie magazine to check on it.

So where do the other four stories come from? Who knows. Possibly they were printed somewhere, more likely Spain, and then imported to this book to flesh it out. The cover is keeping in with the overall surrealistic art style of the book - and to be honest this is one of the most bizarre comic books I think I've seen - but is clearly not by Bea. Until we know for sure I'm open for suggestions and ideas so either fire them down directly or leave some comments. One thing is certain, this book changes how we look at Gredown and their output.


spiros xenos said...

I always expected that the more thoroughly the Gredowns were indexed, the more interesting the range and source of the contents would turn out to be. But I always expected this would mainly relate to the pre-Code material. I didn’t expect to find instances of reprints in the Gredowns which did not see the light of day at all in the US (this is also the case for a Simonson story in Maze of Monsters #2, which I discussed on my blog yesterday).

I think the theory that they may have appeared in European or other markets and were sourced from there for the Gredowns has some traction. It’s related to the theory of an agency such as Transworld, which we’ve discussed before.

When you say the boundaries were clear, note also that Charlton mystery/horror material appeared prominently in both KG Murray and Gredown titles. However, I’m not sure how this seeming lack of exclusivity relates to the possible involvement of an agency.

Danny said...

When I say the boundries were clear it was in releation to which company reprinted what. You'd not see any Marvel or DC stories in Gredown books, for example, yet you did find, for a short while Marvel & Charlton in Murray. We know that Murray (also via Kenmure) also reprinted a lot of Charlton, along with Gredown etc etc. So, although the boundries were generally clear, at times things got blurred - like finding Warren material where it shouldn't be.

I've always pointed towards the Transworld/agency theory, as you well know. Without the records though (and I fear that they're lost for all time now) we're never going to know for sure - unless someone surfaces who can say, without a doubt, as to who sold what to whom. Mind you I'd love to know where these Peter Hypnos strips appeared as I can only source three stories out of seven.

I know that once I start fully indexing my Gredowns (which I've done) then patterns will start indeed they have already have done so. More on that later.

spiros xenos said...

I think I misread or misunderstood what you said about the 3 (or 4) stories.

I thought you were saying they were intended for Warren but remained unpublished in the US, but somehow made their way to Spain (or elsewhere) on their way to this Gredown mag - which does indeed sound very interesting! Which is why I mentioned the Simonson story - it would mean they possibly followed a similar trajectory, and that there are possibly many more 'previously unpublished' stories amongst the Gredowns!

But now I'm reading it as they were possibly printed in the US after all, but likely in non-Warren magazines, and have not yet been identified. Which is still interesting, of course, but not the same thing as having 'scarce' material.

So, I'm hoping for the former case, but will settle for the latter.

Danny said...

No, you read it right. I'm hoping that the strips were intended for Warren but not printed - I might fire an email to Richard Arndt and see what light he can shed.

I know that Bea did a collection of Peter Hypnos strips, but that wasn't until 1982. I expect that he might have printed these strips in Spain (perhaps) in the mid '70s. I'll find out one way or the other.