House of Horror #2: Jenifer

Happy Valentine’s Day, creeps! While David and Jason are contending with the horde of salacious succubi I
unleashed in their direction, snuggle up to your slugnificant other (ghoulfriend or boofriend — makes no difference to me — either will provide hours of entertainment for the love-starved creatures cavorting in the House of Horror’s infamous Dungeon of Delights) and try to relax as I unearth a touching tale of love plundered from the archives of the legendary Warren Publishing

Originally published in Creepy #63 (cover date July, 1974), Bruce Jones and Bernie Wrightson’s Jenifer is widely regarded as one of the best stories Warren ever published. Before I throw you kicking and screaming into the bone-chilling affair, a bit of blocking to set the stage: Jenifer was Bruce Jones’ first story produced under the watchful eyes of editor Bill DuBay. It was also one of the first pieces Wrightson produced for Warren, having left DC Comics after a masterful run on Swamp Thing. I believe Wrightson shined most brilliantly when removed from the constraints of color. His work on Swamp Thing, while gorgeous, was muddied a bit by the less-than-optimal color process of the Bronze Age. One can only do so much with Rubylith and a very limited palette. With Jenifer, Wrightson was freed from his chromatic concerns and used grayscale markers to dizzying (and very disturbing) effect. In 1983, not realizing perfection when they saw it, the fine folks at Pacific Comics added color to Jenifer in the second issue of their Bernie Wrightson: Master of the Macabre series of reprints. Stay tuned after the feature for some stomach-churning examples of color art gone very, very wrong.

And now, without further ado, the masterpiece that is Jenifer

Talk about a classic case of looking a gift horse in the mouth! Jenifer was a real looker (as long as you didn’t look her in the face) who just wanted a little time with her man and Mr. Crankypants protagonist can’t help but dwell on her few negatives. So what if she killed a little here and there (if David wasn’t busy dodging succubi, I’m guessing he would have bailed when the family cat — what little was left of it — went for a swim), are we really going to knock a ghoul for trying to eliminate the obstacles in the way of her man! Bonus points for assertiveness, I say!

Jenifer was adapted in 2005 for Anchor Bay and Showtime’s Masters of Horror series, directed by none other than the Italian impresario of ick, Dario Argento. The original’s unnamed histrionic “hero”, now dubbed Frank Spivey and changed from business owner to detective, was played by Wings‘ Steven Weber (who also pitched in on the teleplay) and the title character was brought to life by the gorgeous Carrie Anne Fleming. Give it a shot if you’ve nothing else to watch. It’s a mixed bag of worms that pales in comparison to the original.

Brace yourselves, because the eye-searing horrors that follow will undoubtedly kick your digestive tracts into reverse gear. You’ve been warned…

Please pardon me while I thrust hot pokers into my eyes. Thank you for stopping by the House of Horror. Until next week, please address all get well cards for David and Jason (if they’ve survived the experience) to 11 O’Clock Comics. I’ll see that they get what’s coming to them…

 

 

 

  • Gianci

    I first came across Jenifer in the “Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson” hardcover. What a great book to get a good taster of this great artist. Great post Vince! And I agree, those colours, urgh!