All artwork credits for the SENSATIONs were double checked by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr.
Cover: (Sinister Jack-in-the-box frightening man who’s dropping money) – Joe Giella ?
“Sinister Jack-in-the-Box” (Frank Giacoia)
“The Last Dream!” (Carmine Infantino + Frank Giacoia / Sy Barry ?)
“Man into Frog” (Mort Drucker) – half-pager
“Queen of the Snows!” (Alex Toth + Sy Barry, signed)
“Ghost Habits” (John Giunta ?) – half-pager
“Lucky Horseshoes” (???) – half-pager
It’s only three stories and a lot of ads in this second DC horror book (the first being HOUSE OF MYSTERY #1). All of the stories are 8 pages long, though.
Frank Giacoia’s art in “Sinister Jack-in-the-Box” reminds me of Bob Forgione (of Charlton’s THE THING fame). The plot about a magic toy granting and fulfilling wishes (but to good-hearted people only!) is kiddie stuff. When a gangster gets his hands on the (not in the least) “sinister” Jack-in-the-Box, he runs in front of a truck – diving for a wallet filled with play money. The irony! Ca-ripes! Is this DC HORROR? Mild-mannered morale plays? Can’t wait to see more…
Artwork’s nice in “The Last Dream!”, a run-of-the-mill family curse story. Frederic Beaumont tries to outrun it, but will be killed like all of his ancestors before him. That’s not what I call suspense…
The three half-page fillers are accounts of folklore and are executed in the sloppiness these features usually are presented. Nothing new here.
So let’s turn to the highpoint of this issue – an Alex Toth “Johnny Peril” episode called “Queen of the Snows!”.
Told in first person (by Johnny) we embark on a mountain climb to Mount Subara. Ruled by the beautiful but cruel ice phantom Subara, many mountaineers meet their untimely death. Only Johnny Peril returns from the summit, having met the fiend and managed to escape.
Fairly entertaining read. I like that they work in the native belief that mountains are personalized entities. (Story’s posted on FIFTIES HORROR, click splash or title …)
Cover: (Huge green spectre commanding man to stab captain-like character) – Carmine Infantino ? + Frank Giacoia ?
“The Wheel of Fate!” (Carmine Infantino ? + Frank Giacoia ?)
“New Year Superstitions” (Mort Drucker) – half-pager
“I Was King of the Moths!” (Alex Toth + Sy Barry)
“Spiritual Doubles” (Mort Drucker) – half-pager
“The Sands of Doom!” (Carmine Infantino + Frank Giacoia)
“Noisy Ghosts” (Mort Drucker) – half-pager
Cover refers to first story. The character in the splash of the last story looks like copied from the Jack-in-the-Box on the first cover. Thrifty kind of approach to art.
Advertising is taking up MORE space in this issue. Instead of three stories 8 pages long, they cut down every story to 7.66 pages. Meaning there’s an ad at the end of every story! Cheeky. And a bit annoying, really.
Allegedly the art credits for the first story have been pulled from a reprint of “The Wheel of Fate!”. Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. however is not that convinced we’re dealing with Carmine Infantino here… and if you compare with the last story “The Sands of Doom!” (also credited to Infantino) you’ll wonder if this can be the same artist.
Issue begins with a real clunker of a story: “The Wheel of Fate!” is ridiculous in a hair-raising way. Archeologist Edgar Preston discovers an ancient wheel-drawing depicting a man’s life in visual episodes. The man looks like Preston and soon events take place like pictured in the scroll – however fantastic they may be! Like being cast away on an island or the murder of a lighthouse keeper who built himself a lighthouse in the desert. Where Preston traveled on purpose to avoid meeting a lighthouse keeper, because the scroll foretold he’d be killing a lighthouse keeper! You gotta be f…… kidding me!!! That’s DC’s idea of a twist ending???
So don’t read ancient comics/ scrolls, kiddies. They’re BAD for you!
Next “Johnny Peril” episode awaits us with the promising “I Was King of the Moths!”. Lovely art by Toth and Barry again, but the story defies belief. Johnny Peril travels to the Lost Caverns in the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky, accompanied by Donna Rome. Searching for her missing father, they encounter a species of giant moths. Johnny manages to kill the attacking king moth, but is captured by the queen moth to be her next king. They escape by passing through a cavern wherein flames shoot out of the ground, scorching the pursuing moths.
