This year I thought I'd celebrate Halloween by posting a daily comics story. Please feel free to make any contribution to the thread that fits. Reviews of comics, books, movies are all fine.

Any story posted must be in the public domain. If you post images please upload them from your computer instead of hotlinking. And if you write a review please either avoid spoilers, or put them in a separate paragraph headed by a spoiler warning. My own rule of thumb is what happens after the half-way mark is a spoiler.

My comments on the stories I post will include spoilers. They will always be placed immediately after the story.

2016's thread is here.

This post displaced the thread John Dunbar re-reads AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (AF 15, ASM 1-50) from the homepage.

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Here's the twenty-fifth, from Rangers Comics #32 (Fiction House, 1946). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

This story is straight SF. The concept of shrinking down into a microworld goes back to Ray Cummings's novella "The Girl in the Golden Atom". The idea of watching a microworld through a microscope goes back further, to Fitz James O'Brien's "The Diamond Lens".

I think the note reads

TO PROFESSOR BROUSSARD:

THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY TRUST AGREES

TO PAY YOU THE SUM OF FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS

IF YOU SECURE THE GRAVITY NULLIFER MACHINE.

James Ward

PRESIDENT.

Art by Lily Renée.

JOURNEY INTO FEAR#5  (January 1952) (Cover and stories all believed to have been drawn and inked by the Iger Shop)

"So Cold a Tomb" (9 pages)

Amy Lind couldn't remember how she died, but the terrible cold of her tomb drives her out of the grave. She wanders through the cemetery, searching for warmth. Seeing an old house in the distance, she walks to it, hoping whoever lives there will let her stay and get warm again. The owner of the house, an old man, falls in love with the strange beauty that pleads for a firm to warm herself up, and asks her to marry him.

But by spring he realizes something is terribly wrong with her. Despite the warmth she still keeps setting fires. When he stops her from lighting one in the house, she goes outside and starts one there.

By now he knows his wife isn't right. He tries to watch her constantly, but she often evades him for hours. One day his servant tells him something ghastly has happened in the town, where she is. He arrives to find the townspeople about to hang her! They do, but to their shock she acts like nothing has happened (remember, she's actually dead!) He unties her and takes her home. But sometime later she gets up to start a fire, despite the fact it's not the slightest bit cold. Her husband decides he can cure her by making her face her fears. He takes her to the freezer and locks her in! The servant tells his boss he looks like he has aged years.

Later the servant goes back to release her. Not finding him, the owner goes looking for him and finds him dead. His wife locks him in the freezer and leaves.

She travels aimlessly, eventually coming to a carnival. Seeing a man doing a fire act, she hurries onstage and tries to warm her hands in it. The guy is about to quit, but his boss tell him the girl is obviously crazy and has a hospital called.

The doctor that takes care of her realizes she dead, and gives her a potion that he hopes will make her stay dead. But she gets up and wanders off, looking for warmth.

Hearing them pursue her, she decides the most important thing is finding warmth. Locating the furnace in the basement, she decides to solve her problem by climbing into it! The doctor slams the door, saying she will never be cold again.

"Man with the Hollow Eyes" (6 pages)

Mildred killed her first husband and married again. But the ghost of the first husband appears and starts tormenting her. She thinks she's tricked him into leaving, but when she goes driving with her second husband, she realizes the ghost in driving.

Mildred gets out of the car and starts to walk away. Then she sees the car go over the cliff, and thinks this means now she'll get her second husband's money. But her scarf catches on a tree branch and she accidentally breaks her own neck. Then the two dead husbands appear and start mocking her.

"Bury Me Deep" (2 page typeset story)

A man mourns his wife who died in a car crash. He keeps seeing her appear and beg him to join her, and finally does. The story is sent to a Doctor Shade, and warns him if he ever sees their ghosts to look the other way until they're gone.

"Devil Cat" (8 pages)

Sophia. a unattractive girl, is trying to pick a man's pocket when he suddenly asks her if she's seen his cat. Suddenly, a bright red cat appears. Yet another woman passing by notes that it's a black cat. The man tells Sophia she has great insight. He tells her to come to his home and he'll make her wishes come true.

