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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The first is very similar to a bunch of Marvels, like FF Annual#3 and Avengers#10. When it doubt erase your last plan and come back later. I'm pretty sure I've seen something like the second in a horror comic, with the hero having no hope of escaping.

This story from the one-shot Tally-Ho Comics (Baily, 1944) seems to me to be related to Dr Styx's series. Scans from Comic Book Plus.

The plot evidently stems from "The Beast with Five Fingers" by W. F. Harvey. If the GCD's date is right the issue predates the film version, as it didn't appear until 1946. The GCD doesn't know the artist. I think it may have been Bob Fujitani.

The issue's other contents were as follows:

"Snowman"

An Eskimo snowman idol comes to life to fight an evil magician.

Snowman is arguably the goofiest of all Golden Age superheroes, and I'm counting the Vagabond from USA Comics. The story is bylined to John Giunta and Frank Frazetta. Giunta was an artist, so the GCD takes that as meaning Giunta pencilled and Frazetta inked.

"He-Man"

A farmer is contacted by his grandmother, who runs a physical culture business and wants him to take it over. He is extremely strong, but has a phobia about metals.

This is a comedic story drawn Charles Voight. I like his work, but this story isn't anything special.

"Captain Cookie"

Cookie has a dream in which he assists Christopher Columbus in his discovery of the New World.

This story recalls the early period of Dickie Dare in which Dickie imagined he was taking part in famous stories, except in Cookie's dream he has super-strength. The GCD doesn't know the artist. I think it was Henry Kiefer, Charles Quinlan or A. C. Hollingsworth.

The issue also has a comedic one-pager about a fat man titled "Tip Scales", and a page of unfunny one-panel gags.

In the text story, "No Revenge", a garage hand plots the murder of the man he blames for his father's death.

This next story is from Zip Comics #22 (Archie [MLJ], 1942).

Haven't we all heard the legend of the Living Dead of Hawaii? The GCD ascribes the script to Joe Blair and Irv Novick. The splash panel has Irv Novick's byline.

The GCD attributes the cover to Novick too. It shows Steel Sterling attacking a symbolic representation of the Nazis who has been destroying a city. Sterling is zipping through a V for victory symbol, Black Jack is charging up behind him. The issue was dated for Jan. 1942, but according to DC Indexes it came out in Nov. 1941, so it predates Pearl Harbor. I assume the city is represents Europe, but it looks like New York.

The issue's other features were as follows:

"Black Jack"

A reincarnated Cleopatra arrives in New York on a barge, and history begins repeating itself.

Black Jack was a non-powered costumed crimefighter. His feature was drawn by Al Camy. I can see a Bob Kane influence in his art, although it's not as stylised.

In this instalment the character's name is sometimes written as one word, sometimes as two.

"Wilbur"

Wilbur plays football.

"Wilbur" was a teen humour feature. It started a few months before "Archie", which had only just debuted when this issue appeared. The jokes have to do with Wilbur's bumbling and his parents' enthusiasm.

The instalment has no romance element. That's notable, as romance was a staple of teen humour stories later.

The story was by Joe Blair and Lin Streeter. It's signed "Blair . Lin".

"Captain Valor of the United States Marines"

Valor's battalion mans a post in South America, and Germans incite the local natives against them.

In his first story in #1 Valor resigned his commission and became an adventurer, but by this point he was back in the marines. The natives are drawn like black Africans. The tank direction sequence imitates the film Caught in the Draft (1941).

The story is a dire one where slapstick humour substitutes for interesting action. The GCD ascribes it to Joe Blair and Warren King. It's signed "King".

"Nevada Jones, Quick-Trigger Man"

Jones pursues a clever Mexican outlaw.

This was a masked Western hero feature. I don't know why Jones bothers with the mask when he uses his own name. He has a Mexican partner called Little Joe, but in this story Jones pursues the outlaw solo to settle a score.

The bit where Jones is trapped in the cave reminds me of the climax of Man Hunt (1941), but his method of escape is different to the one the hero uses in that movie.

The art is serviceable, but nothing special. The GCD ascribes it to Frank Volp.

"War Eagles"

This story was continued from the previous instalment. It opens with the twins and Swen escaping to Britain in a German bomber with captured papers. Schlitz's squadron attacks them over France, and he manages to shoot them down. A French inventor helps the trio out.

