Sunday, October 27, 2013

Number 1461: Horror without the horrible

Only a few more days until Halloween. Fill up those candy bowls for the visiting trick-or-treaters, but save the best stuff for yourself. Pappy's rule for Halloween: the kids get the cheap stuff.

No cheap stuff for you today. I’m showing all the stories from Atlas Comics’ Marvel Tales #119 (1953). The tales run the gamut from a golddigger/serial killer to mummies from outer space to choosing a new life, to...well, read on.

Unlike most horror comics of the era there aren’t any vampires or werewolves, and the mummies aren’t even Egyptian mummies. All in all it’s a fun issue. There is some variety, even humor to some of the stories. Besides the total silliness of the plot of “When the Mummies Rise,” drawn by Russ Heath, there is a shaggy dog joke ending to “They Gave Him a Grave,” illustrated by Larry Woromay. John Forte’s art is perfect for the serial killer story, “Collector’s Item!” I got a laugh out of the Marilyn Monroe panel in “The New Life!” drawn by Al Eadeh. Mac Pakula wraps up the issue with a story of a killer who escapes earthly justice only to find it in space.

I could not help comparing the cover by an unknown artist to an earlier cover by horrormeister Bernard Baily for Mister Mystery #11.

As a morbid child I used to think of what would be the most terrible way to die. High on my list was being buried up to my chin and set upon by ants. Despite having a higher ratio of skulls to head, the Marvel Tales cover is tepid compared to Baily’s.


Brian Barnes said...

I've mentioned this before on other sites, most notably Karswell's Horror of It All, but Atlas was, in my mind, the only EC competitor that correctly figured out what made EC great.

Atlas had the artist line-up, a lot larger than EC but filled with almost as much talent, and one giant, Everett. But, what was important about EC wasn't the ending, but the journey there. Making the reading exciting and well paced, and the ending is just a way to close the story, not the entire reason for it.

And Atlas was great at being humorous in these stories, shaggy dog or not, "They Gave Him a Grave" has a great ending!

Pappy said...

I agree with you about the ending on "They Gave Him a Grave" but I tend to disagree a bit on your assessment of both EC and Atlas and their stories. You're being too kind to too many of the EC stories that repeated the same themes over and over, and with some of the Atlas stories I see a "let's throw it at the wall and see what sticks" sort of mentality about their comics, including horror.

During the heyday of the horror comics, though, Atlas had some real top-notch artists drawing for them, and several of them could have moved over to EC easily, including Heath (who did some work for EC, although not horror). I would like to have seen what Gene Colan could have done at EC, also.

Karswell said...

A real good issue, Pap! And I agree, that Bailey cover is hard to beat!

Martin OHearn said...

Colan didn't do horror, either, at EC, but he had two stories in TWO-FISTED TALES: "Wake" in #30 and "The Secret" in #39.

Daniel [] said...

I guess that a knowledge of knives wasn't John's forte; that was certainly no stiletto in 1:5 of “Collector's Item”.

(Actually, it probably would have been better just to change the narration to match the knife, as it's more visually effective than would have been a stiletto.)

Pappy said...

Hey, probably slipped right by everyone, if anyone was checking it before it was printed, that is.

Also, ever notice that what is called a "revolver" in the Clue game from Parker Bros is actually an automatic? Just to show you I notice things, also.

AB said...

"Collector's Item" was great! One of the more outrageous Atlas horror stories I've seen.

AB said...

Most horror covers are fairly lame when compared to Baily's. Baily wasn't afraid to go straight for the jugular!