Inside, she ignores all the weird tubes and skulls in the house, and asks the man what he wants. He tells her to make an important wish and it will be granted. She wishes she was beautiful. There's a puff of smoke, and suddenly she is beautiful. But the strange man says that she must share all of her wishes.

Days later her name is on everyone's lips, but she only cares about her leading man. When he says he has to leave she accuses him of having another girl, and he dumps her.

Returning to the house, she notes she shared her beauty with unhappiness, and should have wished for wealth. He says she can still do that. Poof!

Almost daily she buys expensive jewelry, but is finally told she should take it to the bank before she gets robbed. She does, but a burglar shows up and shoots her. Surgery saves her but she's now in a wheelchair. However, a doctor says he can cure her, and will after he rides his horse. But during the trip he's killed.

She returns to the evil man in her wheelchair and wishes she could walk again. Cured, she decides to get revenge by killing his cat. She stars to leave but he says they're not done until she's paid off this gift.

She trying to decide what to do with her life when a police officer shows up and says she's been reported for robbing her grandfather. He finds a stolen object on her and takes her to jail.

At the court, she tries to explain this is a frame-up, and notes the cat, which is alive again. The judge says it's just a stray that found it's way in, and she must be crazy. Only she and the strange man can tell it's the red cat again. They take her away to the crazy house. Noting he seems to like cats, the officer asks him if he'd like to take it home. He says he'd be delighted.

At the end, we can see him motioning the cat to come with him back to the park where he met the girl. No doubt to find another victim.

"The Sunken Grave" (7 pages)

Vickie Kane thought one day Jed Lance would marry her, but it turns out he's in love with someone else. She tells him to have his wedding at her house. After all, she feels, he probably left her because she's rich.

His girl agrees to have the wedding there, but when they arrive she says the wind must have done something to her face, because now it hurts. Vickie has some tonic brought to her for her face.

But the next morning, when she looks in a mirror, Lee sees a weird Medusa-like face. Vickie assures her it will go away, but it doesn't. Heartbroken, Lee covers her face and tells Jed she never wants to see him again.

The next morning she still sees the Medusa face and starts screaming. Jed opens the door to her room, but he just finds a yawning black pit before him.

She manages to find the switch to return the room to normal and they flee, realizing Vickie must have been crazy trying to kill her, even painting the horrible pictures on the mirrors. They flee without seeing the floor had crushed Vickie.

The ending is very strange and looks like the artist got confused and couldn't get the torture room to work right.

This story is from The Thing #16 (Charlton, 1954). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

The GCD tentatively attributes this story's art to Bill Molno and Ray Osrin. The art has the clumsy quality Molno's work always had, but it's visually quite interesting anyway. The glossy inks do a lot for it.

Martin O'Hearn's assessment is the scripts of most of the stories from this issue can be securely attributed to Carl Memling, including the above's. The exception is "Nothing He Couldn't Do!", so if I'm right to attribute that story to him too Memling apparently wrote the whole issue (except, presumably, for the text story).

The issue's other stories were as follows:

"Nothing He Couldn't Do!"

Four men survive a shipwreck on a raft and wind up on an isolated island. One of the survivors is the ship's mechanic, who made the raft and seems able to make anything.

This story imitates EC's approach of ending a story with a gory shock comeuppance, as "Bad Blood!" does in #17. O'Hearn is confident that story was by Memling, so it's my guess "Nothing He Couldn't Do!" was by him too.

The GCD attributes the art to Dick Ayers and Ernie Bache. The opening page has Ayers's signature panel 3. The depiction of the stormy sea on the opening pages is really nice.

"Death of a Gambler!"

A compulsive gambler who has become destitute finds a magic pack of cards.

This story was signed by Joe Shuster and Vince Alascia. According to Martin O'Hearn Shuster's Charlton work was ghosted by Bill Molno. It's a slightly better story than the one I've chosen to feature. I've posted "The Crusher" instead because its art interests me, and because this one has an on-panel act of violence I didn't want to post. Alascia's inks do more to overcome the limitations of Molno's art than Osrin's.

"Picture of the Future!!"