O my. A moth making a man the new king moth. Good thing Johnny escaped in time (by luckily passing a cavern where “flames shoot up from holes in the ground”, as Donna explains). Else we would have been in for some unsavory insect sodomy. (Click splash above or title to read.)
“The Sands of Doom!” is special insofar as the above mentioned Jack-in-the-Box is the narrator of this story! DC HORROR hosted by toys?! Harhar.
And please notice that the narrating Jack from this issue comes straight out of last issue’s
lead story … huh … weird. I wonder if DC editors toyed with the idea of a Jack-in-the-Box host character.
But didn’t follow through with that concept.
The plot is so addlebrained it’s fun! An African prince by the name of Marapai is born under the flight of the Tali bird. Which means that wherever on earth another Tali bird is circling over a newborn child, these two humans are destined to kill each other – should they ever meet in life. And strange as it is, another Tali bird is seen over “a large eastern city” in the US. So two complete strangers from completely different worlds are commanded by story “logic” to stage a duel to the death. We throw in: An elephant stampede, a unique flower called “Xoru”, a traveling sideshow and a murderous showdown in a greenhouse.
Ach, go read it. It’s posted right HERE.
One of the most sappy horror stories I’ve ever encountered – and that is saying a lot! DC HORROR might be fun yet…
Cover: (Man staring in horror at his left-hand fingers who come alive and threaten him) – Murphy Anderson
“Fingers of Fear!” (Carmine Infantino + Joe Giella)
“A Guide to Ghostly Behavior” (Mort Drucker) – one-pager
“The Beast That Walked Like a Man” (Gil Kane + Frank Giacoia)
“The Ferry Was Waiting!” (John Giunta) – two-pager
“Superstitions About Spiders” (Morris Waldinger ?) – half-pager
“The Demon in the Mirror!” (Alex Toth + Sy Barry)
Wacky, wacky, wacky cover. Those “Fingers of Fear!” are nothing less than hilarious. One of the all-time highs of pre-code horror art (or one of the all-time lows, depending how you look on it!). I think it’s pathetic – in a charming way!
The story itself is fun, of course. What can go wrong with killing fingers? Still impossible to kill yourself by holding just your nose, but who’s complaining? 10 out of 10 points for plot absurdness. We post it HERE.
“The Beast That Walked Like a Man” is about a circus-performer turning were-panther. Driven by his animal instincts he starts killing off his rivals – until he is hunted down. Hmmm, rather run-of-the-mill stuff here.
First appearance (of 3) in DC’s pre-code horror for comic book VIP Gil Kane – who created the Silver Age GREEN LANTERN, the famous SPIDER-MAN anti-drug story in 1971 and one of the first “graphic novels” ever (HIS NAME IS… SAVAGE in 1968).
“The Demon in the Mirror!” is a LAST contribution by Toth, sadly. He leaves DC and moves over to Standard Comics, enhancing their line of romance, horror, science fiction and war books for the next two years. The “Johnny Peril” feature will go on for seven more installments, though.
About the story: Johnny Peril helps apprehend „deadly“ Don Domingo, a killer who employed voodoo magic in his crimes. Domingo can escape from death row by stepping through a mirror and banishing Peril into the prison world. Peril has to do some quick thinking, because the guards plan to execute him instead of the cunning criminal.
Gorgeous looking and gripping story; posted in our special section. This is a very satisfactory issue of SENSATION COMICS. And it’s the last issue of SENSATION COMICS. The DC editors are pushing the horror look-and-feel and decree a title change to SENSATION MYSTERY.
Cover: (Couple discovers giant footprint in the sand while eyes are watching out of a black thicket behind) – Gil Kane + Murphy Anderson
“Nightmare Island!” (Carmine Infantino + Sy Barry)
“Vengeance of the Invisible Men!” (Murphy Anderson)
“Horror in the Lake!” (Frank Giacoia + Sy Barry, signed)
“Beware The Black Cat!” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager
The cover reminds me eerily of that MAD #6, but it’s earlier! So if anyone copied from anyone, it was Harvey Kurtzman from Gil Kane + Murphy Anderson! MAD #6 came out a full year later.
