I thought from now to Halloween I'd do brief reviews of horror comics at random. Please feel free to join me.

I'll avoid giving away big twists and endings. This being horror that means I won't always be able to say what the stories' key ideas are.

An index to this thread can be found here.

This Magazine is Haunted #1 (Fawcett, 1951)

I chose this issue because I've never read an issue of This Magazine is Haunted. The title was created by Sheldon Moldoff. He talked about it in his Alter Ego interview. The stories are hosted by a corpse-like figure called Dr Death. The GCD ascribes the cover to Moldoff.

"The Curse of Carnoc Castle"

The Duke of Allister was buried two hundred years ago. He left a goblet in a grotto below an inscription saying that drinking from it confers immortality, and ordering his grave to be disinterred in two hundred years. A beautiful woman travels to be present at the disinterment. The coffin is opened and the Duke returns to life...

I didn't know how this story was going to end, as it twists in unexpected ways. However, I didn't find it chilling. The GCD ascribes the art to George Evans. It's competent but unexciting.

"Stand-in for Death"

A criminal robs his honest former business partner as an act of revenge. He leaves the man and his wife tied up, although he knows the former has just had a heart attack. Having taking his victim's coat he finds a ticket in his pocket for the 89th Street ferry, and uses it to make his escape. Only...

The story comes to a mildly surreal climax. It's like a 50s DC story and has a good premise. It's a better-told story than the first one. The GCD ascribes the art to Bernard Baily.

"The Coffin Maker!"

A young woman marries a rich, elderly undertaker. He has a reputation for being always the first person at death scenes. He tells her to never go down into the basement, where he prepares the bodies for burial. But she thinks she hears him talking with someone, and sneaks into the basement to see...

This is a story of the supernatural like the others, but the menace at the climax is the undertaker, who hunts his wife with a knife. (This is shown in the splash panel.) Stylistically the three stories aren't all that different, but this one has the best art. The GCD attributes it to Sheldon Moldoff. The stiff cartooniness of his "Moon Girl" and "Batman" stories is quite absent.

Other Content

The text story is "Dr MacCready's Little Men" by Al Schutzer. It has a wacky premise and a sting ending. A reporter is assigned to report on the new therapy being used at a local asylum. Dr MacCready explains his therapy consists of giving his patients an injection that shrinks them to miniature size...

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The stories aren't all that scary. The latter two have extended climaxes, but they're not very intense for an adult reader. The second story has more to offer than the others imaginatively.

The first story has the goriest imagery, but it's not too gory. The images of the husband hunting his wife to kill her are the issue's most disturbing content.

(modified)

This post displaced the thread So, What Are You Reading These Days? (besides comics) from the homepage.

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Oh, man! Great thread!

I don't have much to contribute, because I haven't read that many horror comics, but I do really enjoy them. I would love to start reading the Creepy Archives, but there are so gosh darn many of them. I do have some Creepy and Eerie volumes based on individual artists (Bernie Wrightston, Richard Corben, Alex Toth) and the Eerie Presents Hunter trade as well. Which makes me think, they really should do an Alex Nino artist's book of those stories also.

I love hearing about good comic book horror stories, though. I hope you get a lot of action on this thread.

I've been getting the Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella books as they came out, and have had a grand time. Vampi is closing in on the end, and I expect Creepy or Eerie to end in the next year or so. Yes, there are a lot of them, but I've had fun so i don't mind the expense.

I've also been getting all the PS ArtBooks hardback reprints of (mostly) public-domain horror books. I've gobbled up the ACG books when they arrived, but have fallen behind on the rest. I imagine I have This Book Is Haunted Vol. 1 in the unread stack, and will now have to go check. I like the non-ACG books fine, but they're pretty interchangeable, and as the review above indicates, not often really scary. The art usually varies from ordinary to mediocre.

Ghost Stories #1 (Dell, 1962)

Dell never joined the Code. The stories in this issue have disturbing qualities that make them quite unlike anything else from the early 60s. The menaces are malignant and strange, questions are left open, and good people and children don’t always make it out of the stories alive. I've read this issue before, and picked it to recommend it. It's just so good.


The GCD attributes the writing of the first and last of the main stories to John Stanley. Formerly it attributed all four to him, but Martin O’Hearn questioned this here. The stories all share the same disturbing approach, so I'm not sure he's right about this.

Stanley was the best writer of funny kids comics. The collection A Smithsonian Book of Comic Book Comics included several of his "Little Lulu" stories. The horror and funny kids veins in his work were brought together in the series Melvin Monster, about a gentle monster boy with a violent monster father.


