Every day this month a new supernatural character or story from the Marvel Universe gets the spooky spotlight leading up to Halloween!
Steve Gerber did not create Man-Thing, but his name rings practically synonymous with the character whose stories he came to pen. Gerber debuted on the character with 1972’s ADVENTURE INTO FEAR #11 which eventually carried over to a mid-70’s solos series, all 22 issues of which he wrote.
Years later, after some time away from Marvel, Gerber returned and set up a new story that would actually refer back to an early Man-Thing tale called “Song-Cry of the Living Dead Man.” The follow-up, “The Screenplay of the Living Dead Man,” picks up with writer Brian Lazarus as he tries to figure out his increasingly strange life, which now includes a talking cartoon tree.
The original idea, as reported by editor Ralph Macchio in the opening letter of the first issue, intended for Kevin Nowlan to paint what would be about a 40-pager, but the whole grew too unwieldy and landed on the shelf. After Gerber passed away in 2008, Nowlan finished the project and it came out in 2012 as a three-issue series that also came with reprints of MAN-THING #11 and the character’s first appearance in the black and white SAVAGE TALES #1.
The final result, “Screenplay,” turned out to be an amazingly odd tale about a writer who focused on making cartoons for profit instead of sticking to his artistic endeavors. After getting the axe at work, Brian loses it and returns to the swamp where he previously encountered Man-Thing. The resulting mix of the writer’s daydreams and the real dangers facing him not only threaten Brian’s life, but also reality as an entity threatens to take over Man-Thing.
In the end, readers find themselves left not just with a gorgeously crafted story on both ends of the sequential storytelling spectrum, but also a harrowing missive on the dangers of sacrificing creativity for cash.
FRIGHT FACT: Originally created by writers Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas with input by Stan Lee, Man-Thing debuted in SAVAGE TALES #1 from 1971 which is included in INFERNAL MAN-THING #3. Drawn by legendary horror artist Gray Morrow, the story follows a scientist feeling guilty over the terrible thing he created and a group of people, including his girlfriend, stealing it from him so they can make bank. Of course, none of them can withstand the burning touch of the Man-Thing!
Come back tomorrow for the final Halloween Spooklight on Blade!