Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Number 2407: Ghosts and witches

What would Halloween be without ghosts and witches? In my opinion nothing, so I have two stories; one with ghosts, one with witches.

“The Dead Don’t Sleep” was originally published in Atlas’ Adventures Into Terror #30 (1954). Art is credited to Al Eadah. “Death by Witchcraft” is from Harvey Comics’ Witches Tales #4 (1951). The Grand Comics Database credits Rudy Palais for pencils and Vic Donahue for inks. The reprint in Haunted Horror #23 from IDW, and a blog entry in The Horrors of It All from Karswell in 2007 doesn’t think Palais had anything to do with it.

Have a great Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Number 2406: The Brothers Vampire

They should have known better, the two American archaeologists digging around the castle. Especially since the castle is in a remote village in Eastern Hungary. “A thousand passing years have left the town and its customs unchanged! Perched above it stands the sinister remains of Horhaga an evil sentinel...” says the caption. The Horhaga Brothers, you see, are vampires. The villagers know this and don’t want the archaeologists to bring them back from the dead, which, of course they do.

Halloween is in a few days, so I have a horror story today, and a couple of them on the day before Halloween. At that time I will get back in my coffin and wait out the trick-or-treaters. I hope I won’t have to spend a long time. My old coffin gets awfully dank.

“The Thing in the Vault” (and shouldn’t that be “Things,” since there are three vampires?) was published in Amazing Mysteries #33 (1949). The title had lasted four issues after replacing Sub-Mariner’s comic book. The first two issues were horror, the last two crime stories. The Grand Comics Database takes a guess that the pencils are by Bill Everett, but doesn’t guess, leaving no artist credits for this story.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Number 2405: Flash, Dale and Dr Zarkov after the war

We are given a timeline in the splash panel for this Flash Gordon story. The first line of the caption tells us it is just after World War II. Flash, Dale and Dr Zarkov have returned to Earth from the planet Mongo to find our species has developed powerful weapons that can destroy the planet. It is a reminder to us that it has been almost 3/4 of a century since nuclear bombs were used in war, and hopefully it will never happen again. We have been living under that threat ever since.

That aside, the comic book today’s story comes from, Flash Gordon #1, was published in 1966 by King Features Syndicate, which had published the character in its newspaper comics lineup since the 1930s. It had affected the life of young artist, Al Williamson, while growing up, and helped inspire him to a career both in newspaper comics and newsstand comic books. The late Williamson usually worked with other people on his comics, and in this story of an undersea kingdom Roy G. Krenkel helped by drawing the architecture of the underground city of “Krenkelium.” Despite what I read as something of a worn science fiction concept, people living underground, I believe the artwork saves it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Number 2404: Return from Mars

Such a day motorcycle cop Michael Reardon had. He chased a guy going too fast in an exotic car, and then ended up on Mars. He was also given the news that Mars was about to invade the Earth.

When this was published Mars was a place of the imagination. I am sure that science (without the fiction) knew that Mars was an uninhabited planet totally hostile to humans, but in comic books or pulp magazines it was still a fantasy planet where just about any tale could be told, even one as far out as this story. However, what I found most hard to believe about the tale is that Officer Reardon was allowed to stand in front of a bank of microphones and tell the Earth an invasion was coming from space. To me that is harder to believe than a motorcycle cop traveling to another planet in a Martian car.

For all that, it is well drawn by Russ Heath, and “Return from Mars” originally appeared in Atlas’ Journey Into Unknown Worlds #4 (1951), but is here from an IW reprint published in 1958, Space Mysteries #1 (1958).

Monday, October 21, 2019

Number 2403: The phantom Fantoman

Fantoman was originally called The Fantom of the Fair, which is catchy, but it meant the Fantom’s raison d'être was to protect the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Once that was over it was time for a name change. Maybe the publishers of the Centaur line of comic books thought the character would only last until the Fair was over.

There is more information about Fantom of the Fair and his publishing history in a previous Pappy’s posting, which you can see by going to the link on the bottom of this post.

Centaur is known as the first comic book company to go out of business, and I don’t know why, but it could have been any number of things. Perhaps when they were originally publishing there was not as much competition. As soon as other publishers joined in and began pumping out super heroes it might have squeezed Centaur too much.

This Fantoman story, reprinted from Amazing Mystery Funnies #18, is shown here in scans taken from Fantoman #4 (1940); the last issue of that title. The story is drawn, and possibly written, by Paul Gustavson.

An earlier Fantom of the Fair story. Just click on the thumbnail.