Friday, September 09, 2011

Atlas/Seaboard Week, Day 5: She's gonna get you from behind

Let's wrap up Atlas/Seaboard Week with a quick romp through the monochromatic world of one of their black-and-white magazines. Say, y'know how some characters are born with names that ensure they're going to become larger-than life superhuman heroes or villains? Guys like Roy G. Bivolo, Edward Nigma, William Tockman, Julian Day, or Hubert J. Starro? Yup, a moment's weakness or your parents and the wrong baby-naming book can lead to the difference between your becoming an insurance agent and a world-conquering tyrant bent on destruction and despair. Oh, wait, there's not that much difference between those two after all.

Consider the case (in my Rod Serling voice) of the young girl known as...Devilina! ("Is that Polish?" asks a character.)

Panels from Devilina #1 (January 1975), script, pencils and inks by Ric Estrada

She's the star of one of Atlas's answers to black-and-white horror and occult comics like Warren's Eerie and Creepy and Marvel's Haunt of Horror, Vampire Tales and Monsters Unleashed. (The earlier Monsters Leashed proved unpopular with its target audience, although it sold well in pet stores.) Intended for an older audience that those who read Atlas's color comics (and definitely not for a little stuffed bull, I gotta tell ya), Devilina attempted to leap off the shelves of the newsstand with the catchphrase "Illustrated Stories of Female-Filled Fantasy." Oh, cool, then!...heroines like Hermione Granger, Lessa of Pern, and Buffy the Umpire Slayer!

Cover of Devilina #1 (January 1975), art by Pulojar

Or, it could be one of, y'know, those kinda books.

Devilina (I'm not certain of her last name. It may be "Smith") comes by her unique moniker honestly, at least: she's the honest-to-goodness badness kid sister of Satan! So informs Satan's mom to the Lord of Lies in a set-up that could have led to a series you could elevator pitch as My Two Hell!

Instead, Devilina is allowed to grow up on Earth as a normal human being (except for, say, the toys bursting into flames thing). She's a modern liberated girl in the vein of Mary Richards, That Girl, and Pepper Anderson. No attending the State University of Hell for her!

Poor Devilina can't catch a break. Just like Jimmy Carter, she's bewildered and bedeviled by her brother at all turns, with the occasional boyfriend bursting into flames. Well, that'll happen.

The adventures of Devilina: the magazine that serves to prove the point that Satan is a jerk.

Most of us in Devilina's pointy, pointy cloven shoes would, say, move to Europe or get a job in telemarketing, but The Undevine Ms. D chooses to confront her bro head on, dressing like a biker chick and lighting some incense. It's the Devilina Mission Statement!:

She's accompanied in her battles against the forces of eternal darnation by ace photographer "Snap" Kodiak, himself the son of a twig and a Canadian bear. Here "Snap" shows off the same crack photo technique that won Jimmy Olsen a Pulitzer Prize for that photo of Superman with a lion's head:

Panel from Devilina #2 (May 1975), script, pencils, and inks by Ric Estrada

The series featured ongoing subplots but each story was complete in and of itself. Here at the end of issue #2's story, Devilina and pal deliver the last lines before their mutual bursting into laughter and the end title freeze frame, if this were a 1970s cop TV show:

Devilina lasted only two issues, so we'll never find out if she triumphed over her jerky older brother. Seeing as in 2010 the world has not been turned into a molten mass of magma lorded over by pitchforked demons, but considering that the Kardashians exist, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that it was a draw. Still: heckuva catchy battle cry, huh?

Devilina's adventures were only part of her anthology black-and-white comic, the remainder of both issues taken up with horror stories, fantasy tales, and epics of topless maidens. Here's the world's most specific horoscope:

Panel from "The Prophecy" in Devilina #2, script, pencils and inks by Suso

I'm sure that these two things have nothing to do with each other in the slightest:

Panels from "Merchants of Evil" in Devilina #1, script by John Albano, pencils and inks by Jack Sparling

The Daryl Hannah Story!:

Panels from "Lay of the Sea" in Devilina #1, script by Gabriel Levy, pencils and inks by Leo Duranona

So, there you go: Devilina. Any last words, Satan?

Text page on Atlas's horror and suspense magazines and comics, from Devilina #1:

Thus ends the more-complicated-than-I-thought-it-would-be but refreshingly-rewarding Atlas/Seaboard Week. But that's only five titles out of the wide Atlas Galaxy of Stars that I've looked it...what about the rest? Will you ever get to read a little stuffed bulls take on Iron Jaw, Police Action, Targitt, Wulf the Barbarian or Weird Suspense featuring The Tarantula? You betcha! I'll pick up again at a later date with Atlas/Seaboard Week II: Tiger-Man Boogaloo! Just don't expect too many installments of this feature...just like Atlas itself, we're gonna run through all the titles in just a few issues. Until then, though, in the words of Atlas's tippy teen Vicki:

Panel from Vicki #1 (February 1975)

1 comment:

Marionette said...

Devilina's biker/stripper costume was designed by her mom? She must subscribe the same magazines as Ma Kent was reading when she created Supergirl's belly shirt and micro-skirt.