Thursday, June 6, 2024



(Jasper Bark is a rascal. And a bit of a genius. He's also a long-time Groove-ophile, a top-notch author, historian, and a pal. Yerz trooly was in on the joke, btw. Ol' Groove just wishes we could have posted April 1, but my laptop was on the D.A. list. Still and all, this was a fun little meta-experiment, and thanks, Jasper, for allowing us here in Groove City to join in the fun. Now, take it away!)

So, about six weeks ago, I wrote a guest blog for Ol’ Groove asking for help in learning more about an obscure, horror comic artist who signed themselves R. L. Carver. If you recall, I even included a five page, black and white story, apparently from an unpublished copy of Chilling #6, from 1971, called TIPPING THE SCALES, which I said had been written and drawn by Carver. I claimed I’d found the story in a collection of printer’s proofs, in the attic of a departed friend.

DOTGK wasn’t the only place that ran a story about my find. The British blog Down The Tubes ran a piece about my alleged find and included a piece, supposedly from Weird Chills #4 called SIGN OF THE CRIMES, which you can read here.

The website for Tripwire, the UK’s longest running comic magazine also covered the story. They ran another story that was purportedly intended for Weird Chills #4 called KILLER CABOOSE. You can read that gem here.

However, not everyone was convinced by these stories. Some readers expressed doubts about the lettering and the colours, wondering if they were digitally created. Some also questioned the writing, which they felt was more ‘decompressed’ than would have been the case in the mid 50s. Many noted the article was posted in April, that month of fools and hoaxes.

So, now I’m afraid, I’ve got to come clean and ’fess up.

The truth is, R. L. Carver is one of the central characters in Draw You In, a trilogy of horror novels that I’ve written. The first novel in the trilogy, Draw You In, Vol 1 – Collector’s Item, will be published by Crystal Lake Entertainment on Friday June 7th. The next two volumes will come out on June 21st and July 5th, respectively.


So, was this whole project simply a cheap publicity stunt? Not entirely. I did hope to grab your attention, but I had other reasons for doing this.

Draw You In explores the history of horror comics, from the pre-code 1950s to the present day. It also reveals the secret, shadow-history of the United States. But another of its main themes is the way that reality and fiction often bleed into one another, especially in the world of comics. There’s always been a tension between the ‘real’ and the fictional in comics. Whether it was editor, Julius Schwartz or  writer, Grant Morrison appearing as themselves in comics like The Flash #179 and Animal Man #26, or the Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta becoming a potent symbol of protest for everything from the hacktivist group ‘Anonymous’ to the ‘Occupy Wall St’ movement.

As this is a main theme of the plot of the three novels, I wanted to reflect it in other ways too. I invited many real life comic creators to appear as characters in the novels. These included comic legends, Walt and Louise Simonson. Both creators not only appeared as characters, they wrote their own dialogue and actions and interacted with the main characters, affecting the narrative in ways I couldn’t control. Grant Morrison has written about putting on a ‘Fiction Suit’ and stepping into our favourite stories. That’s effectively what we managed to do with Draw You In and I don’t think it’s ever been done, quite this way, in a novel before.

The plot of Draw You In follows an FBI investigation into the life and work of a forgotten horror comic artist called R. L. Carver. A misunderstood genius who never received the acclaim he deserved. I wanted Carver to step off the pages of my novels and into the real world, if only for a brief few weeks. I wanted readers to wonder if Carver had actually existed, if only for a few moments.

So, I worked with creative team of my graphic novel Bloodfellas to bring Carver and his creations to life. I have to thank artist Mick Trimble, colourist Aljoša Tomić and letterer Mindy Hopkins for going above and beyond in this metafictional experiment. If you liked what you read that’s probably down to their contributions. If it annoyed you for some reason, then I guess that’s on me.

Even if you weren’t taken in for a second, I hope you enjoyed reading R. L. Carver’s work. I also hope I’ve intrigued you enough to check out the first volume of the Draw You In trilogy, which you can buy here.

If I’ve whetted your appetite for this trilogy, and I hope I have, here’s a little more info on it:


Can you disappear so completely that only one person remembers you existed?

That’s what comics creator Linda Corrigan asks, when her editor, disappears without a trace. Drawn into an FBI investigation by Agent McPherson, Linda and comics historian Richard Ford unearth a chilling link to the forgotten comic artist R. L. Carver, whose work might just hold the key to a series of mysterious disappearances.

As they explore Carver’s life, they uncover the secret history of horror comics, the misfits, madcaps and macabre masters who forged an industry, frightened a generation and felt the heat of the Federal Government. They also stumble on the shadow history of the United States on a road trip that veers into the nation’s dark underbelly, where forbidden knowledge and forgotten lore await them.

