Ten months after releasing the AVON HORROR line with EERIE, the editors added a second title: WITCHCRAFT.
Cover: (Devilish fiend rising like a flame from beaker in laboratory and frightening brunette in foreground) – ???
“Heritage of Horror!” (Joe Kubert)
“Devil-Music!” (Gene Fawcette ? + Vince Alascia)
“This Ship Is Doomed!” (Harry Lazarus)
“Vengeance of the Ouanga!” (???)
Cover had been credited to Bernard Baily (possibly) which I don’t believe for a second. I’m guessing at Sid Check. Check did the illustrated inner front cover (the Avon contents page) and signed it. Called in Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. for art spotting assistance and he concurs (insofar as it’s not Baily). He says: “I’d put money on George Roussos for the cover, Tillmann.“
“Heritage of Horror!” is a fun ‘baddie’, in my humble opinion! First I am supplying you with a story synopsis (all of this issue I picked from the forum of Digital Comic Museum): „Julian is an ugly man who wants to paint a beautiful picture. Julian hates a guy who is handsome and married the girl he likes. He paints a picture of the guy getting hit by a car and exactly that happens. He does a painting to make himself handsome and eventually gets married to the woman he’s wanted. The woman finds out what he did, though, and takes care of him.“
I love the way Kubert executes this run-of-the-mill ‘mad art painter meets ugliest man in the world’ tale with panels of pure exaggeration. The emaciated figure of Julian, his rebirth as a muscle-packed gigolo, Vivian’s cry-face and her bodiless spying eyes.
As late as on page 6 it dawned upon me that Julian did not only paint himself beautiful, but painted a… ahem… scene of romance… with him and Vivian – to bed the widow as soon as possible.
You can find the whole story on THOIA – or on my site, FIFTIES HORROR, because I can’t stop laughing at “Heritage of Horror!”.
Ah, by the way, the plot is a variation of a plot… of an EC story… which I can’t find… at the moment… Aarrgggh. Where issit? I’m sure I saw it done as an episode for the HBO show “Tales from the Crypt”… nice one, actually… keep digging… hmm, did I dream this?… There are some stories about paintings having magic power.
Anyway, the finale of both stories is the same: The picture gets damaged – and the face of the man dissolves! Must’ve been illustrated by Jack Davis …
NOW I found it: “Drawn and Quartered” by Davis from TALES OF THE CRYPT #26 (October 1951).
“Devil-Music!” is another baddie, but no fun. It’s crudely illustrated and varies another plot I’ve seen before: “A woman finds some music and plays it on the piano. A man – Mr. Mammon – appears and promises her twenty-five years of fame. She finally finds out she signed a deal with the devil. Another woman ends up with the music. (I do have one complaint about this story. It keeps referring to her as ‚young,‘ yet from the first the way she is drawn makes her look like an older woman, definitely not young.)“
There you have it, even the reader who wrote that synopsis is complaining about the artwork. Artwise I am doubting the credit for Gene Fawcette on pencils here. Jim says it MAY be Fawcette under Alascia’s drowning inks, but it’s extremely hard to decide.
“This Ship Is Doomed!”: We are looking at Harry Lazarus’ first horror job for Avon.
“A ship that has a captain’s daughter on board is said to be doomed. A former captain that died is now a ghost on the ship.“
Trods along horridly for three blah-blah pages, suddenly gets interesting on page 4! Not that bad, took me by surprise. See it on THOIA.
“Vengeance of the Ouanga!” is a very straight and simple curse story: “Bob Grant is a reporter who goes to a French island. He wants to visit Ghost Island but it seems no one wants to take him there. The story of the island is told, including that of the Ouanga monster. The reporter realizes too late he should not have tempted fate.“
Cause the Ouanga monster comes for him! Brrrrr. The horror.
The monster man with that dangling dead man’s arm before his chest really looks quite frightening! Thought this was art by Norman Nodel + Vince Alascia, but Jim is not sure about it. The eyes have it, on THOIA, anyway: “Vengeance of the Ouanga!” posted there.
Cover: (Giant black skull with crossbones floating before yellow background, behind the eye-holes a terrified couple is to be seen) – Gene Fawcette ?
