Hallowe’en Countdown V, Day 9

« 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.

This is Shock Vol. 2 no 5 (no 10, November, 1970). Edited by Theodore S. Hecht.

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?

To wit: one of Kurt’s fun ACG covers, this is Unknown Worlds no. 43 (Oct.-Nov. 1965, ACG).

-RG

Tentacle Tuesday: With One Magic Word…

« 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.

All C.C. Beck quotes in this post come from An Interview with C.C. Beck conducted in the late 1980s (shortly before Beck’s death in 1989) by the talented Tom Heintjes of Hogan’s Alley.

« 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. »

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« March, ye scalliwag, or I’ll curdle yer giblets! » Follow Captain Marvel’s fine example – don’t forget to hug a tree, folks! Although it will be better if you can find one without spines and prehensile appendages. This  is Whiz Comics no. 5 (May 1940), cover by C. C. Beck. Captain Marvel may “crash through”, but the cover story, « Beautia for President », contains no tentacles whatsoever… just a hypnotically beautiful woman, that some may settle for (not me). You may note that the cover has « number 4 » written on it, but 5 was the number reported to the Copyright Office, so go figure.

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Whiz Comics no. 60 (November 1944), cover by C. C. Beck. Paper tentacles? I think they count! The main story is adorably goofy, in the best Otto Binder tradition… but unfortunately comicbookplus.com has only a seriously blurry scan of this issue (read it here, but it may cause headaches).

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Whiz Comics no. 146 (June 1952), cover by Pete Costanza. Speaking of the latter and quoting (again) from C.C. Beck, « Pete Costanza was the first artist hired to assist me when Fawcett’s comic department started to expand in the latter part of 1940. We later went into partnership, and Pete was in charge of our studio in Englewood, New Jersey, while I operated out of our New York City office. Pete was an established illustrator at an early age, and I learned as much from him about story illustration as he learned from me about cartooning. »

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.

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Terror Stalks the World’s Fair is scripted by Otto Binder and drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger.

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« A sinister mystery hangs over the city! Each night, screams are heard… human screams that gurgle away into deathly silence! » Whiz Comics no. 155 (June 1953), the final issue of Whiz Comics, cover by C.C. Beck.

The cover story features an actual kraken with evil, myopic eyes! I rejoiced.

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Page from Captain Marvel Battles the Legend Horror, scripted by Otto Binder and drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger.

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.

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Poor Kraken must get cold, consuming all those frozen bodies…

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. »

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A terrible end for any creature, even a malevolent one.

And our last encounter with tentacles for today…

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Captain Marvel Adventures no. 65 (September 1946), cover by C. C. Beck.

The Invasion From Outer Space, plotted by Otto Binder and drawn by C. C. Beck, offers us lots of cute little alien guys:

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As usual, they wanna take over the world, but they’re cute, anyway. There’s that toupée again, this time (alien) flesh-coloured! That’s a mighty suggestive tentacle wiggle, Zelog-Zunn Sir.

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Have more time to kill? Visit The World’s Mightiest Mortal, a blog dedicated to the ol’ big red cheese.

~ ds

« I’m going door to door to make you this incredible offer! »

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”…

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This is Unknown Worlds no. 55 (April-May 1967, ACG), one of the final issues of this fine anthology title.

In case you were wondering: Adam Austin was Gene Colan‘s alias, Mickey DeMeo and Joe Gaudioso were Mike Esposito‘s noms de plume, and Jay Gavin and George Bell were pseudonyms respectively favoured by Werner Roth and George Roussos.

PeeWeeColporteur
« Aaahhh!!! Salesmen! »

– RG