Monday, October 05, 2020

Number 2457: The weird tale of the witchy woman

I don’t know when the first comic book horror story appeared. When evaluating old stories one may have different definitions of what “horror” is. I tend to think of comic book horror as it was found in EC Comics and their myriad imitators. In creating their horror comics Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein of EC supposedly talked about a radio program they both liked, The Witch’s Tale, and that was their springboard. The Witch’s Tale featured Old Nancy as the witch. The old witch in this story does not have a name, just a story to tell. I presume one could imagine any witchy-sounding cackling noises.

“Weird Tales, The Tale of the Haunted Inn” is from Hit Comics #1 (1940). It’s likely they swiped the witch from the radio show, and the title of the feature from Weird Tales, the pulp magazine.

1 comment:

Daniel [] said...

Harvey was a rather vile person. He forced his way into to a room into which he had no right to go, for an explanation that he was not owed, and then retreated downstairs, leaving a fragile young woman to deal with violence that he had provoked.

In general, I really appreciate the early golden-age appearance of this story.

At one time, I would have seen the question of the appearance of the first comic-book horror story as answerable simply by diligent search. But, after seeing various heroes battling Satan[as], witches, &c qua supervillains, I realized that the blending of genres made any precision spurious.

When I first heard an episode of The Witch's Tale, my thought was that it had almostly surely been an inspiration for the hosted horror stories of EC. And this influence is yet another illustration of how so much of what offended Wertham, Crist, &alios in the comic books had long been found on the radio. (Wertham was later a crusader against violent television content, and perhaps he'd said things about radio content.)