“The Monster of Dread End…”


Once upon a time Hawthorn Place was a happy street. But a series of child murders led to its desertion, and the authorities declared the street out of bounds. Jimmy White’s sister was the first victim. Now 15, and determined to uncover his sister’s killer, he sneaks into the street at night…


Scott Shaw singled this story out for praise in his Oddball Comics column. The art is by Ed Robbins, who I assume was the same guy who drew the Mike Hammer newspaper strip.


“The Werewolf Wasp”


An intellectual boy named Bobby is friends with an entomologist called Professor Larvay. He has captured an unusual wasp, and sets off to show it the professor. His mother warns him to be careful, as there have been recent child disappearances. Bobby thinks the boys are just runaways…


This is another monster story. It’s my least-favourite in the issue but I’ve seen it praised by people who read it when young. The GCD doesn't have guesses as to the artists of this or the next story.


“The Door…”

A pre-teen girl keeps calling her parents to her room. She says there’s a door in the wall that goes away when they come in. They don’t believe her, and her mother makes her promise not to call them again. When they leave, and the door returns, the girl props a chair under the handle…

This is a witty variation on “The Thing in the Cellar” by David H. Keller.

“The Black Stallion”

A boy is pursued by a malignant stallion.

This is an intense story, like “The Monster of Dread End”. The nature of the stallion is explained at the end. The GCD attributes the art to Gerald McCann.

Other Content

The issue also has two one page items on the inside covers. The first one is a standard ghost’s revenge story, and the second an amusing play on a saying of Kepler’s. The GCD attributes them to Stanley and McCann. O"Hearn's post doesn't discuss them, so it may be the original indexer just assumed Stanley wrote the whole issue. There's no text story.

The cover, by an unknown artist, depicts a bedsheet ghost.

So many comics to choose from. Don't stay with Fawcett, quite a few companies were very different in those days. Might I suggest Ajax and Comic Media?

I mean to flit around widely, so I'm expecting to do some of theirs. I'll probably pick the issues by what covers grab me. I'm hoping to do at least an issue a day, which should add up to over fifty issues by Halloween.

If anyone out there has the time and inclination, do feel free to contribute reviews. The only rule is to avoid major spoilers.

The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves #1 (Charlton, 1967)


I find the covers of a lot of Silver Age Charlton comics intriguing, but their content often lets one down. But one always hopes to find hidden gems, and this is one of those titles I remember from when I was a kid and never read, so I picked this issue next.


The title was one of Charlton’s long-running ones. When it started Charlton already had a horror title called Ghostly Tales, which had started the previous year.


Doctor Graves is a ghost investigator. He combines rational scepticism with an openness to supernatural explanations. The first story uses him as a host character, and the other two are cases of his own that he narrates. The issue also has two short pieces that instead use the host from Ghostly Tales. All the pieces are ghost stories, but in one case the “haunting” turns out to have a mundane explanation.


When the title was launched Dick Giordano was editing the Charlton line, but he says here that he didn’t do more than traffic-manage titles other than the Action Heroes ones. He moved to DC not long after the title started.


The cover is by Pat Boyette. The issue opens with a contents page drawn by Rocco Mastroserio, who did some nice covers for the series. The first story isn’t signed, but the other pieces all are.

The GCD tentatively assigns all the issues’s stories to writer Joe Gill, presumably because he churned out so much for Charlton. None of the stories is exceptional but none of them shows the incompetence of Gill’s SF work.

“The Witness!”

A middle-aged man named Mr Island sees the murder of a woman from his window. He tells the police he didn’t see what happened as he doesn’t want to get involved.


The GCD credits the art to Bill Ely. But Ely’s look is mixed with a duller Charlton look, so I doubt he did it solo. The story is predictable but Ely does a good job depicting Island.

“Drums of Darkness”

Graves describes an experience he had when hunting in Africa. His host, a commissioner, was asked to assist a people called the Modek, and Graves accompanied him. The chief told them his people could no longer pasture their cattle because “bad spirits of the plains of darkness” had been angered. He had a ceremony of protection performed and took them to the plains by night. As they reached a clearing a weird booming began…

This story isn’t the least bit eerie, but it’s interesting for its African setting. It was drawn by Pat Boyette. I’m not very fond of his work, as I find it flat and stiff, but he gives Graves’s face character and does a decent job drawing the African landscape.