Nice artwork in “Nightmare Island!”, the title story. Test pilot Larry Mangrum pushes his plane “through the uncanny speed barrier at 1500 miles-per-hour”. He crash-lands in another dimension. An island populated by giant frog beings, where he meets two other missing pilots.
Finally a DC HORROR story which stays mysterious, which is nice for a change. Hopefully the book isn’t called Sensation MYSTERY for nothing. It’s posted!
“Vengeance of the Invisible Men!” offers a wonderful splash and a quite entertaining tale about invisible invaders called “Trogs”: Robert Marley comes into possession of magic glasses, which make him see the invisible „Trogs“. The trogs are causing deadly accidents all over the country and try to wipe out the human race. Temporarily looking like a trog, Marley can destroy the invisibility ray and saves mankind.
Components of this story (magic glasses, invisible invaders) can be found in other stories from other companies. But’s it’s another valid suspense yarn.
Johnny Peril is attacked by a horde of weird caterpillar monsters in “Horror in the Lake!”. He has to flee out of a hotel where everybody else (except a mandatory woman for “eye-candy”) has been killed by the worm-like beings already.
DC can do action horror! Quel surprise. That’s the first DC HORROR issue I like (and don’t have to go into my wailing banshee act).
Cover: (Human-shaped fog emerging from flask in laboratory attacking man who fires a gun at it) – Murphy Anderson + Sy Barry
“The Spectre in the Flame!” (Murphy Anderson + Sy Barry)
“Best Foot Forward…” (Mort Drucker) – half-pager
“War of the Toy Soldiers!” (Irwin Hasen + Bernard Sachs) – two-pager
“The Doorway to Evil!” (Carmine Infantino + Sy Barry)
“Lucky Break” (Mort Drucker) – half-pager
“Unusual Ghost Haunts!” (Mort Drucker) – one-pager
“The Screaming Death!” (Frank Giacoia + Sy Barry, signed)
For the second time (and all of SM’s run), the cover features a byline above the title SENSATION MYSTERY, reading: “This is the dark doorway to”… ending in the Superman/DC logo. I guess this should read “This is the dark doorway to”… SENSATION MYSTERY, but “This is the dark doorway to”… Superman/DC comics makes much more sense. Haha.
“The Spectre in the Flame!” – yeah. It’s beyond me why anybody would even try to SHOOT FOG, but, hey, why not, if both have their fun and nobody gets hurt…
Have to correct myself, as the following row of panels proves. Smoke CAN be hurt – when it comes fresh out of the flame! Remember that, kiddies, might come in handy…
Wacky, wacky, wacky story, haven’t told you the plot yet: The lawyer Preston Zandan dabbles with the occult at night and conjures a smoke-shaped spirit out of every fire that’s lighted. The spirit follows him around like a puppy, while Zandan tries to dispose of it. He is able to kill it with silver bullets.
Nonsense aside, I’ll just show you the twist ending. Gotta see this to believe it:
Why is Preston flying through space like a superhero all of a sudden?!?!?
I give up, I don’t wanna know. Next, please!
“War of the Toy Soldiers!” is a clever two page story: Retired general Roger Fielding loves to play with his toy armies and dies of exhaustion. He walked in his sleep and played at night, too, you know? One ratio-twist I can live with!
Skip over this story right now:
“The Doorway to Evil!” presents great artwork by the team of Carmine Infantino + Sy Barry, but is NO horror story, not even mystery: Steve Davis inherits the hotel „Fortuna“ and discovers a secret 13th floor, filled with symbols of evil and bad luck. Accidents start to happen; a streak of bad luck hits the hotel. In the end all turns out well, because an investor buys the place for a million dollars.
“The Doorway to Evil!” ends on a happy note and feels very much like a romance comic (see pic just below):
We should probably look out for the team of Carmine Infantino + Sy Barry. Apart from Alex Toth (who’s left the series three months before) these guys deliver the best-looking pages for DC HORROR. So far.