Described as “Kavalier and Clay meets Clive Barker,” Draw You In Vol.1 – Collector’s Item is the first in a mind-bending trilogy of novels. It contains stories within stories that explore horror in all its subgenres, from quiet to psychological horror, from hardcore to cosmic horror.

Experience the epic conspiracy thriller that redefines the genre for a new generation.


Draw You In Vol.1 – Collector’s Item is the fourth book in the Bark Bites Horror series.

Bark Bites Horror is a spine-tingling series that takes the horror genre to a whole new level. Get ready for a Goosebumps for grown-ups and a sexed-up Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark! This is your favorite new obsession. These are the terror tales you’ve been waiting your whole life to read.

This is Horror 2.0, re-gened, re-tooled and recreated for a fearless new audience! Think you've seen everything in horror? Think again. Bark Bites takes you places you've never been and shows you sights few mortal eyes would dare behold.

Don’t be the only weird kid on your block to miss out!

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

HORRORS FOUND LURKING IN AN ATTIC! A Groovy Guest Post by Jasper Bark

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! How about this: my pal and amazing author Jasper Bark decided to share an unbelievable Groovy Age comicbook find exclusively with the Diversions! (Well, okay, he shared some other stuff from his fab and fortunate find with Down the Tubes and Tripwire, but the treasure below is exclusive to DotGK, okay?) Anyway, we hope you really, really dig Jasper's excellent essay and awesome intro to a very unique tale. Maybe one of you Groove-ophiles out there can help him answer the burning question, "Who is R. L. Carver?"

When I helped the family of a deceased friend sell the comic collection he stashed in his huge four room attic, I was reminded of what a great time The Groovy Age was for horror comics. 

It’s fair to say that horror comics were going through a renaissance in the Groovy Age. Which was a relief for horror comics fans, because things had looked bleak for the decade and half before. By the mid 50s, the Kefauver hearing, which looked into the connection between comics and juvenile delinquency, had made horror comics public enemy number one. While books like Seduction of the Innocent and the formation of the Comics Code Authority drove a stake through their heart. From 1955 onwards, horror comics were chased from the newsstands likes ghosts exorcised from a haunted house.

But one thing horror comics teach us is that the monster always comes back. There’s often a loyal acolyte willing to gather fresh blood for his unholy master. Or a gang of thrill-seeking teens who’ll fire up a Ouija board for cheap kicks. In the Groovy Age, it was a maverick magazine publisher who brought horror comics back from the dead.

James Warren published the first monster mag, Famous Monsters of Filmland and helped to create the ‘Monster Kids’ craze of the 60s and 70s. He thought there might still be a market for horror comics, and he realized he could get around the Comics Code Authority’s ban on horror by producing a black and white magazine. Thus were born Creepy and Eerie, two of the most successful and influential publications of the Groovy Age.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but James Warren saw the wave of imitators who followed in Creepy’s wake as carpetbaggers trying to muscle in on his market. Initially his biggest competitor was Israel Waldman who, with Marvel’s former production manager Sol Brodsky, formed Skywald Publications. At first, Skywald’s magazines, Psycho and Nightmare were straight copies of Warren’s magazines. However, when editor Al Hewestson took over and instigated what he called the Horror Mood, Skywald published some of the most exciting and innovative horror comics of the Groovy Age.

Not everyone who tried to cash in on the black and white horror market was as good as Warren though. Myron Fass was a former comic artist turned publisher who made a fortune putting out cheap magazines to cash in on whatever trend was popular at the time. He wanted to release a black and white horror comic magazine called Eerie at the same time as Warren did. As they shared a distributor this caused problems.

Warren’s solution was to trick the distributor into thinking he had already released a comic called Eerie. A few days before his meeting with Fass and the Distributor, to hash out who could have the name, he had 100 copies of Eerie #1 mocked up, using reprints from Creepy. He bribed newsstands all around his office to display them. When the distributor arrived, Warren was able to point to the copies as proof he’d already published a comic called Eerie and so he won the name, much to Fass’s chagrin. This is why Warren’s run of Eerie starts with issue #2.

Fass subsequently named his company Eerie Publications to spite Warren. To hide the evidence of his deception, Warren destroyed all but 10 of these ashcan copies of Eerie #1. Ironically, shortly before Al Hewetson became the editor of his biggest rival, Warren gave one of these 10 copies to him, in return for an original Charles Schultz drawing.

Eerie Publications reprinted old horror comics from the 1950s that were in the public domain. They produced them in black and white in a magazine format and, to appeal to the lowest common denominator, they added extra gore to many of the panels. When he ran out of inventory to print and reprint, Fass hired cheaper, Latin American artists to redraw the same stories with even more gore and 70s fashions. Eerie Publications may have their detractors, but there is also a certain pulpy satisfaction to be gained from their gleeful excesses.