It might be objected that plains spirits are not the same thing as ghosts. But the ghosts in Victorian ghost stories aren’t always departed souls, so I‘m counting them.

“The Ghosts of the Stone Lovers”

Graves describes another of his cases. A friend of his who was a curator of Roman art sent him an urgent request for help. He found him in a sanitarium. The curator feared he was going insane because of an experience he’d had involving the Stone Lovers. This was a Roman statue of embracing lovers he’d recently found and put on display. Working late at night in the museum he thought he heard sobbing. When he investigated the room was empty. But as he was about to leave a tear fell on his hand. The figures seemed to be crying

This story isn’t eerie either. The art is by Steve Ditko and Pat Boyette. It’s easy to see it’s Ditko’s work but the striking qualities of his good work are quite absent.

Other Content


The two two-pagers are both drawn by Rudy Palais. Presumably they were both intended for Ghostly Tales. The first one has lively art with a comedy element that matches the story. It’s the best art in the issue, and reminds me of Jack Davis. The second one has a very standard ghost plot and Palais doesn’t bring as much to it, but the splash panel is playful.


The GCD says the story also had a one-page text story called “Rethcal”, but it’s not present in the scan at Comic Book Plus.

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The issue is readable but mediocre. I mean to look for more stories by Palais.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

I do usually try to read one horror-themed series near Hallowe’en. In years past it has been Alice Cooper’s Last Temptation or “Essential” Tomb of Dracula. This year I’m in the mood for Marvel’s Frankenstein’s Monster. There’s a new edition in color, and it not only includes two more appearances than its “Essential” counterpart, it’s also thinner.

Note to Cap: PS Artbooks has already released two volumes of This Magazine is Haunted.

Seems like you'd want some other artist's cover to sell your books. Boyette could apparently draw most things (nice monsters) but he seemed to have some sort of problem with faces. This was why I couldn't enjoy Charlton's Phantom.  

I have all the PS ArtBooks, Jeff, so I must have the This Magazine Is Haunted collections. I'll pull them out this weekend.

Luke, I sure wish "Rethcal" had been in what you read. That sure sounds like a Weisingerian anagram, like "Thorul." But for what? Herlcat? Latcher? Chartle? Inquiring minds want to know what that word means!



Jeff of Earth-J said:

I do usually try to read one horror-themed series near Hallowe’en. In years past it has been Alice Cooper’s Last Temptation or “Essential” Tomb of Dracula. This year I’m in the mood for Marvel’s Frankenstein’s Monster. There’s a new edition in color, and it not only includes two more appearances than its “Essential” counterpart, it’s also thinner.

Note to Cap: PS Artbooks has already released two volumes of This Magazine is Haunted.

I still have the Dell 25 cent collection Universal Pictures Presents Dracula, the Mummy, and Other Stories #1 (SEP-NOV63. It reprints "The Black Stallion" and a few other stories. The one that blew me away was "The Long Wait."


 photo spoiler-1.gif


"The Long Wait" was reprinted from another Dell 25 cent book, Tales from the Tomb #1 (OCT62). It concerns an old man in a wheelchair who has isolated himself from unseen vengeful entities. At the end of the six page story he gives up and is surrounded by three or four ghost-sharks swimming through the air! It's such a startling image that it stayed with me all these years. I guess it's not in the public domain yet. Neither comic appears on the Comic Book Plus site, which is why I chose to reveal the ending.

Luke Blanchard said:


Ghost Stories #1 (Dell, 1962)

“The Black Stallion”

A boy is pursued by a malignant stallion.

The Comics Code has struck youtube. A number of people have become popular on the site posting the reading of scary stories but new youtube rules might put them out of business. Advertisers (which is how the site, and the story readers, get paid) apparently don't want their products associated with stories that might offend someone. So they're saying no violence, no threats, no bad language, making it very difficult to tell a story (typical story: I was walking home/at McDonalds/exploring an abandoned house/etc. when a strange man/woman/monster came out of the shadows and started following me, grinning evilly as they drew a knife/yelled they were going to kill me/bared their fangs and I ran until I managed to escape/the police arrived/they suddenly vanished without warning). Posters that ignore this are finding the site is no longer allowing them to make money from their videos and their accounts might be closed.

Richard Willis said:

I guess it's not in the public domain yet. Neither comic appears on the Comic Book Plus site

Tales of the Tomb is, in the Dell one shots section. But you used a spoiler warning, so no harm done.

It's interesting that the last page hit you so hard. I can't judge it's impact, as I saw it before I read the story. I'm worried it might not live up to your memory of it.

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