Like all long-running illustrated story anthology books, throughout the years EERIE was destined to generate its share of junk. Though few of its stories (either stand-alone or series-based) were unremittingly bad, many of them failed to hit the mark, and represented work too hastily produced, or where the author (and/or the artist) obviously didn't pour their heart and soul into it. It was just a quickie job done for a quick buck.
This would appear to be the case with "The Unholy Creation." It seems to have been designed as a spotlight for talented writer Steve Skeates, who presided over such great EERIE series as "The Mummy Walks" and "Coffin" (as well as taking over and twisting the "Curse of the Werewolf" series), along with duds like "Prince Targo" (EERIE's first ever series, running only two entries), to pen his version of a character taken from the uber-popular Man-Made Monster category, forever made famous by Mary Shelley's early 19th century classic novel FRANKENSTEIN; OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS. However, just as we have both great and awful novels dealing with variations of this type of creature, along with good and terrible films depicting this particular sort of horror character, we likewise have good and bad illustrated story series about man-made monsters. Warren first delved into this horror sub-genre with the well-crafted stand-alone story "Footsteps of Frankenstein" by Archie Goodwin and Reed Crandall in EERIE #2 (the first "official" issue of the mag; EERIE #1 was a mere ashcan hastily cobbled together over the course of a single night, and solely containing four stories reprinted from its parent mag, CREEPY, to secure the rights of the title for Warren), and later with another stand-alone story in the man-made monster sub-genre, the very well-received tale "The Muck Monster" by the legendary Bernie Wrightson.
During this same period of time, EERIE had just completed running another, much more fondly remembered series about a man-made monster, "Child" (indexed elsewhere on this site), but that series was scribed by Greg Potter and (later) Budd Lewis, and appeared to be primarily a showcase for the great artistic and coloring talents of Rich Corben. "The Unholy Creation" was likely designed to be Skeates's opportunity to add his own unique man-made monster to the mix of EERIE's growing stable of series, especially since it began the same issue of EERIE that "Child" was concluded.
The result was a brief series about a potentially interesting man-made monster who was stifled by a shoddy execution of plot and dialogue, which wasn't helped by the fact that Skeates had one of the less talented of the many wondrous South American artists who worked for Warren from the late '60s to the mid-'70s rendering his stories to paper. Leopold Sanchez was certainly a competent artist, but he was no Jose Oritz. Also, considering how Skeates's forte' appeared to be straight prose rather than dialogue…note the quality of his descriptive panels as opposed to the sentences emanating from his characters' word and thought balloons, and you will see exactly what I'm talking about here. Much of the dialogue (along with the plot) appeared to be something that you would expect to see from the mags of one of Warren's hated rival of the time, Skywald Publishing (who were then circulating the popular b&w horror mags PSYCHO, NIGHTMARE, and SCREAM), or even worse, from another, much more ignoble rival to Warren, Eerie Publications (no connection whatsoever to Warren's EERIE magazine, and Jim Warren would strangle you if you ever suggested such a thing; they published the insane, mega-gory, and dreck-filled but lasting horror mags such as TERROR TALES, WEIRD, VOODOO TALES, and HORROR TALES).
Most of the dialogue in this series, whose title frame alternated between "The Unholy Creation" and "This Unholy Creation" in the first and second story respectively, was putrid. The author clearly had other things on his mind while writing these stories. Though mixed reviews came in regarding the first story, the second story (despite the exciting battle sequence between the Unholy Creation and an elephant) featured a hastily written script that included a central character who spoke in a stilted form of distorted English that made Marvel's savage version of the Hulk appear absolutely eloquent in comparison, and to make matters worse, this character of Kuzzo the hunchback was given an annoyingly large amount of dialogue, thus making the story a less than pleasant reading experience, to say the least.
Today, this very short-lived series is nothing more than an almost forgotten footnote among the annals of Warren's junk pile, and hardly counted among the work that Skeates is fondly remembered for by Warren fans today. However, I index it here for three specific reasons:
1. The character of the Unholy Creation, as noted above, had potential to be an interesting character, and could have been if Skeates, or another writer, was in any way interested in putting in the effort, and if a better artist was assigned to the series.
2. This series and its title character is an important footnote, even if only a footnote, in the printed chronicles for any creative mythographer or horror researcher looking up information about man-made monsters and tracing the Frankenstein legacy, with the intention of composing timelines and/or articles on the subject. A rule of thumb by many creative mythographers and other researchers is that a particular story, movie, or video game, etc., need not be of high quality in order to merit inclusion in any given timeline or article.
3. The very obscurity of this series, and the fact that it's a Steve Skeates creation, may make the character and his stories an intriguing curiosity to modern fans and researchers for this reason alone.
Then again, please don't take the above three points as a recommendation by this author to spend the time and money to acquire the two issues of EERIE containing the stories about the Unholy Creation for the exclusive purpose of reading those stories.
"The Unholy Creation"
Story: Steve Skeates [uncredited]
Art: Leopold Sanchez [uncredited]
A young man named Jason Boswell was having a good time at his bachelor party the evening before his wedding [that's certainly cutting it close!], though he ended up getting very inebriated. As a result, he left the place with a female guest under the pretense of kindly walking her home [but since when are women invited to bachelor parties, unless they happen to be a stripper?], and he ended up spending the night with the woman at her apartment. Finally waking up with the attendant hangover, Boswell realized that it was now 4:00 AM on his wedding day, and that he had to leave immediately.
Taking an alleyway that would provide him with a shortcut to his home, he was suddenly brutally attacked by four men. Though Boswell fought back prodigiously, he was outnumbered and ultimately beaten to death. However, this turned out to be no mere mugging turned fatal. These four thugs were hired by a grizzled and thoroughly unscrupulous old scientist named Dr. Spensor Schwartz to bring him back an intact adult male who had died only a very short time ago. Upon receiving the brutally beaten body of Jason Boswell, Dr. Schwartz told his hired thugs: "Yes, this one will do perfectly! You have your money! Now go! I detest dealing with men such as you! [Not to defend those creeps, but you're not exactly a prize yourself, Doc.] And I certainly would not have done so if this experiment did not demand the brain of a man who died within but one hour!" [Was it wise of the Doc to reveal that he was conducting obviously illegal scientific experiments to these criminally inclined men? And would such an educated man truly use such awful syntax when making the aforementioned revelation?]
Meanwhile, as Boswell's wedding was supposed to begin, his bride, Carolyn, was furious that her groom had evidently stood her up. Boswell's best man was trying to calm her down, telling her that she should be worried rather than angered. Since he was at the bachelor party with her groom the preceding evening, Carolyn asked the man if he happened to see her intended groom leave the party alone. After some badgering, the frustrated best man was forced to admit that Boswell did indeed leave there with a young woman, "but he was simply seeing her to the door! I assure you…"
To which Carolyn cut him off, saying against a face full of tears, "I see! Yes, I'm afraid I see only too well!"
A short time later, Jason Boswell finally regained consciousness, his first thought being of his wedding day and how he was obviously late for it. But upon standing up from the bed he was laying on, looking down at his hands, and then locating a mirror [why was Doc Schwartz stupid enough to put a full body mirror in that room?!] , the man realized that he had been horrifically altered. His brain had been placed into the body of a hulking monstrosity that had obviously been strewn together from several human corpses. He was now over seven feet in height, his musculature was massive but highly distorted, his face and hands (and almost certainly the rest of his body) was covered with stitches…and his face was nightmarishly disfigured, with his mouth constantly dripping copious amounts of foamy saliva, as if his salivary glands were constantly and uncontrollably overproducing.
He also noticed that this new body had no tactile sensations whatsoever…he couldn't feel his own movements, nor anything that he touched.
Reacting in [totally understandable] horror and rage, he began pounding repeatedly on the steel reinforced door keeping him trapped within that room.
Dr. Schwartz's nurse informed the scientist about the sudden pummeling on the door and the screams behind it [the doc actually hired a conventional nurse to assist him??!!], to which the scientist replied, "Yes, I can hear as well as you, my dear! Quite obviously, he has awakened and has realized what he has become! [Duh!] Ignore him and keep away from the door! We dare not go in there now! Not while he's in such a state!" [It's nice to see that the brilliant Doc Schwartz has some measure of common sense in that noggin of his after all…it wasn't exactly obvious from everything we saw before this point.]
