The Dead Who Walk
Comic book companies usually try to capture readers' attention and get them to keep coming back to ongoing titles. This comic, The Dead Who Walk, under the imprint Realistic Comics, is something unusual: an unnumbered, one-shot title. Realistic Comics also published another famous one-shot, Reform School Girl, which reprinted the cover from an Avon paperback of the same name, and found itself featured in Seduction Of The Innocent, the infamous anti-comics screed by Dr. Fredric Wertham, M.D.
The Dead Who Walk was released in 1952 as part of the horror comics boom of the era. It must've sold pretty well because it's not an uncommon title to find. The version I scanned for this edition of Pappy's is from a 1964 reprint, Strange Mysteries #16, a comic published under the logo Super Comics, and printed to be sold in poly bags, three different titles to a bag, for 25¢. The whole output of Super Comics, as well as its predecessor, I.W. Comics, consisted of reprinted material. I don't have the original comic to compare it to, so you sharp-eyed Golden Age horror fans out there can tell me if there was any censoring to the contents of the reprint. I'm going to go out on a decapitated limb and guess there wasn't. The subject matter alone would be enough to get it banned by the Comics Code. Since it wasn't submitted for Code approval why not just publish it as it was originally?
The cover above is taken from an Internet site, but I'm including the Super Comics reprint cover here as well. It was drawn by Andru and Esposito, two artists who worked together for many years. The title, Strange Mysteries, seems to come from the tagline on the original cover, "What strange mysteries lie beyond the grave?"
The artwork for The Dead Who Walk, done by an artist or artists unknown to me, is uninspired. Unlike the cover, which has eerie walking corpses and the girl with headlights on high beam, the interior hasn't any sex appeal or what we horror comics fans think of as walking dead: lurching corpses with rotting pieces of dead flesh falling off.
The story moves at a breakneck pace, but then, it's only 19 pages long. For such a short story there are a lot of characters: Kent, his fiancée, Anne, her brother Jack, Dr.French, a "man of cold, scientific logic," and the evil brothers who are stealing bodies, George and Walt Bacon. That isn't even counting the named corpses animated by the pair of bodysnatchers: Juan Fernandez, Foley the mechanic, Torelli the importer…talk about packing a lot into a small space! The story, which concerns "egos," (i.e., "souls") jumping from body to body, reads like a weird menace pulp magazine tale of the 1930s and '40s, where plots like this were common. A Realistic Comic it might have been, but realistic it wasn't.
For all of that, it's still pretty entertaining. I first read it in its original version back in 1959 or 1960. It was the first precode horror comic I'd ever seen, and despite the things I nowadays find lacking, at the time I was impressed and if for nothing else than personal nostalgia I give it a nod of approval.
Page 1 (265K) / Page 2 (260K) / Page 3 (276K) / Page 4 (275K) / Page 5 (285K) / Page 6 (291K) /Page 7 (273K) / Page 8 (272K) / Page 9 (291K) / Page 10 (290K) / Page 11 (262K) / Page 12 (278K) / Page 13 (293K) / Page 14 (284K) / Page 15 (284K) / Page 16 (276K) / Page 17 (264K) / Page 18 (298K) / Page 19 (290K)