==Creatures on the Loose==
Designed to compete with DC Comics' successful launches House of Mystery and House of Secrets<ref name="pw">Publishers Weekly PW Comics Week (March 7, 2006): "Steranko and Simon: Back to Back", by Peter Sanderson</ref>, Tower of Shadows, like its companion comic Chamber of Darkness, sold poorly despite such notable talent. After its first few issues, the title began including reprints of "pre-superhero Marvel" monster stories and other SF/fantasy tales from Marvel's 1950s and early ' 60s predecessor, Atlas Comics. After the ninth issue, the title changed to Creatures on the Loose, and the comic became a mix of reprints and occasional sword and sorcery/SF series.
It is unrelated to the novel The Tower of Shadows by Drew Bowling.
Retitled with issue #10 (March 1971), the new version led off with a seven-page King Kull story by Thomas and artist Bernie Wrightson. The book then became all-reprint until issue #16 (March 1972), when writer Thomas and the art team of Gil Kane and Bill Everett introduced the series "Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars", starring an interplanetary Earthman created by author Edwin L. Arnold in his 1905 book Lieutenant Gullivar Jones: His Vacation. Following another issue by Thomas and one by Gerry Conway, science fiction novelist George Alec Effinger wrote the final three installments.
Effinger continued as writer for the series that immediately followed, in issue #22 (March 1973): "Thongor! Warrior of Lost Lemuria!", adapting a sword-and-sorcery barbarian character created by author Lin Carter. Following writers Tony Isabella and Gardner Fox, Carter himself co-wrote (with Steve Gerber) the final two installments.
Thomas, Marvel's associate editor at the time, recalled in 2007 that Thongor had been the company's first choice when Marvel decided to published a licensed fantasy character, rather than the eventual hit Conan the Barbarian. Publisher Martin Goodman "authorized us to go after a character. I first went after Lin Carter's Thongor, who was a quasi-Conan with elements of John Carter of Mars, partly became editor-in-chief Stan Lee liked that name the most ... I soon got stalled by Lin Carter's agent on Thongor (he was hoping I'd offer more than the $150 per issue I was authorized to offer), and I got a sudden impulse to go after Conan".<ref>Alter Ego vol. 3, #70 (July 2007): "Writing Comics Turned Out to Be What I Really Wanted to Do with My Life" (Roy Thomas interview), p. 5-6</ref>
The title's last series, "Man-Wolf," starring John Jameson, the werewolf son of Spider-Man supporting character J. Jonah Jameson, ran from issue #30-37 (July 1974 - Sept. 1975). Its writers were Doug Moench, Isabella, and David Anthony Kraft, with art by pencilers George Tuska and George Pérez. The series depicted Jameson as a god to an alien race and introduced Lunatik.
Creatures on the Loose #1 featured Gulliver Jones standing over a princess he's just rescued, right after he slaughtered an entire army. Pulp covers often portrayed men in their grittiest moments, while the woman on the cover was left in pristine form. I love the color scheme on this cover. The dead warriors in the foreground are red, the planet in the background is blue. Was Steranko drawing Gulliver Jones or John Carter?
Thongor made his first appearance in the next issue, Creatures on the Loose #22--another way for Marvel to cash-in on the barbarian craze that Conan had ignited. The pulpish influence can be seen in the form of the woman on the steps--lying unconscious, with her backside facing the reader. I swear I've seen that same pose in either a pulp magazine or a Frazetta cover. Again, the hero is standing above the heroine, ready to hack and slash anything that comes to attack her.
Great covers! Steranko advertised his own creation, Talon, in his magazine ComicsScene. I was really excited about that, but if I recall correctly, it was never published. Please tell me if I am wrong. Nuff said.