When the nurse asked the doc about the possibility of the creature pounding the door down, Dr. Schwartz interjected with, "Don't worry[,] he's only flesh and blood! And it would take far more than something human to knock this door down!" [I take back my previous statement suggesting that the Doc had some measure of common sense.]
When the nurse tried to inform the stubborn scientist that the door was indeed starting to come loose, he told her once again not to worry, for the door was "as strong as steel" [um, actually, it was steel, Doc], and seconds later [on cue], the monster smashed the door from its hinges, with the structure hitting the nurse and pinning her to the ground. Despite the fact that the creature's shoulder was battered and bloody after repeatedly slamming it against the door, the monster felt no pain and didn't even notice the injuries. Moving towards Dr. Schwartz with extreme rage, the scientist hastily grabbed a bullwhip [I kid you not!] and began striking the monster that was quickly advancing upon him. But, as the text explained (in second-person narrative fashion):
"Look, Dr. Spenser Schwartz! Look upon your hideous creation! You tried to emulate the experiments of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein [see WNU Connections below]…but in one particular aspect…in one deadly way, you failed! You did not properly connect the nervous system…! This creature cannot feel! He knows none of the pain you try to inflict upon him…! You cannot keep him from you…"
Consequently, Jason Boswell's new form was unfazed by the several strikes of the bullwhip meted out upon him by the mad Dr. Schwartz, and the creature quickly seized the demented scientist, first giving him what looked to be an extremely painful bear hug, and then the monster swung the man by his feet so as to splatter his head open against the wall. Next coming upon the doc's nurse, who was still helplessly pinned under the heavy metal door, she begged the creature to spare her life, telling him that she was only doing what her boss told her to do [nice excuse, lady…it would probably have worked on a few morons and ultra-liberals out there.] But the enraged creature wasn't moved by these words, and he crushed the woman's throat under his massive boot. He then left the laboratory, leaving the mutilated corpses of two human beings behind him.
This story closes with Boswell, the "Unholy Creation," sitting in an abandoned hunter's cabin he found in the woods outside of Dr. Schwartz's lab, and ruminating about what he had become. As he mused to himself while he squeezed and broke a glass in one hand [from the prologue sequence, but told in sequential order here…see Comments below]: "I reach aimlessly out for a glass and watch as my hand grasps it. Yet I cannot feel what I hold! I have strength now…far more strength than I ever before possessed. I can crush the glass with ease…crush it so that sharp splinters stick into me and blood drips from my hand. Yet even this changes nothing! I cannot feel even the pain that should be there."
Next [chronologically speaking], the creature that now housed the functional brain of Jason Boswell sat and watched the blood dripping painlessly from his hand, and a flash of memory came upon him, remembering "women…one woman in particular…"
He recalled his proposal to Carolyn, telling her [with haughty "player" mannerisms], "Of course I've had others! Many others! I'd be more than a liar [and less of a bragger] if I didn't admit to that! I'd be a fool! [Too late for that, pal.] But that's in the past now! And it all seems so meaningless now that I've met you! So, please, Carolyn, tell me…what is your answer! Will you be my bride…?"
Carolyn's reluctant response was, "You know what my answer is!" Boswell then took her in his arms, which she reciprocated, with the expression on her face making it clear that she realized that she had just accepted a marriage proposal from a philanderer, but loved him too much to refute his offer [so let's not sympathize too much for Carolyn here].
As this memory passed, the creature that Jason Boswell's mind now resided in slunk over in the chair he was sitting in, realizing that his days of having anything whatsoever to do with women were irrefutably over, as was his opportunity for a life with Carolyn [not that she should be crying over what was probably a blessing in disguise for her, mind you]. As Boswell's final words to himself noted: "Memories…that's all there is now…and I am alone…! Never again to feel pain…never again to feel pleasure…never again to feel a woman's caress…forever alone…!"
