Comic Books #27: The Saga of the Victims

The Saga of the Victims is one of the most incredible comics I've ever read- it's the perfect storm of everything raunchy coming together in one godawful yet glorious mess.  Grindhouse exploitation meets paper in Saga of the Victims, a series that ran in Skywald publishing's Scream magazine in 1974-1975.  Unfortunately, the company went out of business before the storyline could be completed; however, the issues that ran more than delivered the goods with plenty of politically incorrect brutality, a pterodactyl, short skirts, a Nazi dwarf and a 400 year old undead robot.... what more could you ask for?

I remember reading this as a kid and just not getting it.  I wanted monsters, not chicks getting captured by pirates.  But this wasn't meant for the junior high crowd - this was for guys who liked Pam Grier movies and liked their stories racy and bloody.  Writer Al Newetson (aka Archaic Al) and illustrator Suso delivered pure distilled grindhouse gold.  I would be remiss to not cover it here at Retrospace.

I'll also add that this would make an incredible movie.  I'm talkin' to you Tarrantino!

Anyway, I'll cut to the chase. If you want more background information, there's always Wikipedia.  I'd like to give you a taste of the saga and run through the maniacally fast paced story.  So here goes..

The shit hits the fans immediately.  By the second page Anne Adams and Josie Forster are abducted from their college apartment.

Who are the kidnappers? Why they're subterranean mutants of course!... You could stop this comic right here, and would already be worth the cover price. 

From Retrospace
Evidently, underneath the college campus is an entire underground labyrinth populated by hideous creatures who neither speak nor breath.  And what's worse is they're led by a masked human who pronounces them to be executed. 

As you can see by the images so far, this artwork isn't your standard hastily thrown together garbage.  You can tell Suso (one word, like Cher and Sade) took great care with this project.

Anyway, Anne and Josie get taken to a padded cell to await their execution.  Anne starts freaking out and Josie bitch-slaps her to her senses. 

But here's where you realize this comic was horribly mislabeled as "The Saga of the VICTIMS".  These chicks are by no means victims.... far from it.  In fact, I daresay there's not many comic book heroines who could hold a candle to these two badasses.  Sure, they find themselves in ridiculously brutal situations (in this regard, they're VICTIMS of circumstance); but in each dilemma, these girls take matters into their own hands and deal with things in a way that would make Steven Seagal proud.

Once Anne gets control of her wits, she promptly strangles a mutant to death with her bare hands.  I told you these chicks don't play!

Quickly, the "victims" locate the masked executioner.  Lo and behold! It turns out to be their headmistress from school! But why?  Anne and Josie don't stick around to ask questions.  They burn her face off and leave her for dead.

When the two women emerge from this underground hell, they quickly discover things aren't much better above ground.  The entire city is swarming with mutants! (I told you the story was fast paced.)

Luckily, for the time being Anne and Josie are delivered from this living nightmare via giant plastic bags hoisted from a skyscraper.  (If you're saying "WTF?" right now, you will be saying it a lot in The Saga of the Victims where every panel brings a new WTF?).

As you might've guessed, their troubles don't end here.  It turns out there's a being of pure evil who is playing with their minds.  He won't answer any of their questions, but only states that he is the embodiment of horror... and their tribulations have only just begun!

The embodiment of pure evil and horror looks a lot like Slim Goodbody without the afro.  He's skinless with organs on full display (thankfully, not ALL organs on display). 

Anne and Josie are then taken in a limousine to the castle of a 400 year old undead robot.... (yeah, you read that right).  I'll spare you the details of this story. Just know it was as insane as it sounds.

Lest you think this is getting just a little bit nutty, remember, these stories are told with flair.  I mean not only dynamic artwork, but also a lot of heart.  Between the action, you get to know the two protagonists, and you get to see them wrestle with what's happening to them.  So, despite the cocaine fueled pace, there's still some meat to the storyline.

