Strange Sports, Weird Kids and More: Don Maitz at Warren

« Naturally there was quite a ruckus when everyone found out who… and what Rah was. But there wasn’t any rules concernin’ the eligibility of a mummy to play ball, so the Jets’ victory stood… » — from Roger McKenzie’s The Return of Rah

Carrying on with our irregular survey of significant Warren cover artists whose names and reputations are somewhat less inextricably linked with the publisher than the usual suspects, and thereby sometimes overlooked. Fresh out of art school, and on his way to a truly remarkable, award-peppered career, Don Maitz (born 1953, Plainville, CT) graced a brace of Warren Mags with some of his earliest professional imaginings, which I’ve gathered here.

MaitzCreepy93A
A lot of people apparently don’t much care for Warren’s late 70s sports-themed issues, but I like ’em, given that they feature a trove of gorgeous Carmine Infantino artwork, when he was experimentally-paired with a dizzying assortment of inkers (in this issue, John Severin, Alfredo Alcala, Alex Niño… and, well, Dick Giordano). At their best, the sports issues allowed him to revisit with more latitude (though less ingenuity, I’d argue) the Strange Sports Stories format he’d initiated in 1962 with writer Gardner Fox and editor Julius Schwartz. This is Creepy no. 93 (Nov. 1977, Warren). Senior editor Louise Simonson* (née Mary Louise Alexander) was commendably trying to spice up what had become a stale formula, but it turned out that there just wasn’t sufficient overlap between Warren readers and sports fans. A more staggered release programme might have cushioned the blow: as it was, Warren readers got two sports-centric issues in November 1976, then another pair in November 1977.
MaitzEerie88A
I hope that headline was meant ironically, because (spoiler alert), the humans are the monsters and the aliens… aren’t, in Bill Mohalley and Nicola Cuti’s Deathball 2100 A.D., a sordid, derivative (Rollerball + Death Race 2000, geez) and heavy-handed tale made uglier by Dick Giordano’s usual stiff, graceless visuals. Nice cover, though. This is Eerie no. 88 (Nov. 1977, Warren).
MaitzCreepy94A
Well, now! This marvellous vision, marking quite a tonal break from the usual Warren diet, corresponds to no particular tale within this ‘bad seed’ issue, yet teems and brims with story, with nary malice… but so much wonder. A bold move on the part of editors Simonson and Nick Cuti. This is Creepy no. 94 (Jan. 1978, Warren).
MaitzCreepy95A
This handsome simian trio deserves better than their association with Cary Bates and Esteban Maroto‘s rather juvenile, Lord Greystoke-slandering Murder on the Vine. You’ve done better, boys. This is Creepy no. 95 (Feb. 1978, Warren), a cover bearing more than a mere whiff of Frazetta.
MaitzEerie91A
The probability of violent demise aside, isn’t this just the most unctuously idyllic autumnal scene? This is Eerie no. 91 (March 1978, Warren).
MaitzEerie93A
Though this one is to my mind the lesser entry in the parade, I must concede that it’s presented in exemplary fashion: the colour choices, the placement of the type, even the integration of that unholy blight, the bar code. This is Eerie no. 93 (June 1978, Warren).
MaitzEerie94A
Young master Maitz’s final Warren cover (chronologically speaking): this is Eerie no. 94 (Aug. 1978, Warren), illustrating Nicola Cuti and Leo Durañona‘s Honor and Blood. « Can the child born out of an unholy union between man and vampire grow up to lead a ‘normal’ life? You can’t escape the sins of your parents. Their errors ripple faintly down the generations! » “Er, what’s with the deer head?”, you may ask. The answer, from the story: « The bride was never to see the weak, corrupted face of her human husband. She wedded the Elk, symbol of the Beast. »
BlackGoatA
« A lowly elk, “symbol of the Beast”? Maaa, you’re just making shit up, Nick. » The feeling on that point seems, in fact, quite unanimous.
MaitzUnsafeFootingORIG_A
And here’s a privileged peek at Mr. Maitz’s Creepy 94 cover painting original (Mixed media on Masonite, 24” x 18”), which, as it turns out, is entitled Unsafe Footing, which makes me love it even more.
CapnMorgA
As a rum enthusiast, I am naturally aware of the Captain Morgan brand… whose mascot (circa 1982) is, as it happens, Maitz’s most familiar creation… to date. Prost!

-RG

*Yes, that Louise Simonson (Jones à l’époque)

3 thoughts on “Strange Sports, Weird Kids and More: Don Maitz at Warren

  1. Matt Brunson June 5, 2020 / 20:33

    Seeing Warren Magazine covers always makes me nostalgic. I own lots of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND mags but not very many EERIE or CREEPY issues, despite greatly enjoying them. I know I’m down one issue of either CREEPY or EERIE because one story included a cat getting drowned in a bathtub and one of my older brothers, a huge cat lover, was disgusted by it and threw the magazine away while my teenage eyes were diverted elsewhere. As he later told it to others, the cat’s guts were hanging out in full color; I wisely never corrected him by explaining that the cat was actually intact and that the illustrations were black and white…

    Liked by 1 person

    • gasp65 June 5, 2020 / 22:55

      Now you’ve got me wondering… would the issue in question perchance Creepy no. 62 (May 1974), cover-featuring Berni Wrightson’s gruesome adaptation of Poe’s ‘The Black Cat’? The story did get coloured in the 1980s, but that’s probably too late to fit the timeline. My illustrious colleague Henry Kujawa featured it here: http://professorhswaybackmachine.blogspot.com/2015/02/poe-1974-pt-4.html

      Like

      • Matt Brunson June 6, 2020 / 15:03

        Well, there IS a cat-in-the-tub panel, but, nah, it was a different story. It was set in the present and the cat wasn’t the focal point, merely an innocent victim.

        Like

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