Comments: As I noted heavily in the Introduction above, this story was hardly Steve Skeates at his best. He made a half-hearted attempt to imbue this story, and its feature character, with pathos and sympathy, with Jason Boswell portrayed as an average joe suddenly trapped in a very atypical and horrifying situation. Nevertheless, it was to Skeates's credit that he would deal with characters in his series who had heavy, albeit varying degrees of "gray" in their personas (e.g., Arthur Lemming from both "Curse of the Werewolf" and "The Mummy Walks"; Coffin), or even being outright amoral individuals (e.g., Jerome Curry from "The Mummy Walks"). Though Jason Boswell had much less darker shades of gray in him than these other characters, he was nevertheless full of typical human foibles rather than being a true hero in any meaning of the word (thus defining him as an "anti-hero"). The manner in which this particular man-made monster lacked all tactile sensation, including the ability to feel pain, did indeed set him apart from other creatures of his ilk, including the original Frankenstein Monster and the many copycat Monsters created by various members of the Frankenstein clan, as their reactions to physical pain were an important part of their personal mythos. As such, this character had potential, but it was clear from reading this below par tale (though it did appeal to some readers, who said as much in the letters page) that it was likely whipped up by Skeates in a single night, and he may have been drunk himself while composing the dialogue. The entire story was thrown together in a simplistic manner, with the plot barely cohesive enough to hold the events together that is was supposed to be depicting.
This tale was not told in linear fashion on the printed page, but I synopsized it above in such a manner so as to make it easier for my own readers to follow.
Though readers of my above synopsis may get the impression that Skeates made a deliberate effort to tinge this story with campy humor, such was almost certainly not his actual intention. Skeates never displayed much of a penchant for humor in his plots or wittiness in his dialogue with any of the series scribed by him for EERIE, and he tended to play all of his stories straight, with deadly seriousness. This story was no exception, with all of the attendant humor being unintentional, and also indicative of the poor dialogue and plot situations of this series.
The above tale was mostly told in first person narrative from the POV of Jason Boswell himself, but at a few points here and there, Skeates moved to his usual second person narrative manner.
Author Skeates never bothered to identify the specific locale of this story. It was obvious that it took place either somewhere in North America or Europe, but nothing more explicit can be discerned from the available evidence. Jason Boswell's bachelor party and deadly abduction by the hired thugs clearly took place in an urban environment, though Dr. Schwartz's lab appears to have been located in a fairly secluded wooded area outside of the city limits (where the thugs obviously brought Boswell's body).
The efforts of artist Leopold Sanchez were far from top-notch here, and he didn't appear to be overly suited to working in the b&w medium, as he showed little regard for the shading intricacies required for working with this format. He perhaps would have been better off illustrating stories in the four-color design. His renditions of most of the regular characters were decent enough, but the monstrous Unholy Creation and the vile Dr. Schwartz were drawn with caricature-like features (note how the Doc's extended nose and chin made him look like a character better suited to appear in a Popeye cartoon than a straight horror story). Nevertheless, the scenes of gory violence were well done by Sanchez, and despite the somewhat caricature-like rendition of the Unholy Creation, the monster was truly horrible-looking to behold, and probably more hideous than almost any other man-made monster (though the Monster copycat from the classic Al Adamson schlock-fest "Dracula vs. Frankenstein," with his case of ultra-terrible acne, certainly came close). In fact, when viewing the Unholy Creation from the side, his head and slightly extended jaw appeared to have a vaguely simian appearance.
The Unholy Creation also somewhat resembled the Patchwork Man, another Frankenstein Monster pastiche, who appeared during this same time period in the pages of DC's original SWAMP THING title.
Many of the plotting problems of this story revolved around Dr. Schwartz's uncalled for idiocy despite his great scientific brain (though he flubbed in that regard also, when you consider how he failed to properly connect the monster's nervous system). It's hard to determine which of his mistakes in this story was worse…between blurting out the purpose of his experiment to those thugs he hired, who already knew too much to begin with (though, with the doc's death soon afterwards, that point was effectively rendered moot) or his fatal misjudging of the strength level of a creature whom he cobbled together himself (he obviously didn't study Dr. Frankenstein's notes as closely as he thought).
And the doc's actions in this story weren't the only things that didn't make a hell of a lot of sense (including the bachelor party held the night before the wedding, and the inexplicable female guest whom Boswell had a "nightcap" with that evening).
