Saturday, December 16, 2023

Moon of Madness, Moon of Fear!

Cleveland, Ohio native George Alec Effinger (1947-2002) won Hugo and Nebula awards for his 1988 novelette Schrodinger’s Kitten. Collectively, the science-fiction author wrote over 25 novels including four novelizations of the Planet of the Apes television series. Effinger contributed stories to magazines like Haunt of Horror and Fantastic. In the 1970s, Effinger authored comic book stories for publishers like DC and Marvel, including titles like Fantastic Four, Journey into Mystery, and Sword of Sorcery. My first experience with the writer is his story "Moon of Madness, Moon of Fear", originally published in the first issue of the short-lived Marvel Comics series Chamber of Chills (1972-1976).

The story begins in the gloomy hills of Bavaria as a young man is seen running from wolves in the forest at night. Effinger warns readers that old-wives’ tales might have a grain of truth. The story then goes back just a few hours and shows four young people preparing for a camping trip into the Bavarian wilderness. They receive a warning from an old woman that the residents live by the moon, including both man and wolf. 

Later that night, by the light of the moon, the four people come to the aid of a man found surrounded by wolves in the forest. They bring him to the light of their fire and the group band together to fend off a pack of snarling wolves that have surrounded them. But, as the first rays of sunlight pierce the sky, the young travelers meet their fate. 

The presentation is the team of Dan Adkins (Eerie, Creepy) and his assistant at the time, P. Craig Russell. This was one of Russell’s first comic jobs, as he would later go on to provide artwork for titles like Robin, Batman, Justice League, and Sandman. The book’s cover was penciled by Gil Kane. 

This was neat story with a unique twist on the werewolf formula. The traditional horror concept of a full moon transforming human to wolf is skillfully used by Effinger. The writing is short and to the point, with a careful emphasis on folklore underlined in a form of truth. An entertaining story plus terrific visuals makes this an easy recommendation for spooky 1970s comic book fans. 

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