Sunday, April 20, 2008

Number 294

Mr. Sardonicus

Author Ray Russell wrote the short story, "Sardonicus," which was made into the 1961 William Castle film, Mr. Sardonicus. It has nothing to do with this story, "Death Takes Four," from Strange Mysteries #13, October, 1953, but I thought I'd impress you with my knowledge of arcane medical conditions. Risus sardonicus, called rictus sardonicus in this strip, is a pretty horrible condition that contorts and freezes the face into a smile. You know, like all of the contestants on American Idol when they're being ripped a new blowhole by one of those idiot judges.

The sardonicus sufferer in "Death Takes Four" is a murderer who fakes — or think he's faking — insanity. It's by the Jerry Iger shop, and it's published by Superior, which used the worst printer in comic book history. My copy of this issue was a target. It has a couple of b-b holes through it, which shows what the previous owner thought of it.


Karswell said...

Hey Pappy,
What exactly is the Jerry Iger shop anyway? I've posted some Superior stories over the last half year too and had many people comment on the art and who did what and all that but I really have no idea what to tell them. Was it a group of people or a one man army?

And I agree about the printer this publisher used too, I've wanted to post more stories from Superior but the piss poor production really leaves alot to be desired. I have a couple issues with completely unreadable text on every single damn page.

Pappy said...

Jerry Iger formed Eisner and Iger with Will Eisner back in the 1930s. They provided artwork to the various publishers who bought the whole package, rather than have to hire artists and writers themselves. Eisner left Iger and Iger carried on the business, doing Classics Illustrated and Fiction House. For those jobs they used specific artists like Robert Webb or Matt Baker, Jack Kamen (got a great strip from Jumbo Comics by him coming up. Watch for it!)

I believe during the time of the Superior Comics jobs they were using artists who did things in a piecemeal, assembly-line fashion. The stories basically look like they were done by the same artist, so it was a house style. For all of that I quite like their horror comics art, but the printer I hate...he was the worst horror of all!

Karswell said...

Thanks Pappy, very interesting. I love the Superior style horror too and hope to aquire more issues in the future that are more legible for scanning / posting.

Max the drunken severed head said...

Since no one else did so, I'll say I'm crazy about this story!!