Saturday, February 4, 2017

Morrow Swiped, or First Draft?

Presented for your consideration, two cover paintings: Marvel's Monsters Unleashed 1 (dated only 1973—but June, to work backwards from the second quarterly issue's given month/year), signed by Gray Morrow, and the first volume of the Danish publisher Interpresse's paperback series Rædselkabinettet (Horror-Cabinet), 1974. Varulves blodhævn means Werewolf's Blood-Feud, although the novel is a translation of Raymond Giles' Night of the Vampire.

Considering the dates, the first stab at explaining the differences between the covers would be that an unidentified artist repainted Morrow's. That sort of thing has happened; the German Doc Savage book series generally reprinted the Bantam covers (obliterating the signatures), but on a few volumes someone obviously swiped James Bama, "improving" on his monochromatic scheme, and on one, Fred Pfeiffer's Doc was swiped onto an entirely new background.

But really, the 1973 werewolf cover is much better in terms of composition and such, with the figures larger, than the 1974 one. It was painted with the placement of magazine text in mind, which on the book cover leaves a lot of unused space. I doubt the Danish publishers wanted the cover more demure, as another Rædselkabinettet cover has a topless vampiress painted from a Hammer Films still.

One way or the other, the background of the painting is Morrow's. My feeling is that the 1974 cover is a first draft by him, possibly from a few years earlier (this woman's face is, admittedly, the least obviously Morrow-looking part of the cover). Now the question is, can that feeling be backed up? Did that different version of Monsters Unleashed #1 turn up in a fanzine in the Seventies? I know Kelly Freas' Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction #1 has been printed with his figures intact and not the John Romita overlays the cover was published with.

How that earlier painting would end up across the Atlantic is, of course, a good question in itself.