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.
EC's horror titles started the horror boom, but horror had a presence in US comics before them, going right back. To start us off, here's the instalment of "The Ghost Gallery" from Jumbo Comics #86 (Fiction House, 1946). Scans from Comic Book Plus.
If there were a 1950s B-movie with that opening sequence I think it'd be a cult favourite.
"The Ghost Gallery" was a long-running feature, and the lead in the title's final issues in the 1950s. It was placed last in this issue, but in Golden Age comics that can mean it was viewed as the second-most important. "Drew Murdoch" was the feature's hero, a ghost investigator who related his experiences or cases he'd documented. The GCD ascribes this instalment's art to Alex Blum.
The other features in the issue were as follows:
"Sheena, Queen of the Jungle"
Sheena was the first and greatest of comics' jungle queens. This instalment involves a jungle people who seem to be of Roman descent. They use zorses as mounts and are ruled by an evil queen. Art by Robert Webb.
"ZX-5, Spies in Action"
Spy series. ZX-5 uncovers a plot to murder American officers in post-war Berlin. Art by Blum.
"Stuart Taylor in Weird Stories of the Supernatural"
This feature started as "The Diary of Dr. Hayward". Initially about the weird adventures of a scientist and his protégé, it evolved into a goofy time-travel series but never lost its ill-fitting subtitle. In this instalment Taylor and co. meet Jean Lafitte, portrayed as a charming scoundrel. Art by Blum.
Pratfall adventures of a lady pilot. In this instalment Ginger is demobilised. Whenever she hears a bang she forgets the war is over. Art by Matt Baker.
Age of sail feature originally called "Hawks of the Seas". In this instalment Hawk and co. assist Chinese protecting a joss sought by pirates. Art by Webb.
The issue's text story was "Sheena and the Death Claws!" by Toni Blum. Sheena teaches a woman who hunts for sport a lesson.
Next we have "The Deep River" from Weird Terror #10 (Comic Media, 1954). Scans from Comic Book Plus.
This story struck me as adult when I reviewed the issue last year. The comeuppance sequence is weak but the story has gotten its big twist in by then. The art is by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito.
The issue's other stories were as follows:
This is a more juvenile story, and the cover tale. A scientist transfers his assistant's brain into a gorilla. His victim regards himself as freed from all moral constraint. Art by Don Heck, who also drew the cover.
This is a jokey story. A scientist creates a robot siren with a fatally strong kiss. Art by Rudy Palais.
A young woman sets about murdering her sisters using witchcraft. This is one of those stories where the characters shrug off the deaths of relatives absurdly quickly to keep the plot moving. Art by Heck.
The issue has two text stories. In "Nothing But the Best" a heartless man discovers he has the power to read minds. This could've been one of the comics stories. "Couple of Fishes" is jokey. A barfly tells an extraordinary story about an undersea race.
Next we have "Stretching Things" from Fantastic Fears #5 (Farrell, 1954). Scans from Comic Book Plus.
"Stretching Things" was one of Steve Ditko's first stories: reportedly, the first he drew, but not the first to appear. And what a start it is. The story was written by Bruce Hamilton.
The issue had four other stories. They're not similarly striking. "My Coffin Must Wait" has an unusual plot. The others follow traditional courses.
"My Coffin Must Wait"
A farmer is told his wife is near death. He has made her a promise he is determined to keep before she dies. But what is it? The GCD takes the artist to be from the Iger Shop, but doesn't know his name.
"Caught in the Graft"
A corrupt pubic commissioner gets his comeuppance. The GCD tentatively assigns the art to Howard Nostrand.
"Escape from Hell!"
Upon dying a criminal finds himself in hell. This is a very slight story. The GCD tentatively assigns the art to Jack Abel.
"Temple of the Beast"
A tourist couple notice the hand of an idol is missing, and a local sells them what he claims is the missing hand. Artist unknown.
In the text story, "Ghost Gift", a man receives a map in the mail from his war buddy that shows the route to a field of precious stones in Africa. This is an adventure story rather than a horror one.
This short tale, "Tortures of the Damned", is from The Ghost Rider #11 (Magazine Enterprises, 1953). Scans from Comic Book Plus.
I thought this one a clever, fun tale. Art by Dick Ayers and Ernie Bache, who drew the whole issue.