The Jonny Peril feature is done by Frank Giacoia + Sy Barry again. “The Screaming Death!” is a crime story:
The mad sound engineer and murderer Bryan Anson escapes from prison and locks up Johnny Peril. Anson plans to kill Peril by amplifying the noises he makes. At the showdown in a terrarium Anson is bitten by a poisonous snake and perishes.
Story is posted on my other website WAVE OF CRIME.
Well, SENSATION MYSTERY #111 is a unique horror book – because it offers no horror!
Cover: (Mummy operating gear levers shocking to life second mummy while bound man watches in horror) – Gil Kane + John Giunta
“Death Has Five Guesses!” (Frank Giacoia + Sy Barry, signed)
“The Man Who Cried Werewolf!” (John Giunta, signed)
“Crawling Cure” (Mort Drucker) – half-pager
“Errand Ghosts” (Mort Drucker) – one-pager
“The Tattooed Terror!” (Carmine Infantino + Sy Barry)
Johnny Peril gets the cover spot and will be the leading story from now on till the last issue of SENSATION MYSTERY (four more). And it’s a long ten-page story, a concept that rival publisher Fawcett is using for its horror books.
“Death Has Five Guesses!” is quite a crackpot fantasy tale: „Master adventurer“ Johnny Peril is trapped inside a mansion with living dummies. He encounters actor Karl Kandor who wants to exchange his old body for Peril’s young one by mind transfer. This is all nonsense, but lavishly illustrated.
You have to acknowledge that SENSATION MYSTERY looks way better than the sister book HOUSE OF MYSTERY.
“The Man Who Cried Werewolf!” is a clever title for a horror story. It ends right there. The rest is the usual DC HORROR hogwash topped with a ludicrous ratio-twist. Mobbing at “the Academy of Supernatural Science”.
Three students rival for leading the class. Monica has found a formula to turn a man into a werewolf. Her boyfriend Dale drinks it, nothing happens. Until later. Supposedly. Turns out he is the victim of a cruel hoax by jealous friend Hilton. Let’s show you the inane climax in four panels:
Well, has she found a formula or hasn’t she?! Wouldn’t Monica know up front? Allegedly “micro-organisms change their form radically” (on page 2). I would like to change into a werewolf, travel back in time and visit the offices of DC Comics.
Third and last story (because of the long first) is “The Tattooed Terror!”, offering a nice splash to begin with. But it’s a clear-cut crime story, albeit a weird one: Richard Forman made a fortune with counterfeit money, but let his partner Burt Jorgens go to prison. Years later Jorgens is released and stalks Forman by tattooing him in his sleep with symbols foreboding strange accidents. Finally confronting Forman, Jorgens … nah, I won’t spoiler it. You can read it on WAVE OF CRIME.
Cover: (Huge red spectre shouting warning at Johnny Peril running away from him) – Carmine Infantino + John Giunta
“The End of Death” (Jerry Grandenetti + Frank Giacoia)
“The Sea Girl!” (Jim Mooney + Bernard Sachs)
“Lantern in the Rain!” (Irwin Hasen) – two-pager
“Legacy of Horror!” (Murphy Anderson + Sy Barry)
Hey, it’s a next cover featuring Johnny Peril! Who’s named “Peril” anyway? With a name like that you’re bound to run into danger. And end up in a comic book…
The lead story “The End of Death” kicks off with an involuntarily comical splash – a man fumbling with death! The awkwardness of the pose hints at a new artist in DC HORROR’s line-up. Please welcome Jerry Grandenetti. Not a bad artist at all, but limited in his ways and prone to exaggerating bodily postures and facial expressions.
It’s a crime story, given the usual DC HORROR hogwash treatment. I refuse to delve deeper into it.
Can’t stop shaking my head after reading “The Sea Girl!” – here’s my attempt of summing up the story:
Jim Spencer is marooned on an enchanted island. He lives in the company of an undine, a dryad and a sylph.
Spencer falls in love with Celia, the mermaid. She offers him treasures if he leaves her, because the price for their love will be her becoming human. Spencer chooses Celia and they live happily ever after.
The dryad and the sylph explain that everything has been a masquerade to shock Celia out of believing she is an undine.
