Sunday, April 28, 2013
THE HOUSE ON SATAN’S HILL
Going through my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, I found a file folder
marked EARLY SCRIPTS. Inside the folder were complete scripts and
script fragments from the late 1960s. I’d written most of these in
the two-column format I learned from Stan Lee’s Secrets Behind the
Comics. We conclude the exploration...
My file folder yielded six pages of the first chapter of “The House
on Satan’s Hill.” Translated into the format I use today, here’s
the first page of the script:
Panel 1. A full-page splash panel. It shows an ancient mansion,
quite large, seen through a clump of withered trees. It is night,
but a full moon illuminates the scene. Several bats are flying
through the panel.
CAPTION (ON A LARGE BAT-WING): A new adventure told in the grand
old cliffhanging tradition!
CAPTION (ON RIGHT OF PATH): This is the story of a family’s revenge
against the town it hated. This is a story of an unholy scientific
secret and of lives tainted by the touch of the devil!
Of all the unfinished scripts in the folder, this is the one I am
most tempted to revisit and complete. The following pages tell how
“In the early 17th Century, the Allen family was almost slaughtered
by the God-fearing people of Maine.”
This script was likely written in late 1970 or so. I was as lapsed
a Catholic as I could be while still living with my parents. I had
a brief flirtation with evangelicals before realize they were even
crazier than the Catholics. The key is this caption:
It seemed that Mr. Allen had disagreed with a theological view of
the town minister. The jealous old fool immediately branded him an
agent of Satan. In a time when those thought to be witches were
murdered, the Allens seemed doomed.
In later years, I would temporarily embrace born-again Christianity
as my faith, but then logic and reason swayed me back to my current
non-aligned path. However, I retained a fascination with the more
mythological aspects of religion and would often use them in comics
I wrote for Marvel and other publishers.
The following script pages describe various atrocities committed on
the Allen family by their neighbors and all introduces a motorcycle
gang. I might have been going for a 1950s vibe with this caption:
But a new fear has crept into the hearts of the townspeople. A
motorcycle gang. The youngsters break no laws, yet the townspeople
call them bad because they never rode cycles when they were young.
Because these young people have different ideas than them.
We get a scene where one of the two surviving Allen family members
is abused by townspeople, followed by the demise by explosive ray
of said tormentors. The leader of the motorcycle gang thinks the
ray came from a mysterious red dirigible he spotted over the town.
He decides to follow it as the fragment ends.
I remember a few things about this script. The motorcycle-riding
hero was inspired by Steve McQueen in The Blob. The other living
Allen family member was a beautiful young woman. Her brother might
have been the power behind the scarlet dirigible, but I might have
had some other twist in mind.
This script might have been intended for a fanzine - I was writing
scripts for Carl Gafford’s Minotaur - or it may have been a pitch
for The Unexpected, which was being edited by Murray Boltinoff at
DC and which had moved away from the science-fiction adventures of
Space Ranger. Your guess it as good as mine.
The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves was a Charlton “horror” anthology
whose stories were hosted by the title character. There were four
pages of a script entitled “The Tournament” in my folder, probably
written in late 1969 or early 1970. Graves had taken an active role
in several stories, battling evil ala Marvel’s Doctor Strange. I
don’t know where I was going with this script. It reads like I was
just making it up as I wrote with no clear idea what it was about
and how it would conclude. No wonder I never finished it.
The folder had three different drafts of the first page of a story
called “A Woman’s Way” and then two additional pages. What there
is of the story shows an attractive young woman walking through an
alley and finding a brutally beaten young man. I don’t know where
I was going with this, but I sort of like the captions and brief
bit of dialogue leading into the title...
CAPTION: Her name is Annie...those who live in this neighborhood
call her Annie of the Alleys and laugh.
CAPTION: But she says the alleys are free from the evils that run
the streets and she prefers an occasional drunk to the ever-present
CAPTION: But the evil of the streets has crossed into her domain
CAPTION: The sight of the crime leaves her mouth too dry to scream,
but as the tears well up, the young woman gasps out a single
ANNIE: God help us!
I might have been going for an Eisner-esque style of storytelling
as I was an avid reader of “The Spirit” whenever I found stories of
that legendary character. However, as I read these script pages,
what truly knocked me for a loop was the credits caption following
the title of the story...
CAPTION: Something about a young woman and a defeated man and a
little more by
Shut the front door! Dave and I were fanzine friends. I wrote for
many Marvel-oriented fanzines and he drew illustrations for them.
I know we had exchanged letters about working together, but I did
not realize I had ever started a story for him.
The VAOS is full of surprises!
In 1970, I abandoned the two-column format for the method I’ve used
for full scripts since. The penultimate item in my EARLY SCRIPTS
file folder was the complete script for “The Quiet Type,” which was
drawn and published in Minotaur. I’m not 100% who drew this story
because my Minotaur issues have yet to be discovered as I excavate
the VAOS. The script says it was intended for Gerry Mooney, but I
sort of kind of remember it was actually drawn by Carl Gafford and
almost certainly drawn on ditto masters. This was an ancient form
of comics fan communication not unlike the paintings on the walls
of prehistoric dwellings. Beyond telling you I wrote this script
as a tribute to the creators of DC’s Bat Lash and as a “thank you”
to the exceedingly kind Sergio Aragones who I met in the aftermath
of the 1970 New York Comic Convention, I don’t want to say too much
about this one. I’m still hoping the fanzine in which it appeared
turns up and I find a way to reproduce it darkly enough that I can
actually run it in this bloggy thing of mine.
The final item in the folder was two pages of “Once Upon a Spring
Day,” a short story featuring Avengers butler Jarvis wooing a lady
friend with a tall tale of his adventures with the team. I could
tell you about them, but, what the heck, why don’t I scan and share
them with you?
Nothing’s too good for my bloggy thing readers.
Hope you enjoyed this four-day excursion into my “training years.”
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella