« I don’t know what the hell I published. I never read the things. » — Stanley P. Morse
In the sinister wake of Warren Publishing‘s success with Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, old-school fly-by-night 1950s comics publisher Stanley P. Morse (Aragon Magazines, Gillmor Magazines, Medal Comics, Media Publications, S. P. M. Publications, Stanmor Publications, and Timor Publications…) dusted off some of his old pre-Code chillers in the late 1960s and early 1970s in black and white magazines such as Shock (15 issues), Chilling Tales of Horror (11 issues), Ghoul Tales (5 issues) and Stark Terror (5 issues). It certainly wasn’t all junk: after all, Morse had published Weird Tales of the Future and Mister Mystery, with their Basil Wolverton and Bernard Baily classics…
Unlike Eerie Publications’ grey-toned and blood-and-gore-ified reprints, these are, as far as I know, unretouched, not to mention decently printed.
Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t Kurt Schaffenberger just about the unlikeliest pick of cover artist for a pre-code horror anthology? Sure, he fit in nicely with ACG’s gentle moral fable aesthetic, but aren’t you just expecting the Man of Steel or The Big Red Cheese to swiftly sweep in, catching the damsel-in-distress before the A Train smooshes her?
« A slithering tentacle now seizes Billy, and a shuddery voice pours into his ears! »
Previously, we’ve talked about Captain Marvel (the original, the best, the… dare I say, unique!) in a post about his co-creator C.C. Beck. Today, I’ll concentrate on the World’s Mightiest Mortal’s exploits with all manner of tentacled monsters.
« When I looked at the first Captain Marvel story, I knew at once that here was a story worth illustrating. It had a beginning, a carefully constructed development of plot and characters leading to a climax and an ending, and nothing else. There was no pointless flying around and showing off, no padding, no “Look, Ma, I’m a superhero!” Out of 72 panels, Captain Marvel appeared in 18, or one-fourth. »
The green, proudly toupée-d fellow appears in the opening panel of Terror Stalks the World’s Fair, but as it turns out, he has nothing to do with the rest of the story, really.
The cover story features an actual kraken with evil, myopic eyes! I rejoiced.
In an interesting plot twist, it is revealed that gigantic vampire bats and the Kraken (who has the gift of speech, sounding like somebody’s rather eccentric uncle) have struck up a partnership.
While we’re at it, Captain Marvel Battles the Legend Horror is a perfect demonstration of a point C.C. Beck made well:
« Billy Batson was the real hero of all the Captain Marvel stories, from the first issue until the last. Without Bill Batson, Captain Marvel would have been merely another overdrawn, one-dimensional figure in a ridiculous costume, running around beating up crooks and performing meaningless feats of strength like all the other heroic figures of the time who were, with almost no exceptions, cheap imitations of Superman. In fact, I have always felt that flying figures in picture form are silly and unbelievable, and I would much sooner have never drawn them, but the publisher insisted on them. Most of the time Captain Marvel’s ability to fly had little or nothing to do with the plots of the stories in which he appeared. Billy Batson started every story and ended every story. In between, Captain Marvel appeared when he was needed, disappeared when he was not needed. The stories were about Billy Batson, not about the cavortings of a ridiculous superhero for whom the writers had to concoct new and more impossible demonstrations of his powers for each issue. »
And our last encounter with tentacles for today…
The Invasion From Outer Space, plotted by Otto Binder and drawn by C. C. Beck, offers us lots of cute little alien guys:
Surprise! Happy birthday to Lois Lane artist supreme Kurt Schaffenberger (December 15, 1920 – January 24, 2002), here working under the alias of Lou Wahl, (he was also Jay Kafka, which would have been fitting here!) a popular and entertaining practice at ACG and Marvel. The DC brass were presumably *not* amused by these moonlighting shenanigans. I’m looking at you, “Adam Austin”, “Mickey DeMeo” (aka Joe Gaudioso), “Jay Gavin” and “George Bell”…