House of Mystery

321 issues (of which only the first 35 are pre-code, don’t panic…)

Note: Every issue has been indexed on the Grand Comics Database – the link will show you all available data, including cover shots and story descriptions. Just click the underlined issue and number…

House of Mystery #1

December 1951

Cover: (Blonde woman running with pack of wolves being watched by two hunters) – Win Mortimer + Charles Paris

HOM#1“I Fell in Love With a Witch!” (Curt Swan + Ray Burnley)

“Man or Monster?” (Bob Brown)

“The Ghost of Paris!” (???) – one-pager

“The Curse Of Seabury Manor” (???)

“Casey the Cop” (Henry Boltinoff) – one-pager, humor filler

“Wanda Was A Werewolf!” (Win Mortimer ?)

“Superstitious Lover!” (Morris Waldinger) – one-pager

HOUSE OF MYSTERY offered you 44 pages for your 10 cents – from the first to the fifth issue. Then they switched to the usual 36 pages (like SENSATION COMICS did when they started featuring horror stories at the same time, in January 1952).

The opener (“I Fell in Love with a Witch!”) is more crime than horror. It’s a clever constructed case about private investigator Carter Blake who falls head over heels in love with Jean Brewster. Of course he does some background checking and is led to believe he may be in love with a man-killing witch! In the end there is a rational explanation to everything.  It’s a thrilling read, but do not retrace the plot steps! They build up too much mystery to let it go up in smoke. Just telling ya…

“Man or Monster?” is a shameless variation of „Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde“. Dr. Hunt gets addicted to a formula which transforms him into a brutish beast and commands him to murder his friends. Hunt remains undetected because he changes back to human form just in time. The open ending (“What had I escaped from? To kill again, and again, and AGAIN?”) is quite a surprise and I always like first-person narratives!


“The Ghost Of Paris!” shocked me, because the (uncredited) art look like pencils by Rudy Palais! Or someone swiping Rudy. Then again, some clown credited the art in “The Curse Of Seabury Manor” to Bernard Krigstein! So, we’re all seeing ghosts here. It’s a mystery book, innit?

DC HORROR’s first book wraps it up with “Wanda Was a Werewolf!”, another first-person narrative (they seem to go for them). The downside to FPNs, of course, is that they’ll most likely end on a happy note (narrator surviving). This story could’ve been called “My Sweetheart Is a Werewolf”, because that’s what happens to protagonist Doug Martin. His Wanda is running with the wolves at night! But not because she’s the werebeast everybody’s been looking for, but because she’s drugged into her strange behavior – by an ill-meaning cousin! Jeepers! There it is again – the DC twist!

The DC ratio-twist! All horror is just illusion.

I can’t possible stand too much of these story resolutions. Will they do it over and over again? It can be charming; I swallowed it in “I Fell In Love With a Witch!” – but don’t strain my brain, folks!



House of Mystery #2

February 1952

Cover: (Woman crying over dead man while the ghost of the man protests) – Curt Swan + Ed Smalle ?

HomCover2“The Mark of X” (Curt Swan + George Klein)

“The Secret of Salzo the Great” (???)

“Tree of Doom!” (Jim Mooney)

“I Was A Dead Man!” (Curt Swan + Sy Barry)

“Ghost River” (???) – half-pager

“The Strange Experiment of Dr. Grimm!” (???)

“The Mark Of X” is again a first-person narrative. Suspense writer Grace Deems creates a high-flying TV show about a hairy monster called „X“. But then an X-like creature materializes and starts harassing people. Comedy gold! Ridiculous beyond description. The “monster” itself is nothing but a laughingstock. What looks like a haystack on stickfigure legs? The frightful CREATURE X – terror of the US nation. It has a “cloven hoof” it will kick you with! Jeez, I think I wet my pants. Laughing. See it pictured here:


“The Secret of Salzo the Great” is an inane crime “shortie” of three and a half pages about a magician using hypnosis to commit crimes. “Tree of Doom!” mixes crime with horror as an old tree seems to come alive to avenge the death of his painter “friend”. Tree-hugging wacky nonsense. Gosh, golly and darn!

