Ectoplasm-Bedeviled Pulchritude: Maurice Whitman’s Ghost Comics

At its best, Maurice Whitman’s art has the power to capture one’s imagination. He has an excellent eye for dynamic layouts, and his ghoulies and creepies are often drawn in a kind of a squiggly, sketchy way that really brings them alive for me. Not to be forgotten are his shapely women, usually in various states of déshabillé. Sometimes his covers are too chaotic, and don’t really hold together, leading the viewer to scratch his (or her!) head in confusion; but when it works, when all the pieces fall into place, his art can be glorious.

Ghost Comics had but 11 issues published between 1951 – 1954, so I could have included all of them in this post… but you can see a gallery of these covers on other websites, and besides, some of them are firmly in the “doesn’t quite work” category. Here are my favourites, then – five out of eleven, not bad!

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Ghost Comics no. 1, 1951. I like the details, such as the lost shoe, the cute little ghost in the bottom right corner, a mysterious dark figure by a lamppost (as if the green demon wasn’t terrifying enough)… and the warping of the scene really works, imho.

The following cover is kind of the raison d’être of this whole post – I adore it. Whitman put so many reach-out-and-touch-it details into it – talk about the juxtaposition between terror and sex-appeal! The woman’s négligé is probably the sheerest it has been my pleasure to encounter in pre-code comics. Her hair is also beautifully drawn, especially that little curl that seems to be reaching for the candle.

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Clearly, I’m not the only one to pay special attention to this cover – it was chosen as the cover of Ghosts and Girls of Fiction House!, another addition to Craig Yoe’s Chilling Archives of Horror Comics.

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Ghost Comics no. 3, 1952. This one has crisper, cleaner lines, but the potent composition calls out to the viewer (and after a few minutes spent in contemplation of the art, you can start wondering what the hell is going on here, and how on earth does it make any sense?)
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Ghost Comics no. 4, Fall 1952. Whitman was clearly fond of a certain type of blonde… not that anyone’s objecting. The two teeny bats on the right have captured my heart.
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Ghost Comics no. 8, 1953. Come on, witch, you could have made a better effort with the doll’s hair! Are these the furies from no. 4?

All issues, should you want to read them, can be found at comicbookplus.

~ ds

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