Peel Here #47, Dueling Wolfmen!

By Shawn Robare

As I promised a couple weeks ago today will start the 31 days of insanity as I try and make a Halloween themed post every day this month, along with my regular Cartoon Commentary! columns. Luckily I have enough material to convert the Peel Here postings for this month into holiday appropriate fare, so without further ado I present my first official Halloween Peel Here…

I thought I’d start off with a bang by sharing one of my favorite acquisitions over the last year, sticker-wise, the 1980 Topps Creature Feature (aka You’ll Die Laughing) sticker card subset. I’m not 100% positive on this, but I believe these stickers are part of a set that is the sequel to a stickerless set of cards that Topps manufactured in 1973. Topps was really big into the whole monster thing in the 60s and 70s (what with the monster initials, monster stickers, Weird Wheels and the like), though it pretty much died out in the 80s (to be replaced by Wacky Packs and Garbage Pail Kids, so not all that different in tone.) A couple years ago, when the more or less complete Universal Monsters backlog started coming back out on DVD, I really started to get into these films and characters, in particular Frankenstein’s monster, but they’re all pretty much tops in my book.

This sticker subset is a little weird as far as which characters (and which versions) appeared on the stickers. There are some gimmies character-wise, the wolf man, Frankenstein’s monster, the phantom, the mummy, and the invisible man, but there are also some more neglected characters like the creature, the mutant from This Island Earth, Mr. Hyde, and the Hunchback. Of course I was really surprised to see that there was no Dracula sticker, or at least Chaney’s London After Midnight vampire whose visage is just as striking as Chaney’s phantom, probably even more so than his hunchback.

I thought it was interesting which versions of the characters the designers at Topps chose to use, for instance the Glen Strange Frankenstein from Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Lon Chaney Jr.’s Mummy, or the fact that they chose to use both Chaney Jr. and Oliver Reed’s werewolves. I wonder if this was for design or licensing reasons? It’s cool to see these later versions in merchandising, though it seems a little weird. I also loved seeing a mad scientist get his due on a sticker, though for the life of me I can’t tell which movie it’s from. I want to say it’s Boris Karloff, but my movie knowledge is failing me on this one…

Either way, I love the super high contrast direction Topps decided to go with on this bordered portrait stickers. Not that the monsters weren’t already creepy enough as it was, but with the nice dark shadows and limited colors they appear quite a bit more impressive.

The second half of this sticker set is mostly made up of movie posters, though again there were some odd choices here. I’m not sure, maybe the bulk of the regular card set came from these movies (and the later Universal or Hammer flicks that they portraits were taken from), but it’s kind of weird to see poster stickers for the Hammer version of the Mummy when the Chaney version is on the portrait sticker.

On these stickers we also get to see the beginnings of the patented Topps ‘Peel Here’ logo, a convention that I have burned into my memory after collecting so many Garbage Pail Kids over the years.

Rounding out this sticker set are a couple of candid shots of the titular Creature From the Black Lagoon. Now I’m not sure exactly how the story goes on this, but I believe that these pictures have been colorized, as the original gillman suit didn’t have red on his palms and lips. I think the addition of the red to the creature had to do with advertising posters and stand-ups that were produced and then managed to make their way into other merchandising as well. I could so be wrong about this, but that’s what I remember reading anyway. It’s nice to see the gillman get some love though…

Last but certainly not least is the poster that’s made up of the sticker card backs, again celebrating the creature!

Though I love horror films from all the entire expanse of cinema history, the Universal period of the 30s-50s, is hands down my favorite, quickly followed (in recent years) by the Hammer versions of these flicks. I’m so glad there was a cool set like this in the 80s so that I could share them here.

On next weeks ghoulish edition of Peel Here I’m going to take a look at my collection of stickers surrounding a bunch of creatures that you really should pour water on, and never, ever feed after midnight…

  • John Rozum

    Wow. Somehow I never ended up with any of the psychedelic monsters, just the stickers with the poster art. Those are great. The mad scientist by the way is from “”Tarantula”” and was played by Leo G. Carroll. I’m looking forward to the rest of your countdown.

  • Dr. Terror

    These stickers are from the 1980 set of Topps Creature Feature cards.

  • Max the Drunken Severed Head

    Aw, John beat me to the punch with the answer to who The Mad Scientist was. This is gonna be a great month at this blog!

  • Jay

    I’m a fan of the universal monsters as well but for me alot of them are a bit tough to sit through now. Can’t wait for the Gremlins!!!

  • Chris Jart

    Wow, these are great! If only the stickers had been in the pack I bought in the 70s. Maybe then I would have found the lame jokes a bit more palatable.