Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Return of Dr. Spektor and His Crazy Occult Files!

Okay, maybe my characterizing them as "crazy" is a bit over the top. But you have to admit that Dr. Spektor is one strange dude. He dresses kind of like Sherlock Holmes and, most alarmingly, he also sports rather longish hair... and a full beard, like a common hippie! Dr. Spektor and his mad, mod secretary, Lakota Rainflower, shamelessly co-habitate in a manner best reserved for man and wife; a scandalous flouting of our social mores. And rather than work an ordinary, salaried job and enjoy the benefits won for him by our valiant American fighting men in Europe and Asia, Dr. Spektor spends his time investigating vampires, ghosts and other assorted supernatural freaks. At one point he even becomes a werewolf!

I rather suspect he eschews gun ownership and does not worship in the church of his choice on Sundays.

Taken all together, my fellow Americans, this evidence suggests Dr. Spektor poses a threat to the very fabric of our society. To our way of life. I'm not saying he's part of the International Communist Conspiracy; I merely suggest he might possibly be a communist who's engaged in some sort of conspiracy on an international scale.

Now Dark Horse Comics is bringing back this notorious subversive and his paranormal adventures in a 200 page hardcover book reprinting the first seven issues of The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor. Created by Donald F. Glut-- who would go on to write scripts for a variety of TV shows that have since entered the pop culture canon, plus the "novelization" of The Empire Strikes Back-- and artist Dan Spiegle, Spektor was an early prototype of characters like Kolchak, Fox Mulder, even Hellboy and the BPRD. Filipino artist Jesse Santos provided the art for the regular series; his illustrations have a rich, noodly line that adds a strong graphic element to Spektor's world. It reminds me a bit of Alex Nino's artwork.

Santo also largely ignored ruling his panel borders unless necessary for clarity. As a result, the page layouts seem very open.

I only remember owning one issue of The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor and that was #11, the beginning of a story arc where the good doctor finds himself cursed with lycanthropy. As I've probably told you, Gold Key comics were notoriously difficult to find in my hometown, so that may have been the only Dr. Spektor I ever saw. I was seriously disappointed Valiant didn't revive him along with the other Gold Key characters during their early 90s heyday; Spektor wouldn't quite have fit in with the likes of Dr. Solar (who nevertheless once guest-starred in the original comic) and the Harbinger kids, but somewhere might have found a way to work him into the mix. After all, The X-Files was quickly achieving its status as the cult show of the hipster cognoscenti. I think having been exposed to Dr. Spektor and Carl Kolchak as a child made me susceptible to Mulder and Scully's moody adventures, and to Hellboy's as well. Perhaps even Ghostbusters, although I probably approached that from the Saturday Night Live connection; I was as big a fan of comedy as I was of comics and the outre.

Anyway, I never found out what happened to Dr. Spektor and Lakota after that single issue. Did he remain a werewolf? Did she find the rest of her clothes? The ending satisfactorily concluded the issue's plot but left that story element curiously open-ended. It was a mystery to haunt me the rest of my days...

Or at least until the advent of the Internet and comic companies like Dark Horse. Dark Horse seems intent on reviving every part of my childhood. It's almost as if they've gone into the attic of my brain and started opening dusty cardboard boxes there. Creepy and Eerie, Savage Sword of Conan. And now The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor. Pinko hippie commie or not, the good doctor needs to investigate Dark Horse and see what kind of bizarre psychic powers they're channeling over there!

And now the bad news. The suggested retail price is $49.95, which puts this book a bit out of the range I'm willing to pay. Dark Horse's archive books are nice and hefty but expensive. As much as I enjoyed that one issue of The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor, I need a more consumer-friendly softcover edition before I shell out cash to revisit this series. I hope there are enough Spektor-freaks out there to justify Dark Horse's venture and make this happen.

No comments: