Bizarro Back Issues: Pocket-Sized Dracula Wants To Drink Your Blood (1991)
For eleven months out of the year, I can take or leave horror comics. Unless it's something exceptional like Hellboy or Tomb of Dracula, they don't tend to be things that I actively seek out, Until, that is, September becomes October and the scent of pumpkin spiced coffee is on the air, at which time I promptly start scrambling like a lunatic to find as many comics about ghosts, mummies and miscellaneous tentacled horrors that I can fit into the next 31 days.
Sometimes, every now and then, that search through quarter bins brings me something amazing, like a comic where creators like Dwayne McDuffie, Ernie Colon and Gil Kane told the story of a war raging in Hell itself between every single monster from the Lord of the Vampires to Baba Yaga over who would have the right to destroy humankind once and for all. And sometimes, that story turns out to be the comic book version of Monster In My Pocket.
For those of you who aren't spending your lives in an all-encompassing haze of '90s nostalgia that seizes the mind in the last years before death takes the flesh, Monster in My Pocket was a line of tiny little plastic figures that first hit shelves in 1990, and not a collapsible sex toy. They were in the same type of figures as M.U.S.C.L.E. (you know, the Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere?), but instead of being based on intergalactic pro wrestlers and featuring unlicensed tiny plastic versions of "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, Monster In My Pocket was... uh.., monsters.
The first wave had 40 figures, so in addition to all the standards like Vampire, Wolfman and Mummy, they actually got to some pretty obscure ones. There's a tiny neon green Baba Yaga riding around in her mortar and pestle, a nine-headed "Jotun Troll," Spring-Heeled Jack and one particularly amazing one called "The Great Beast" that appears to be the seven-headed dragon, who will "rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy" in Revelation 13:1.
One more time, just so everyone knows where we're at with this, this was a line of toys for tiny children that included the Beast of Revelation as a collectible pocket-sized figurine. There's also one of the Aztec goddess Coatlicue, whose name translates as "the one with the skirt of serpents." So already, things are pretty awesome.
Anyway, this being 1991, there was of course a comic book tie-in. I mean, if friggin' Madballs could get a comic, there's no way that a cast including vampires, ghosts and the beast who was given unto him to make war on the saints and whose number is six hundred threescore and six wasn't going to get at least four issues out of the deal. What might be a little surprising is that it was published by Harvey, but then again, they did have experience detailing blasphemous monsters who rule over the sins of man. They'd been publishing Richie Rich for almost 40 years.
Dwayne McDuffie and Ernie Colon are the team that kicked things off, and within the first few pages, they set everything up:
Since Warlock -- not to be confused with Adam Warlock, Warlock from the New Mutants or Julian Sands -- wants to just straight up kill everyone in the world right now and the Vampire wants to wait around a little while before killing everyone, I guess we're rooting for the Vampire in this little conflict. But rather than fighting it out to the death, they decide to settle their debate with a process that's equally barbaric and unforgiving: Democracy! Whoever can convince the most monsters that he's right gets to decide what all the monsters do.
Thus, they hit the campaign trail, and what follows are a few pretty neat pages of recruiting weirdos from all over the world to join their armies. Vampire recruits Frankenstein and and a ghost that carries its own ethereal head (awesome), and Warlock swings by the Paris opera house to get the Phantom and, in one particularly rad scene, drops by the Pacific Rim to have a chat with the "King of the Monsters."
Unfortunately for the electorate, the actual vote never happens. When everyone gets together at "the place where evil was born" -- you know, Hell, just in case parents who worried that these toys were leading their children to Satan didn't have enough concerns -- they drink a toast "to friendship" (awesome) and everything goes white. When they wake up, divided into two separate camps with Vampire and Warlock in the lead, they discover that they've all been shrunk down to... the exact size of Monster In My Pocket figures.
This is where I get a little confused about the premise we're working with here. I mean, I realize that if you have a title like Monster In My Pocket, you're eventually going to want to want a pocket-sized monster or two, but are we meant to believe that the figures are the actual monsters? I mean, when I read G.I. Joe comics, I don't assume they're about a bunch of soldiers who are 3.75" tall battling a similarly tiny army of snake-themed terrorists, but that seems to be the case here. You're not buying tiny versions of terrifying monsters, you're buying life-sized versions of tiny monsters. It's weird.
Needless to say, they eventually end up in some kid's pocket, but we'll get to that after we take this commercial break.
I know I normally skip the ads in this column, but seriously: every single ad in this comic is for a New Kids On The Block product. There's one for t-shirts, one for cartoons (on VHS!), one for the Official Fan Club, and the one above. I hope that number for a birthday wake-up call still works, because if it does, I know exactly what former CA EiC Laura Hudson is getting this December.
Anyway, our Pocket Monsters (not to be confused with the Pocket Monsters) wander around, and after the Vampire briefly freaks out upon realizing that he is now surrounded by people containing a relative ocean of blood, they end up hiding in a jacket owned by Jack, a Cool Teen. Before long, he discovers that there are -- wait for it -- monsters in his pocket, and then he also learns a valuable lesson about how Frankenstein don't shiv.
At this point, things get weird.
See, the monsters believe that Dr. Jekyll (who really ought to be Mr. Hyde, but I'm way past semantics at this point) can restore them back to their proper size if they can only get to a laboratory. Jack promises to take them to the chemistry lab at his high school first thing in the morning, but for now, he's got a date with his crush, Tina. Obviously, finding a tiny version of a Biblical monstrosity in his jacket has thrown him off his game a little, but since the Vampire has tagged along, he's there to pitch in with pitching woo:
Because if there's one thing vampires are good at, it's seducing teenage girls.
It works, and after a brief appearance of the Warlock and his crew of flunkies, that's where the issue comes to an end. There are now tiny monsters, some of whom literally subsist on the blood of humans, living in Jack's bedroom.
In the second issue, they fight the Punisher.