“The Death Tattoo” (Normal Nodel + Vince Alascia, signed)
“The Vampire Puppet” (Edward Goldfarb)
“House to Let” (Sid Check, signed)
“The Northern Horror” (A. Albert + Joe Kubert)
That stunning cover is a pre-code horror masterpiece, although it might have been still better if the artist had left out the people behind the eye-holes. Just a black ‘jolly roger’ before a yellow background! Ha!
“The Death Tattoo” is quite fun, but nothing that special. Circus performer Garth wears a magic symbol on his chest. The “death tattoo” allows him to use the power of hypnotism, but comes with a price. Its wearer is slowly driven insane; and after his death, the tattoo detaches from the body and goes searching for a new victim.
Unusual for an AVON HORROR tale, it is told in first person by Garth’s rival, Jack, who is in line to be the next victim of the eerily floating death tattoo.
The story is very typical for your standard pre-code horror yarn; we post it in our “Stories” section!
“The Vampire Puppet” runs in the same vein (harhar) as the previous story, a nice run-of-the-mill precoder, executed by the underrated Edward Goldfarb.
Puppet master Gravon and his puppet Koko are celebrities. His three assistants are jealous of his success, murder Gravon and go on stage themselves. Koko, however, changes into an avenging vampire puppet and drains the treacherous trio of their life blood.
Story’s is quite cruel, by the way, have a look at our row of teaser panels and see the whole story by clicking it – will lead you to our “Stories” section.
“House to Let” is a next entertaining story, although we face a ‘hybrid’ here – this is science fiction horror: Professor Janney invents a formula to bring dead matter to life. He tries it out in his home laboratory – with horrid success. His house becomes alive and keeps him prisoner. Janney slowly diminishes in size, ready to be absorbed by his murderous home.
This is total hogwash, of course, but still a fun read. See it posted HERE.
Although “The Northern Horror” looks like Joe Kubert art on a first glance, it is clearly not. The unfathomable brain of Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. came up with Kubert inks and pencils by a guy named A. Albert. Albert (of whom no first name is known, except the “A”, obviously) is a phantom artist we came across reviewing FICTION HOUSE HORROR (for more info, click the link).
Albert seems to have exclusively contributed to WINGS, PLANET, JET ACES and GHOST, doing two dozen stories for Fiction House – and no more.
So, what is “The Northern Horror” about? Somewhere in Northern Canada, an expedition in search of Uranium comes across Viking artifacts. Eskimo guide Arnook warns the foreigners of the “Golden Sword of the Spirits”, but some men push on, discover a lost Viking ship and their doom.
The art’s above par in this freezing tale of greed and curses, but fails to rouse my interest. Too straight for me.
Mind you, WITCHCRAFT #2 is not a GOOD horror book, but it kept me smiling throughout. It’s all rather run-of-the-mill, but just above the average – and done with a light touch and pleasant art. I’m surprised NONE of the stories were to be found on the internet. We give you three out of four in our “Stories” section.
Cover: (Torso of wild woman in spidery dress sticking out of spider net, five big red spiders crawling towards the reader) – ???
“The Red Spider!”
“The Thirteenth Clown” (Mort Lawrence, signed)
“Better Off Dead!” (Leonard Starr ? + Vince Alascia, signed)
“The Ghost’s Revenge” (Gerald McCann)
Again a nice and weird cover! Unknown artist. To me, this could be more Gene Fawcette than the last cover. But we do not know.
“The Red Spider!” offers us insect horror. Always welcome, but this tale unwinds quite blandly.
Damon Rankin, an entomologist, collects insects. While on vacation on a small Caribbean island, he comes across a fabled red spider. By killing it, he sets free evil powers.
There’s a fun last page of psychedelia, else the story trots along very run-of-the-mill. Go see it on THOIA.
“The Thirteenth Clown” has an unusual ending. Jacob Rok forged his brother’s testament to take over his circus business. When star performer Marco the clown confronts Rok, he’s being strangled and buried in the woods. But the ghost of Marco keeps performing as the “Phantom Clown”, bringing Rok to justice and supporting new owner Linda.
The wonderful Mort Lawrence takes over the art chores for “The Thirteenth Clown”. This is his one and only horror job for Avon!