This leaves me kinda dumbfounded. I keep staring at that hair tonic ad just below! Is THIS the true message of the story? My brain is starting to melt…
“Legacy of Horror!” confirms a familiar pattern:
7 pages of horror followed by an annulling 8th page washing everything down the drain.
Haunted house, heir, millions for the taking, drive him insane, crooked lawyer, rigging up a television set with spooky movies, of course, of course, why not. I believe, I believe!
Most fun I had with this issue was the following SUPERBOY advertisement for drilling youngsters at air rifle shooting (“Learn to shoot your rifle properly”). Ah, yes. Guns don’t kill people. But they sure help a lot. I feel like joining right NOW!
Cover: (Giant bird’s claw coming down on the cowering Johnny Peril firing his gun at it) – Gil Kane + Frank Giacoia
“The Haunted Diamond” (Jerry Grandenetti + Frank Giacoia)
“Death Knock!” (Mort Drucker) – half-pager
“The Return of Cagliostro!” (Gene Colan + ?)
“Hazel Magic!” (Mort Drucker) – half-pager
“The Ghost Snowman” (Mort Drucker + Joe Giella)
“Beware After Dark!” (Carmine Infantino ? + Joe Giella)
Another nice cover featuring Johnny Peril and a first-person lead story as well: “The Haunted Diamond” is a charming fantasy tale about plunging into a dangerous diamond world and being stalked by diamond creatures. But no horror, no siree…
Presenting you with a typical DC HORROR half-page filler you’ll find in every one of their books, drawn by Mort Drucker:
“The Return of Cagliostro!” had been attributed to Manny Stallman, but it’s very clearly a hidden Gene Colan gem (as Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. had no trouble spotting). Nice surprise! One of the first jobs he is doing for DC! And a fun story as well: Bruce Clark is researching the life of count Cagliostro. A clever impostor visits him and tries to steal the Cagliostro foundation’s money.
Alas, also no horror story.
“The Ghost Snowman” allows filler artist Mort Drucker to express himself on four pages, probably inked by Joe Giella. Eric Wright lets his business partner fall to death on a mountain slope. Back in the US Wright is haunted by a living snowman seeking revenge. It is, however, the victim’s brother in a clever disguise.
I can’t resist a snowman horror story, I love it. Although there’s a hilariously mind-boggling ratio-twist at the end. Made me laugh.
That’s a very big question mark for art by Carmine Infantino in “Beware After Dark!”, but we don’t know any better. Whoever put THAT story in a DC HORROR book. It is truly a horror story! Amazing.
Mrs. Dutton’s cat Wendy is in reality a shape-shifting alien from the planet Deneb. At night it leaves the house and goes on a killing spree to decimate human life.
Huh? Not bad for DC. What’s happening? Is this the spring-time dawn of a new era? We’ll be on the lookout!
We present both tales in our ‚Stories‘ section, just click the miniature splash pages …
Cover: (Couple descending flight of stairs and falling into nothingness) – Gil Kane + Frank Giacoia
“The Phantom Castle!” (Jerry Grandenetti + Sy Barry)
“Stairways of Destiny…” (Mort Drucker) – half-pager
“How to Avoid A Witch!” (Mort Drucker) – one-pager
“Vengeance of the Sea King!” (Carmine Infantino + Bernard Sachs)
“Images of Death!” (Mort Drucker) – one-pager
“The Half-Lucky Charm!” (Gil Kane + Bernard Sachs, signed)
“The Giant in the Swamp!” (Murphy Anderson)
Issue leads off with a nice cover and the corresponding Johnny Peril story “The Phantom Castle!”, executed again by Jerry Grandenetti with Sy Barry doing the inks. When Gloorie castle is transported from Scotland to the US, a stolen crown is hidden in the floor. Johnny Peril investigates and is confronted with three hooded henchmen posing as ghosts.
It’s well-constructed suspense-mystery-action tale, told by Johnny Peril in first person.
“Vengeance of the Sea King!” offers a beautiful splash and great artwork throughout. Story, however, is the usual DC HORROR ratio-twist hogwash!
(We post it anyway, click to read.)
Crew members impersonate Neptune and his sons to make a murderer come forward and confess his crime.
