Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Here's how Marvel's version of "Dark Shadows" might have looked

For anyone who made a living creating comics during the second half of the 20th century, the Comics Code Authority was a huge pain in the ass. Adopted by comics publishers in the 1950s, the CCA was a misguided attempt at self-regulating an industry that had developed a lurid, exploitative reputation. Congressional hearings helped portray comics at the chosen entertainment of juvenile delinquents and perverts, the less-literary sibling to pornography. Everything from "Tales from the Crypt" to "Batman" was targeted, leading to a new set of industry regulations that dictated how elements such as crime and horror could be presented ... which was almost "not at all."

These rules are probably the reason why the DARK SHADOWS comic series was published by Gold Key, a company that mostly published licensed properties like THE TWILIGHT ZONE and STAR TREK. The license holders, not the Comics Code, had the ultimate say in Gold Key's product, so the publisher was among the few not to use the "Code Approved" seal on its covers. Meanwhile, Marvel and DC Comics still obeyed the rules, more or less ... rules that prohibited them from presenting vampires, werewolves, zombies and pretty much everything else depicted daily by ABC on DARK SHADOWS.

These rules relaxed a little as the 1960s came to an end, prompting DARK SHADOWS fan Roy Thomas to introduce Morbius the Living Vampire in the pages of "The Amazing Spider Man." Pretty quickly, Marvel began to adopt an editorial strategy that looked exactly like that of DARK SHADOWS: a "who's who" of public domain literary characters, from Dracula to Frankenstein's monster, shambled their way into a universe already inhabited by the likes of the Hulk, Doctor Strange and the X-Men. Joining their ranks were "The Living Zombie," "Werewolf By Night," "Satana" and more. Had Marvel been willing and able to adapt DARK SHADOWS into comics, this is pretty much what it would have looked like. (We would almost certainly have seen Barnabas Collins mixing it up with Spider-Man, as well.)

If you're curious about Marvel's horror universe, Amazon is holding a massive sale on digital graphic novels and collections with hundreds of books going for just 99 cents each. This includes a lot of superhero stuff, but also collections of "Tomb of Dracula," "Werewolf By Night" and an anthology of horror tales from the black and white magazine like called "Marvel Horror."

Click HERE to get started.

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