Hallowe’en Countdown III, Day 11

« Is it true your first concert is going to be at a cemetery? »

By the summer of ’74, the Archie brass was getting sick of those no-account Didit Brothers (You know, Dan, Dippy, Dick and Clyde) and their groupie Fran the Fan, so the Madhouse Glads were tossed out on their collective ear in favour of… a horror anthology. It made sense: in the 1970s, there was considerable overlap (largely female, but not exclusively) among readers of, say, The Witching Hour, Betty and Me, and Romantic Story.

Madhouse95A
The final fate of Fran the Fan? This is Mad House no. 95 (Sept. 1974, Archie); cover art by Gray Morrow. Read the issue here.

It’s fair to assume they were envisioning a companion title for their Chilling Adventures in Sorcery / Red Circle Sorcery. This was something different for Archie, all right: they sought out top talent, but in a fairly consistently sober visual style. Gray Morrow‘s photo-based approach was the baseline, and small wonder: he was the editor. The bulk of the stories was penned by Marvin Channing, and while the ‘twist’ endings weren’t exactly fresh, some of these tales were surprisingly nasty and nihilistic.

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Page two from The Terrible Trident!, written by Don Glut and illustrated by Vicente Alcazar.
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Page three from the cover story, The Happy Dead. Written by Marvin Channing and illustrated by Doug Wildey. Whoever handled the colouring here was smart and discerning.

However, this version of Madhouse lasted but three issues before the book was returned to its original, pre-Glads format. Sorcery endured for nine issues, the first three done in the Archie house style, with narration by Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. By the end of 1974 (with a book cover-dated February, 1975), the experiment was over. But these things come in cycles, don’t they? Witness the recent Afterlife With Archie… which incidentally reprinted much of this material.

SabrinaA
And in other media, amidst the current glut of Archie product, one finds a direct scion of a timid, decades-ago exploration, Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

– RG

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