To casually murderous crooks steal an old painting which has small sequential images. When examined closely the images seem to predict their crimes and fates.

This story reminds me of Charlton's carelessly-plotted Silver Age output, except it's more violent. The GCD notes the art was signed by Seymour Moskowitz.

"Mental Wizard!!"

A mentalist reads in the mind of a man in his audience that he has murdered his wife and buried her body in his garden. He uses this knowledge to blackmail him.

The GCD doesn't have an artist identification for this story. Pappy's Golden Age Blogzine notes the similarity between the mentalist in this story and the villain in "The Secret of the Box!" from Strange Stories of Suspense #22, which was signed by Joe Shuster and Ray Osrin and likely ghost-pencilled by Bill Molno.

The GCD tentatively attributes the cover to Steve Kirkel. My guess is Bob Powell, but that's just my impression rather than a conclusion from careful analysis.

The text story is called "Tara Tusta". A British outpost in Africa faces destruction when a couple who have married contrary to the woman's tribe's law take refuge in it and the commander won't hand them over to be killed.

This story is from Night of Mystery (Avon, 1953). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

I think the premise of this story is strong, but the handling doesn't get full value out of it. The art is signed by Norman Nodel and Vince Alascia.

Like many Avon issues the one-shot has a contents page on the inside front cover drawn by Everett Raymond Kinstler. The issue's other stories were as follows:

"The Haunted Arrow!"

A champion archer starts dreaming about crimes his ancestor committed against a peaceful Indian tribe.

In this story the protagonist's dreams are due to some combination of ancestral memory and the curse placed on his ancestor, rather than reincarnation. The art is signed by Norman Nodel and Vince Alascia.

"The Giant from Earth!"

A man is abducted from Earth by tiny aliens, and taken as a prisoner to their world.

This story isn't mentioned on the contents page. The premise is DC-ish premise, but the story is less well-plotted than the tales from the Schwartz SF titles. I think the penciller was Mike Sekowsky.

I would've picked this story to represent the issue to ask you gents if you agree but it's SF, not horror. I've included the splash below.

"The Ghost of the Coal Mine!"

A rich coal town miser pretends to be dead. One of the miners guesses he's alive and trails him to steal his money.

This story follows a familiar course. The art is signed by Normal Nodel and Vince Alascia.

The GCD ascribes the cover to A. C. Hollingsworth. It shows a couple in evening dress reacting to a looming figure of Death in a top hat, and has nothing to do with the stories.

The issue has two text stories. In "The Horror in the Swamp!" a boy heads into a swamp in a skiff to see if there's really a monster there. I didn't see the end of this one coming. In "The Strange Visitors!" two night visitors question a dying man to decide if he's to go to heaven or hell.

This story is from the one-shot Cisco Kid Comics (Baily, 1944). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

It's evident from Funnyman's fixed grin and its explanation that the character's inspiration was some version of The Man Who Laughs. Funnyman's ruthlessness and delight in violence make him a memorable villain, although you could argue he's just a variation on the Joker.

The art was signed by John Giunta, as the GCD notes. He also signed the cover, which features the Cisco Kid.

Funnyman was also featured in this issue's second text story, but he made no further appearances. The Siegel and Shuster Funnyman debuted later, in 1948.

The issue's other stories were as follows:

"The Cisco Kid"

Adventures of Cisco and Pancho. They escape a sheriff who's after them because of trouble Cisco's amours have caused, and assist two young women whose fathers are at loggerheads over a woman.

This is a lighthearted comedic story. The art was by Charles Voight.

"Killer Nemesis"

G-man Devlin Darrell rescues a kidnapped heiress.

This is a one-pager, drawn in a 1930s newspaper strip style. It reads like a precis of an adventure, and might be cut down from a longer story or a newspaper strip proposal. The GCD doesn't know the artist.

"Super Baby"

An accident gives a scientist's baby superpowers.

This story's captions and dialogue are all written in rhyming verse. The story's humour is broad and not really funny, but I didn't hate it. The GCD doesn't know the artist.

"Faust"

This is an adaptation of the story of Gounod's opera, told in captioned pictures. The GCD doesn't know the artist. The opera was based in turn on the first part of Goethe's Faust.