"The Ghost Rider" reads more like a Silver Age feature than many other 1950s series. Ayers was a good storyteller, and the stories had colourful plots and lots of action.
This issue had three "The Ghost Rider" stories and two "Tales of the Ghost Rider" horror tales. The other stories were as follows:
"The Ghost Rider": "The Beautiful Witch"
The Ghost Rider fights demons summoned by a young woman driven mad by an Indian raid.
"Tales of the Ghost Rider": "Hand Wrenched from the Grave"
Two men locate a buried treasure. One of them buries the other alive in the hole. As he's buried the victim swears he'll follow him to the end of the Earth and point him out...
"The Ghost Rider": "Assignment: Ghost Rider!"
The editor of an Eastern newspaper orders his crack reporter to interview the Ghost Rider and find out if he's really supernatural.
"The Ghost Rider": "The Haunted Portrait!"
A bank manager tells Rex Fury he dreamed death was painting his portrait and prophesised he would vanish when the figure in the portrait fell to the floor. Now the portrait is hanging in his vault.
This time out I have two stories, both from Web of Evil #17 (Quality, 1954).
First we have "Terror in Chinatown", the cover story (placed third in the issue):
The GCD ascribes the pencils of this and the two stories I'm not running here to Charles Nicholas. He was an early entrant into the industry who was later a mainstay for Charlton. The GCD doesn't know who inked. Quality stories were often inked heavily, so the inker may have had a lot to do with the look of the art.
All the stories in the issue have comeuppance plots. It was a toss-up whether to include this one or "The Avenging Ghosts", as I found their plots the most interesting. I chose this one because I like the crime story twist at the end.
The issue's cover is a sinister Chinaman cover. But the Chinese in the story aren't sinister, so I think the cover may have been devised first and the story done to match it. The GCD tentatively ascribes the cover's pencils to Chuck Cuidera.
My second choice is "The Fiend Who Lived Forever" (placed second):
According to the GCD the art of this one was by Louis Ravielli. It's easily the best art in the issue - the other two both look like the first tale - but I thought the plots of the others more original. The four stories are all on about the same level, though.
The remaining stories are as follows:
"Return from the Dead"
A man has developed technology that allows him to learn from the brains of the dead, which he uses to obtain the secrets of a deceased magician. This is the most effectively grim of the issue's stories.
"The Avenging Ghosts"
Two escaped convicts flee by sea and arrive at the Island of Honesty. No-one there ever steals, so they figure they can make off with a fortune. I found the comeuppance in this one imaginative.
The text story is titled "Death's Challenge", but it's the same story as "House of Horror" from Web of Evil #3. Someone, or something, has been decapitating anyone who stays in a deserted house. A detective who doesn't believe in ghosts resolves to crack the case. The story has a good resolution.
This next story is from Witches Tales #23 (Harvey, 1953). Harvey was one of the best companies at imitating EC. This issue has stories that do that, but running through it there's also a streak of zany humour.
My pick is the issue's opening tale, "Henry Small.... Huckster":
I doubt one would call this horror if it wasn't from Witches Tales, but I like the tale for its Runyonesque crooks. The GCD attributes the pencils to Manny Stallman.
The splash panel has a number of gags. The GCD notes "Sid J. Kobson" on the billboard and takes this as indicating Sid Jacobson wrote or edited.
Of the other stories, "Ivan's-Woe" is particularly EC-ish. This was drawn by Howard Nostrand, who was very good at imitating the EC approach. Pappy's Golden Age Blogzine has this story here, and some interesting things to say about it.
The issue's other stories were as follows:
A wigmaker gets hair for wigs from graves.
This was the issue's cover-story, but the cover image is really a stand-alone one, so its my guess it was done first and the story semi-based on it. A variation of the plot appeared in the cover story of Black Magic #28, but there it's done seriously, while this version is jokey. The GCD tentatively ascribes the story's pencils to Joe Certa, and gives its inks to Jack Abel. Lee Elias did the cover.
"So What Next"
A receptionist working late notices a story about a serial killer in the newspaper.
This is a story we've all seen, told in an EC-ish style but with an element of caricature in the portrayal of the characters. The GCD ascribes the pencils to Bob Powell, and the script and inks to him tentatively.
