Halloween Spectacular! Featuring DC comics “The Witching Hour!”

I really struggled with this year’s Halloween blog post at first. Typically I know well in advance what material I want to spotlight for Halloween, but 2020 was different (heh). In this issue of The Witching Hour, we get a ton of content, as this is a Super Spectacular 100 page issue! All started off by a fantastic cover by Nick Cardy! Thirteen unlucky stories reside within these pages (not counting the intro/outro), so there’s no time to waste pontificating!

 

 

First up, we have “Makers of the Mist.” This is a tale of a cursed village, and an unspeakable evil that resides in the nearby mountains! Written by Gerry Conway, with art by Murphy Anderson and letters by Irv Watanabe! Fun little tale, but the ending doesn’t really fit a horror book. Awesome art by Anderson, though.

 

 

Til Death Do Us Join,” is a very strange tale involving grave robbers, and one in particular that marries…a corpse? Written by Bob “Zany” Haney, and art by Pat Boyette (he did a lot of work for Charlton).

 

 

The next story, “The Ever Constant Drum” shows a slave trader in Africa that winds up on the wrong (or right) side of the whip! Story by David Kaler, art by Reginald and Stanley Pitt.

 

 

In “Save the Last Dance for Me,” we see a millionaire and former Broadway star that has a bad attitude and an incredibly awful moral compass, named Thurgood Trapley. He’s paid a scientist/inventor to invent a time machine. The man actually does it and we see the future which shows some wild scenes, one of which shows Trapley fighting a Dalek (not kidding here). Written by Denny O’Neil, with art by Pay Boyette.

 

 

The next story is called “Eternal Hour.” In this one we have a haunted clock tower, a diminutive person, and a shock ending! Written, penciled and inked by Alex Toth!

 

 

This next story might have the greatest name in the history of comic books. “The Perfect Surf or How to Make Waves Without Really Trying!” A fun tale that ends in a hilarious way! I can’t help but think of Point Break when I read this one! Art by Jack Sparling.

 

 

On to “The Man with the Stolen Eyes.” This Golden/Silver Age reprint (1956) has no creator credits, but is a gem of a story. Reminiscent of the EC comics stories of the time, it involves a blind man that uses bribery to get his sight back, but eventually, regrets it!

 

 

Other than inks by George Roussos, this is another tale with credits that are tough to find. “Brush with Death”  -Is there such a thing as a haunted painting? Well, after you read this story, you will believe!

 

 

Another reprint is upon us, and “Dream Girl” is one for the ages. A wizard, an occult convention, and a man obsessed with a vision of a woman he’s in love with are the subject of this wild one! Art by Bob Brown and Jim Mooney, with letters by Artie Simek.

 

 

Mildred is our host for this next story. “The Demon in the Mirror” is more of a standard horror story from the time (1952). A hood is taken out by a regular Joe, but he vows revenge by any means possible! Written by Robert Kanigher, art by Alex Toth and Sy Barry, with letters by Gaspar Saladino!

 

 

The Phantom Ship” is about a crook who’s breaking into cabins aboard a ship and looting them. He then slips on the deck and falls into the ocean. What happens after that is absolutely ghastly! Art by George Papp.

 

 

In the penultimate story “Round Trip to the Past,” Cynthia (the host) tells us about a man who inherits some antiques, one piece of which is a diary that tells a spooky tale about a wizard from the year 1297! Art by George Papp, and letters by Artie Simek.

 

 

Finally, we get “Trail of the Lucky Coin!” According to legend, if you find the lucky coin and then give it away to someone, you’ll be brought luck! A bus load of people that end up in a crash might not feel very lucky, though! Writer, Jack Miller, pencils by Mort Drucker, letters by Gaspar Saladino.

 

 

 

From Beyond the Unknown 23, 1973 “The Secret of the Man-Ape!”

Sometimes when I see a cover, I know it is going to be absolutely crazy. Honestly, in the last few years, that’s mostly what I’m looking for in a new (to me) comic. A comic with a gorilla holding a librarian at gunpoint? There’s a name for that- pure gold. Three reprint stories from the Silver Age are entombed inside, so let’s get cracking!