Lawrence worked on romance and western features (“Wild Bill Pecos”) for Orbit in the late 1940s; then took root at Avon for two years before heading over to Atlas/Marvel in 1953. We give you his story in our “Stories” section.
Under THIS LINK you’ll find a strange German (!) reprint version of his “Midnight on Black Mountain”: Sorry, there is no English version available online… So I give you this one.
“Better Off Dead!” ushers us into the sports milieu. Boxing champ Georgie Price gets the jitters when dead girl friend Anne starts to haunt him. She distracts him during a prize fight. Georgie dies of brain concussion and Anne leads him away to the afterworld.
All of the stories in this issue seem meshed together from formula variations. A boxer haunted by a curse, the avenging ghost of a clown, the horror of a human spider.
Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. thinks the pencils for this story might be coming from Leonard Starr.
Can “The Ghost’s Revenge” break the mould? First contribution by Gerald McCann for AVON HORROR. Other one is printed in EERIE #11. Very peculiar, illustrative artist. This might be something. But, alas, we wade knee-deep in irony here:
James Kendall is a professional ‘ghost-breaker’, relieving troubled persons from their fear of spooks. He is also the man who embezzles his warden’s fortune. So Kendall throws the young Anne off a cliff to her death – and is furthermore haunted by her ghost.
Well, there is one more twist coming when Kendall is confronted by the girl’s fiancé. But it all adds up to a simple tit-for-tat yarn. Hmmmph. McCann’s art is nice, though. Making the best of it. We post these seven pages in our ‚Stories‘ section HERE.
Cover: (Death-like figure stirring boiling cauldron, man and woman looking distraught from out of the pot) – Alvin Hollingsworth, signed
“The Man Who Bribed Death” (Alvin Hollingsworth, signed)
“The Terrible Face” (Mort Meskin + George Roussos)
“Claws of the Cat” (Harry Lazarus, signed)
“Diary of a Monster!” (Mort Meskin + ?)
Ah, a cauldron motif for the cover!
There are fewer of those than you’d think. Only three spring to my mind instantly: Jack Katz’ bubble tea-like brew as seen on the cover of OUT OF THE SHADOWS #8. And the wonderfully orange glow of the witches’ cauldron on BEWARE! TERROR TALES #8. And, of course, the cruel title page of MISTER MYSTERY #13 – showing us a man’s head in close-up being dumped under in a blood-red fluid. Arrgh.
Well, the Hollingsworth approach to it is as crummy as Hollingsworth likes to get. Everything is out of size and perspective; it’s a very cheap-o cover. But that is the fun of it, innit?
Inside it’s not getting any better! All of the jobs look very hastily done, awkwardly illustrated, o my, o my. Well, Hollingsworth always looks awkward, so let’s start here:
“The Man Who Bribed Death” is again a first-person narrative. And the best one (out of two) in AVON HORROR’S run. Harhar. No, this is actually an impressive story. Newspaper correspondent Robert Avery has a heart condition and only one more day to live. He strikes a bargain with death himself: Avery kills people before their time and gets to stay alive longer. He travels to dangerous spots like war-torn Korea and Red China where life is cheap and death sudden. His luck runs out as he tries to be smuggled out of a disease-stricken city in a coffin.
Lots to like here: First-person narrative is crisply written, story settings in Korea and China are probably unique for horror comics of its time. And Hollingsworth delivers some of his best art ever! We tease you with his depiction of nice nightmare psychedelia – click it to see whole story posted on FIFTIES HORROR (it deserved to be presented there!).
“The Terrible Face”, however, is a weak and almost crappy story. Plastic surgeon Emil Toller is jealous of the handsome Jack Parks. Parks is engaged to lovely Nanette whom Toller plans to marry. When Parks is hurt in a car crash, Toller disfigures his face, driving the man to suicide. The dead man’s misshapen face haunts the surgeon who ends up inheriting his terrible features.
Very bad job on artist Mort Meskin’s part, if you ask me.
And we encounter a weird looking job (too little heads on bodies too big, jeez!) by Lazarus next in “Claws of the Cat”. Story’s an entertaining no-brainer – depicting cruelty to animals! And old women, of course!
Grace and Walter Brock murder his rich aunt Annie for her money. They kill her pet cat, too. After burying the old woman, they find the cat’s body gone. Months later, strange things start to happen: Walter is scratched by an invisible animal, and Grace transforms into a murderous feline.