The issue also had two "Mother Mongoose's Nursery Crimes" pages. These feature "sick humour" illustrated versions of nursery rhymes. The GCD ascribes their pencils to Nostrand, and their inks to him tentatively.
There were two text stories. Both are on the weak side. In "Mister Master" a young man meets a gnome-like figure who says he was a friend of his (insane) father's. In "Doomsday" the night guard of an art gallery looks at the paintings on exhibition by flashlight.
Today's stories are from Do You Believe in Nightmares #1 (St. John, 1957).
First, the cover and opening story, "Nightmare":
The cover and story were drawn by Steve Ditko. Prophetic nightmare stories are common, but I thought this one had a good resolution. I like the cover, but it isn't related to any of the stories.
Second, "I am Being Followed":
This story was drawn by Dick Ayers. I found the fistfight and that image of the bears lying on top of each other irresistible.
The other stories in the issue were all drawn by Ditko. Most of these have familiar plots. "Strange Silence" has a premise I haven't seen before, but is a familiar type of story.
A performing somnambulist somehow predicts disasters.
The idea of a somnambulist who makes predictions may have been taken from The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920).
A criminal hiding out from the police suddenly realises the neighbourhood has gone completely quiet.
"You Can Make Me Fly"
A criminal who has broken out of jail means to escape the country via his brother's teleportation device.
"The Man Who Crashed into Another Era"
A man finds himself on the ground in prehistory. A dinosaur spots him...
In the text story, "The Champ", a boxer sees the ghost of his trainer at a fight. The story has a contrived twist end.
According to the GCD "Stories in this comic were originally produced for Charlton editor Al Fago, who reportedly took the stories and sold them to St.John when he left the company." Ayers drew all the stories in Do You Believe in Nightmares #2, and St. John's Atom-Age Combat (second series) #1. These comics were among St. John's final publications. Presumably they were overseen by Fago, as Fago Publications later published two issues of Atom Age Combat and two of Tense Suspense, and their stories were also all drawn by Ayers.
Scans from Comic Book Plus, as were those in my previous two posts.
A few years ago John Byrne serialised an unpublished Finders of Lost Children issue at his website. This featured characters from Next Men. The story is a well-told mystery/horror tale. I can imagine the concept being done as a TV show. The thread is here.
The story title is from Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The story is copyright to Byrne, so please don't copy the images and post them.
I hope it's okay to bring in some modern horror comics into this discussion, because today I read...
Winnebago Graveyard #1-4: Man, this was one twisted story about a family on a cross-country vacation in their Winnebago when they visit a carnival. While they are in the carnival, their Winnebago is stolen. Their search for it leads them into a nightmarish world full of local occultists that turns their lives on end. This was written by Steve Niles and drawn by Alison Sampson. This is definitely a story for late at night during a thunderstorm.
Redlands #1-2: In Redlands, Florida, a group of witches takes over as the local law enforcement. This story is so crazy and bizarre, and it's so horrific that it really takes the reader down some dark alleys of the soul. I love comic books that read like horror movies, even though I hate horror movies. This one is written by Jordie Bellaire and drawn by Vanesa Del Rey.
Both of these are from Image, and both are highly, highly recommended if you are into horror.
Thanks, Sensei. Any reviews are absolutely OK.
My relationship with horror is complicated as well. I've always had an interest in the famous monsters. You get all kinds of stories in horror comics, and sometimes very good art. And I like imaginative stories, and "strange" stories. But the grisly stuff - the severed body parts stuff - isn't my thing. I was a big fan of 1970s Doctor Who as a kid. I guess what I liked was the combination of moments of intense tension and the fantastic.
This next story is the first instalment of "The Werewolf Hunter", from Rangers Comics #8 (Fiction House, 1942). This was the first issue titled Rangers Comics. Previously the title was Rangers of Freedom. Scans from Comic Book Plus.
The feature continued to #41 to 1948, but after the first few instalments Broussard encountered other menaces than werewolves. I thought this story too obvious. The GCD tentatively ascribes its pencils to Gustaf Schrotter.
I have described issue's other features here.
This second instalment of "The Werewolf Hunter", from Rangers Comics #9 (Fiction House, 1943), was Broussard's origin story. Scans from Comic Book Plus.
I found this instalment more suspenseful than the last, partly because I thought there could be a twist as regards the werewolf's identity. The art was by George Tuska.
I have described the issue's other features here.