This was war strip about twin Americans enlisted in the RAF. By this point they had a Swedish pal named Swen. Eric Schlitz was Nazi squadron leader with a grudge against them. The opening instalments had a similar character named Anton Shultz.

Swen and Schlitz both debuted in #17. Apparently Swen was there Norwegian, and Schlitz was called Eric von Lickt.

The instalment starts well - I liked the dogfight, and loved the inventor's tank - but it has a silly climax. The GCD attributes it Joe Blair and Ed Smalle. It has Smalle's byline.

"Dicky in the Magic Forest"

A warlord named Loki attacks Dicky's home town in a chariot drawn by a dragon, and takes his friends Jackie and Freckles captive.

This was a fairytale series. Dicky's home town is named Panora. Loki has soldiers at his castle, but he attacks the town all by himself. One panel shows Loki chopping off bits of people, and Dicky later severs a dragon's head, but the art isn't realistic enough to be grisly. There's a shot of the dragon's severed neck with blood running out.

The GCD attributes the story's art to Larry Golden. He was the artist before this point, and signed the stories "L. Gordon". This story isn't signed, and the art looks different to me. I think it may have been by Lin Streeter, as it looks like the next instalment and the GCD attributes it to Streeter. But it does so on the basis of a comparison to #25's story which has his signature "Lin", and its art looks a bit different. My supposition is his handling of the feature had evolved. 

"Zambini, the Miracle Man"

Zambini undertakes to cure a man of drunk driving.

This was a magician feature. Zambini's spells are commands with extra letters interspersed e.g. "Abaabutabo stabop aband baback abup!" ("Auto stop and back up!").

The GCD attributes the story to Harry Shorten and Paul Reinman. Reinman's signature is on a street-sign in the splash panel. He doesn't use a pseudo-Kirby style here.

My hat-tip to the GCD for pointing out signatures.

What is the legend of the Living Dead in Hawaii?

It's either a mistake for Haiti, or a subtle joke based on the similarity of the names. I think the latter: note the bit about "zombies, creatures of the grave, who walk the sands of Waikiki beach!"

Possibly. Lots of old writers were very humorous, and it's sometimes just about impossible to get what the joke was unless you were around back then.

Gumby might be one of them, since the original lyrics at the beginning of his intro say "BUY GM" then they move about to spell "GUMBY."

Lovecraft's series, Fungi from Yuggoth, consisted of 36 poems. I'll be printing them over the month.

I. The Book

The place was dark and dusty and half-lost

In tangles of old alleys near the quays,

Reeking of strange things brought in from the seas,

And with queer curls of fog that west winds tossed.

Small lozenge panes, obscured by smoke and frost,

Just shewed the books, in piles like twisted trees.

Rotting from floor to roof- congeries

Of crumbling elder lore at little cost.

I entered, charmed, and from a cobwebbed heap

Took up the nearest tome and thumbed it through,

Trembling at curious words that seemed to keep

Some secret, monstrous if one only knew.

Then, looking for some seller old in craft,

I could find nothing but a voice that laughed.

II. Pursuit

I held the book beneath my coat, at pains

To hide the thing from sight in such a place;

Hurrying through the ancient harbor lanes

With often-turning head and nervous pace.

Dull, furtive windows in old-tottering brick

Peered at me oddly as I hastened by,

And thinking what they sheltered, I grew sick

For a redeeming glimpse of clean blue sky.

No one had seen me take the thing-but still

A blank laugh echoed in my whirling head,

And I could guess what knighted worlds of ill

Lurked in that volume I had coveted.

The way grew strange-the walls alike and madding-

And far behind he, unseen feet were padding.

III. The Key

I do not know what windings in the waste

Of those strange sea-lanes brought me home once more,

But on my porch I trembled, white with haste

To get inside and bolt the heavy door.

I had the book that told the hidden way

Across the voice and through the space-hung screens

That hold the undimensioned worlds at bay,

And keep lost aeons to their own demesnes.

At last the key was mine to those vague visions

Of sunset spires and twilight woods that brood

Dim in the gulfs beyond this earth's precisions,

Lurking as memories of infinitude.

The key was mine, but as I sat there mumbling,

The attic window shook with a faint fumbling.

The rest are other odd things he writes. I'll return to it later.

This story is from Out of the Shadows #10 (Standard [Pines], 1953). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

I thought this tale the issue's most satisfactory story, and its art the issue's best art. Art by Nick Cardy.