Straight and fun nonsense revenge horror. See it posted in our “Stories” section!
“Diary of a Monster!” is the next first-person narrative! Offering us an interesting topic – pyromania! I recall an EC story by Reed Crandall (“The Firebug” in CRIME SUSPENSTORIES #26, December 1954), but no more.
John Stark is a firebug. He causes a lot of fires until he is caught red-handed. Stark claims his innocence on behalf of being possessed by a monster inside of him. When Stark commits suicide in his cell, the fire monster indeed breaks loose.
Unusual ending as you see. There really WAS a monster all along responsible for the mayhem. Story closes with morale, a warning, as you can see in the longish panel to the right. Click the flame to see whole story posted in our “Stories” section!
Hmmm, they are really trying to drive a message home, methinks.
Although I like Crandall’s leering maniac face way better!
Let it burn! Let it burn! Heh, heh, heh…
Cover: (Death-like figure stirring boiling cauldron, man and woman looking distraught from out of the pot) – Kelly Freas, signed
Contents Page (Everett Raymond Kinstler, signed)
“The Witch of Shadow Glen!” (Gene Fawcette + Vince Alascia, signed)
“Where Zombies Walk!” (Alvin Hollingsworth, signed)
“The Witch of Death!” (Rafael Astarita, signed)
“The Warlock of Manescu Manse!” (Gene Fawcette ???)
Striking cover by Kelly Freas, it’s painted. Only occurrence in AVON HORROR’S history.
This seems to be the first job by the talented Freas in the comics business. He became a regular for MAD MAGAZINE from their number 31 on (in February 1957) and created (alongside Norman Mingo) many classic covers and images. Have a look at his Wikipedia entry and marvel how much the guy did!
“The Witch of Shadow Glen!” is a moody piece of horror, concentrating on psychological aspects: Bob Franklin is in love with Sonya Granet, who is haunted by a childhood trauma. She thinks she was promised to do the devil’s bidding. During their short marriage, Bob discovers that Sonya indeed is a witch.
“Where Zombies Walk!” features a next amazing splash by Hollingsworth. Story offers mild horror, too, but no surprises: On the Caribbean island of Hondo tourist Jack Carney learns oft the native voodoo belief. The touch of a zombie can heal the sick, but will kill the healthy. Carney pries on a secretive native assembly and witnesses forbidden ceremonies. He gets caught, touched by a zombie and joins the ranks of the undead.
“The Witch of Death!” teeters on the brink of ridiculousness: Tom O’Malley and his wife Alice inherit the Gillespie farm on the New England countryside. They are warned to go there; the place is said to be cursed. Tom and Alice travel there and meet the witch-like neighbor woman. Entering the farmhouse, they are attacked and killed by a cat, a raven and a scarecrow.
“The Witch of Death!” starts off moody like the other two tales before it, but ends on an almost slapsticky note, when the pets start attacking. See some panels here. Story breaks off very abruptly. And again, no surprises, no twist, plot unfolds and closes as laid out in the beginning.
“The Warlock of Manescu Manse!” fits right into the pattern of folkloristic horror. I suspect the same author in all four stories. Young Austrian woman Carla Hanlein is unhappy with the hard country life and hopes for the riches prince Lustveg Manescue has to offer. Her dream comes true, but at a price. She’s married to the prince, but finds out about satanic rituals and murders at court. Given the choice, Carla is initiated as a witch and terrorizes the countryside together with her demonic husband. Carla’s siblings come looking for her and bring down the devilish rule of prince Lustveg. By poking a burning piece of firewood into his right eye. True.
WITCHCRAFT #5 all in all is a nice-looking horror book, alas, rather suspense-free. We give you the lead story (“The Witch of Shadow Glen!”) in our appendix section. However, the whole issue is posted in one big scroll on the blog “Destination Nightmare”. If you wanna see more …
Cover: (Succession of giant floating skulls scaring a man downhill) – Alvin Hollingsworth, signed
Contents Page (Everett Raymond Kinstler, signed)
“Monster of Sarno Gulch!” (Norman Nodel + Vince Alascia, signed)
“African Horror!” (Harry Lazarus, signed)
“Mystery of the Moaning Statue!” (Alvin Hollingsworth, signed)
“Hero of the Venus Flyer!” (Gene Fawcette)
Last issue; none of the stories were posted on the internet so far. Nothing good here? We’re about to find out! It’s a nice cover, by the way, I like the brownish colors and the touch of psychedelia.
