First off, let me just wish a Happy Rosh Hashanah to all my Vault Kvellers out there. Having said that, I will now turn my attention to a rather obscure yet glorious corner of the Nightmare on Elm Street universe this week in QCK. I'm talking about the notoriously short-lived Marvel Comics NOES magazine.
Don't remember it? Shame on you. It came out in 1989, back when I was at the height of my newsstand comics collecting, being as yet too young and unsophisticated to have discovered the wonder of comic book stores. Did you know that it was the best-selling magazine-sized comic book that Marvel ever put out? Quite a feat when you think that this is the company that published things like Savage Sword of Conan!
And yet, as tremendously successful as it was, Marvel's A Nightmare on Elm Street magazine lasted all of two issues. That's right, two issues. It was a sad state of affairs, especially when you consider that it was a fine bit of reading. It was intending to take on an anthology format, unfettered by the movie continuity, yet still featuring Freddy Krueger on a regular basis.
But all we got was the initial two-part story, "Dreamstalker"--written by the late Steve Gerber, best known as the co-creator of Howard the Duck and mastermind of many other offbeat '70s Marvel titles; and drawn by Rich Buckler, acclaimed '70s Fantastic Four artist and co-creator of Deathlok.
I happen to own both of those issues, and I remember being blown away by them. At the time, much of the comic adaptations inspired by film properties were rather lackluster, but this NOES mag was some quality work. And being in large format, it was free of the crippling Comics Code, which made it that much better.
Unfortunately, it was also this that brought about its premature downfall. In his Marvel.com blog, Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort (then a mere intern) recalls that then-Marvel president Terry Stewart got cold feet when he began receiving letters from "concerned parents" regarding this new magazine that supposedly glorified a child-murderer. And so, despite the clearly labeled warning indicating this mag was intended for mature readers, Stewart pulled the plug.
The story goes that an additional three issues were already in the planning stages. This included a rumored storyline written by Sam Keith (creator of The Maxx) and drawn by Peter David, best known for his revolutionary work on The Incredible Hulk during the same period. A sendup of Field of Dreams, Krueger style (one can only imagine what that might mean), alas, it never saw the light of day.
Marvel's NOES title was the first-ever comic based on the juggernaut horror film series. As we all know, it would be far from the last. But it's a shame that corporate timidity would bring it crashing down so quickly. I don't believe this would be something that would happen today, what with the much greater proliferation of "mature readers" comic books. But then again, when you think about what Savage Sword was getting away with back then, it really makes you wonder what Stewart was thinking...
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