Horror News Network 2021 Comic Awards: Tom Sutton Named Horror Comic Honoree Of The Year

by Thomas Tuna

If there’s one thing you should know about Tom Sutton, it’s that the man could flat-out draw monsters.

Sutton–who passed away nearly 20 years ago–is remembered by so many horror comics fans for so many different things–for drawing the first appearance of Vampirella for Warren Publishing, for his early contributions to Marvel’s western and horror lines, for his long run on Charlton Comics’ anthology horror books.

The one constant? The man’s incredibly unique style. You didn’t have to check the credits box or spot his familiar “TFS” signature to know it was a Sutton comic book.

Sutton–who began his career drawing adventure comic strips while in the Air Force–saw his first two professional comic book stories appear in September 1967: in Eerie No11 for Warren and in Marvel’s Kid ColtOutlaw No. 137.

It wasn’t long before his obvious penchant for horror comics led him to draw Vampirella of Draculona, a story that ran in Vampirella No1 (1969). The following year saw Sutton team with writer Archie Goodwin (last year’s Horror News Network Horror Comic Honoree) in the eighth issue of Vampirella on a story that transformed the sexy siren from horror hostess to serious dramatic character.

In the early 1970s, Sutton returned to Marvel–drawing its black-and-white Planet of the Apes magazine, as well as color issues of Ghost RiderWerewolf by Night and Doctor Strange.

Sutton, following a move to Connecticut, then started a very successful years-long run with Derby-based Charlton Comics. It was here that Sutton churned out what were arguably his best covers for such titles as Ghost ManorMonster Hunters and The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves–as well as illustrating scores of horror scripts. (Personal aside: Sutton drew one of this writer’s very first scripts for Charlton, a comic that is one of his treasures to this day).

But the talented Sutton wasn’t ready to hang up his pencil and inks after Charlton. In the 1980s, he drew stories for DC’s celebrated House of Secrets and House of Mystery anthology titles, and even found time to pencil all 56 issues of DC’s Star Trek series from 1984-1988.

Acclaimed comic book author J.M. DeMatteis once said Sutton’s work “dripped with mood and mystery. And he was a rock-solid storyteller.” High praise indeed.

For all his accomplishments on a drawing board–and for all the memories he left behind–Tom Sutton is Horror News Network’s 2021 Horror Comic Honoree of the Year.


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