Death Rattle- The Best Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Weird Comic
Death Rattle is DWI's favorite comic book series. The first issue of Death Rattle was born in June of 1972. The first issue features three stories by Tim Boxell, "He Never Got Anything Right," "I Have Eternal Life... And It's Killing Me,"
and "Defiled". Examples of Tim Boxell's art from Death Rattle 1-3 are pictured below. Tim Boxell also went by the name Grisly when he fancied. The other stories in Death Rattle 1 break DWI good comic golden rules: number one- don't have your comic talk directly to the reader and tell them a stupid joke about horror comics like, "Ha, I know what you are thinking! The innocent victim always comes back for revenge in these comic stories!" (a direct quote from story #4 "Gastric Fortitude").
DWI golden rule number two- don't have a comic book artist interact with characters he is drawing such as in the story by John Pound where a rabbit who keeps being bullied kills his artist, this is stupid! and a waste of time for readers, don't waste good art on stupid stories!!! The story does result in the nice zombie on the cover of Death Rattle 2 at least.
Death Rattle 2 (Jan 1973) features another dumb story by John Pound, "Foreshadow," one very nice, tripped-out, sacrifice story by Tim Boxell, a decent tale of a nut on a subway by Mike Olshan (writer) and Mike Vosburg (artist), and one boring story about killer worms that I can't find an artist name for. My favorite "Grisly" piece graces the back of Death Rattle 2, "My... Pie!!" which can be seen below- crazy, weird, funny!
Death Rattle 3 (June 1973) may have been the last Death Rattle printed in the 1970s, I can't find any more on Ebay- so, that means there can't be any more right?! Everything in the world is on Ebay! Is it not?! DR3 begins with a classic horror story "The Rats" by Mike Roberts, nice art, good read (pictured below after "My... Pie!!"). "The Rats" is followed by "The Potion" a stupid story with mediocre art by W.E. Hayden. "The Valley of Baron Araknal," by Tim Boxell is a masterpiece of art, weirdness and half bug/half human barbecue. Mike Vosburg returns with a story, "Spilt Screen" written by Tom Veitch, about a man who has psycho-sexual urges unless he takes his pills... interesting. The human ice cream cone and worm sequence below is one of two most amusing pictures by Tim Boxell also included in DR3.
Death Rattle Pages from 1970s (Issues 1-3)
Death Rattle Covers (1980s)
The Death Rattle comic series returned in the mid 80s in color! This is a bad thing! Underground comics always seem to be better in black and white, Gore Shriek being a fine example of this. Very few good stories appear in the 18 issues which Death Rattle produced at this time. There is a particularly dumb series by the artist Jaxon called "Bulto the Cosmic Slug," which runs through entirely too many of the issues. There are many people who write in to praise the Cosmic Slug series, it is crap, what is wrong with their minds? Their minds must be crap! At issue number 5 DR returns to black and white due to the high cost of production and low circulation, many crap heads write in to complain about it, they are stupid! The comic never has any of the greatness it had back in the day however, even in b/w. A picture from about the only interesting story with cool art to appear in 80s DR is pictured below- it
was written by P.S. Mueller with art by Bill Hartwig and is called "Old Wisconsin That I Knew," it appeared in DR 18.
