Monday, October 31, 2011

Number 1044

The Green Hands of Horrorween

It's Halloween today. If the past is any indication, the kids who show up at my door this evening will probably be dressed like princesses or ballerinas and the boys in whatever is popular today. (What is popular today? Transformers?) What fun is that? Where are the witches, the skeletons, the ghouls, besides the U.S. House of Representatives?

Ah well. At least I carry on the tradition of presenting horror stories on Halloween I'm showing a couple of cool tales from the Fawcett vaults of the early 1950s. First up is "The Green Hands of Terror" from This Magazine Is Haunted #2, which readers saw when they got past the cover by Sheldon Moldoff:

"Green Hands" was drawn by George Evans, who as usual did a beautiful job making material that could have looked just silly into creepy. He went on to EC Comics and proved he could draw anything they asked him to.

(Note: you aren't imagining things: the colorist screwed up and colored an extra arm green in the splash panel.)

The second story, "The Resurrected Head," is from World Of Fear #4. The Grand Comics Database doesn't list an artist. The story gives me something of the vibe of Re-Animator, the classic '80s film where a headless scientist gives head!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Number 1043

The monsters that weren't

Halloween is tomorrow, so I have a couple of Halloween-style stories today from DC; kind of a trick, or a treat, depending on your point of view. In House Of Mystery the stories, which start out looking supernatural, usually turn out to have a "logical" explanation. The monsters usually turned out to be not what they looked like.

A couple of examples are "The Mark of X," from HOM #2, 1952. "X" is the creation of a writer that appears to have come to life. "X" reminds me of the monster from a Bugs Bunny cartoon:

The story is drawn by Curt Swan* and George Klein. "The Weirdest Museum in the World," drawn by Bob Brown, is from HOM #10, 1953. It starts out looking like a werewolf story.

There's nothing wrong with these stories, but I wonder if readers of the time felt cheated by them being "fake" supernatural. House Of Mystery apparently sold well, so perhaps not.

*I showed four more of these tales by Swan in Pappy's #757.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Number 1042

A Heap of art styles

In the Wikipedia entry on artist Ernie Schroeder, it's said that Schroeder had several careers during his 90 years. His credits in comics run from 1945 to his last job at Harvey Comics in 1958, less than a decade-and-a-half out of a long and productive working life.

Schroeder might be best known to comic book fans for his work on Airboy Comics,, where for about four years he drew both the title feature and backup strip, the Heap. It's also stated in the article that he wrote much of what he drew in this period. I've chosen a Heap story from the fourth to last issue of Airboy Comics as an example of Schroeder's craggy inking style, and because I like the monster the Heap fights.

Schroeder's first job in comics is reportedly "The Black Lagoon" from Buster Brown Comic Book #23 in 1945. I believe it was inked by Ray Willner, who also had a distinctive and illustrative style of inking, with shorter pen lines than the usual longer brush strokes of most comic book art.

This page from the story shows that it might have been Schroeder's first comic book penciling job, but he already had his composition and comic art storytelling skills down.

From Airboy Comics Vol. 10 No. 1, 1953:

I got the scans for these originals of The Raven from Heritage Auctions. They are attributed to Schroeder, and show at the time he was closer to Will Eisner's style than his later work at Airboy Comics. I like this story, penciled and inked but left unlettered and unpublished. The look of the strip puts it somewhere around the mid-forties era at Harvey. There were various boom and bust cycles in comics, and it may have been intended for a book that was canceled before the strip went to the letterer.