“Monster of Sarno Gulch!” feels distilled from the plots of last issue’s stories. A man witnesses forbidden voodoo rituals where men turn into beasts by drinking a magic potion. The man, George, returns to the US carrying a vial of the stuff. He marries Elaine, keeps his secret for himself, but she finds out that he can change into a beast and yaddayaddayadda …
In the end, George and Elaine hunt together: a reporter who was after the story!
And the next nosey American has the hots for eavesdropping on native rituals: “African Horror!” introduces us to Peter Dane who comes into possession of a potion that turns men into leopard-like beasts. Dane gets addicted to the stuff and even gives it to his wife Alice (another Alice). She does not go wild, though (sexual symbolism?), just faints. Peter is ready to kill his useless and lethargic wife, but is pushed down a rockface by the spirit of the native chief.
Lazarus art is oftentimes fun in its trashiness. And can be downright scary, if you’re a kid. I guess.
Finally a new plot in “Mystery of the Moaning Statue!”, a contribution to the horror subgenre of mad art painters and sculptors. Sculptress Rhoda Prahar is romanced by the twins Paul and Alan Ryan. She likes them both and models a warrior statue after the likeness. Alan manages to win her heart, but jealous Paul kills his brother and marries Rhoda a year later. Since Rhoda is of Hungarian heritage, her statues harbor the souls of the dead. When Paul develops a persecution mania, he strangles Rhoda, but is attacked and killed by the statue of his dead twin brother.
We chose to post THIS story in our appendix, because it’s the most original and complex one of the issue.
“Hero of the Venus Flyer!” is a full-blown science fiction story. WITCHCRAFT goes out on a futuristic note … heh, heh.
They obviously had no horror plot left anymore.
(Cover: Whip-wielding blonde in breeches standing before bound skeletal zombie) – Alvin Hollingsworth, signed
“City of the Living Dead!” (Alvin Hollingsworth, signed)
“The Glistening Death” (Norman Nodel + Vince Alascia, signed)
“The Witches Come at Midnight!” (Norman Nodel + Vince Alascia, signed)
“Death Has Many Tongues” (Harry Lazarus, signed)
That is a gorgeous eye-catcher of a cover – and a very unusual one: The lady is clearly in charge here, giving that fiend hell! You wouldn’t expect HER to don a red dress and run away screaming, do ya?
“City of the Living Dead!”- the title story is an insipid, disappointing tale of adventure:
Yucatan, Mexico. A group of explorers discovers mystic Quetana, fabled “City of the Living Dead”. Centuries ago, murderous pirates were banned there by Quetzal, Aztec god of justice, destined to live in agony forever. The explorers are attacked by the zombies, but Quetzal appears and saves those pure of heart amongst them.
Yaaaaawn! Artwise you get Hollingsworth at his… ahm… best. Panels crowded with weird faces and no sense of depth or perspective.
Still wanna see whole story? Can do, mister. Over at Karswell’s superblog “The Horrors of It All” (THOIA).
“The Glistening Death” offers us a mixture of horror and science fiction: A man hides out at his uncle’s swampland mansion and discovers he is a slave to a glistening meat eating alien creature that takes the form of a beautiful woman.
Huh? Sounds weird. Is weird. Too arbitrary for my taste. The heavy art doesn’t get the story off the ground, either. Read it all again on “THOIA”.
So let’s see what those crones have brewed together for us… “The Witches Come at Midnight!” is just as weird as the last tale.
Witches (along with their master Satan himself), converge every night at midnight at the old Rainey farm terrorizing the family. One night when young Joel is attacked by the monsters, his pet rooster „Peter“ arrives and scares off the creatures who think he’s Chanticleer, the fabled rooster.
Some of Nodel/Alascia’s panels are haunting in an awkward way. They’re more droll than terrifying, but this suits perfectly to the narrator’s perspective of the boy. Your spine is tingled with a sense of supernatural thrills, but it doesn’t build up to a shocking payoff.
