Friday, September 19, 2014

Number 1633: Don Rico’s Dr. Horror

On Monday I showed a Lorna the Jungle Girl story written by Don Rico. Rico, who was also an artist and whose history in comics goes back to the very early years, did both the story and artwork for “Dr. Horror,” the back-up feature in Lev Gleason’s Captain Battle #2 (1941). to explain this story? It uses Shakespeare’s weird sisters (“Double, double, toil and trouble”) from Macbeth as creators of Dr. Horror, a being of pure evil. Beyond that it is an allegory about how nature provides balance and takes care of evil. That’s simplistic, but then so is the story. An eye-catching splash page and several panels of demonic creatures add to its lurid charm.


Keir said...

Just curious from where Dr. Horror obtained his degree.

Daniel [] said...

Until I came upon 'blogs such as yours, which (amongst many other things) reproduce material that the comic-book industry seems to have chosen to forget, the only times that I encountered stories written (or drawn) like this were either in some odd “underground” comics of the '60s or '70s, or when they were cranked-out (in single, mimeographed, or xerographed copies) by peculiar kids in middle or high school.

(I don't know to what extent the underground comics were inspired by these golden age stories, and to what extent they were simply the later efforts of the same sort of peculiar kids whom I encountered at school.)

I note that there isn't a clear line of demarcation between these stories and the stories that fit what became the abiding conventions. Some stories conform to those conventions except that the hero fights Satan (perhaps with a minor name-change); and Jack Cole's Daredevil stories gave us the Yellow Claw, who's less than Satan, yet still utterly fantastic. Eventually one comes to characters such as the Amazing Man, the Blue Blaze, and the Flame; then Hydro-Man and Vapo-Man, who are only about a click away from the Human Torch.

Brian Barnes said...

So, three evil crone sisters create a naked man with big muscles? Am I the only one surprised about what happened after that? Maybe they shouldn't have sent him out to destroy right away? Sorry, had to go there!

This is some interesting art. It's somewhere between insane and Fletcher Hanks. It looks like it was done with a big marker! The bright candy coloring gives it a real strange look. I like it!

Alicia American said...

OMG Put sum pants on yo OMG ucchh

Pappy said...

Daniel, I think something that appealed to me on the same level as Dr. Horror were those old home-grown underground comix you mentioned, and even the professionally printed comix.

Check out Bogeyman Comix, which is a pretty good example.

Pappy said...

Keir, he probably got his degree from the same college as Dr. Ghoul (Black Terror #12), Dr. Hormone (Popular Comics), Dr. Darkness (Fantoman) and Fawcett horror host, Dr. Death.

Gene Phillips said...

This was a blast! Wonder if the publisher actually meant to create the Doctor as a series-character? It seems rather pointless otherwise.

I notice that some of Lev-Gleason's CLAW stories were very self-effacing about mentioning "the Devil" even when that's what they were alluding to. Now here we have "Nature" acting the part of "God."

Pappy said...

Gene, the story looks like a one-shot to me; it isn't open-ended.

I think Daniel makes a good point: ". . . the hero fights Satan (perhaps with a minor name-change). . . "

God, as played by Nature, is more of a cop-out than having a stand-in for Satan, who by personifying evil has become a caricature, or more like a character out of a fantasy than out of religious beliefs.

Good analysis from everyone making comments on this story. Well, Alicia wants Dr. Horror to put on some pants, but that's a whole other subject.

rnigma said...

One of the contributors to "All in Color for a Dime" described Rico's style as "apparently inspired by the murals in South American post offices."