Dear Gerard Jones and Doug Potter, your story in DR 18, "When I Grow Up," was a boiling piece of shit! What the hell were you thinking? A girl who wishes upon a star to know the future of her and her friends- only to watch it all play out on the lawn they are on. As their stupid lives play out they remain looking like children, this is mega-trash-garbage-shit, the people who make comics for "The Mountain Astrologer" are better than that! Holy crap! Don't worry Death Rattle returns for major redemption in the 90s! (Below)
Scene from "Old Wisconsin That I Knew" by P.S. Muller and Bill Hartwig
Death Rattle Issues 1 and 5 (1990s)
Death Rattle rises from the dead yet again in 1995 and obliterates the tarnished image it gave DWI during the 80s! Hurray!! All the stories and artwork in issue number one are top notch! The featured artists- Mark Schultz, Roger Petersen, Tim Eldred, Brian Biggs, Zane Campbell, and Mark A. Nelson
have such different styles that the comic provides a visual feast of insanity and weirdness. (Examples of some of their art can be seen below). Death Rattle 5 (1996) catapulted three artists into DWI's circle of sacred visionaries of death, Thomas Ott with his amazing and dark scratch board art for "Goodbye," and Matthew Coyle and Peter Lamb for their mind-bending, collage type work in "Registry of Death," which is actually taken from the graphic novel "Registry of Death." The three scenes from "Registry of Death" which are found in Death Rattle create a more solid and intriguing work than the graphic novel from which they are taken in the opinion of the ever powerful DWI mind. Some of the characters in the graphic novel are quite obviously just friends of the artist which he just inked over and their costumes are too silly to properly fit the mood of the story. The older, stranger individuals are much more interesting than the young people wearing clown masks and Metallica shirts. All that said, the graphic novel version of "Registry of Death" is still definatly worth getting ones hands on because it does contain some most creative and wondrous art.
DWI graciously thanks Matthew Coyle and Peter Lamb for inspiring the stencil chairs and doors from the unknown which it has just begun producing. Why and how did these two artists elicit this peculiar response? Who knows? It must be destiny. Moral of the story- get all the 1990s DR you can, 1970s too, but beware the anomaly of the 80s DR diarea-mind- break-down which occurred at Kitchen Sink Comix!
Thomas Ott "Goodbye"
Roger Petersen "The Probability Chamber"
Tim Eldred "The Day I Lost My Head"
Zane Campbell "The Alcoholic Janitor"
Matt Coyle and Peter Lamb "Registry of Death"
Black Hole by Charles Burns
After seeing "Black Hole," advertised on the back of Death Rattle 1 (1995), DWI felt compelled to track it down. DWI made the mistake of thinking it was also a collection of short stories, it is not. Charles Burns is a great artist, the series is a bit on the dull side however. Advertised as 50s horror comic crossed with "sexual whoa" by Spin magazine, that is not the case. The cover of #1 pictured in the middle above gave me that impression, but, no, no, no. Teenagers get a disease that makes them mutants and then they go hide in the woods like bums, eating stolen food, beer, and smoking ganja. Too much boring drama and teen angst, some cool and weird art, just don't fall asleep.
The Image of the Beast by Grisly aka Tim Boxell (1973)
Uncle Jack enjoyed the artwork of Grisly aka Tim Boxell so much in the first run of Death Rattle that he decided to find more examples of the artist's work. If you look up Boxell on the internet you will find the above comic, The Image of the Beast as one of the most frequent search results. This is the only comic created entirely by Boxell which Uncle Jack is aware of. The comic lives up to Boxell's pen name of Grisly quite well! There are a lot of bizarre, sexual-violence happenings in these pages, below is one of the most tame sequences! Vampires, wolves, snakes, and worm like creatures with human heads that crawl out of women's nether regions! Uncle Jack read this comic over breakfast, maybe not the best idea! The comic is apparently based on a book by Philip Jose Farmer, it must be an interesting book! If you are a fairly sick individual you might want to check this comic out, otherwise just stick to Death Rattle!
A Scene From The Image of the Beast!
Slow Death Comics (1971+)
The five Slow Death comics which I acquired above made me die a painful, boring, and annoying death! Each of these comics tackles a controversial issue relating to human life like cancer, the environment, or atomic power, and beat the crap out of the reader with the same point over and over again through different stories by different artists! The quality of the art matters not if the basis of the whole story is something like, don't kill whales! I bought these thinking by the name that they would be like Death Rattle, big mistake! All points raised are valid and nice but after such a massive scale of repetitive assault one becomes irritated not enlightened! DWI's darling artist, Tim Boxell does have a running story line where a man converses with death about the various topics but they are not that interesting! Don't waste your time on this garbage! I don't want to bother wasting any more words on this comic series!
Skull Comics (1971)
This is the only comic Uncle Jack possess in the Skull Comics series and while the cover is top notch and the internal artwork is fine, the stories are just all stupid, bad joke-shit! Highly not recommended!