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Friday, August 21, 2015

Number 1777: Vampire dominatrix rides a dragon...see it by going through “The Door”

This story, from Fawcett’s This Magazine Is Haunted (#12, 1953), is an origin story, of sorts. The artwork is credited by the Grand Comics Database to Bud Thompson, a journeyman artist who also did Captain Marvel Jr for Fawcett.












10 comments:

Ryan Anthony said...

Thanks for the horror story, Pappy. A perfect gift for my birthday!

Pappy said...

Ryan, and I didn't even have to wrap it and stick a bow on it. Happy birthday!

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

This artist was clever and deserves some attention. I really like the way he displays the title in the splash panel. He writes "the Door" on a door, using elements of the scenery to emphasize the concept. Very Eisner-esque, I think. Eisner turned this trick into a form of art with the Spirit, and speaking of horror, Grandenetti used it alot for Dr. Drew. The "Creeaaak..." sequence on p.7 is truly beautiful. His visual rendering of the human figure is discontinuous, though. Some anatomies are great, some others look rough and imprecise. Not the vampiress, however, she is a tasty morsel dominatrix or not.

Now for the story. Where do you think the action takes place? Let's pick up some clues:
"Castle Valord"; "in northern Italy"; "Countess Siroon"; "Rafael"; "Stay away Signor".
I'm always amused by the inaccuracy of Italian's sceneries and language in these comics (given that many artists are italian-americans). Here we have a funny land that looks like a mix of Italy and Spain, with a touch of France maybe.

Twist ending, OK. So,he is Death, and incidentally the host of the series. He forgot his identity and his goal (so nobody died in the world while he was amnesiac?), then by chance he chose his home place for a holiday. Hilarious.

"Mord" meaning death or murder, that is interesting:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mord

I wonder if the character's name "Mord-red" from King Arthur's lore has a similar root.

Brian Barnes said...

There's a good bit of a Ghastly ape in this art. Which is fine, if you are going to life a style, make it a good one!

Death has it lucky, doesn't he? An immortal beauty, nightly dancing and bowing in his honor, and his own comic book to host? Who could ask for more?

The coloring is confounding in this one. It's muddy in places but in others it's very clever, the halo effect on the talking heads is pretty original and the use of coloring to make the spirits is also cool. A colorist really went above and beyond on this one, and that's not something you can say about a lot of pre-code horror comics.

Happy Birthday, Ryan!

Gene Phillips said...

W/o checking, I'd assume that EC had done bios for their horror hosts before this.

Wonder what was the first such host-bio?

Pappy said...

Gene, checking my files I see that the Old Witch's origin was in Haunt of Fear #14, dated July-August, 1952, and the Crypt Keeper's origin was in Tales From the Crypt #33, December 1952-January 1953. This Magazine is Haunted #12 is cover dated August 1953.

Pappy said...

J D, despite their origins, Italian, Russian, Polish, German, or wherever their families emigrated from, comic book artists were "New Yorkers," and by that I mean they shared a trait that is the subject of jokes, that a New Yorker's world extends to the boundaries of New York City. In other words, they didn't care that much about the geography of other places. You can see that even in some Golden Age stories that take place in America's wild West.

Americans can be vague on geography of their own country.

Some artists used references like the National Geographic magazine (Carl Barks, who was not a New Yorker, used that for stories set in far flung locales, while sitting at his drawing board in Southern California.) But, I think some artists just winged it, figuring it did not matter. The artists of the 1940s and 1950s probably would have thought it preposterous that someday in the far-off future a librarian in Italy would be reading their story and commenting on it!

Pappy said...

Brian, while I agree with the intentions of the colorist, it must have been disheartening to put a lot of work into a job, then have the printers do a lackadaisical job. Time was money on a printing press. Most comic book printing fell into that category of fast and dirty, with pressmen not caring about anybody's artistic intentions.

In a strange way it gives comic book printing a funky ambiance, which (in my opinion, anyway) adds to the look of the Golden Age.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

I'd like to give my 2 cents on the matter of printing/coloring.
I've checked other horror stories of this excellent artist. The guy likes to draw ghosts, interdimensional "shadowy aliens" and other translucent creatures, but thick colors and bad printing don't do justice to his work. This is particularly true in "The formless shadows" (TMIH 13).
I think Thompson's art could use some neat reprints, recolored in the style used by Eclipse Comics in the 80's for their golden age horror anthologies, assigning the task to top notch-artists like Steve Oliff.
I'm not prejudicially against recolorings, but surfing the web I realized that many golden age fans are, probably because they think, like Pappy, that bad printing is part of the Golden Age Funk.
I see good recolorings as a sort of "restorations". Oliff could show Thompson's "true colors". Or we could have a decent black and white and focus on the art. We are more accustomed to BW than you Americans, I think. Many of our popular comics were BW, just because it's cheaper.

I'm not annoyed by the inaccuracy of the italian scenarios. Turning Italy, or France or Spain into a sort of "Fantasyland" is a problem already present in British gothic literature (by the way, I think gothic literature is the reason for so many Italian vampires in golden age horrors). I see it as another, unintentional touch of creativity.

Buon compleanno, Ryan, tanti auguri..

Pappy said...

J D, I spoke for myself on what I consider Golden Age funkiness. I am not bothered by re-coloring or black line versions of any comic art (I have a couple in the pipeline for later this year); the crummy coloring also reminds me of what was acceptable in those days, as compared to now.