The next first-person narrative awaits us in “I Was a Dead Man!”. Uranium prospector Clyde is tricked into believing that he died and walks around as a ghost. His criminal partner Steve wants to drive him mad to get his hands on the valuable claim.

Now ponder for a moment on that exposition. Then realize how absurd this story is! Clyde runs around the jungle for three pages fearing he has died: There is no fog on the mirror, he is able to touch a hot stove without feeling it, and his bride does not notice him. Those are quite intriguing scenes. Which are resolved like this: the mirror has been coated with chemicals so that it doesn’t fog anymore. The hot stove is cold, but emanates dry ice – looking like a hot one. Clyde’s bride Jane does not notice him, because a one-way mirror has been installed. All that in the middle of the frigging jungle!


And with very uncertain results! Had Clyde only shouted once for Jane, every single dumb trick would’ve gone up in smoke. As it does, of course! Whose addlebrained mind installs such devices? Who’s thinking up those storylines?

So far HOM #2 has been a broadside of baddie comic book culture. Fun! What about the last contribution: “The Strange Experiment of Dr. Grimm!”? Fun, too! Doctor Grimm revives the brain of the executed killer Nick Nolan. He falls under the criminal’s spell and has to do his bidding, meaning killing the lousy D.A. who sentenced Nolan. Luckily a lightning bolt (!) out of the blue interrupts the trance and Grimm is master of his senses again.

Brace yourself for the final twist, though: It was all a hallucination! The brain let the doctor only IMAGINE the last step of the murder. What the f….?!
“But why, Nolan? Why?” Why indeed. Read it for yourself:


And go figure. They lost me there!


House of Mystery #3

April 1952

Cover: (Puppeteer ripping apart his talking dummy on stage) – Bob Brown + Ray Burnley

HomCover3“The Dummy of Death!” (Bob Brown)

“The Mysterious Painting!” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“She Wakes Up Screaming” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

“Ancient Legend!” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“The Prophecy of Doom” (Howard Purcell)

“I Was A Victim of Black Magic!” (George Roussos)

“The House Where Evil Lived!” (Curt Swan + Stan Kaye)

Let’s delve into DC’s take on devil puppets with “The Dummy of Death!”: It’s a great horror story – for 7 of its 7 and a half pages. The critical half page revokes everything which kept the story going before.
Ventriloquist James Lang murders his colleague Wendell and steals his puppet „Blockhead“. He manages to be successful, until Blockhead starts talking and revealing the murder of his former puppeteer.

Sounds good? Yes, for 7 pages. Last half page is the infamous DC anti-twist.
Attention, spoiler warning! If you want to read the whole story, please click HERE to see it posted as our kick-off story for this new website… Do not read on!

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Hold on to your seats, please: A midget actor had taken the place of the puppet – to make Lang confess his crime! That went unnoticed by a professional puppeteer for weeks?!

God, I want to kill someone at DC right now!


“She Wakes Up Screaming” offers a very nice splash by Ruben Moreira; else it’s a confusing account of a mad woman who is being treated with seemingly supernatural surprises to “shock” her back to sanity. I didn’t get it, frankly, and I don’t care.

“The Prophecy of Doom” is another shocker. You can’t go THAT wrong with explorers excavating an Egyptian tomb and being hit by a curse, still DC writers manage to turn this into some kind of lunatic comedy. Have a look at the bottom panel on page 4 (of 6). Not only is there no drawing space left, but all four characters behave silly like hell:


In the end it turns out to be a sham from the start. The professor and the Egyptian guide want to rob the tomb and kill the others. How, may I ask, did they arrange for the first explorer to get hit by an arrow – fired from within the unopened tomb?!

DC twists are getting on my nerves!!! And this in only the third book I’ve been reading…

“I Was A Victim of Black Magic!”: A wheat fungus makes a French woman fantasize about demons. Yes, you can break it down to this statement. Kind of a medical thriller, if you will. Sadly, my head hit the table top when I fell asleep during the wordy explanation to another ruthlessly constructed pseudo-horror tale.