Makes you wonder why no DC writers hired with the FBI and started solving real crimes! Seems to work so well.
“The Half-Lucky Charm!” is a nice looking, but inane four-page story which sounds more like a filler: A man comes into possession of a half good-luck charm and makes some strange experiences: He inherits half his uncle’s estate and falls in love with a woman in a half-white and half-black costume, learning only half her name and address.
“The Giant in the Swamp!” is an adventure-crime-drama tale and it runs like this, believe it or not: Archeologist Steve Dexter discovers a hidden island of giant Indians/ Native Americans and their gold treasure in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. He is being followed by three gangsters who attack and plan to rob him. A hermit comes to Dexter’s rescue.
Yaaaawwn. What’s that? There’s an advertisement just below the story:
Holy cow! Exciting! Turn on the telly! I don’t hafta read these “comic” books anymore…
Cover: (Wind-up toys in attack mode marching against frightened couple in the background) –
Carmine Infantino + Bernard Sachs
“The Toy Assassins!” (Gil Kane + Frank Giacoia)
“Clocks of Doom!” (Mort Drucker) – half-pager
“The Phantom Enemy” (Carmine Infantino + Sy Barry)
“The Census Taker!” (John Giunta) – two-pager
“Shuddery Shadows” (Mort Drucker) – one-pager
“Dead Man’s Diary” (Murphy Anderson)
Last issue of DC’s long lasting SENSATION series.
And a last title spot for Johnny Peril who is quite the ladies’ man! I can reveal all now. There’s always a different woman on his arm, in “The Toy Assassins!” it’s lovely young actress Jill Florian.
They search for a toy to buy for her nephew and then this happens:
Is it just me or do I smell sexual symbolism here? Jack and Jill (sorry: John and Jill) are getting all excited about each other “toys” and “rest” in a giant doll house?! To do what exactly? Huh?!
Then a life-size “toy executioner” comes for Johnny, probably wanting to castrate him for desecrating the toy department.
But, no, an army of toy soldiers invades the store and steals a priceless necklace on display. How in hell will DC writer ever resolve that phantasmagoria? Easy as pie.
Johnny made the toy soldiers up! All the action never happened, but Peril claims it did. Why? To give the real murderer a false sense of security (?!?), because he returns to the scene of the crime and manages to arrest the evildoer!
Schizophrenic art painter Gene Dyer creates replicas of his paintings as Gardner Dell. He leaves poisoned medicine for the copycat, but kills only himself. “The Phantom Enemy” treads along so dull and foreseeable that I almost quit reading. But the story picks up at the end and goes out on a tragic note. That and the nice artwork by Carmine Infantino and Sy Barry make it worth posting.
“The Census Taker!” is a rare genuine DC horror story (if only two pages long) about death making the rounds in a clever disguise.
“Dead Man’s Diary” is the last story – an absurd mystery-drama with our beloved DC ratio-twist: Richard Prentiss is confronted with unusual occurrences. Behind those is his brother who wants to drive Prentiss insane. O no, o no, o no.
Make it stop, now! And it stopped…
That was the last issue of DC‘ long-running SENSATIONS series.
Better take a look at the statistics for SENSATION COMICS / SENSATION MYSTERY.
I counted 32 full-length stories (of which 7 again are told in first person). The artists’ contribution table will look chaotic now, because pens and inks are almost always divided up. Well, it reads like this:
Carmine Infantino 10 with inkers Giacoia, Barry (each 4), Giella and Sachs (each 1)
Murphy Anderson 5 with inker Sy Barry (2)
Frank Giacoia 4 with inker Sy Barry (3)
Alex Toth 3 with inker Sy Barry (3)
Gil Kane 3 with inkers Giacoia and Sachs (each 1)
Jerry Grandenetti 3 with inkers Giacoia (2) and Barry (1)
Jim Mooney 1 with inker Bernard Sachs
Gene Colan 1 with inker Bernard Sachs ?
Mort Drucker 1 with inker Joe Giella
John Giunta 1 solo (hey!)
The SENSATIONS are clearly a team effort by Carmine Infantino, Sy Barry and Frank Giacoia mostly.