The girls are also getting a sense that not all of this is real; the line between their reality and illusion is becoming blurred.  As usual, Anne starts to come unraveled, and the stalwart Josie is the voice of strength in a time of crisis.

In 1973, Black Mama, White Mama hit the big screen, starring Pam Grier and Margaret Markov.  These two ladies are the spitting image of Josie and Anne.... you have to think Suso had these actresses in mind when he illustrated the Saga of the Victims.

Next, a giant pterodactyl grabs Anne and Josie from the castle of the 400 year old undead robot.  It delivers them to its nest, but a natural disaster dislodges it and sends the nest traveling downstream to the ocean.... where they find are captured by a crew of zombie pirates.... damn, that's a mouthful!

"I don't see anyone"... always famous last words in horror movies.

This is my oath to you, dear reader: if I ever win a lottery, or Retrospace becomes a billion dollar industry, I will make this into a feature film. 

Anyway, the girls are made to walk the plank and plummet into the shark infested waters below. 

.... only to become the victims of a giant squid...

... which turns out to be another robot.... operated by a Nazi dwarf.... (are you writing this down?)

Anne actually brutally murders him via an ax straight to his temple.  And after a few more harrowing encounters (namely a tribe of cannibals), the girls start to lose their shit.  Enough is enough.  It's time for answers.

From Retrospace

Unfortunately, this is when Skywald went out of business.  We'll never know what became of Anne and Josie.  Like Land of the Lost, the series ended prematurely before all the questions could be answered.

I'm not sure how the The Saga of the Victims would've ended had the company not gone under, but I think we can be pretty assured that these "victims" would continue to kick ass and take names to the bitter end.


  1. Blimey, that's fantastic. Suso's art is almost Bernie Wrightson..

    I must scan my New English Library Dracula editions in. Some crazy art in them, although no Dracula bizarrely

  2. A nice piece. I used to have the SCREAM issues but barely remember these. For the sake of accuracy, it's Al Hewetson btw, not Newetson as you have.

  3. Teen age fantasy summed up in two awesome words: Flower Nipples.

  4. The saga was finally finished, albeit thirty years later after Hewetson's death. I wrote about the Saga of the Victims last year on my blog: http://craneshot.blogspot.com/2009/12/saga-of-victims.html

  5. Holy crap, the artwork by SUSO is just awesome! It has a certain José Gonález (70's Vampirella) feel to it. In fact the entire comic is very Warren Comics-like.

  6. That's awesome! I want to read the whole thing. Hey, if I win the lottery, I'll produce this thing with you too.

  7. I wasn't saying WTF at the giant plastic bags, it wasn't until the pterodactyl-zombie pirates that I was overwhelmed. However, I pretty much said it for every story after that.

  8. Yeah--great style--reminds me of Gonzalez, Nick Cardy and Gray Morrow.

    Who wrote this--anybody--?

  9. I have the first story from Scream, and loved it too, but Josie was my favorite gal. I always wished I could have found more of these stories!

  10. The mutants are working for the SLA and Anne is a low-rent media heiress. Her daddy publishes pulp comics that glorify bourgeois oppression.

  11. a completely brilliant comic... I love how she doesn't need to look at her when she slaps her.

  12. Gilligan, you are the undisputed king of blogging about terribly interesting things that I didn't even know existed! Great post. I posted a link to it in the (belated) third issue of Spatter Analysis!

    Check it out!


  13. Contrary to perceived wisdom, the final chapter of The Victims WAS published in 1975 - but only in Spanish! - in the Spanish horror magazine DOSSIER NEGRO. The more recent 'complete' edition tinkers with the last instalment's artwork/layout a little, but it's nothing too upsetting.

    As for the resolution to the story, I have to say I was disappointed with it. I was expecting something far more way out and psychologically disturbing [which it seemed to be hinting at in the very first chapter] than what we actually got.

  14. Wow, thanks for posting this! I am speechless. Bizarre!