I’ve written down a lot of story synopses in the Grand Comics Database, but never one like this – about “The House Where Evil Lived!”: “Paul and Helen Morris win a house on the Mexican border which is said to be haunted. Three men died there, and nightly spooks keep running through the cellar. Turns out that illegal aliens are smuggled through the house into US territory.”

Gotta hand it to the DC writers. They keep turning horror stories into the most nutty and fantastic “everyday explanations” you could possibly dream up!


That, of course, is a Mexican immigrant breaking and entering – into the US of A. Wipe your feet, hombre, por favor!


House of Mystery #4

June 1952

Cover: (Man in blue suit shooting light out of his eyes hurting another man, frightened woman protesting) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover4“The Man with the Evil Eye!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

“River of Death” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“Friday The 13th Club” (Curt Swan + John Fischetti)

“Nightmare” (Howard Purcell + ?)

“Knightly Ghost” (Morris Waldinger) – one-pager

“Spectre of Death” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“His Double… in Doom?” (Curt Swan + John Fischetti)

“Strange Apparition!” (Morris Waldinger) – one-pager

Another strangely awkward DC cover, let’s go inside and have a look if the promised title story “The Man With The Evil Eye!” is any good. Nooooo! Welcome back to the pages of HOUSE OF MISERY (!), where a good horror story is torn apart to build up a nonsensical rational ending.

Mobster Jim Keene is blinded, but kills his neighbor Bob who promised him an eye transplant. Police can’t prove anything because Keene makes it look like an accident. Bob’s right eye, however, was “hexed” (as we suddenly learn) and Keene (now living with it) can kill a person if he stares at him in anger.
When Keene kill-stares his girl friend Nancy, he is overwhelmed with grief and confesses to the murder of Bob. The police inform him that the eye-hex has been an elaborate “hoax” to drive him mad! Keene killed no one, but fell for the performances of G-Men. Ca-ripes! House of Misery, I say!FridaySplash

“Friday The 13th Club” is not that bad, but no epiphany either.
13 men and women form a club to debunk superstition, but one by one they meet violent deaths. They don’t die, however, because they challenge fate; they die because they touched a poisoned gavel to smash a mirror with.

“Nightmare” uses quite the same plot as the title story: John Howell randomly kills three people to cover up the murder of his business partner. He pretended to dream about the deaths first. Police stages more accidents to drive Howell over the edge and make him confess. This time it’s no horror, but a clear-cut detective mystery. The cheek!

“His Double… in Doom?” offers me the chance to drop an old Woody Allen joke again: “One twin washed himself… and the other got clean!” – that’s what happens in this story. Dennis and David Stanton are twins and are able to share their feelings. They embark on a life of crime using their exact likeness to be one another’s alibi. In the end both get shot dead at the exact same moment although they are hundreds of miles apart.

The title story was the most horror you got with this issue – very disappointing.

The artwork’s rather miserable throughout in this issue (and many of the previous ones). The sister title SENSATION COMICS resp. SENSATION MYSTERY is looking better!


House of Mystery #5

August 1952

Cover: (Woman stirring ladle in giant cauldron, forming witches’ shadow on wall behind her) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover5“The Man with the Strangler Hands!” (Curt Swan + ?)

“The Caravan of Miracles!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

“Double Mourning!” (???) – half-pager

“The Man Who Was Death!” (Jim Mooney + Sy Barry ?)

“A Piece of Rope!” (???)

“Dead or Alive” (???) – one-pager

“I Was a Witch!” (Howard Purcell + George Klein?)

Last issue to sport “big” 44 pages. And one of the better covers (it’s moooody!). Publication frequency of this title changes from bi-monthly to monthly! You get less, but more often.

