I wish I was more organised. After much searching I’ve just unearthed Warren’s 1984 issue number 4. A quick glance reveals a fascinating tale about the Martians. H.G.Well’s War of the Worlds actually happened and the Martians have finally returned for a second invasion 80 years later. And I’m looking forward to reading about the further adventures of the beautiful Idi Amin !!

Spot the Difference

Oct 16, 2008

A number of subtle and not so subtle changes to the script (and art) took place between the Rex Havoc stories in the Warren magazine 1984 and their collection in Warren Presents 14 a couple of years later. Here are just a few examples.

Above: Warren’s 1984 #4. Below: Warren Presents #14.

Above: Warren’s 1984 #4. Below: Warren Presents #14.

Above: Warren’s 1984 #4. Below: Warren Presents #14.

Warren’s 1984 number 3 cover dated September 1978 featured 9 and a bit stories and a letters page entitled “Telemetry”. I’ve just had to go and look that word up!

I never know if letters of comment in american comic books are genuine or made up by the editor as the names and places of the addresses always sound so implausible. R.A.Ziers? Curtis Cyeda? Barry Smith? And surely there can’t be a real address called East 32nd Street NY NY ???

In the lead story a new President discovers that the entire armed forces of the USA and USSR are actually controlled telepathically by two (intoxicated) old men. The Government assumes them to be mutants when it appears to be their home-made liquor that gives them their extraordinary mental powers!

“Whatever Happened to Idi Amin” is another odd and wordy tale by Bill Dubay (with art by Maroto). The former (despotic) leader of Uganda was close to world domination by using “ethnic missiles”. By some means not made too clear in the story (“we came up with a powder that when applied to the skin…one night old Idi went to bed..the next morning he awakened to the surprise of his lascivious young life” ????) the USA end his threat by transforming him into a female. Not just a female but a young white female! We then appear to be in some post-nuclear holocaust world where Idi is the last desirable woman on the planet. Unfortunately Idi’s brain is still male and he resists all amorous advances. Plots just don’t get any more bonkers than this one.

“In the Beginning” by DuBay and Nino is a fun time-travel tale. Travelling back to the moment life began on earth it seems that life began due to some passing alien defecating into earth’s lifeless waters!

“Bring me the head of Omar Barsidian” features “Sally Starjammers” in pursuit of a guy attempting to escape from “Orgasty the City of Passion” where life is one endless orgy.

“Doctor Jerkyll” is another “humorous” story by Nebot. The twist in this Jekyl/Hyde is that the good doctor’s potion transforms him into a woman. After much partying etc the doctor finally returns to his original male form albeit a very pregnant male form!

“Scourge of all Disneyspace” features a pirate spaceship that looks just like a C17th pirate galleon with a female crew that has escaped from the “insemination centre of the Galaxy”. Their booty…one of the few men who hadn’t suffered impotence/castration in “the great Corporate sterilization wars.” There definitely seems to be a theme going on in these magazines…

Commfu (which is evidently a Snafu only worse) was written by Alabaster Redzone and drawn by Abel Laxamana. Its the only story in the magazine that takes place in an almost recognisable here-and-now. The Government has lost one of their brainwashed assassins. The visuals show the assassin preparing for and then completing his mission. He carries out his mission efficiently…only his targets are the wrong (ie innocent) people. Juxtaposed with the artwork is a running commentary of captions describing a military hearing evidentally debating the aftermath of these events. Paralells could be made between this story and real events of the last few years.   

I’ll pass on the final story “The Harvest” written by Bill Dubay as it doesn’t have any redeeming features whatsoever. A far better use for those 8 pages would have been some (any!) Captain Company adverts.

The inside back cover contains the shortest story ever to appear in a comic since “Cap’s Hobby Hints”. It’s certainly the only one page story I’ve ever seen with a credit for two writers!!

I’ll give this book 6 out of 10 mainly for the artwork. The cover by Patrick Woodroffe was quite impressive too.

I’ve just noticed that the girl’s hair has changed colour between the ad on the back of issue one and the front of issue two. From black to blonde…or is that white with fear. Can’t say I’d be too thrilled about being strapped to the outside of a rocket !!

