Monday, June 13, 2016

Number 1905: Bride of the swamp

Maranee Landau, who is the daughter of artist Ken Landau, contacted me a couple of months ago. Ms Landau is writing a book about her father, and would welcome any information about him anyone out there has. If you contact me via my e-mail,, I will be happy to pass it along to her.

She informed me that Kenneth Landau died in 2012 at age 86. Landau went into animation after his comic book career. What we are concerned with here is the fine work he did in comic books, including some of my favorite stories from horror comics like Forbidden Worlds and the other supernatural comics published by ACG in the early '50s. I love the moody atmosphere of this swamp-saga of a young woman with a condition: she turns into an alligator. I would suggest Jergens Lotion for the rough skin, but undoubtedly it would not be enough.

This is from Forbidden Worlds #33 (1954):


Daniel [] said...

Latham was not merely someone convicted of a capital offense, but a fictional someone convicted of a capital offense; so there's probably not a lot of point in fretting as to why he would regard a were-gator as ipso facto evil, and feel compelled to kill her.

But, for my part, if I found myself involved with such a creature then I'd try to discern whether she were an alligator that occasionally became a woman or a woman who occasionally became an alligator. In the former case, I'd try to extract myself from the relationship, but I'd not see good reason to kill it, especially if it had earlier saved me from death. In the latter case, I'd want to know whether there were perhaps a good reason for the transformation. (I still might try to leave. Alligators are signally nasty.)

The story doesn't really pack much punch. We're practically guaranteed at the outset that Latham will be killed by something in the Swamp. There's no perverse twists, as we Latham to again find himself trapped in quicksand to be bitten by a snake after killing Jenanne. He just does a poor job of senselessly killing her in his first attempt, and she catches him and tears him to bits. (It might have been better to have Latham's body dragged under water and stuffed somewhere to decompose, which is what alligators typically do with large catches.)

Given that we've previously wondered about Landau's personal history, I'm glad that his daughter is trying to bring that together!

Brian Barnes said...

Landau was a fine artist, there's a bit of Reed Crandall in his work, and this has some great line work in it. And, unlike a lot of artists, a relatively realistic alligator!

I always have one problem with these stories -- I don't get our lunk-headed criminal in this one. What a colossal gift horse he's been handed! First, he's got a place to hide out in the swamps, which most people are afraid of. Second, he's got a hot, non-questioning woman who feeds him and gives him booze (I don't drink but our guy seems to!) and ... I assume ... other things. And she can command the swamp critters! And turn into a alligator!

You want a super charged criminal career? You've got it! Who would dare be able to get him from his hide out if every dangerous animal was under his command? And the robberies he could pull off with an intelligent alligator!

Dope. Just a dope.

Pappy said...

Daniel, should I have encountered an alligator in a swamp, especially a shape-shifter like Jenanne, I would just run like hell. In his case, he prefers to kill, which was the pre-Code horror comics' way of dealing with many problems.

I much prefer your ending...dragged underwater and left to decompose. Now THAT would have been a great horror comics ending.

Pappy said...

Brian, in Latham's case it was just too horrifying to find out he made love to a shape-shifting alligator. What if he rolled over in bed and found Jenanne had become a gator? Criminal advantages notwithstanding, like any good horror comics character, he spoke the horror comics credo, "I had to kill her."