“The Man with the Strangler Hands!” kicks off the issue – and is one of those typical DC ratio-twist affairs: John Croydon commits a series of robberies and murders. When caught by the police he tells a fantastic tale: His hands are those of a gangster who died in a jungle plane crash. A witch doctor transplanted them to Croydon, thus condemning him to a life of crime. The police prove him wrong. You probably hafta see it to believe it. That’s why we show it to you HERE.

They really come up with some fantastic crap! Again, more crime than horror. Same goes for “The Caravan of Miracles!”, in which Peter Farrell travels the world and steals all the secrets behind miracles like the Indian rope trick and fire walking stunts. Putting them together for an US-American road show he is haunted by mystics. Farrell, however, is only hallucinating.  As it turns out. O, jeez.


So welcome “The Man Who Was Death!” – At last a real horror story. As good as it gets with DC… During Mardi Gras gaiety Fred Jones is greeted by three hooded characters. He is the person with the touch of death. And, indeed, a puppy dog and three men touched by Jones cease to exist – apparently. Though everything is explained as a fraternity initiation stunt, a certain doubt remains. It’s an OKAY story.

“A Piece of Rope!” is a thoroughbred crime story of just four pages. Fun thing about it is (though not credited to any artist) THIS now has touches of Sheldon Moldoff!
I dismissed a DC Moldoff credit elsewhere (“The Strange Experiment of Dr. Grimm!” in HOM #2)
as impossible (and stand by it).funnyPic1
“A Piece of Rope!” looks like someone swiped from Moldoff. Who’d ever be so insane???

Let’s return to horror with “I Was a Witch!”, the cover story. Again one of DC’s horror/crime hybrid stories with a ratio-twist: Leslie Cantwell visits her brother Roy in the country. The failed painter plans to drive her to suicide to inherit the family money. Husband Bruce, however, can foil the evil plot. The script tags along with plausible twists – and it’s a fun read. Have a look at just this one panel, which made me laugh quite heartily.

Artwork (allegedly Howard Purcell) is sub-par, though (in my not so humble opinion).


House of Mystery #6

September 1952

Cover: (Sculptor being antagonized and shouted at by four of his statues) – Bob Brown

HomCover6“The Monster in Clay!” (Bob Brown)

“The Tell-Tale Hand!” (Curt Swan + George Klein)

“Mysterious Princess” (???) – half-pager

“The Hidden Author!” (???) – half-pager

“I Was a Ghost for Hire!” (Jim Mooney + Sy Barry ?)

“The Devil Was My Partner!” (Curt Swan + ?)


First HOM issue to run with the usual 36 pages, cut down from 44 pages in the last issue.

Finally! A mad sculptor story! You haven’t published horror comics without at least one tale about crazed sculptors, painters, dancers.  “The Monster in Clay!” is again one of THOSE stories: The sculptor Dwight Courtney models a bust of a black sorcerer from the past. He seems to gain uncanny abilities: Whatever he makes is destroyed in real life. After the death of three of his colleagues, Courtney investigates the strange accidents. Someone else was hypnotizing him into sculpting death scenes and yadda, yadda, yadda…

I’m too tired to rant against the inanities of yet another DC ratio-twist! Won’t show you a panel, either. It doesn’t add up, in any way. Ahhhh, I’m miffed.

“The Tell-Tale Hand!”, stupidly twisted crime story about a murderer with a guilty conscience.

“I Was a Ghost for Hire!” starts out very promisingly, moreover so as the narrator reminds us dearly of EC’s Vault Keeper:


A medium and her aide stage elaborate séances and incorporate the dead very convincingly. The racket is brought down by frightening the ghost impersonators with a ghost impersonation! The story has nice touches, but is blown out of proportion at the end (as usual). Would the police really go through all those pains – just to unmask a harmless pair of conmen?! Have they no CRIMINALS to catch?! You read a lot about those in these crime comics…

Wrapping it up with “The Devil Was My Partner!”. I always like a good devil story. Problem is, there’s not many around. This one is okay, though: Arthur Drake gets addicted to casino gambling in Naples, Italy. He signs a pact with the devil and now wins every time he gambles. Satan, however, is an impostor and casino owner who steals Drake’s identity to continue his life in the US. That is one of those DC’s ratio-twists again – but this time you don’t see it coming! It’s fantastic, of course, but also quite charming and clever. Like!