The first (and best) tale, is the cover story. We see a scientist using a machine to try and turn a gorilla into a human. The captions and images show us that years ago, a civilization of gorillas dominated the Earth, and that aliens were watching this and wanting to conquer Earth, sent a spy, but not in their more humanoid forms, but as a gorilla. After some miscalculations aboard the spaceship, the “gorilla” alien guy winds up in modern times where man rules, and not gorillas.

Pretty much shenanigans ensue for the rest of the story, but the highlight is or sure the gorilla-alien guy using his telepathy to tell a librarian to give him some classic novels (not at gunpoint as the cover shows). A little bit of a bait and switch there, but still, the story is comical, and extremely strange. Story/script by Otto Binder, art by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.

The next two stories are from the mind of Gardner Fox. First, “Language-Master of Space” is a story that still makes my head explode just trying to figure out what the point was, but it also left me laughingly entertained. The art by Sid Greene helped, as his renditions of the different aliens was great.The second story, “World of Doomed Spacemen” is another crazy one. It’s one that shows life in the 25th century, and a time of giants! Art by Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs. The magnificent cover is by none other than Nick Cardy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Beyond the Unknown 20, 1972 “Fishermen from the Sea!”

I’m on a bit of a DC kick lately, so I’ll let the train keep rolling. The sci-fi stories they produced in the Silver Age are a blast (off). The talent they had was perfect for the genre, and seeing is believing. Most associate DC with superheroes, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t just stop there, because these books (the originals, and reprints like this one) are great fun! You get three big stories in this issue, and a cool cover by Nick Cardy!

The first adventure (“Fishermen from the Sea!“) shows an alien invasion. These fish-like creatures want to take over the Earth by flooding the planet, thereby killing all humans. Not sure where Aquaman was, but it’s up to “Dave” and “Helen” to save the day. OK, they do get a small assist from the U.S. government testing atomic bombs. Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Mike Sekowsky and Joe Giella!

The second story is one of my all time favorite wacky, sci-fi stories! “The Interplanetary Restaurant!”  A new restaurant is opening and everyone is buzzing. Why? Because the owner claims the food is from outer space! Is it really? Or is it a ruse, as many people believe? You must read this bonkers story and find out! Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Gil Kane and Joe Giella!

Lastly, we have “When Did Earth Vanish?” This is a story starring the Star Rovers (click here for another story of theirs I covered). To try and describe this story would not only be near impossible to do in less that a thousand words, but might not even be possible. This story is all over the place and kooky to say the least. Story by Gardner Fox, with art by Sid Greene.

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, this is an all Gardner Fox penned issue. Really dig deep into his history in comics (click here for a recommendation), especially his sci-fi work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncanny Tales 2, 1973 “Out of the Swamp…”

It has been too long since I last blogged about a horror comic! Last week’s awesome post aside (click here for my contribution to Super Blog Team Up), lately I’ve been all over the spectrum on my posts, as in, whatever hits me as worthy at that very moment. Some would say they’re ridiculous and not top tier like certain books that have beloved runs even 40+ years or more later. But I feel like all comics have worth, obviously some more than others, and there’s nothing wrong with liking or not liking any comic. So even when I blog about some lesser known comic, rest assured its got at least some redeeming value. Now, let the horror commence!

This week’s post is solid, and has some really good material from the Golden Age. Some pre-code even! Five stories of madness are inside this one, and solid creators are behind them. The first story (“The Graves that Moved“) starts out in a graveyard as we see caskets popping out of the ground and killing an old guy! Very eerie and sets a good tone for the rest of the book. Art by Jim Mooney (no other credits given).

The second story is called “Out of the Swamps!” This one has a scientist, gangsters, and talking Lemurs…yep. A very bizarre story indeed, but with very good art by Dick Ayers!

Next, we get “Dead End” and we see a man telling the readers that he’s killed himself and doesn’t really exist anymore. It seems like they were going for a real nutty vibe in this one as well, and they achieved that with flying colors. script by Burt Frohman, Art by Tom Gill.

The fourth tale is called “Last Seen Climbing a Ladder!” The story revolves around a scientist that thinks he can build a ladder from Earth to an asteroid. Yes, you read that correctly. He actually succeeds but has plans of his own afterward! Art by Vic Carrabotta.