The GCD lists Baily as having published a series of Illustrated Stories of the Operas, including Faust. Presumably this is the same adaptation. This version is in colour, and six pages long. The GCD says the Illustrated Stories issues cost 25c and were B&W. My guess is they were supposed to be sold at performances of the operas, like programmes.

The first text story is titled "XMas in Mexico" and stars the Cisco Kid. The Cisco Kid first appeared in a story by O. Henry called "The Caballero's Way", where he's reportedly a villain. This story is a Christmas story that steals the plot of O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi".

The second text story is titled "You'll Die Laughing..." Funnyman lures a detective to a hotel room where two previous men have mysteriously died.

Here's the twenty-sixth instalment of "Werewolf Hunter", from Rangers Comics #33 (Fiction House, 1947). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

Note the sight gag p.1 panel 5. Grant uses injections to bring about shrinking, so Broussard's and the boy's clothing shouldn't have shrunk with them.

Lily Renée's signature is absent from this instalment, as from the previous one, but the GCD continues to attribute the art to her.

Here's the twenty-seventh, from Rangers Comics #34 (Fiction House, 1947). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

This story's plot is a partial replay of the last issue's.


Lily Renée's signature returns here.

Here's the twenty-eighth, from Rangers Comics #35 (Fiction House, 1947). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

After three instalments without an occult menace, we here get one of the strangest of the series.

One of the goriest, too. Art by Lily Renée.

That far back they rarely gave women navels, up until Betty and Veronica brought them out in the 60s.

Superior was a Canadian publisher that reprinted American material for the Canadian market and produced original horror comics that were distributed in America. The stories in the horror comics were produced by the Iger shop. Part of the fallout from the anti-comics backlash was the shop's end. It took out the Simon and Kirby shop too.

These two stories are from Mysteries #3 (Superior, 1953). The cover title was Mysteries Weird and Strange.

This tale is the issue's opening story:

I liked this story's mystery element and the handling of its climax. Compare "The Killer from Saturn!" on p.5.

The GCD tentatively attributes the art to the late Jay Disbrow, who died in May. I'm not sufficiently familiar with his work to confirm or question this. Craig Yoe recently published a collection of his work titled Jay Disbrow's Monster Invasion in his Chilling Archives of Horror series.

This tale closes the issue:

I liked the shaggy monster in this one, and art in the sequence where the hero explores the castle. The GCD doesn't know the artist.

The issue had two other stories. The GCD lacks identifications of their artists too:

"The Avenging Corpse"

An ichthyologist's assistant and wife attempt to murder him by pushing him into an aquarium filled with flesh-eating barracuda. But he survives, and once he's recovered he sets out to obtain revenge.

This is a grim story without any admirable character.

"Shrinking Horror"

A crooked scientist shows his friend that has perfected a shrinking formula. His friend crushes him so he can use it for crime.

This story reads like the author changed his minds about a plot point. I thought the bit about the "mixing powder" p.2 was going to be the explanation of the formula's malfunction, but the surprise twist p.6 brings a different explanation. The role of the toy train in the toy-town sequence recalls the climax of Ant-Man (2015).

Note the owl p.2 panel 4, just there for atmosphere.

The cover isn't related to any of the stories.

The text story is a fairly interesting mystery. A man is determined to learn why his old friend, a financial magnate, hasn't been seen for two years. (Spoiler warning. The explanation is a variation on the premise of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar".)

Scans from Comic Book Plus.

"The Voodoo Man" originally appeared in Weird Comics #1-#7. After a hiatus it had another run in The Flame #4-#8 and Samson #3. I reviewed Weird Comics #1 last year here and the other instalments here and here. I called it a villain strip done right, but it didn't hit its stride until its second run.

This instalment is from Weird Comics #5 (Fox, 1940).

I can't name the artist of this instalment. But I just realised who drew the instalment from #1: Arthur Peddy. Compare his "The Red Panther" stories from Jungle Comics, and the design of the villain in the instalment from Jungle Comics #2.  I don't see his style in the "Voodoo Man" stories from Weird Comics #2 and #3.

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