Thursday, July 28, 2011

Doctor Strange-Dark Shadows Crossover

In the first issue of Doctor Strange's own title, an anti-sorcery zealot, Silver Dagger, stabs the Master of the Mystic Arts near-fatally. Stephen Strange is pulled into the Orb of Agamotto and a world of unreality between life and death, where the first thing he meets is a sarcastic caterpillar atop a mushroom. After Strange dies but gets better, he returns to his Greenwich Village sanctum. There, in Doctor Strange 5, December 1974, he confronts Silver Dagger with the Eye of Agamotto, counterpart to the Orb. (Story, Steve Englehart; pencils, Frank Brunner; inks, Dick Giordano; publisher: Marvel Comics.)

Silver Dagger is pulled into Agamotto's realm of unreality, to converse with the Caterpillar forever

The vampire Barnabas Collins fought the Viking wizard Morath in the past in Dark Shadows 31. At the end, when "the force of his once good nature" was released from his familiar, Morath was left "now and forever locked in combat with himself, and senseless to the world." In issue 34, November 1975, it's revealed that the contact with his materialized good side "flung his spirit into a dimension of unreality, a limbo between life and death." (Story, John David Warner; pencils: Joe Certa; inks: Frank Bolle?; publisher: Gold Key.)

Morath, in a realm of unreality, encounters the Caterpillar and his companion; then escapes through the Orb of Agamotto into Greenwich village and encounters a young woman who calls for 'Stephen'

We never see "Stephen." The scene shifts abruptly on the next page as Morath leaves to seek out Barnabas in the present; "The startled woman received no explanation!" the caption notes.

Reading this story when it came out a year after the Doctor Strange one, I recognized the flip-talking caterpillar, and Clea despite miscolored hair. It wasn't until I just now looked at the stories together that I realized the mustached man playing chess with the caterpillar would be Silver Dagger. Obviously Warner didn't explain the in-joke in the script, let alone send Doctor Strange pages as references, for fear of the editors' cutting it.

Dr. Strange 5 and Dark Shadows 34 covers

Dark Shadows Writers

Aug/69#2 The Fires of DarknessD. J. Arneson
May/70#5 The Curse of Collins IsleArneson
Aug/70#6 Awake to EvilArneson
Nov/70#7 Wings of FearArneson
Feb/72#12 The GloveArneson
Aug/72#15 The Night ChildrenArneson
Apr/73#19 Island of Eternal LifeArneson
Jun/73#20 Quentin the VampireJohn David Warner
Aug/73#21 The Crimson CarnivalGerry Boudreau
Oct/73#22 Seed of EvilArnold Drake
Dec/73#23 The Cult of the DasniWarner
Feb/74#24 On Borrowed BloodDrake
Apr/74#25 The ImmortalWarner
Jun/74#26 The Witch DollsDrake
Aug/74#27 My Blood or YoursDrake
Oct/74#28 The VisitorWarner
Dec74#29 Stolen CenturiesWarner
Feb/75#30 The Weekend Witch HuntersDrake
May/75#31 The Doom of Helgi KolnissonWarner
Jun/75#32 The Secret of the LighthouseWarner
Aug/75#33 King of the WolvesDrake
Nov/75#34 Collinwood PossessedWarner
Feb/76#35 The Missing ManuscriptWarner

I started collecting the title with #19 and filled in only six earlier issues; I don't expect to get any more at TV collectible prices now. This sampling suggests that Arneson (who wrote the DS Story Digest) might have started as the sole writer on the title.

The Comic Reader 96 (Apr/73) said that "Gerry Boudreau has a few Dark Shadows coming up, including a Rutland story in #24," but there is no DS Rutland story. Gold Key didn't publish a story set at the Vermont super-heroes parade until Don Glut wrote one for Dr. Spektor.

To quickly point out a few clues to the writers: #22, 24, 26, and 30 contain the scream "Ayeee" in various spellings, something used only by Drake among the writers working for Gold Key at the time. #27 and 33 use his "Owwff." On the other hand, "Augh" in #23, 25, and 29 is used by John Warner. #23, speaking of in-jokes, presents the magic spells "Hama-Ka-lu-ta" and "In-a-gada-de-vida."

The entire series was pencilled by Joe Certa. The first seven issues' covers are photos of the TV series star, Jonathan Frid. The covers I have from then on are paintings by George Wilson, who does them through #28 and 30. #29 and 31-35 have line-art covers by Certa.

It looks to me as if Joe Certa does not generally ink himself here, as he did on Martian Manhunter at DC and so forth. I see Frank Bolle inks on some issues and George Roussos inks on others.


  1. Just a note that the Dark Shadows comic book is being reprinted. 7 issues in a $50 retail book - one can see the details on various booksellers websites - note that volume 1 has a bad printing error.

  2. That "crossover" is quite a find. As a fan of Dark Shadows growing up, my brother John and I bought the comic off the newsstands. I don't have all the issues but was able to acquire all the photo covers issues at a relatively cheap price many years ago.

    I'd have to look over the art again, but it looked ot me that some of tghe early issues were inked by Certa. Certa had an interesting, distinctive style and I'd certainly like to know more about his career.

  3. Ain't it about time you updated this one with the identities of the writers of the missing issues??

  4. I let myself get sidetracked on other series; by next week, I hope!

  5. I have always wanted to say thanks and tell artists and inkers etc. how much I loved/love their work. A beautiful part of growing up was reading these comics, which I still have! Thank you so much! And to the authors of these informative pages, GREAT WORK! - Ron L.