Thursday, July 16, 2015


THIS they teach a girl at Radcliffe?
In addition to its color line of comic books - primarily composed of super-hero adventures, with a little war and barbarism thrown in for pizzazz - Atlas-Seaboard produced a pair of black-and-white magazines to cover that particular acreage on the average newsstand.

One of them was Devilina, which was both the name of the magazine and also the name of the scantily-clad character who occupied the much-coveted first-story slot of the book's two-issue run. Created, written and drawn by Ric Estrada, Devilina's adventures were part cod-Satanism, part soap opera, part Kolchak and partly dressed.

"But also, yes, you're a freak."
Let me tell you the story from the beginning -- all the way in the beginning, in fact, as Devilina's tale begins with Lucifer's rebellion against God. 'Round about the time he gets the place looking just gthe way he likes it - dripping in sinners - Satan's mother shows up on her son's doorstep. "I was too ashamed to stay in heaven" she tells her horn-spouting son, seated upon his thrones of babes and snakes, and then indicates the baby in her arms. "My child ... your sister! Born while you fought the hosts of Heaven!"

There are a lot of questions raised by this encounter which are not covered by conventional theology. I'm also unsure of why Satan's angelic mother runs around in a bikini and a cloak, but then again I dropped out of Sunday School. The short version is that Satan prohibits his mother from moving in with him in Hell, and isn't that just like an ungrateful child? That woman raised you, mister, or however it works with angels and stuff.

Specifically, Satan doesn't want the corruption and evil of Hell to influence his mother and infant sister. Sent to a spooky ol' mansion in New England in the future (aka The Seventies), Satan's mom chooses to raise her daughter free of Satan's influence. Also she names her Devilina. Make up your mind, lady.

A nice normal major like "Occult reporting"
Devilina leads a mostly normal childhood, only occasionally accidentally turning physical objects to lifeless ash at a glancing touch. Yeah yeah, everyone's childhood is rough.

As she turns eighteen, Devilina wakes and muses to herself "Mother has promised me a surprise this day, something mark my becoming a woman! I wonder what it could be?" Well, it's horns, lady, and also you're Satan's sister. Plus, to mark the occasion, your mom has tricked you out like an evil hooker in a special "sorceress' costume" which is basically a leather bikini and motorcycle boots. Mazel tov!

This life of horns and being Satan's sister doesn't fit in with Devilina's plans - she got accepted to Radcliffe! She just wants to date normal boys, practice magic, and be a reporter on occult issues for a free weekly culture and arts magazine. You know, normal girl stuff!

That's all well and good, but Satan has apparently changed his mind about seeing Devilina corrupted, and starts sending agents after her soul. Fickle family, the Satansons.

Devilina moves to Greenwich Village, manages to turn a journalism degree "specializing in occult reporting" (!!) into a career with a thinly veiled version of the Village Voice (and which has an "Occult Beat" section, of all things), and seems all set to put her life in order. Unfortunately, big brother Satan keeps popping u and messing with her stuff. this leaves Devilina no choice but to shout her confusing catchphrase and leap into underdressed action:

"Sword of Egypt. Let the light of darkness cloak my body and soul! DEATH TO SATAN!'

It'll never get on American Bandstand.

Devilina was in fine company with the other features of her magazine. Effectively a horror book peppered with pulchritudinous babes and labeled "Illustrated stories of female-filled fantasy," Devilina-the-book left little doubt about what exactly it was selling (At least one other character, Sybil, seemed poised to make repeat appearances as a story host). Evidently intended to be Atlas-Seaboard's satanic panic answer to Vampirella, more or less, Devilina didn't share the long life of her predecessor, vanishing along with the rest of the line upon Atlas-Seaboard's collapse.

PS Ric Estrada is great.

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