“The Witches Come at Midnight!” goes out with that proverbial whimper, not the bang we hoped for. Showing you an array of panels and invite you over to THOIA to see the weirdness of it all:
“Death Has Many Tongues” is one of pre-code horror’s wacky masterpieces – and one of the best stories ever illustrated by Lazarus.
Slave trader Captain Death (yah, “nomen est omen”, as the romen say, cccchhhhh, the Romans, of course) is captured by the native tribe he uses to prey on. The witch doctor curses him with the heads of the slain growing out of his body. Death tries to cut them off, but the pain drives him insane. He chooses to drown himself in the ocean. See whole story featured on FIFTIES HORROR.
(Cover: Procession of ghostly specters passing blonde woman cowering in alcove) – Tex Blaisdell ?
Very strange book, indeed. We encounter ‘mystery art’ in here, the cover for one. Flipping through this I assumed to see only two stories.
One long and one 4-page “shortie” signed by Goldfarb/Baer in the back. Looking closer you’ll find that two of the usual four stories have no splash pages! They start with the smallest caption header. Someone credited those three to Joe Orlando (possibly) – which we will now look into:
“The Dead Who Walk” (Joe Orlando ?)
“Antagonists from the Grave!” (Joe Orlando ?)
“The Trapped Ego!” (Joe Orlando ?)
“Murder by Geometry” (Edward Goldfarb + Bob Baer, signed)
Ah, cripes! Now I get it. “The Dead Who Walk” IS one long story, broken down into three parts. So it is a special issue; apart from their book-length “Dracula issue” (aka EERIE #12) the only time they went for a longer narrative.
You can read the story (in three parts) at Karswell’s superblog “The Horrors of It All” (THOIA): Part 1 (“The Dead Who Walk”), part 2 (“Antagonists from the Grave!”) and the conclusion in part 3 (“The Trapped Ego!”).
The art feels like that early 1950s work by Orlando/Wood/Check, but I’m inclined to think that it’s Sid Check at work here – and not Joe Orlando. Or could it be Harry Harrison? I’ll do some checking on Check (hah) and call in the grand master of art spotting, Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr.
Jim answered very matter-of-fact and dry: “Both story and frontis are SIGNED Tex Blaisdell!“. He’s right, you hafta look sharp to find lightly scratched letters „TEX“ hidden in the first panels.
And I am guessing that the cover might be Blaisdell as well. So let’s back up and correct the contents listing:
“The Dead Who Walk” (Tex Blaisdell, signed)
“Antagonists from the Grave!” (Tex Blaisdell, signed)
“The Trapped Ego!” (Tex Blaisdell, signed)
“Murder by Geometry” (Edward Goldfarb + Bob Baer, signed)
Tex Blaisdell, by the way, did contribute to Avon’s crime and war books! It’s amazing what you can find out with a bit of thorough research. I was too lazy, see? You ALWAYS should check: What other titles came out in that time at that company – and who filled these?
About the story: Creepy George Bacon has been stalking the lovely Anne, but died in a car crash some time ago. When Anne’s fiancé Kent suddenly dies of no apparent reason, Anne and her brother Jack remember Bacon’s dabbling with black magic.
Jack and physician Dr. French enter a wild chase: Bacon’s ghost spirit (his ego) and that of his criminal brother (ditto deceased) is jumping from body to body, trying to get their hands on Anne.
The spirit of the deceased Kent is still in play, though. He leads our investigators to Bacon’s hide-out and battles Bacon’s ego mano a mano. Kent wins, returns to his body, kisses his Anne – and we have a happy ending, folks! Oh, jeez…
The following “Murder by Geometry” is a detective-crime story. The butler actually gets revealed as the murderer.
(Cover: Ghouls and fiends with skull lanterns dragging along two captive women in torn red dresses) – Alvin Hollingsworth
“Beware of the Undead!” (Norman Nodel + Vince Alascia, signed)
“The Mirror of Death!” (Norman Nodel ? + Vince Alascia ?)
“The Ghost’s Curse!” (Charles Nicholas + ?)
“The Phantom of Philip Hawks” (Alvin Hollingsworth, signed)
“Beware of the Undead!” is a native curse story combined with the also familiar kill-rich-uncle plot!
