Friday, October 28, 2016

Number 1964: Witchy women

In time for Halloween on Monday, here are a couple of tales from Ace Comics’ The Hand of Fate, both from the same issue, both featuring witches. I like the artwork in both, but as for the stories...I hope you don’t think too much about the plots. They are horror comics, after all, and like many horror stories strain credibility even more than typical comic book plots.

Someone at Ace Comics got confused (and not just by the events in the stories), and the last two issues of The Hand of Fate are number 25. The Grand Comics Database lists them as #25a (November 1954) and #25b (December 1954). Our stories today are from #25b, which is also the last of The Hand of Fate. As fate would decree, it was the last issue before the Comics Code was implemented in early 1955, and despite their crazy plots, brought about the death of horror comics as we knew and loved them, .

Lou Cameron drew “The Last Hiding Place.” Achieving a near-perfect imitation of Jack Davis’s style, Larry Woromay drew “The Witch’s Wicked Words.” Both of these stories have been shown by Karswell in years past at one of my all-time favorite blogs, The Horrors of it All.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Number 1963: Halloween eye-candy from Reed Crandall and Neal Adams

Next Monday is Halloween. I need to go to the store for some treats for the trick-or-treaters. I can’t give you a miniature candy bar online, so this week you will have to settle for some spooky stories.

The two stories today are from Creepy #14 (1967), which I missed when it was published, and have not seen until recently. I went into the U.S. Army in late 1966, and did not see most comics published in early '67. Years later I found out what I had missed was Neal Adams’ first story for Warren Publications. Old-timer Crandall had been around since the beginning of the magazine, which is appropriate, since he was around at the beginning of the comic book industry.

In “Castle Carrion,” a sword-and-sorcery* story written by Archie Goodwin (who also wrote the Adams story), Crandall appears to have given Prince Valiant blond hair and taken him to a castle full of the walking dead. “Curse of the Vampire” is drawn in Adams’ dramatic realistic style, with his dynamic page and panel layouts. It followed the Crandall story, so readers got a chance to see the old giving way to the new.

It is hard to describe what impact an artist like Adams had on comic books in the late sixties. There was just no one like him. He had started out drawing comic strips like “Ben Casey, M.D.” and done work for advertising companies before coming to comic books. I have substituted the four pages of original art found on the Heritage Auctions website for the printed versions. Except for re-sizing, I have left them as Heritage presented them. They are pages 1, 3, 4 and 7. The cover, illustrating the Crandall story, is by Gray Morrow.

Crandall had a couple of strokes, and in 1982, after eight years in a nursing home, died at age 65 of a heart attack. David Saunders has an interesting biography of Crandall in his Pulp Artists web site.

*Here are the illustrations Crandall did  in '66-'68 for books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, in Crandall’s best pen-and-ink style, reminiscent of illustrators of the past. Warning: some nudity.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Number 1962: Airboy the gladiator

Airboy lands his plane in Tarzan territory (see the link below the story). He and his boss, Tex, are captured by Romans, who have built a civilization in the African jungle. The unknown author of this story was probably inspired by the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, Tarzan and the Lost Empire, which was published in 1929.

Drawn by Ernest Schroeder, from Airboy Comics Vol. 6 No. 11 (1949). Cover by Dan Zolnerowich.

Here is a story of Tarzan taking a cruise with some ancient Romans. Just click on the thumbnail.