The 9 stories in Issue two vary in quality from “readable” to “what the hell were they thinking of”. Most of the issue is written by Bill DuBay. The first story which is illustrated by Jose Ortiz is called “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers”. In a bleak radiation-contaminated future some men’s brains shrank whilst other men’s nether regions became radioactive and deadly to the opposite sex.

The next story, also by Bill DuBay is an unbelievably wordy account of another strange potential future. Mankind went out into the stars and found numerous other lifeforms. Yet on every other planet they found only single-sex races. There were no females anywhere in the universe apart from Earth. Earth females became prized throughout the cosmos. You can guess the rest.

“The Sure-fire Quick Carnage Self-Decimation Kit” yet again by Bill DuBay seems to owe its title, if not its whole premise to Jim Stenstrum’s “The Super-Abnormal Phenomena Survival Kit” from Warren’s Eerie from a couple of years earlier. Its a gruesome yet effective tale.

From the looks of things Wally Woods “One Night Down on the Funny Farm” appears to have been partially re-written by Bill DuBay. The script and the artwork seem completely unconnected.

“The Janitor” is a wordless story drawn by someone called “Nebot”. This looks like it may have first appeared in some European adult magazine.

“Messiah” illustrated by Rudy Nebres is again spoiled by the script.

I don’t know if it was intentional but the lead character in this story bears a resemblence to Conan the Barbarian.

The best story in 1984 number two is “The Microbe Patrol” written By Nicola Cuti and drawn by Abel Laxamana. Although it is derivative of the film “Fantastic Voyage” it does have an interesting “X” rated explaination of where all the previous microscopic ships had disappeared to.

I can only give this magazine 3 out of 10. Luckily I’ve just flicked through the next few issues and they do improve.

If you were producing a mostly futuristic science fiction magazine in 1978 would YOU give it a title that was a date less than six years in the future? Probably. Thanks to the 1948 George Orwell novel the number/year “1984”, although now a lifetime ago in the past, still seems to be a short-cut way of describing the (not altogether pleasant) future. (And the UKs own 2000AD comic is still thriving, unchanged despite the years having overtaken its title.)

The contents of “1984”, as with all of Warren’s output, was variable. Without many continuing characters in Warren comics anything and everything could appear….upcoming artists/writers dipping their first hesitant toe into the murky waters…old established artists/writers wanting an assignment with a little more freedom to let their hair down….or just wanting a job! Mix in a few bought-in stories and some Spanish/South American artwork and you had magazines that seemed more European and less juvenile than many of the others available at the time. (Remember the independent comic “explosion” didn’t really take hold until the mid 1980s).

Issue No 1 sets out its clear mission statement on the inside front cover. I’m sure there are a minority who might take offence at the subject matter of some of these stories (insulting other races/treating women as objects..not to mention the “sex” and “violence”) but I think you have to bear in mind that the 1970s was a different planet! “The Saga of Honeydew Melons” written by Nicola Cuti and well drawn by Estaban Maroto is fairly representative of what you might find within an average issue of “1984”.

There were 10 stories in this premiere issue counting this uncredited one-pager. As Jim Stenstrum is listed in the contents page as both an author AND an illustrator, perhaps this mini-saga can be attributed to him. I believe he painted the cover of Issue No 17 (by which time the magazine had been re-titled “1994”).

With a cover and a “Mutant World” episode by Richard Corben, a quirky “elf” story written and drawn by Wally Wood, a gruesome and bizarre sideways story called “Once Upon Clarissa” by Bill Dubay and Alex Nino and an odd story called “Bugs” this magazine actually contains a large variety of styles.

One of my two favourite stories in the magazine is “Faster than Light” written by Jim Stenstrum with expressive art by Luis Bermejo. A farmer (?) has discovered a new form of propulsion!

The title appears on the second page of the story. I’m not sure why those kids are killing a cat though………………

The “science” behind Elias Newton Zong’s “Zong Drive” seems almost plausible!! The sound effects are good too….

My other favourite story is “Momma can you hear me?” written by Nicola Cuti and beautifully drawn by Alex Nino.