Saturday, June 9, 2012

'Hunter' from Eerie magazine (Warren)

'Hunter' was a recurring character who initially appeared in a run of six episodes in Eerie magazine, issues 52 (November 1973) to 57 (March 1974). 

All six 'Hunter' episodes were combined into a special issue for Eerie #69 (October 1975), in (yet another) display of publisher James Warren's niggardly habit of repackaging and reselling previously published material to hapless Eerie fans.

Further installments of the Hunter franchise appeared as 'Hunter II' in Eerie issues 67-68 and 70-73, with one-shot episodes in Eerie 87, 100, and 121. 

Hunter's last appearance came when he participated in a team-up with other Warren characters (including Vampirella, Shreck, Exterminator One, Dax, Child, and Rook) in Eerie 130, released in April 1982, in the waning months of the Warren franchise.

Needless to say, 'very fine' to 'like new' issues of these old Eerie magazines go for $15.00 and up on eBay, so assembling the entire run of 'Hunter' can be an expensive proposition.

Luckily, as part of their licensing deal with the New Comic Company to reprint the Creepy and Eerie catalogs, Dark Horse issued all the 'Hunter' stories in this hardbound compilation, released in April 2012.

This book has dimensions (11 x 8.5 inches) a little bit smaller than that of the original magazine, but the quality of reproduced pages is very good (note this volume is entirely black and white / screentone). 

All 15 of the dedicated Hunter stories are provided within this volume, save the Warren team-up issue of Eerie #130. Somewhat disappointingly, episode 6, which originally appeared in Eerie #57 and was reproduced in color in Eerie #69, stays black and white in this compilation. But that's really the only fault I could find with 'Eerie Presents: Hunter'.

Artist Paul Neary handled the initial run of 'Hunter' and he used a very ornate, stylized approach to his artwork, often incorporating Zip-A-Tone patterns. Nowadays, of course, manga are the only major graphic media where screentone effects are a part of black and white illustrations, but back in the 70s, Zip-A-Tone effects were a major component of the techniques commonly used by graphic artists. Of course, other Warren artists, such as Sanjulian, Al Sanchez, and Alex Nino, brought their own special touch to the strip, too.

The plots for most of the episodes of 'Hunter' were of good quality, and even today, when most major publishers routinely issue four-color comics featuring graphic violence and sexual content, their themes remain downbeat and disturbing. But all adhered to the premise of Demian Hunter as an offbeat hero in a post-apocalyptic landscape scarred by conflict between the survivors of the nuclear war and a race of radiation- spawned, mutant, 'lizard people', labeled as 'demons' by the superstitious populace.

I've posted the inaugural episode of 'Hunter', from Eerie #52, November 1973. 

Future installments will be posted here at the PorPor blog.

If the strip appeals to you, you may want to think about picking up 'Eerie Presents: Hunter'.

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