Monday, February 6, 2012

Monster Monday: Doorway To Nightmare with Michael Kaluta and Madame Xanadu

I often bought comics just for the cover alone, if the artist was one of my favorites: Bernie Wrightson and Neal Adams were certainly in that group and Michael Kaluta soon joined them.  When DC Comics decided to create a new horror anthology title in 1978, Joe Orlando asked Kaluta to design the cover.

Doorway to Nightmare 1 cover by Michael Kaluta

Madame Xanadu's first appearance was on the cover to Doorway To Nightmare #1.  Kaluta created her at request of Joe Orlando, according to this article on Wikipedia.  Unlike the hosts of House of Mystery/Secrets, Xanadu was integral to the self-contained stories in each issue.  Usually the plot revolved around a visitor to her Tarot shop and it went from there.  The first issue featured a story by David Micheline and Val Mayerik.

Doorway To Nightmare 2 1977 cover by Michael Kaluta

The cover to issue #2 makes even better use of the Tarot card motif than the first one.  I am not a Tarot guy, everything I know comes from Marvel and DC Comics.  The most famous cards being Death, The Devil, and The Hanged Man.  After that, I am clueless.

Doorway to Nightmare 3 1977 cover by Michael Kaluta

The third issue featured a beautiful night scene making use of different shades of blue.  It is Xanadu on the cover but you almost think it could be a different vampire-like character.  The story inside does have to do with a woman who falls in love with a vampire.

Doorway To Nightmare 3 original art by Michael Kaluta

Here is the original art to the vampire cover.  It is beautifully and simply conceived.  I love how the bat shrieks and the drop of blood that matches the title of the story: Blood Red Tear.

Doorway To Nightmare 5 cover by Michael Kaluta

Doorway To Nightmare #5 has Madame Xanadu playfully running her finger along the top of a bottle that seems to imprison a demon.  And here is why Xanadu is a great creation that has grown since her 1978 debut.  She can be spooky and mysterious but at other times can be playful and mischievous.  Xanadu isn't overly buxom but she is sexy in a classy way.

Doorway To Nightmare 5 original art by Michael Kaluta

Here is the original art to that cover.  The line work that Kaluta put into this is amazing.  I always wondered how much artists like Wrightson and Kaluta got paid for covers.  I read somewhere it definitely helped them pay the rent.

I haven't read any of the Madame Xanadu Vertigo series that came out a few years ago.  I have enjoyed her recent appearances in Justice League Dark.  Nuff Said.

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