Sunday, March 31, 2013

Eerie Presents: 'El Cid'

While it’s certainly true that Marvel’s Stan Lee was ever ready to publish imitations of James Warren’s line of black and white comic magazines, it’s also true that Warren, and Eerie editor Bill DuBay, were only happy to return the favor by cashing in on the success of some of Marvel’s properties, most notably ‘Conan the Barbarian’, which by the mid-70s was a resounding financial success, particularly when presented in the higher-priced, non-Comics Code regulated Curtis Publication magazines, like ‘Savage Sword of Conan’.

One of the Conan imitations / inspirations that appeared in Eerie was El Cid, written by Budd Lewis and illustrated by the Mexican artist Gonzalo Mayo. El Cid appeared in Eerie #65 (April 1975), #66 (June 1975), #70 (November 1975), and #71 (January 1976).

Now Dark Horse’s New Comics Company imprint provides all the El Cid stories in the latest of its hardbound ‘Eerie Presents’ volumes.

Like the proceeding volumes in the New Comics Company series (‘Eerie Presents: Hunter’, ‘Creepy: Berni Wrightson’, and ‘Creepy: Richard Corben’), this allows admirers of the old Warren books to get high-quality, but very affordable, reproductions of selected stories / creators, without having to invest substantial sums of money to purchase each $49.99 volume in the dedicated Creepy and Eerie hardcover 'Archives' volumes.

With El Cid, writer Lewis took a real-life historical personage from 11th century Spain, and placed him as a sword-and-sorcery hero in a heroic fantasy landscape akin to that afforded Conan or King Kull.

Mayo’s art had the florid style common to the Spanish and Filipino artists working for Warren in the 70s, and is very well reproduced here. 

In his Introduction to this volume, Dark Horse / New Comics editor Dan Braun relates an amusing anecdote: several years ago (before DuBay's death from colon cancer in April, 2010), he and an unidentified companion went to visit with former Warren magazines editor Bill DuBay in Portland, Oregon, as part of their ongoing 'Eerie Presents' projects  

(Braun leaves unsaid the implication that financial transactions of some sort, relating to the Warren properties, were going to be discussed at the meeting....a topic that brought some degree of contention between DuBay and the New Comics Company reps).

Arriving at the meeting place, Braun discovered that Budd Lewis had joined DuBay.

At the start of the meeting, Braun's companion uttered a laudatory remark about James Warren, a remark which elicited an immediate, obscenity-laced, fit of rage from Budd Lewis - !

"Buddy, any friend of Warren ain't no friend of mine !"

Lewis's rage may have been a side-effect of his unfortunate financial circumstances (at least, as of 2011), which saw him and his wife trying to earn a living operating a hot dog cart, while battling illness and the lack of a permanent home. Hopefully Budd's life has changed for the better as March, 2013 arrives.

Fans of worthy graphic art, and Warren’s output during the 70s, will want a copy of ‘Eerie Presents: El Cid’. Needless to say, although the cover price is $15.99, discounted copies are readily available at your obvious online retailer.


Edo Bosnar said...

Having just acquired my copy of the similar Hunter book (haven't read it yet, just paged through it to admire the art), this is next on my list. All of the previews I've seen, including yours, look lovely. I hope Dark Horse digs more of these gems out of the Warren magazines prints them separately...

Anonymous said...

The lead character of Prince of Thorns isn't a thief or assassin.