Moreover, since this series was so brief (running just one more entry, indexed below), none of the plot points introduced here (such as Boswell's fiancée, Carolyn) were ever picked up on again.
Unless you're a completist for such fare, avoid spending the time and money to collect the two issues of EERIE solely for the purpose of finding these stories (then again, this particular issue of EERIE contained the well-done final entry in the "Child" series [another man-made monster from the Warren stable] and a great Exterminator One story, so collectors of the Warren series and creative mythographers would have more reasons than simply the presence of The Unholy Creation story within these pages to justify purchasing this particular issue of the mag).
WNU Connections: Though the Unholy Creation never had any crossovers with other Warren characters, his genesis in the Frankenstein legacy was enough to have him wolded. Dr. Spensor Schwartz was clearly working from the notes of one of the Frankensteins (and the former's surname made him of obvious German descent), trying to duplicate their experiments in creating artificial organic life. It's not certain which Frankenstein's journal or notes he was working from, nor was it revealed if he utilized entirely chemical means, or a combination of the latter and intense electrical stimulation to bring his patchwork corpse to life, but the impressive level of superhuman strength and regenerative capabilities of this monster (on par with any other Monster copycat) made it clear that he was indeed working from those journals. It should be noted that no technology capable of generating high levels of electrical current via tapping the energies of thunderstorms was apparent in this story (used by Dr. Henry Victor Frankenstein I), so I would opine that only chemical means were used. Though removing a brain from its cranial housing will damage the highly delicate organ, which led, in part, to the erratic behavior of many of the copycat Monsters (though not the original Monster, since a whole head was transplanted to the creature), it would appear that Dr. Schwartz was at least smart enough to minimize this effect by making sure that the brain he used was from a man who had died less than an hour beforehand (his own theory). Nevertheless, he failed to properly duplicate all of Victor Frankenstein's procedures in this story, and in more ways than the simple botch job done on the "wiring" of the nervous system.
The creature's vocal apparatus was obviously non-functional, since the Unholy Creation was unable to speak, and though his larynx was capable of making loud sounds, he wasn't actually able to utter coherent words. However, the brain transplant appeared rather successful, since he seemed to possess most of Jason Boswell's memories and original personality, probably because the brain was transplanted so recently that the various synapses and dendrites dealing with memory storage didn't have the time to atrophy (which wasn't the case with the original Frankenstein Monster and most copycat Monsters, who received transplanted brains that were non-functional for a relatively long period of time, and these creatures thus possessed none of the memories and few, if any, of the personality traits of the human whom their respective brains once belonged to).
Further, the monster's salivary glands were on constant overdrive…Dr. Schwartz should have dealt with that purely for reasons of appearance (not that he seemed to be overly concerned about the appearance of the creature in any regard), as this made his creation about as pleasant to look at as the character of Arseface from THE PREACHER series.
And finally, the Unholy Creation lacked the formidable speed and superhuman agility of the original Frankenstein Monster, as the distorted manner in which his musculature and limbs were strewn together caused him to move with some degree of awkwardness. Hence, it can be said that Spensor Schwartz wasn't the genius that Victor Frankenstein I was in the art of creating artificial organic humanoids from the pieces of many different cadavers.
I will let other creative mythographers who may want to incorporate the Unholy Creation into any timeline or article they may be constructing about man-made monsters to figure these details out if they are so inclined (I'm not a scientist, dammit!).
In this story (the text in question was quoted in the above synopsis), it was stated that Dr. Schwartz was trying to "emulate the experiments of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" [emphasis mine], which some readers may have taken to imply that the events of that novel were fictitious within the context of this story, and that the Doc acquired his inspiration strictly from reading the novel. However, I think this was simply a poor choice of wording by the writer, though a version of the novel chronicling those events was indeed written and published within the WNU by the Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley of that reality. Since Victor Frankenstein's methods for creating the Monster were ill-described by Shelley in the novel (because she herself wasn't a scientist), it can be presumed that though Dr. Schwartz obviously read the novel, he was clearly working from the notes and/or journals of one of the Frankenstein clan…most likely, IMO, that of Baron Victor Frankenstein (who was seen in most of the movies making up the Hammer "Frankenstein" film franchise).
