Still one more story written off in the wake of the DC Implosion of 1978 and only ever circulated in CANCELLED COMIC CAVALCADE, a home-copied volume created for contributors and to secure teh copyright to the material.

DOORWAY TO NIGHTMARE was a late-in-the-game mystery/suspense series edited by Joe Orlando, at least initially. DC was still very much invested in creating genre material beyond just super heroes, and the assorted mystery titles had been steady sellers throughout most of the 1970s. DOORWAY, however, took a cue from the Phanrtom Stranger in that, rather than simply having a host character who would introduce the stories, Madame Xanadu would become an active participant in them, though seldom the genuine lead character. She had been designed by artist Michael Kaluta and based on a throwaway character he had once drawn in an issue of FORBIDDEN TALES OF DARK MANSION.

DOORWAY TO NIGHTMARE lasted for five issues, with this unpublished sixth one burned off in CC C #1. After this, the character of Madame Xanadu migrated to the pages of THE UNEXPECTED, which had become a Dollar Comic and had plenty of pages to fill. This story wound up seeing print in UNEXPECTED #190 and was written by Cary Burkett and drawn by Juan Ortiz.

DOORWAY TO NIGHTMARE was a victim of the changing tastes of the audience as the core of the business began to migrate from mainstream newsstands to dedicated direct market comic book shops. Ironically, one of the first titles DC would attempt as a direct sales only edition was a MADAME XANADU one-shot some years later.


  1. I remember buying DOORWAY YO NIGHTMARE 1, probably because it got written up in The Daily Planet or THE COMIC READER of somewhere and I liked the Kaluta cover. I didn’t care for the interiors, though, so I didn’t buy the second issue.

    I did buy the MADAME XANADU special, though, because Englehart & Rogers. And then SCORPIO ROSE, which started out as another Englehart Madame Xanadu story, intended to be her origin, for much the same reason.

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    1. The cover, too, got printed in UNEXPECTED 190, and while it’s on newsprint, it’s still leagues better than repro by multiple generations of crappy Xerox.

      But looking at DOORWAY INTO NIGHTMARE, I might have a clue as to why it died so fast, aside from it coming along toward the tail end of DC’s “mystery” line. The covers are all lovely pieces by Kaluta, but there’s no hook to most of them. They’re moody, but only one of them seems to suggest a story. So on newsstands, I bet they didn’t grab readers as much as the other books.

      Admittedly, those other books had a fair number of covers that suggested stories that were not found anywhere inside, but a hook is a hook.

      Maybe those DOORWAY covers would have worked better when the Direct Market had taken over, in the pinup-cover days of Jemas at Marvel. Then again, in those days, the interiors would have killed the book anyway.


  2. FWIW: The talk on the street, as it were, at the time that the book premiered was Madame Xanadu was the image of Kaluta’s then girlfriend.


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