The issue has two more longer stories:

"'Till Death Do Us Part"

A middle-aged couple named Dinane move into a new home. Their neighbours are rich, elderly sisters. Mrs Dinane, who dominates her husband, orders him to attempt to befriend them in the hope they'll leave them money. But they have a TERRIBLE SECRET.

I thought this story had the best horror moments. The art at the conclusion isn't quite up to depicting what's going on (unless the knocker was originally supposed to be a revenant, and the editor changed that). Art by Mike Sekowsky and Mike Peppe.

"Revenge of the Little People"

A lady aerialist marries a circus dwarf for his money.

This story is a variation on Freaks (1932) with a supernatural comeuppance. The GCD tentatively ascribes the pencils to John Celardo, and confidently attributes him with the inks.

The issue also has four short items of one to three pages that purport to be true stories:

"Room of Terror"

One-pager about a supposed supernatural manifestation at "Corpus Christi College, in England" (at Oxford, or Cambridge?) in 1905. The named place and time suggest this item retells a supposedly true story, but I haven't been able to find another reference to it. Art by Gene Fawcette.

"The Sergeant"

Two-pager. In 1944 Italy a ghost saves a squad of GIs. I couldn't track this one down either, but it reads like a "real" ghost story. Art by Jack Katz.

"The Corpse that Lived!"

Three-pager. In 18th century Scotland a woman is buried with her jewels. Grave robbers exhume her coffin to get them. Only... This story is traditional. Art by Alex Toth and Mike Peppe.

"The Fettered Phantom"

One-pager about a ghost story related by Pliny the Younger in one of his letters. Art by Gene Fawcette.

The comic also has a humorous half-pager, "Weird Watson".

The cover shows a man being attacked by a spider monster. It has a blurb for "'Till Death Do Us Part", but the image isn't connected to it. Art by George Roussos.

The text story is titled "Harvest of Hate". It's a story of murder and magic set in "the Bayou country".

All artist identifications from the GCD.

This next story is from The Thing #17 (Charlton, 1954). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

I regret this story's comeuppance end. Alice may have been a little monster in the nursery, but the Wonderlanders deserved everything she dished out to them.

The splash panel is signed "Kirk". The GCD says this was Steve Kirkel.

This was the last issue of The Thing. It was dated for November, so the series evidently ended due to the anti-comics backlash and the Code.

The issue's other stories were as follows:

"Bad Blood"

Lord Robb catches his adult nephew Gabriel in his wine cellar. He savagely beats him, and Gabriel murders him. No-one misses Lord Robb, and Gabriel parties. Then the bills start arriving...

This is a grisly EC imitation. The GCD ascribes the story to Carl Memling, Dick Ayers and Ernie Bache. It's signed by Ayers.

"Wishful Thinking!"

A vampire stalks a cruise ship.

This is another of those cases where the splash panel doesn't match the story. It has a type of twist end I associate with Marvel's comics. (I don't happen to know if EC used it.) Steve Kirkel signed this story too.

"Weird Legend of Trelawney"

A man comes to Trelawney to see land he has inherited. The locals warn him that the ghost of Squire Ghastney roams abroad with his hounds after eleven. He doesn't believe them, and goes outside to see. He sees the ghosts and hides, but the ghost hounds get his scent...

This story was reprinted from Fawcett's Beware! Terror Tales #1. The artist was Bob Powell. It's well-drawn story of inescapable spectral pursuit.

The cover, by Steve Ditko, shows a magician summoning a demon.

The text story is titled "Horror on the Hill". Despite the warnings of his friend, Robb Martner insists on following the hill trail to the cabin of Captain Martner, only to find he has delivered himself to a HORRIBLE FATE. (It's not that bad, actually. It could be worse.)

Here is the twenty-third instalment of "The Werewolf Hunter", from Rangers Comics #30 (Fiction House, 1946). This one may come as a surprise. Scans from Comic Book Plus.

Compare the covers of Sensation Comics #109 and Justice League of America #10. The cover story from Sensation Comics #109 was titled "Fingers of Fear!" and had a similar plot to this one. The resemblance might be due to common dependence on a story I don't know, but it might also be the creators of the Sensation Comics tale imitated this story, or they had the same writer.

Art by Lily Renée.

Here is the twenty-fourth instalment, from Rangers Comics #31 (Fiction House, 1946). Scans from Comic Book Plus.

This is a weak instalment, I think. The horror situation at the climax is strong, but too much space is used setting it up and the resolution is rushed. Art by Lily Renée.

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