Trinidad tourist Nat Grear learns of the native lore of the Obeah man, a devil incarnate. There was a man named Tamiko who killed out of pure lust, until he fell to his death in a waterfall. Grear plans to shove his wealthy uncle into the cursed waters, but ends up drowning there himself. He now has all of eternity to spend and suffer along with the original Obeah man.
Nodel/Alascia’s stiff artwork does not grip the reader, only the drowning scenes in the end are mildly interesting. See it posted on “The Horrors of It All” (THOIA).
More entertaining is “The Mirror of Death!” – featuring a nice big splash and a full-page finale! This has seldomly be done in pre-code horror – and most of the times it just serves to fill space! Here, too, but it is nice to behold, anyway.
When on shore-leave sailor Steve Lajos changes into dapper businessman Robert Martin and robs unsuspecting ladies of their jewelry. The vain and arrogant Lajos meets his fate when entering the temple of mirrors, house of seven-armed god Struga. Lajos breaks the mirror which reveals his ugly inner self and is damned to live in the presence of vengeful Struga.
Quick look on THOIA to check it out? Here you go.
Artwise this feels like Nodel/Alascia again, but is not signed. Hmm.
“The Ghost’s Curse!” is surely drawn by the versatile Charles Nicholas (who worked for almost ALL the horror books!).
His clean-cut style is a welcome boost in quality to AVON HORROR’s crummy art. Story’s not that bad, either:
Jarod Parks is secretary to successful classic dancer Mona Travis. Since Parks has gambling debts, he murders Mona and forges her last will. The dancer’s ghost, however, pesters Parks with haunting threats of his punishment after death. When Parks finally dies, he rots away in his grave fully conscious.
Fun part of “The Ghost’s Curse!” is the incessant fury of dead Mona. We’ve seen people being haunted all the time in our beloved horror comics, but Mona’s at it like a nagging wife. Around the clock, so to speak, respectively the greater parts of pages 3 to 5.
And suddenly she’s gone! And Jarod just lies there waiting in his grave. Cursed to never leave his grave. That’s a bit unbalanced, if you ask me. Story to be found on THOIA – click miniature splash to go there.
“The Phantom of Philip Hawks” is one of those cursed-to-sail-the-seven-seas yarns I hate so much. They are all alike!
Young lovers John Allen and Mary Kane set sail for their honeymoon voyage on their own ship, but they have been cursed by John’s rival, Philip. The jealous man wanted to have fair Mary for himself. Philip Hawks’ ghost commandeers the boat and they all perish at sea.
Hollingsworth’s usually shabby art looks very fluent on these pages – with a touch and hint of ‘pop art’ in the making (that last page!). Go see it for yourself. Whole story is posted NOT on THOIA (surprise) but on “Four-Color Shadows”, another long-running blog with wonderful contributions.
(Cover: Red-headed beauty in transparent dress dancing in the moonlight, giant spectre of witch doctor looming behind her) – Everett Raymond Kinstler (signed)
“The Phantom Witch Doctor” (Gene Fawcette + ?)
“The Thing in the Mirror” (Everett Raymond Kinstler, signed)
“Death Came Dancing” (Norman Nodel ?)
“Out of the Deep!” (???)
Beautiful cover by Kinstler with an unusual speech-balloon-like title insert. Looks like someone at the office was too lazy to work this in an elegant way! “Oh, the letters and the background are quite alike colorwise, hmm, I could choose different colors or… just put a big white bubble behind it. Done.”
“The Phantom Witch Doctor” is a tale of revenge. Cruel white men kill for ivory, but the witch doctor’s ghost will have his revenge! Well, no surprises here. A rather mediocre story all in all. Posted on THOIA.
“The Thing in the Mirror” is another very straight, one-dimensional story, hear the synopsis picked from Grand Comics Database. “James murders George to gain Barbara, but is tranformed into a little green monster who becomes a carnival exhibition.“
That is exactly it. A dramaturgy best described in our modern terms as… WTF?! See it posted on THOIA.
“Death Came Dancing” is unusual insofar as it’s about a lover spurned. An emotional motif only. No money, no monsters, no curse. The dancing duo of Cara and George breaks up when George marries a rich admirer. Cara is heartbroken and commits suicide. Her ghost starts haunting George and finally will be his doom.
