Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dr.Graves!

Pat Boyette & Rocke Mastroserio

Tom Christopher

Rocke Mastroserio

One of the eras of Charlton collecting I like is the short burst of activity in the company's final throes during 1985 and 1986. These books aren't very expensive, but they can be hard to find.

Some of the gems from this time are three issues of Dr.Graves, which picked up the numbering of The Many Ghosts of Dr.Graves one of Charlton's most successful ghost books. These three reprint issues from 1985 and 1986 reprint a wide range of material from several issues of the old series. There is art by Steve Ditko, Pat Boyette, Sanho Kim, Don Perlin, and Ernie Bache. One story even features Boyette inks on Ditko pencils.

Much of the debut issue gets reprinted. Some of Doc's earliest adventures from the pages of Ghostly Tales are also sprinkled through these three comics, featuring great artwork by Ernie Bache.

Steve Ditko

Perhaps the best story is "The Ultimate Evil" by Steve Skeates and Steve Ditko which pits Dr.Graves against a magical threat to the whole of Earth. It evokes those classic Marvel Dr.Strange stories but shows off Ditko's more muscular style of the period. Any story that showcases the complete destruction of Earth as part of the prologue has got some real beans.

This Charlton revival sputtered out after a few months. But editor John Wren with the help of Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko among others gave it a yeoman's try. Artist Tom Christopher even produces a new cover for issue #74. But it was to no avail.

On a fun note, take a look how they blended Pat Boyette's cover for issue #1 with Rocke Mastroserio's artwork lifted from issue #4 for the cover of #73.

Pat Boyette

Rocke Mastroserio

And here's Rocke's original cover for issue #7 which got flipped for later use on #75.

Rocke Mastroserio

The logo for the series was derived from Dr.Graves debut story by Ernie Bache from Ghostly Tales #55 -- part of that Charlton tradition of letting nothing go to waste.

Ernie Bache

With the passing of these final Charltons, the company was dissolved and the assets sold off. Soon the storied printing plant would become a parking lot.

All we have now are the comics, which linger like the very ghosts Dr.Graves battled so valiantly.

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