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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Nightmare #8: Another Australian Skywald

NIGHTMARE #8

Date: Aug-Sep 1976

Contents:
Dracula Did Not Die by Al Hewetson & Antonio Borrell (Nightmare #15)
The Gargoyle Who Went To War by Al Hewetson & Fernando Rubio (Nightmare #15)
The Truth Behind The Myths About Bats by Al Hewetson & Domingo Gomez (Nightmare #15)
The Kid And The Killer And The Bum Rap by Al Hewetson & Francisco Cueto (Nightmare #15)
Tapestry Of Blood by Ed Fedory & Fernando Rubio (Nightmare #15)
This Grotesque Green Earth by Al Hewetson & Zesar Lopez (Nightmare #15)
Once Upon A Time In Alabama: A Horror by Al Hewetson & Maelo Cintron (Nightmare #15)
Ravings Of The Damned by Ed Fedory & Juez Xirinius (Nightmare #15)
How They Killed The Chicago Vampires by Ed Fedory & Emilio Bernardo (Nightmare #15)

Until I found this comic I never knew that a publisher had taken on reprinting the Skywald line of horror comics in Australia. I knew that publishers like Gredown had printed special issues of Skywald titles such as Hell Rider, and I expect that Gredown also printed individual stories in their reprint horror magazines (although I've yet to come across one, but I still have several books to go through), but this book comes from a rival publisher, Page Publications. I've not really touched on the Page line of reprints, but Kevin Patrick has written about them in some detail, so if you're keen to know more wade through this lot - Kevin loves his westerns so you'll be reading about those to get that Page information. As with anything when it comes to these Australian reprints there's still plenty more to learn.

As you can see the cover to the Australian Skywald is a variation on the USA NIGHTMARE #15, no great surprise as the contents mirror that issue. Indeed all the stories are here, and other than the text features (Nightmare Movie Review; A Wretched Bunch Of Letters and an ad for the lines sister magazine, Psycho) the book is complete. What I now want to know is how many issues existed in this run? At least eight, as this book is numbered #8 (so that gives me another seven to find). Also, if this issue reprints #15 of the USA series, then why the unusual numbering?

Actually the last question might well be the easiest to answer. Nightmare was one of the first of the Skywald magazines launched in 1970. It had a fairly troubled run and the first few issues consisted of original stories by the likes of Andru & Esposito, along with Len Wein, Syd Shores and Tom Palmer. The rest of the book was filled with 1950s reprints. By the third issue a pile of Warren staffers had crossed over and the book was mainly full of original material. Fast forward to 1972 and the magazine had been cancelled and then relaunched under the guidance of Al Hewetson. In issue #8 of the series Hewetson had all but taken over the reigns of the Skywald line, and in particular this magazine, and was busily establishing what would become known as the Skywald Horror Mood (indeed the Australian copy I have has the phrase, 'Horror-Mood' on the contents page). So if we start from what's generally accepted as Hewetson's first real issue, #8, then by the time issue #15 came around the corresponding issue for the Australian reprint would be...#8! Hopefully that all makes perfect sense. Of course without knowing or seeing any of the previous issues in this run that's all just speculation - hopefully someone will pop forward and either confirm or deny it.

These Skywald books are pretty damn good to have. Within Australia the print runs were fairly small, especially with numbered specialist books, and Page Publications did a good job with this one. Dating it isn't that hard - on the rear cover is an ad for a number of Page's other magazines, all are dated around August/September of 1976, which means this book would have came out at roughly the same time. As I'm almost finished with collecting titles such as Super Giant (only a few more to go) and the Newton line, I might put this one on the list of titles I want to complete, along with more Australian Marvels (the Yaffa line) and, of course, the Gredowns.

Bring 'em on I say. If anyone can help shed some light on these Australian Skywalds then by all means, leave a comment or get in touch.

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