From the strange and surreal world of 1970s comics comes the story of a occult investigator charged with dealing with a menagerie of monsters from truth, myth and imagination. That man is Doctor Spektor, and after years away from the public eye, he is back on duty thanks to Dark Horse Comics. The Portland-based independent comics institution has dusted off the archives of the famous but defunct comic company Gold Key, and began an ambitious publishing plan to reprint the company’s greatest titles and Doctor Spektor is amongst a line-up including Doctor Solar, Magnus, Turok and Mighty Samson.
In the upcoming hardcover collection Doctor Spektor Archives Vol. 1 coming this October, the original seven issues that launched this character are brought into a new light – featuring a script by creator Donald Glut and artist Jesse Santos. In these seven issues, Doctor Adam Spektor traveled the world as an occult detective and monster hunter going towards the monsters that the world was running from. Aided by his Souix secrety Lakota Rainflower, Spektor took on vampires, mummies, lycanthropes and other occult oddities. Indiana Jones meets Ghostbusters? Perhaps, but Doctor Spektor was the first.
With this Gold Key reprinting process already underway, Newsarama spoke with the editor in charge of these new collections, Philip R. Simon, for more.
Newsarama: Although a classic, Doctor Spektor has been an out-of-print classic for some time. How would you describe this series for someone coming on completely new?
Philip R. Simon: Doctor Spektor is very different from Mighty Samson. There are sequences of deep drama and twisted horror in Spektor that you won't find in Samson. The tone in the Doctor Spektor stories is darker. There's less humor, and the series is grounded more in the real world -- but a somewhat-real world filled with vampires, mummies, and werewolves -- a more "classic monster" approach. Doctor Spektor takes the premise of a "horror host" who introduces and narrates tales of terror and fright -- and then thrusts the host into his own weird adventures. It's kind of like taking a spry Vincent Price, getting him to tell a short tale of terror, and then giving him an assistant and shoving them into 1970s X-Files-style stories to investigate the truth behind the short story he just told.
Nrama: I read that the character’s co-creator and writer Don Glut is doing an introduction in the first volume.
Simon Yes, I've been in touch with Don Glut and Don told me that the series was originally supposed to be a cookie-cutter "horror host" series, with Spektor introducing horror stories every issue and not having much more to do than that. But Don was breaking the rules from the start, trying to make Doctor Spektor a unique series, as opposed to something that was just "ordered up" to copy other horror comic-books. So Dr. Spektor is seen in his first issue introducing a story, narrating a tale, but the scene shifts quickly, putting him in the action. In a few pages, we find out that Spektor is the star of the show, and we're going on a adventure with him. Even though his editor didn't want Spektor to be the star of the show, Don made him that. When asked to refrain from writing continuing stories and having recurring characters, Don did the opposite. When asked to keep Spektor from having romantic relationships, well, Don didn't like that idea, either, and did the opposite over the course of the series. While the stylish pencil-and-ink work of Jesse Santos gives Doctor Spektor comics an undeniably unique look, Don's writing and civil disobedience really helped give the title its unique voice. Don talks about this jovially in his introduction to volume 1.
But back to your original question -- Doctor Spektor reads a bit campy, because it is unavoidably tied to the 70s, but the tone is one of horror adventure, not humor.
Nrama: Since DH has already announced the revamps of Magnus, Turok, Solar and Mighty Samson …. Is a return for Doctor Spektor with new stories in the cards?
Simon: I'm really not sure. I haven't played a part in any of the revamp discussions yet, but I'm sure our core team working on the Gold Key revamps has plenty of ideas, once they get the new Doctor Solar, Magnus, and Turok series rolling.
Nrama: You mentioned speaking to Donald Glut, the series writer and co-creator. Have you had to talk to the other co-creator Dan Spiegle, or the series’ principal artist Jesse Santos?
Simon: Mr. Santos quit working in comics some time ago to nurture a career in music, and I've learned that he's been quite successful as a live singer. He hasn't been available to me, directly, but I received biographical information and answers to a few questions through his grandson. His grandson will also be relaying complimentary copies of the books to Mr. Santos. Jesse is very happy to have his old work back in print in a hardcover series. Donald Glut was very easy to get in touch with and has been immensely helpful. He is in a position to give a lot of background information and help with some of the behind-the-scenes work. I've communicated with Don almost every week for the past few months, making sure these collections are as complete as we can get them and that we have copies of some of the harder-to-find comics, like some Golden Comics Digest and Mystery Comics Digest issues.
Nrama: How do you go about finding all this artwork and getting it up to snuff?
Simon: With this series, as with Samson, we're scanning from original comic books -- including some comics from my personal collection, I'm proud to say -- and doing digital retouches and polishes, mainly when lettering is broken or faded and bleed-through images are eyesores.
Nrama: Since you’re using some comics from your personal collection, I take it you’re a fan of it. As a fan getting to edit these, does any part of it get you tingling?
Simon: What's really exciting to me, as an editor and a fan, is that Don has held on to some original Jesse Santos cover sketches and allowed us to scan and use those, too. So future editions of Doctor Spektor Archives will be running cover sketches, cover inks, and UNUSED cover roughs for the first time ever. We only have a few of these gems to use, but when Don told me that he had them it was like Christmas. I really enjoy packing as many bonus pages, behind-the-scenes progress pages, and sketches from the original creators that I can find into projects like these.
Nrama: Don Glut was all over those comics from the seventies. Are you collecting any of his other works from that era?
Simon: Don also wrote some Creepy and Eerie stories, and we've been in touch concerning those series, too, and Dark Horse's Creepy and Eerie archival programs.
Nrama: Although Doctor Spektor became best known for his titular series, he actually debuted in another comic: Mystery Comics Digest. Were you able to get that in the book?
Simon: We're going to be printing almost every single headshot, appearance, and Doctor Spektor adventure in existence! Yes -- that debut was written by Don Glut and drawn by Dan Spiegle, so those two are the good Doctor's official co-creators. We're going to reprint that entire story -- along with a rare giveaway mini-comic -- in the first volume of Doctor Spektor Archives. Future volumes in our four-volume series will reprint Doctor Spektor stories from his main series, as well as ALL ancillary appearances in the Gold Key digest books and the main Spektor stories from Dr. Spektor Presents Spine-Tingling Tales and Gold Key Spotlight.