Comics : The Monster Times #13

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Industry Books

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

The Monster Times is a news-paper format fan magazine with a primary focus on horror films. The overall style is tongue-in-cheek, slightly bombastic and fun-opinionated, and generally light-hearted in the extreme. What Spider-Man is doing in here, I scarcely dare to imagine, but I guess we'll have to find out.

The format for this book is a 32 page tabloid newspaper with no staples. The outer page is bleached paper, while the inner pages are standard cheap newsprint. For news-stand presentation, the paper is folder in half again, so it's effectively a 64 page magazine. But you need to unfold it to tabloid format in order to read it.

In Detail...

The Monster Times #13
Jul 1972 : SM Article
Summary: July 19, 1972 (Spider-Man Article, John Romita Interview)
Editor:  Joe Kane
Writer:  Gary Brown (Spider-Man Article), M.C. Kichards (Convention Article), Robert S. Napier (Fandom Article)
Interviewer:  Gerry Conway (John Romita)
Artist:  Gil Kane (Centerfold Poster), Steve Ditko (Centerfold Poster)
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Review

The paper calls itself "The World's First Newspaper of Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy." This issue features the three page Spidey article, along with articles about: classic horror movie continuity blunders, a new sci-fi TV series named U.F.O., comic conventions, Dr. Phibes, interviews with John Romita and Gerry Conway, a poster, the movies Brides of Blood and Brain of Blood, comic strips, upcoming movies, reviews of other fanzines, and a claw-by-claw synopsis of "Captive Wild Woman" the movie. Whew!

The Spider-Man article is written by Gray Brown, and essentially focuses on Spider-Man's Fiendish Foes. Spider-Man was roughly up to ASM #100 or so at this stage, so we get The Vulture, J. Jonah Jameson, Doctor Octopus, Rhino, Mysterio, Green Goblin, Lizard, and Morbius. I guess most of those villains aren't too far from the kind of thing you might find in a classic horror flick.

There's nothing particularly new in the Spider-Man foes article, it's basically a fairly lightweight summary of various characters for those readers who don't pick up Spider-Man at the newsagents each month. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Morbius summary generates the most excitement for the writer. He calls him an "honest-to-goodness died in the wool vampire". Actually, that's not really quite accurate, he's not a Dracula type vampire with mystical origins. He's a scientific vampire-style villain, with some fundamental differences. He likes garlic, for starters.

But we're not finished. There's a couple more Spidey related articles to check out before we leave. First up is the centrefold poster of Spider-Man, in glorious two-tone red and blue color! Actually, it's a truncated cover from Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #98, along with the artwork and notes describing Peter's powers, taken from one of the early issues of Amazing Spider-Man Annual. To modern eyes it looks rather scruffy, but at the time I suspect it ended up on a lot of bedroom walls.

Far more interesting for us is a three page article written by none other than Gerry Conway, containing Gerry's interview with John Romita, Sr. John talks about his transition from Timely comics to Marvel, his interaction with Stan and they way they make the stories, and talks a little about the shift in comics signaled by the recent "drug issues".

In General...

The Spider-Man character summary and the poster both have their own charm. The Conway/Romita interview isn't exceptionally long or abnormally insightful, but if you're a fan of Romita, you probably want to add this one to your collection.

Overall Rating...

There's a lot of warmth in this magazine overall, it feels like the writers had a great time making it. It's a fun collectible that really evokes the sentiments of the era. Romita fans, and those who enjoyed Spider-Man in the seventies may well want to pick this one up if they see it on eBay. Four fun webs.