It's the opinion of this author that Skeates incorrectly interpreted many of the events of this story in his seeming haste to get it completed, and a I disagree with the possible implication that Dr. Schwartz may have simply been inspired by reading Mary Shelley's novel, rather than actually studying the notes and/or journal of one of the Frankensteins (again, my guess being that of Baron Victor Frankenstein).
Time Frame: It was never definitively established by scribe Steve Skeates as to which time period this story took place. However, judging by the clothing and general scenery interpreted by artist Leopold Sanchez, I would say that this tale occurred sometime in the early 20th century, likely during the 1930s or '40s, but almost certainly not during the '70s, when this tale was published. This is my working theory that I will stick with for now.
"Circus of Pain"
Story: Steve Skeates
Art: Leopold Sanchez
This tale begins with a prologue sequence where Jason Boswell, the Unholy Creation, sits in his cabin ruminating about the events of the previous story, where he departed Dr. Schwartz's lab, leaving both the errant scientist and his nurse lying dead behind him [and I couldn't help noticing that artist Sanchez didn't draw the doc in a caricature-like fashion this time…I guess he received too many laughs from his friends who read the last story]. To quote the [quite well-crafted] first person narrative of the tale's titular creature upon leaving the lab and entering the wooded area beyond:
"I forced my dull, insensate body to clumsily make its way into the cool night air! My misshapen, disjointed vocal chords knotted. Before the earlier events of that evening it might have been a cry of base anguish…but after the bizarre transformation visited upon me by Doctor Schwartz it was merely a discordant growl! Then I spotted the deserted hunter's shack…my sheltering refuge…! [I love how comic book monsters always manage to find a convenient abandoned cabin or shack lying around exactly when they need one.] …Refuge for a gross, unfeeling monstrosity…a thing not truly alive. For what is life without the ability to taste a fine wine as it sparkles on your tongue…the soft touch of a woman's lips against your own…? That is the true horror! Never again to enfold the lushily figured form of a woman in my arms! Never again to feel a woman's warmth!"
[Once Skeates concluded this great poetic display of pathos, it was back to the pabulum.]
As the prologue ended, the Unholy Creation came upon a traveling circus in the middle of the woods [and any reader of horror fiction is well aware that a circus is a wonderful place to find trouble or paranormal going-on's of some sort].
Within one of the caravans was a beautiful dancer named Diane, who was quarreling with her lover, a trapeze aerialist called Victorio Graziunas [author Skeates made sure to mention his full name, because he probably had the intention of using Victorio in a future entry in this series before Warren put the kibosh on the matter or, just as likely, the writer simply lost what little interest he had for it to begin with]. The two were arguing over Victorio's latest infidelity, with Diane claiming she had brought the man in from the street, whereas he claimed that their relationship ruined his chance at a prosperous career [blah blah blah…]. Diane retorted that before she helped recruit him into the circus, he was acting as a thief in a place called "Slum Gulley." To which Victorio's ironic response was to strike Diane in the face while exclaiming, "I don't have to take your abuse, woman!" [But it was okay for her to take his?]. After sarcastically asking Victorio if hitting her made him feel more masculine, she then told him that he would never have to take "anything" from her again, and she left his caravan…only to run into the eavesdropping Kuzzo, who was a disfigured, hunchbacked dwarf.
Kuzzo, using his barely intelligible, disjointed way of speaking, told her that he wished he could deal with Victorio for treating her that way, to which the woman laughed. Kuzzo expressed sadness at her allegedly laughing at him, but Diane made it clear that she wasn't laughing at him per se, but only at the prospect of his beating up Victorio. Kuzzo then awkwardly told the beautiful woman that he was in love with her, but she then simply responded with, "Kuzzo…go back to Eloise! She understands you!" (Eloise was the elephant that Kuzzo would tend as part of his job at the circus). Despite his pleading in his awful broken English ("P-please…Kuzzo ugly…to be…needs love, too…p-please…"), as one may expect, Diane wasn't keen on the diminutive hunchback's further company.