Last but not least, we get “Superstition.” It shows a penal colony on Guiana, and how the prisoners have escaped. They were helped by some of the natives, but when the prisoners demand to be taken off of the island, things get dicey. You see, the natives have a superstition and don’t want to leave the island. They have a good reason, and the prisoners find out why, but it’s too late! Art by Syd Shores!

All of these stories are kicked off by a cover by none other than Golden Age artist, Carl Burgos (you may have heard of him), but with heavy alterations by John Romita.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brave and the Bold 115, 1974 “Batman and The Atom!”

The DC 100 page comics from the Bronze Age are nothing short of gems. These multi-storied books bring a variety like no other to a reader, and they do it by simply providing extraordinary content. With one original story and four reprints, this book is an excellent representation of what made DC comics a great company.

A new Batman story, straight from the mean streets of Gotham! We see Batman down for the count, as he’s nearly killed by some hoods! It’s up to the Atom and Commissioner Gordon to save the Dark Knight! Written by Bob “Zany” Haney, with art by Jim Aparo!

Next up is a reprint of Challengers of the Unknown (issue 12) with “Three Clues to Sorcery.” You get it all in this one – a gorilla, a gigantic squid, a mysterious gem, and more! Written by Ed Herron (most likely), with art by Bob Brown.

In the following reprint, we get a good one (and a personal favorite of mine)! “Solomon Grundy Goes on a Rampage!”, features just that, Grundy going ape and kicking the crap out of Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, and Hourman! Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Murphy Anderson.

in the fourth installment, a legend in the comic book industry brings us one of his best illustrations with the “Origin of the Viking Prince!Joe Kubert is the artist, and he delivers the goods. Script by Bob Haney.

Lastly, we get another titan of the comic book industry (well three really), as Ray Palmer, A.K.A. The Atom, is brought to us in “The Case of the Innocent Thief!” – by Gardner Fox (story), Gil Kane (pencils) and Murphy Anderson (inks)!

The cover features illustrations by Jim Aparo (Batman), Murphy Anderson (Grundy), and Bob Brown (Challengers).

 

 

 

Weird Wonder Tales 6, 1974 “The Man Who Owned a Ghost?”

As the 1970s progressed, Marvel went full on crazy with the reprints. Some were of recent material (Spider-Man, The Avengers, the Fantastic Four, etc.), and others were from as far back as the Atom Age (post Golden Age but pre-Silver Age). Flooding the market was nothing new for them, but it is still astonishing to look back on. Not that you can blame them, after all they were under the constraints of the publisher that was their rival for many years. Once they got out from under those shackles, they went hog-wild, and who could blame them.

The book is all reprints, but don’t discount it on that accord. The first story alone is worth its weight in gold, as Bill Everett is the mastermind behind “The Man Who Owned a Ghost!” Some artists have their work deteriorate as they age, but Everett’s work got stronger, just look! The second story, “Was He Just Seeing Things?,” has art by Manny Stallman, and this is a creator that I’m not very familiar with to be honest (here’s a link to Mark Evanier’s blog from 1997, talking a bit about him). Neat little sci-fi story including dinosaurs! “Homicide” follows and brings an axe murderer! Nothing here you didn’t already see from a publisher like EC comics, but still pretty jarring. The art in that one is by Harry Anderson. Again, a relative unknown today, but I found some info here. The last installment in the book is called “The Man in the Crazy Maze.” A treat for sure, as this has art by Jack Kirby (pencils) and Dick Ayers (inks)! It’s always a treat to see some Kirby! The cover is by Larry Lieber (probably pencils/layouts) and Mike Esposito (inks).

 

Shock Suspense Stories 1, 1985 “EC Classics”

EC comics was no stranger to controversy. That said, putting a racist organization (not in name but visually) on the front cover of one of their books was wild. They were already under fire for their horror covers that featured decapitations, severed limbs, people being strangled to death, and even a maniac with an ice pick chasing kids through a graveyard! This cover was different though, as this wasn’t fantasy for many, but a sad and truly horrific reality. Without going into a social lecture, I think we can all just say that this book showed a very ugly side of our country’s past that should remain there.

