Now, on to the art. Johnny Craig and Al Feldstein did some collaborating during their early days working for Bill Gaines at EC Comics. In these two stories for Crime Patrol #13 (1949), signed by “F.C. Aljon” their styles sharply contrast. The first story, “I Fight Crime,” is credited by the Grand Comics Database as being penciled by Feldstein, and supposedly inked by Craig, and the process is reversed for the second, “Edna Sunday.” But in looking over both of these stories I see them differently. “I Fight Crime” is mostly drawn by Feldstein, pencils and inks, with a few panels by Craig. “Edna Sunday” is mostly drawn by Craig.
But really, is it all that important? Well, sure it is to those of us wonkish comic book guys who like to get the credits right, even though early comic book credits are often a lot trickier to pin down than we think.
The other thing of interest is the change of name and splash panels for “Edna Sunday” which covered over a violent panel with an innocuous portrait of the title character, and the title, “Hate,” There could be a practical reason for this, including concern over criticism of crime comics by Fredric Wertham, M.D. (his major attack against crime comics, the article that would grow into his 1954 book, Seduction of the Innocent, appeared in The Ladies Home Journal in 1948), and groups of bluenoses who were organizing comic book drives to feed bonfires. A year before this issue of Crime Patrol the Alfred Hitchcock movie, Rope, starring James Stewart, opened on a close-up of a man being strangled with a garrotte. Hitchcock could get away with it...maybe Bill Gaines didn't think in that climate of comic book criticism he could do the same. A couple of years later he challenged the critics, but in his early days as publisher he may not have been so brave.
I think it’s a great comic; Karswell told me the idea was to use stories that he had not featured in his blog, but even if they had used those stories it wouldn't have mattered to me. I’m old-fashioned enough to believe having something available only in a non-tactile, digital form such as a blog is not the same as having it in print, on paper. (And yes, that includes the blog you’re reading now.)
Haunted Horror #2 is out, with a fine line-up of stories from a variety of publishers: Fawcett, Superior, Harvey, Standard and two stories from Ace by two of their top artists, Ken Rice and Lou Cameron. My personal favorite story this issue is from Adventures Into Darkness #6, drawn by the great George Tuska, “Corpse Convention.” The splash panel reminds me of checking into the hotel in the early days of the San Diego Comicon!
It’s all great fun in that special way these old comics were fun, reviving the spirit of the forbidden, when kids read these under the covers with flashlights so their parents wouldn't know they were scaring themselves silly. And silly some of the stories are, but that’s their charm. For $3.99 you can’t miss with Haunted Horrors. And while you’re at it, go to Yoebooks.com or Amazon.com and check out the other titles in Yoe’s hardcover series...Christmas quickly approaches, and you know someone wants a gift suggestion for you.
...and speaking of great books, this just in...
I got Yoe’s latest book, Comics About Cartoonists, just yesterday, and have spent some enjoyable hours paging through, admiring how many comic book stories there are with references to cartoonists and comic book artists. It seems a natural — cartoonists live in a pretty insular world, often working from home or a studio. Their art becomes their own self-contained universe. I remember stories like this when I was a kid and loved them, because it was the artist stepping through that “fourth wall,” coming off the page to let us readers know that yes, there was a person involved in producing the comic book.
The book is credited to Yoe as editor and designer, and his wife, Clizia Gussoni, as producer. I admire this book very much, and will give a more thorough review when I’ve had the chance to actually sit down uninterrupted and read it. Until then, I’m recommending it based on the eye-popping visuals, because of the quality of all of the books from Yoe’s studio, and because I provided the copy of Weird Science Fantasy #22, from which Craig got the scans for Wallace Wood’s story, “My World.” As one of the most famous of the comics about cartoonists stories, it’s fitting that Craig used it to end the book.