DOCTOR SPEKTOR: DARK HORSE ARCHIVES VOL. 1 (Dark Horse, 2010; Hardcover)
Collects The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor Nos. 1-7, Doctor Spektor Bubble Gum Premium Comic and the Doctor Spektor story from Mystery Comics Digest No. 5 (originally published by Gold Key Comics, cover dates July, 1972- April, 1974).
Writer: Donald F. Glut
Artist: Jesse Santos and Dan Spiegle (Mystery Comics Digest #5 only)
Boy, was I wrong. I couldn't have cared less when this book was solicited a few years ago. Doctor Spektor...bah! Sounds like a third rate Doctor Strange. Who cares!, I sneered as I thumbed through Previews. My OCD homeskillet Ferjo Byroy bought it and raved about it. I remained unconvinced. You see, Ferjo is a sucker for anything and everything Gold Key, holding those books in almost mythical regard. We were at a comic convention a couple of years ago and there was a copy of this book in a nick and ding box for $5.00. Sure, it had a scrunched corner, but it was only $5! Ferjo strongly urged me to buy it. How could I go wrong for five measly bucks? And then it was filed away in ye olde backlog, never to be seen again...until now.
Donald F. Glut has made the rounds. I am most familiar with his work for the Warren Magazines Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella, but do a quick search on him. He has had a long and storied career in many facets of nerd culture. He created Doctor Spektor, who is not a ripoff of Doctor Strange, The Phantom Stranger, or any other macabre comic book hero. Doctor Adam Spektor investigates all things paranormal, ergo the “occult files” part of the deal. His secretary, Lakota Rainflower, is a skeptic who keeps things grounded even though fantastic things happen in each issue. Doctor Spektor encounters all of the usual old school Horror things: ghosts, mummies, werewolves, vampires, and even the Frankenstein monster.
While the portrayal of Native Americans in the form of Lakota Rainflower is, shall we say, not up to modern sensitivity standards, this is an otherwise outstanding read. This is a product of its time, yet it also has a timeless quality to it. Jesse Santos' artwork is solid and has a Gothic flair to it. This won't make anyone lose any sleep from nightmares but it is a fun macabre read.
I have volumes two and three en route right now, but volume four is way out of print and super expensive. I hope that Dark Horse or current license holder Dynamite publish reprint it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Dark Horse Archives are nice books.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Introduction by Don Glut (5 pages).
Creator biographies (1 page).
Linework and Color restoration rating: 4.5 out of 5. These are cleaned up high resolution scans of the original comic books. While the color palette is faithful due to this method, the drawback is that the substandard printing of the original comics is present throughout the book. Line bleed, off register printing, and smudged, blotchy blacks appear everywhere. Gold Key had shoddy printing when compared to other comics of the day, and that is preserved here, warts and all, in “high def”.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. I have a new favorite paper stock...the stock used in this book. Uncoated stock with no glare in any light source, it looks like real pulp comic book paper but has the heft and weight of “archival quality” collected editions like this. In short, it is the best of both words.
This paper also has the sweetest smell of any book that I own. This is sweet smelling even by toxic Chinese standards. Whereas I theorize that the sweet smell of these Chinese made books is derived from paper sourced from virgin Amazon rainforest trees and ink which is a compound of broken asbestos tiles, lead paint chips, mercury from recalled thermometers with the final magical ingredient of the blood, sweat, and tears of the Chinese children working the sweatshop printing presses, this book must have an extra ingredient: heavy metals dumped into the vat from nearby manufacturing facilities.
Binding rating: 4.5 out of 5. Smyth sewn binding with 6 stitches per signature. The book does not lay flat, in part because the binding is tight, and in part because of the thickness and stiffness of the paper. The book block does have sufficient room to flex within the casing. The binding did seem to loosen up a bit by the time that I finished the book, and it is possible that with a few readings that the book will lay flat.