Rats and Roaches

August 1, 2015

Whilst flicking through the first issue of Portman’s “Castle of Horror” I noticed that it contained the infamous story The Rats. Written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Ralph Reese, it had originally appeared in Marvel’s “Haunt of Horror” in 1974. When I first read it then as a teenager I found it very scary. Ralph’s art seemed quite different from the Marvel Kirby/Buscema house-style which made it all the more spooky.

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Ralph Reese’s artwork was to be found in a great variety of places; Skywald, National Lampoon, books, underground comics and even DCs House of Mystery/Secrets to name a few. The other Ralph Reese story that stuck in my mind through the years was The Roaches. Coincidentally this is in another Portman comic currently in front of me. (“Journey into Nightmare” No 2, in case anyone is interested).

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Originally written by Thomas M. Disch and to be found in an issue of the Marvel/Curtis magazine “Monsters Unleashed” from 1973 this was another spooky story by Conway and Reese with a twist in the tale and well worth searching out. Why isn’t any of this well written/well drawn Marvel Horror from the first half of the 1970s being given the Masterwork or Archive book-sized reprints they deserve?

PS: Ralph Reese is one of the select few artists (besides the mega-famous ones) to have comics with his own name in the title.

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