Hallowe’en Countdown IV, Day 12

« I don’t know what’s wrong with him!
He’s in hellish torment!
» — there’s witchery afoot, clearly

I’ll grant you in a heartbeat that Nick Cardy‘s (and, to a lesser extent, Neal Adams’) earlier The Witching Hour (full original title: It’s 12 O’Clock… The Witching Hour!, hence its twelfth day appearance) covers beat out subsequent entries on the overall quality front, but this particular beauty, in my opinion, takes home the terror tiara as the very creepiest of the bunch. Is it the otherwise-innocuous daytime setting, the tension between the pastoral and the grotesque? In the end, it induces shivers, and that’s what counts.

Though it comes as the tail end of their involvement, Carmine Infantino and Cardy still had a hand in, as publisher and art director, and took an active rôle in the design of each DC cover of the era.

This is It’s Midnight… the Witching Hour no. 62 (Feb.-Mar 1976, DC). Edited by Murray Boltinoff. Argentine grand master Luis Dominguez’s cover art is loosely based on Carl Wessler and Fred Carrillo’s The Cat’s-Eye Stone. That aside, is it actually a picnic that Mr. Romantic has in mind, what with a “picnic place that no one will ever find“? Suspicious, to put it mildly.

And so — why not? — here’s the full tale, so that you may judge for yourself.

One small quibble: doesn’t Drusilla’s witch’s brew count for something in the spell? Surely the words won’t suffice…
For a devil-worshipper, she’s pretty biblical (‘cast the first stone’). Or maybe that’s the point.
This story anticipates the shock ending of Carrie by almost a year. Or had this twist already made the rounds? Perhaps the cycle began with Let’s Scare Jessica to Death… but I’m not sure.

Wilfredo Limbana ‘Fred’ Carrillo (1926–2005) was an underrated Filipino artist who produced some quite fine work for DC Comics’ mystery titles in the 1970s. I was particularly fond of his work on The Phantom Stranger, when he illustrated both the titular feature and its worthy backup, The Black Orchid, at the tail end of the title’s run.

-RG

Tentacle Tuesday: Secrets, Both Sinister and Domestic

Random fact of the day: in Mandarin Chinese, secret is “mimi”, whereas in French “mimi” means something like “cute”. Today’s post is not cute, but it is very much about secrets – DC secrets, to be more precise.

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Secrets of Haunted House no. 14 (Oct-Nov 1978). Cover by Mike Kaluta.

The original art for this cover feels a little less cluttered:

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Taking a peek at the insides, we will find that they have little to do with the cover, but tentacles are still present. The Discovery is scripted by Jay L. Zilber, pencilled by Juan Ortiz, and inked by Vince Colletta:

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Tentacles also rudely intrude in Selina, a story scripted by Nicola Cuti and elegantly illustrated by Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith

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The thing about masks was too topical to not include.

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Secrets of Haunted House no. 29 (October 1980), cover by Mike Kaluta.

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Secrets of Haunted House no. 36 (May 1981), cover pencilled by Rich Buckler and inked by Dick Giordano.

Beware the Sea Hag, the cover story,  is scripted by Carl Wessler and drawn by Wade Hampton:SecretsofHauntedHouse36-bewareoftheseahag

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But, wait, this is not what the Sea Hag normally looks like! This is more like it:

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Popeye the Sailor no. 73 (August 1964), cover by Bud Sagendorf. I wonder if the Sea Hag realises how much spinach reduces under heat.

Shifting to another sort of secrets (these are sinister rather than haunted), we have another tentacle apparition —

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The Monster of Death Island is scripted by Maxene Fabe and drawn by Ruben Yandoc (i.e. Rubeny). It was published in Secrets of Sinister House no. 11 (April 1973).

This story, a sort of take on Bluebeard, is well worth reading, for the plot as well as the stunning art. I don’t want to reveal spoilers – you can read it here.

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Since we’re discussing secrets, I might as well throw in The House of Secrets… I will willingly admit that I have the hardest time keeping track of which is which.

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House of Secrets no. 101 (October 1972), cover by Mike Kaluta. This could have been a Mike Kaluta Tentacle Tuesday!

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From House of Secrets no. 100 (September 1972). This page of Abel’s Fables is by Lore Shoberg.

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Cain & Abel by Sergio Aragonés, printed in House of Secrets no. 103 (December 1972).

∼ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Sea Breezes

« Il vente — C’est le vent de la mer qui nous tourmente… »

Yesterday, I finished reading an excellent book by French author Pierre Mac Orlan, best known for Quai des brumes (Port of Shadows), written in 1927 and transformed into a movie in 1938. In other words, a while ago! The title of the novel I joyously devoured is Le chant de l’équipage (1918), and it’s a grand tale of swashbuckling adventure on the high seas. Well, actually it’s a lot more complex than that, and it’s beautifully written. As it’s in the public domain, you can read it online here (but in French only, I’m afraid). As I’m still digesting scenes from the novel, so to speak (no, the équipage did not encounter an octopus on its journey), my mind’s eye is focused on the far-away sea… so today’s Tentacle Tuesday has been rerouted from its original concept into everything nautical. Let’s spend a little time inhaling the healthy sea-breeze, in a world of handsome ships and the people who make them sail.

Perhaps the following story does not depict your standard encounter with an octopus… but it’s indubitably a seafaring tale. The Eyes, illustrated by Pete Tumlinson, was published in Astonishing no. 30 (February 1954, Atlas):

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In the next page, the octopus-balls steal a lot of sunglasses (their discovery that ears are needed to wear glasses is off-panel, though).

Monsters from a Thousand Fathoms, scripted by Carl Wessler and illustrated by the Redondo Studio (RG: with a heavy dose of E.R. Cruz), was published in The Unexpected no. 185 (May-June 1978, DC):

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Ads endeavouring to put the viewer into the shoes of an action-type he-man to sell some nonsense is nothing new. And yet, through this hackneyed jungle, sometimes a glimmer of real excitement comes through:

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An ad published in The Marvel Family no. 60 (June 1951, Fawcett). Never mind the Cola (it’s still around, incidentally), but that fight scene was pretty well orchestrated, if you ask me!

Those of us who like to dream of adventure, but preferably from the comfort of our own homes, I have this strip:

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You can read all about the comic strip The Tracy Twins by Dik Browne in a lovely article from Hogan’s Alley.

Since the aforementioned The Tracy Twins got its wings in a colour supplement of monthly scouting magazine Boys’ Life in 1952, I will now smoothly segue into a related topic, or a bit of warning, if you like.

If you start out as a wide-eyed kid in search of sea-faring thrills, and meet an octopus, just like this:

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An issue of Adventures for Boys (December 1954, Bailey Enterprises).

You might end up, many years down the road, growing up to be, well… a little peculiar, shall we say.

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I’m sure several parts of that 25-point check-list for sexual normalcy involves cephalopods. This is Men vol. 2 no. 8 (Aug. 1953, Atlas). Cover by Robert Emil Schulz.

And if that wasn’t sufficient, the same doctor has further advice for his readers in this slightly subsequent issue:

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Men vol. 2 no. 11 (Nov. 1953, Atlas). Cover by Robert Emil Schulz.

∼ ds