Scream! No. 1, 24 March 1984

Scream 1 cover

  • The Dracula File – first episode (artist Eric Bradbury, writer Gerry Finley-Day)
  • Monster – first episode (artist Heinzl, later Jesus Redondo, writer Alan Moore)
  • The Thirteenth Floor – first episode (artist Ortiz, writer Ian Holland)
  • Tales from the Grave: “The Undertaker” – first episode (artist Jim Watson, writer Tom Tully, later John Wagner)
  • A Ghastly Tale! (complete story)
  • Fiends and Neighbours – humour cartoon reprinted from Cor!! (artist Graham Allen)
  • Library of Death: At Death’s Door… – complete story (artist Cam Kennedy, writer Barrie Tomlinson)
  • Terror of the Cats – first episode (artist Gonzales, later John Richardson, writer John Agee)

Our Halloween theme continues with Scream! This was a short-lived publication, lasting only 15 issues before it disappeared during the same strike that brought down Tammy (though opinions from former IPC staff differ as to just what killed it off). Nevertheless, Scream achieved a cult status that has made its issues collectors’ items, spawned fanzines and websites, and now it is enjoying a revival with the Misty & Scream Halloween specials and volume reprints of its strips.

The gift that came with the first issue of Scream was a set of Dracula fangs, approved by the famous vampire himself, who leads off with his very own strip inside, “The Dracula File”. A Rumanian defector has escaped to the West. However, his Eastern bloc pursuers have realised that he is a vampire and decide the West can have him: “He is their problem now!” The poor RAF pilots flying the defector into Britain don’t realise the horror they are about to unleash…

Hang on, how come this Rumanian defector who’s a vampire looks like Dracula? Since when was Dracula a defector from the Iron Curtain? Either some vampire’s stolen the patent on Dracula or…the KGB’s got things a bit wrong here and it’s not the defector who’s the vampire – it’s King of Vampires himself! Put the bite on the defector and taken his place eh, Drac?

Scream 1 Dracula

Before the strips begin, however, the host of the comic, Ghastly McNasty, sets things up with the letters page and the special features it offers. There is “The Dracula Spectacular”, where Ghastly has fun turning someone into something hideous. To make it even more fun for readers, he wants them to provide the victims (teachers, family members, themselves, etc) and the reason why. Ghastly also invites readers to nominate someone for appearing in “The London Dungeon” for the week and the reason for this punishment, and the comeuppances would be drawn accordingly. Who would you like to see in the London Dungeon for the week? How about the Tammy editor for leaving us dangling on the final episode of “Cora Can’t Lose”? Or how about Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin?

Scream 1 letters page

Of course a new comic would not be complete without a competition, and this is one that really tests deductive, artistic and maybe even clairvoyant skills. The challenge is to draw Ghastly McNasty’s face absolutely right. This is no easy task as the face is hidden in complete darkness under his hood with only lights shining where his eyes are. Clues include him being extremely ugly, too much tree root in the beauty treatment he tried that backfired, and other clues that would be dropped as the competition progressed. An actual likeness of Ghastly had been drawn and was being kept secure. The best but still-failed attempts would be printed, comments were made about any clues the pictures had hit upon, and the winner would get £5. The one to hit the absolute mark would win £50. The top prize was still unclaimed when Scream abruptly disappeared.

Scream 1 Monster

“Monster” is one of the Scream stories that would continue and finish in Eagle. It is the “something monstrous hidden in the attic” story. It’s so secret that Kenneth Corman’s abusive father gives him yet another walloping for even saying he heard something up there in the locked attic room. The father goes up to the attic to get rid of it, only to get horribly murdered, with deep claw marks on his body. Kenneth opts for secretly burying his father in the garden instead of calling in the police, and now he’s heading for the attic himself to deal with whatever is up there.

Scream 1 13th Floor

“The Thirteenth Floor” was another Scream strip to continue in Eagle, and now it has its own reprint volume and return appearances in the Scream & Misty Halloween special. Max is the computerised superintendent of council-run Maxwell Towers. Max takes his duty of looking after his tenants very seriously. In fact, it’s so seriously that anyone who threatens the safety and well-being of Max’s tenants is sent on a trip to his secret Thirteenth Floor through the lift, where Max wreaks a computerised, holographic punishment upon them that he deems the most fit for their crime. The first transgressor to pay a trip to the Thirteenth Floor is a merciless debt collector. On the Thirteenth Floor he meets the Grim Reaper, who says, “Welcome…to your death.” Erk! Is Max really going to go as far as murder? We find out next week.

Scream 1 Leper

The Leper (so named because of his medical condition, appearance and lack of social acceptance) is a 19thcentury gravedigger and host of “Tales from the Grave”. Not surprisingly, these tales are associated with death, the Victorian fascination with it (murders, executions, body snatching, Goth etc) and the stories behind the graves in the cemetery. The Leper’s first story is “The Undertaker”, about a Burke and Hare-type undertaker named Joshua Sleeth: “If you wanted someone buried, ole Sleeth was the man to do it, no questions asked […] Sleeth was an evil beggar all right. If yer needed a helpin’ hand into the next world, so to speak, he was always ready to give it…”. Sleeth’s reputation has reached the ears of Emily Carlisle, who wants a helping hand in getting her Uncle Henry into the next world so she can inherit.

Scream 1 Cats

The final serial is “The Terror of the Cats”. All the cats in the neighbourhood are going crazy and attacking people for no apparent reason. Reporter Allen Woodward is on the story and also that of Dr Kruhl (nicknamed “Cruel” because of his reputation), the Director of the Government Research Institute. It’s soon obvious to the readers that the two stories are linked somehow, though Woodward hasn’t clicked yet.

Scream 1 Library

As with Misty, Scream has complete stories, though less prolific. One format is uncredited one-page one-shot stories, some of which end with a dash of humour. The other format is the “Library of Death” (yes, more death tales), which has more pages. The first tale is about a boy who gets strange, frightening visitations in his bedroom after his parents deny him his request to go into the Ghost House at the fair.

For the resident funny cartoon, Scream is reprinting Fiends and Neighbours from Cor!! An ordinary couple are looking forward to meeting their new neighbours – only to get the shock of their lives when they find the newcomers are a regular Addams family.

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5 thoughts on “Scream! No. 1, 24 March 1984

  1. Not a comic I read, but I have become familiar with the reprints and specials. I have the Dracula File which I really enjoyed, though I think it did suffer from Scream’s cancellation, as it was doing quite a slow build. I plan to pick up the other reprints as well when I have the spare cash.

  2. I see that Scream! ran creator credits which I don’t think I had been specifically aware of. I have accordingly added in a tag for ease of future reference.

  3. That first page of Terror of the Cats is burned into my brain. I remember picking up Scream! and thinking this is the comic for me! My mother, alas, did not agree….

    1. Looks like your Mum still couldn’t stop you becoming a great fan of the comic though, could she? 🙂

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