Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Secret Files of Dr. Drew

   I first discovered the occult detective Dr. Drew in the pages of The Rocket Blasts Comic Collector fanzine and like many people I took it to be the work of Will Eisner, the legendary creator of The Spirit. As it turns out I was only partially wrong because the artwork on the feature was by Jerry Grandenetti, who was one of Eisner's 'ghosts' on The Spirit. Grandenetti reached the point where he could imitate Eisner's style so closely that it was difficult to differentiate Grandenetti/Eisner from pure Eisner.
   Originally appearing in the pages of Fiction House's Rangers Comics, beginning with issue #47 (1949), Dr. Drew fought all sorts of supernatural menaces. Ghosts. Vampires. Witches. Even the Devil himself. And now, thanks to the folks at Dark Horse Comics, you can read all 14 of Dr. Drew's adventures in a big hardback collection for only thirty bucks. Not only are all the good doctor's adventures included, but tons of extras like bios of the creators, a history of the Dr. Drew stories, and an interview with artist Grandenetti. Plus an introduction and art from Michael T. Gilbert, the creator of that other supernatural sleuth, Mr. Monster.
   The concept of Dr. Drew is pretty simple. Drew is an expert on the occult who lives in a mansion atop Bone Hill. From here he rides out in his horse-drawn carriage (no car for Dr. Drew) to fight supernatural menaces wherever they raise their ugly heads. Like the later comic book occult detective Doctor Adam Spektor, Drew has no super powers and instead must rely on his wits and his arcane knowledge, though he certainly is a man of action and doesn't mind mixing it up with fists or bullets when he has to.
   The writer for the Dr. Drew stories was a woman named Marilyn Mercer, who began working for Will Eisner as an office manager, but soon moved to writing scripts for the Eisner shop. There is a brief biography of Mercer in the Dark Horse collection but I'd like to know more about her, because she had some really good, creepy ideas and I wonder if she was a reader of horror or just had a really vivid imagination. Her prose is nice too. Check this out:

   "One evening a heavy fog rolled in from the sea and surrounded Bone Hill, clung to its sides, and slid into the valley, where it lay in a thick, blinding shroud. In the harbor, on the roads, all mortal life was, for the moment, halted"

   Nice and atmospheric, eh? And there's lots more where that came from.
   Anyway, I was really taken with this collection. Drew is almost the John Thunstone of comics and readers of Manly Wade Wellman, Seabury Quinn, and other occult tec writers should check out the adventures of Dr. Drew. Like most Fiction House characters, Drew is in the public domain, which means some other writer could pen new adventures. Were I a comic book publisher I'd approach Don Glut, creator of Doctor Spektor about a new Dr. Drew series. As it is, maybe I'll write something with the good doctor myself.


Fra Moretta said...

I didn't know this character,am i wong or he look a bit like actor Peter Cushing?

Charles R. Rutledge said...

He does a bit.

Keith West said...

I think the times, markets, and stars are right for new Dr. Drew stories. While I say that lightly, I'm not aware of many occult detectives right now. Jason E. Thummel's Lance Chambers is the only one that comes to mind.