Now sitting near the edge of the circus area in a state of depression, Kuzzo ruminated about his past. He was ridiculed by his peers as a youth because of his disfigured appearance [Who didn't see this one coming? Oh, and one of the kids called him "Hunchie", btw. And no, we never learned who the hell taught him how to talk.]. Despite all of the emotional turmoil in his past, Kuzzo eventually discovered that he had a natural rapport with the animals of the forest. Because of this, he greatly loved the circus when it came into his town, and he spent much time there talking to the animals in their cages ("Is good…here…to be, my friends"). He begged one of the carnival barkers for a job working with the animals, to which the man, eager to be rid of Kuzzo's presence, acquiesced to the dwarf's pleas and told him, "All right! All right! You can feed the animals! You can shovel the…" [thankfully, author Skeates spared his readers the last part of that sentence.]
As Kuzzo less-than-articulately mused regarding life at the circus prior to the arrival of Diane: "Kuzzo…happy then…Kuzzo happy with thoughts…past…of the…no women then…to complicate…life…! Now…things different now…huh?"
Just then, Eloise appeared and playfully lifted Kuzzo with her trunk. Convincing the pachyderm to put him down, the despondent little man took her by the trunk and had her accompany him on a cathartic walk into the woods [would the staff really allow an elephant to walk off of the established circus grounds and into the woods like that?].
As Kuzzo and Eloise entered the woods, they were both spotted by the now monstrous Jason Boswell, who, upon noticing the dwarf, saw in him a person who may sympathize with his own plight. But upon seeing the terrifying creature before him, Kuzzo panicked, fearful for his life, and ordered Eloise to attack the Unholy Creation and kill him [can elephants be trained to attack on command, as many breeds of dogs can? Hmmm…if that was the case, why haven't elephants been used as living weapons by the various Indian cultures who managed to domesticate them?]. Doing as she was commanded, Eloise grabbed the monster before her and hurled him into a tree. As the Unholy Creation mused to himself upon his recovery from the blow: "So much for compassionate understanding. A red haze filters across my blurry vision…and my fevered brain can only shout…kill!"
Now lunging for the powerful pachyderm, the next thoughts from the monster read, "Madly now, I race at the shrieking mammoth…not for the pain it has caused me…for I can feel no pain…perhaps it is for that reason I hate this beast. I envy the pain I am about to inflict upon it!"
The battle then commenced, with the elephant proving stronger than the Unholy Creation had anticipated, throwing him about with her snaky trunk. Finally taking hold of the animal's flailing appendage, the Unholy Creation exerts what must have been his full strength to whirl her about off the ground until, picking up enough inertia, he released the animal, to have her die instantly after crashing with tremendous force into a nearby oak tree.
Upon standing over the carcass of the huge animal in triumph, the Unholy Creature's narrative read: "I heave a strangled sigh…not of satisfaction, but perhaps once more, it is envy! Perhaps I envy this animal its death. For what life have I to look forward to?"
Reacting with extreme rage upon seeing his only friend killed, Kuzzo attacked and lashed out at the monster before him with his fists, even though his incessant pummeling was completely ineffectual. The monster lifted the hunchback over his head with ridiculous ease, planning to kill him, until, suddenly looking into the face of the angry but pleading little man, the creature stayed his hand, saying this to himself:
"His voice! That is what touches it off…I convulse in silent laughter, as I release my hold on the hunchback. And I ask myself, who truly is the freak? I, an unnatural, unholy creation forged from the nightmarish mind of a madman who called himself a doctor? Or this lonely, twisted hunchback…a freak of nature?"
Seemingly sensing precisely what the creature before him was thinking, Kuzzo appeared to completely understand, making the latter notion clear when he laughed aloud in tandem with the Unholy Creation's inner laughter.
Suddenly realizing that each of them were kindred spirits, they began walking off into the woods together, with the closing thoughts of the monster that was once a man called Jason Boswell silently stating, "The animosity is gone…for we both realize we are no longer alone…we each, at last have…a friend! We are alone no longer!"