The first story shows this “group of hooded men” as they have a woman bound and are going to torture her for consorting with “them” (black people). A grim tale of reality and not a happy ending, Written by Al Feldstein (with plot assist by Bill Gaines), art by Wally Wood, and letters by Jim Wroten. The following story is about a soldier who is afraid of dying in combat. Nothing too crazy here but incredible artwork. Written by Al Feldstein (with plot assist by Bill Gaines), artwork by Jack Davis and Johnny Craig! Next, we get a sci-fi story where a certain member of a team doesn’t respect the plant life on an alien world…an regrets it. Written by Al Feldstein (with plot assist by Bill Gaines), art by Wally Wood, and letters by Jim Wroten. A creepy orphanage and the man who runs it is the subject of “Halloween.” A gruesome ending in this one! Brought to us by Al Feldstein (writer, with plot assist by Bill Gaines), art by Ghastly Graham Ingels! Another story centered around racism and corruption tells the story of a black man wrongly accused of murder, then gunned down in cold blood! Written by Al Feldstein (with plot assist by Bill Gaines), art by Wally Wood. “Stumped” is a wild story involving a trapper and his demise. Written by Al Feldstein (with plot assist by Bill Gaines), art by Jack Davis. The old story Hansel and Gretel is the foundation of this tale, and two children end up headed for an old witch’s oven! Written by Al Feldstein (with plot assist by Bill Gaines), and art by Ghastly Graham Ingels. Finally, one of my favorite tropes is used, as an insane husband not only kills his wife, but then carves her up and puts her in a meat freezer (“Cold Cuts“). Lets just say later he gets a taste of some bad meat. Written by Al Feldstein (with plot assist by Bill Gaines), art by Jack Davis.

As time marches on, these EC books get more and more expensive, but the reprints can still be found at a reasonable price. Search them out at shows, or on the web, as they can bring you some of the best (if not the best) horror comics ever made. Both of the covers were done by none other than Wally Wood!

 

 

The House of Mystery 227, 1974 “The Carriage Man!”

After being a Marvel Zombie for many moons, I really cranked up buying DC comics over the last few years. Focusing mostly on horror (and the absurd), the 100page issues are where the bargains live! These books are fantastic and are packed full of comic book goodness. With eight stories, this 100 page book brings it with the heat of a demon, or maybe the hair of the werewolf, or…well, you get it.

This issue has a great list of creators that includes- Michael Fleisher, Nestor Redondo, Joe Orlando, Sergio Aragonés, Don Glut, Joe Maneely, Paul Levitz, Alfredo Alcala, and more! Each story has it’s own unique flavor because of the myriad of creators in this one. It also contains one of the best clown stories ever (definitely not as good as “Night of the Laughing Clown” by Steve Gerber though)! Definitely seek out these 100page books, especially the horror titles!

 

 

 

DC Special 12, 1971 “The Viking Prince”

Some people buy books for the writer, artist, characters, or all three. There even times (like this one), where I’ll buy a comic just for the cover artist not even knowing what the interior story or art looks like. When you see a cover by the legendary Joe Kubert, pick it up. Even if the interior content is mediocre, you’ll be in possession of a thing of beauty. The war comics occupy most of my personal Kubert comics, but when I saw this particular cover at a good price, it was a no-brainer.

If you get the chance to buy this book, don’t pass up it up. The interiors are a wealth of gorgeous artwork from Joe Kubert and Russ Heath! The Viking Prince stories are written by Robert Kanigher, Bill Finger, and Bob Haney (Kanigher also wrote a ton of war comics, Finger needs no introduction because he’s the true creator of Batman, and “Zaney” Bob Haney wrote some insane Batman stories). The back up stories were written by these gentlemen as well as Ed Herron. A better collection of Viking Prince, and related stories cannot be found in a single issue! These artists have given us all a gift with this book.

 

Classics Illustrated: The War of The Worlds (1954)

After seeing a post in a FB group a while back, I started to wonder- which is my oldest comic? Well, it took some investigating, but I can now say that it’s this issue of Classics Illustrated that is my oldest comic book (1954). It’s not in the greatest shape, but I’m pretty sure I only paid a buck or two for it at a local show. The film is of course iconic, but when I saw this comics, it called to me.

Honestly, I’m not familiar with the creators of this adaptation at all but after doing some research, I’ve found that the artist (cover and interiors) Lou Cameron is nothing short of a superstar. As far as the writer of this adaptation, I found absolutely nothing about Harry G. Miller. Not sure if that’s because he’s just been forgotten or his work load was minimal. Either way, he did a fine job on this one.