I like how the writer ‘times’ his plot: Cara is able to get to George the moment he starts flirting with her (again). Artwork, however, is rather bland.
Found the story posted online on a whole blog I never ran across before: “True Love Comic Tales” (active since 2011). They present other classic stuff (like Bob Powell’s “I Joined a Teen-Age Sex-Club”).
Or Horrible romance from the 1960s – like Don Heck’s gothic “Kiss of Death” from the pages of DARK MANSION OF FORBIDDEN LOVE. There’s an enormous tag cloud to choose from. Under the label “EC Comics” I found their tongue-in-cheek “Love Story to End All Love Stories”.
“Out of the Deep!” is the next of those straight-lined stories which can’t develop any ‘oomph’. Two men are marooned on strange island, confront alien intelligence (in a pool of water!), wrestle some with the horrid agents of that intelligence, perish, but by accident eliminate alien threat. Arrrggghh, I dunno.
If you feel like gazing into the abyss, always remember that the abyss also… ah, nuts. It’s just a puddle in a cavern! Gather round on THOIA. (Scroll down at this link, it’s the second story posted.)
(Cover: Skeletal head with top-hat looming above cityscape, frightening poshly dressed couple in street) – Alvin Hollingsworth (signed)
“Diary of Doom!” (Norman Nodel + Vince Alascia, signed)
“The Haunted Arrow!” (Norman Nodel + Vince Alascia, signed)
“The Giant from Earth!” (Gene Fawcette??? Bill Benulis ???)
“The Ghost of the Coal Mine!” (Norman Nodel + Vince Alascia, signed)
Once again an almost all-Nodel/Alascia issue. EERIE #14 will be published some weeks later, though, to be chronologically correct…
While reading “Diary of Doom!”, a special twist for this story’s ending formed in my mind. It was not confirmed, but I still can imagine MY ending.
Listen to the plot: John Mason lives alone on a small island off the New England coast. One day his collage friend Bob Trent comes visiting and confides in him a dark secret. Trent is suffering from a brain tumor which turns him into a raving maniac on stormy nights. Mason gives him shelter and promises help, but that night a storm brews, Trent flees the house and murders someone. Mason goes to the police, but the cops cannot apprehend Trent who manages to escape and swears revenge on Mason. Mason now hides himself on that island. After a big storm a searching party cannot find any trace of him.
Now I figured the diary-writing Mason was a Jekyll-and-Hyde character, went finally mad and ran off somewhere. The last page of “Diary of Doom!”, however, shows us Mason being attacked by the maniacal Trent – and Trent being still on the loose somewhere. Ha.
I LIKE MY ENDING MUCH BETTER.
I can still pretend it to be my way. Trent reappearing just being the fantasy of a twisted mind.
We post the tale in our “Stories” section. Maybe you feel like judging it yourself …
“The Haunted Arrow!” is a real clunker of a story. Ouch. Tom Starr relives the memories of his murderous ancestor Robin. Robin killed an Indian chief’s daughter and was brought to justice by the chief’s deadly arrow. Now Tom dreams about this, murders (in his sleep!) his wife – and is shot by a haunted arrow out of the blue. Jesus frigging…
Sometimes they took no effort in writing this stuff. This is just embarrassing.
“The Giant from Earth!” is one of those droll science fiction yarns you’ll find by the ton in these old comic books. Space Gulliver! See earth-man John Allen fight a cat and a man and killing them both with his bare hands. Because they were evil.
Go look for this amusing (and nicely drawn!) science fiction yarn on the blog “Atomic Kommie Comics”, another bonanza of weird postings
(I think this is a spin-off site of the above mentioned “True Love Comic Tales”).
“The Ghost of the Coal Mine!” is another pointless drama to me: George Dirk kills Jed Blaine to steal his treasure, but in digging for the treasure he digs his own grave.
Greed, greed, greed is the machine driving men in old comic books. This is plain booooring. Sorry.
Secret Diary of Eerie Adventures
1953 (100-page giant)
No one ever saw a copy of this comic book!
It’s probably a ‘sampler’ book consisting of three returned Avon horror books stapled together at random.
Good luck finding one, it’ll be worth a fortune…