Comments: This was the final entry of the series, which ended abruptly and with no definitive resolution or closure for the character. I don't think too many readers noticed or complained this time, however, as they did with the similar sudden and inexplicable termination of the "Dracula" series right in the middle of an exciting cliffhanger, nor the fact that the quest of the Jerome Curry-Mummy from Skeates's other series, "The Mummy Walks," was never resolved. All attendant sub-plots in this series, such as those involving Kuzzo's fellow circus employees, the arrogant Victorio and the beautiful Diane, were likewise put out to pasture with no resolution.
Let us not also forget how the far more memorable series from EERIE, "Marvin the Dead-Thing," also lasted only two entries, and the second didn't appear until several years after the first (and after Warren promised to turn it into a continuing feature).
This story had its moments, such as the battle between the Unholy Creation and the elephant Eloise (which was necessary to give Kuzzo a chance to present an actual threat to the monster), but the brutal slaying of the innocent animal in battle was too depressing to leave much of a sense of excitement to the reader following its outcome. And Kuzzo the hunchback, who was supposed to provide new pathos to the series, was given a terribly stilted way of speaking, often using an odd reversal of syntax that made Bizarro's dialogue absolutely lucid by comparison, and which served no good purpose other than to make the story that much more difficult to read all the way through, especially in lieu of the fact that the dwarf was given about 80% of the spoken dialogue in this story [see above examples in the synopsis, and the Classic Dialogue section below]. I'm sure the readers weren't overly eager to see the series continue on as "The Unholy Creation and Kuzzo the Hunchback."
Moreover, his character was just too hammily portrayed, and too stereotypically derivative, to elicit much appeal to the readers, even those who had received similar bullying for various reasons in real life. Further, I'm sure that more than one reader who gave this series a look since Skeates was writing it noted that Kuzzo was recently aped from the evil dwarfish hunchback Throgmore, whom Skeates introduced into "The Curse of the Werewolf" series, and then carried into "The Mummy Walks" series when Arthur Lemming himself migrated there. Though Throgmore was more evil than pathetic (which differed from Kuzzo), the former nevertheless had a very similar appearance and a very similar yearning and whining for the female contact that his disfigured appearance would always deny him (but at least Throgmore could speak so that the reader understood him).
Be as it may, what happened to the duo of the Unholy Creation and Kuzzo the hunchback after this story remains unknown at this writing.
The Unholy Creation received the cover of EERIE #62. The accompanying text read: "A monster created by man…and a misfit born of nature, clash in 'The Circus of Pain'." Though cover artist Sanjulian was a master of his craft, and rendered some of the most breathtaking covers ever seen on EERIE (his best work was on par with that of the famous cover artist Frank Frazetta), even he failed to do justice to this potentially interesting character, as this particular cover was pretty awful. It was also a bit deceptive of the story content…it depicted the Unholy Creation standing over the body of a woman in her bra and panties (presumably Diane, though she didn't quite look the same), who was either dead or in shock (her eyes were wide open and staring blankly), with Kuzzo, Eloise the elephant, and a huge circus tent in the background. Though the titular monster of this series did indeed clash with Kuzzo (depicted as completely bald here) and the elephant in the story, we never saw a tent nearly that size in the tale itself [okay, I'll give this one to artistic license], and more importantly, nowhere in the story did the monster ever encounter Diane or any other woman.
This tale was narrated by Cousin Eerie, a relative rarity for a series story.
Classic Dialogue: Want to see an example of how much author Skeates turned off readers by portraying Kuzzo the hunchback with an incredibly and inexplicably stilted form of dialogue? I didn't think so, but I'll show you anyway.
Note these verbatim quotes taken from the little man when Eloise picked him up with her trunk:
"Eloise…music sound…name in that! Still…naughty…Eloise not to pick up…people bad! Down…put me…I say, Eloise…bad girl!"
After she proceeded to put him down, the readers were treated to this bit by Kuzzo, followed by his rhetoric regarding how the animal is his only friend:
"Good…good! You good for me girl…Eloise…you only…the one what…is to be…loving for me, Eloise!
"…only one…loves who…ugly…twisted…freak, Kuzzo!"
And keep in mind that readers were expected to sit through an entire story full of such dialogue.
Time Frame: This story took place about a day following the previous entry in the series. It is still my opinion that the entire series took place sometime between the 1930s and the 1940s.