Fass did, very occasionally, include original stories, and so did his former business partner, Stanley Harris, who split with Fass to set up his own publishing company. I found this out recently, when I chanced upon a couple of old engraver’s proofs in the attic of the friend I mentioned who had just passed.

I helped my friend’s family catalogue and sell his huge collection and, in return for my help, they let me keep a few things. I wrote about the full story for the British comics website Down The Tubes. Engraver’s proofs are uncut and unbound pages that a printer runs off for a publisher before a full print run.

These proofs appeared to be for Weird Chills #4 by Key Publications from 1954 and Chilling #6 by the aforementioned Stanley Publications. When I did a bit of digging I was excited to find that neither title had been published and I might have the only copies that still existed. This excitement died down when I found they were both full of reprints. All except for three stories which appear to be written and drawn by a mysterious artist and writer called R. L. Carver.

I’ve been able to find very little information on this artist. However, about 10 years ago, I wrote an article about an equally obscure artist called Bill Alexander for the This Is Horror website, and his widow reached out to me on social media. So I thought I’d try the same thing for R. L. Carver.

I’m casting my net wide so, in addition to the article for Down The Tubes I mentioned above, I also shared one of the pre-code stories with the website Tripwire which you can read here. As the last story came from the Groovy Age, I felt it was natural to reach out to my good friend Lloyd Smith, who we all know and love as Groove, renowned blogger and talented creator of the Blue Moon Comics line.

Below is the last known story to be attributed to artist who signs themselves as R. L. Carver. It’s called Tipping The Scales and it has a very dark sense of humor, no more than you’d expect from a horror comic. If anyone has any information on them and their work, could you please contact me at

Friday, March 22, 2024

Getting to Meet Groovy Age Greats!

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Ol' Groove just had to share some of his experiences at the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention this past March 9, 2024. I had the opportunity to visit the Lexington Con for one day (thanks to my brother-in-law/YouTube movie reviewer Badraven), so I wanted to make the most of it, as did he and his son Drewdrop. We made our plans to leave early on Friday morning (around 8 a.m.) to get to the Con in plenty of time before it officially opened (we'd gotten our tickets online to speed things up).  And we were glad we did.

We got there about an hour before opening, but you could go inside to get your lanyards and get in line for whichever event you were going to visit first (I headed for the comicbook creators/vendors line on the third floor, Badraven and Drewdrop headed downstairs to level one for the Celebrity autographs and photo-ops.) What lines! Long, four rows wide lines in the spacious halls of Rupp Arena, but once the doors opened, everything moved swiftly and smoothly into the artists/vendors area.

Having planned ahead, I made a beeline for Jim Shooter's table. No one else was there, so I got to have a very nice visit with him. I'm sure he'd heard similar stories before, but I thanked him for being so kind to 14-year-old me back in 1978 when I sent in my Angel vs. a Sentinel pencil samples (on typing paper, natch--sorry I still don't have them--or the letter for that matter. Sigh.). I reminded him that he'd been especially kind and helpful in his letter/critique and that I was sure I wasn't alone in being so thankful for his kindness and encouragement. We had a short, pleasant conversation and shared two warm handshakes. I walked away so happy from that meeting. Later that day I got to sit in on his Q&A session. I learned a lot about his life, career, and his time at Marvel as E-I-C. I may share some of that in a later post if'n ya wanna hear it. :D

My next stop was across the aisle and and at the opposite end of the hall: Joe Staton! I've always heard about how warm and friendly artist Joe Staton is, and Ol' Groove's here to tell you--them's the facts, Jack! 

Joe was working on a piece of art when I interrupted him to say, "Hello." He looked up, a big smile on his face, put down his pencil and extended his hand for a handshake. I got to tell him my story about how I got my hands on E-Man #1 (August 1973) (which I rap about here) and how much I love the characters Alec Tronn, Nova Kane, and Mike Mouser. 

I got to talk about how his co-creation (with Paul Levitz and Bob Layton) The Huntress, and how I believe that Showcase #100 (I'm still gonna do a post on that one) might just be the best DC comic of the 1970s (or tied with the origin of the JSA--which, huh--Joe also illustrated). That got Joe to stand up and give me a high-five. What an awesome moment. 

Then Joe took the time to get to know me a bit, asked about my family and was interested in hearing about my comics. He knew and appreciated DotGK and was pleasantly surprised to learn that he was rapping with Ol' Groove. I bought a hand-drawn Scooby Doo from him, and he gave me an autographed E-Man trading card. It was an awesome visit for sure. 

Ol' Groove's youngest grandsons happily posing with a Joe Staton Original Scooby Doo Sketch

This was only Ol' Groove's second Con, and now that I'm retired, I hope to visit many more. Ol' Groove does think, though, that this year's visit to the Lexington Comic Con set a mighty high bar! 

Rap at ya later, Groove-ophiles!


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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

All other commentary and insanity copyright GroovyAge, Ltd.

As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!