House of Mystery #7

October 1952

Cover: (Man holding knife running down the street, visions of specters looming behind him) – Ruben Moreira

HOM#7“The Nine Lives of Alger Denham!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

“Lover from the Dead!” (???) – half-pager

“Strange Beliefs!” (???) – half-pager

“The Devil Mask of Death!” (Howard Purcell + Charles Paris)

“Museum of Murder!” (???)

“Mysterious Portrait” (???) – one-pager

“The Riddle of the Split Siamese Twins!” (Leonard Starr ?)

One of the best covers in HOM’s quite long run (35 pre-code issues). How much horror can we expect from another issue of DC’s flagship mystery title? Not much, as it seems.

“The Nine Lives of Alger Denham!” is detective mystery stuff.

The splash of “The Devil Mask of Death!” made me laugh:


“Wear that mask for one hour, Peter, and you’ll look like a complete twat!”

Rest of story is inane dribble about tourists in native devil masks. One of them wants to harm a friend of his, but is hit by a curse before he can accomplish his evil plan.

“Museum of Murder!” is a crime story.

I always thought Leonard Starr looks better than what I see in “The Riddle of the Split Siamese Twins!” – well, he doesn’t necessarily. There’s a signed story by him in HOM #9, using that style of drawing. I’m still not convinced it is Starr – and keep this credit therefore question-marked.
The story itself again is a very annoying crime story about Siamese twins who never had been Siamese twins (as it turns out in the end). Aaaaaarrrggghhhh!!!

The artwork in HOM continues to be unpleasantly run-of-the-mill early 50s style. Not downright BAD, but there’s hardly ever a spark of true creativity. Depressing.

House of Mystery #8

November 1952

Cover: (Naked bald man with checkered skin staring at his tattooed chest whereupon a man is pictured drowning) – Ruben Moreira

HOM#8cover“Tattoos of Doom!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

“Nemesis from the Grave!” (Howard Purcell + Charles Paris)

“Puppet’s Revenge” (Jerry Grandenetti)

“The Grim Jester!” (Curt Swan + Ray Burnley)


That’s a bizarre cover!
The corresponding story inside sadly is a crime affair. On the skin of Leroy, the tattooed man, pictures appear which foreshadow doom. But it’s all a trick to cover up robberies. Don’t ask me how, don’t ask me why. I didn’t quite get it…

“Nemesis from the Grave!” is the next overconstructed piece of crime-horror hybrid: While on a treasure hunt, Danvers murders his partner Rainier. His guilty conscience makes him see Rainier on different occasions. The police confront Danvers with an agent in a ghost suit to make him confess his crime. Yechhh!

Enter artist Jerry Grandenetti at DC HORROR. “Puppet’s Revenge” is his first contribution (three more will follow). Two puppeteers hate each other. George kills Paul in a rage, but confesses to his crime later on. Jeez. HOUSE OF CRIME! Still waiting for a halfway valid horror story!

Will it be “The Grim Jester!”, this book’s last story? Nope! It’s a crime-thriller nuisance about a councilman planning to murder the city’s mayor with the involuntary help of the town’s practical joker. Ach, next please…


House of Mystery #9

December 1952

Cover: (Giant black bag floating above the heads of three frightened people) – Ruben Moreira

HOM#9bad“The Secret of the Little Black Bag!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

“Partners in Fear!” (Leonard Starr, signed)

“Witch Hunter!” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“Ghost Writer” (Ed Smalle)

“The Unwanted Guest!” (Jerry Grandenetti + Ray Burnley)

O no. That cover alone is giving me cramps. I expect nothing anymore. This is supposed to be a horror book?!

“The Secret of the Little Black Bag!” is a crime story.
“Partners in Fear!” is even less. A drama about two friends trying to out-rival each other. One has high anxiety, the other goes mad with fear of falling. Jeez. If this were about girls instead of men, we’d be in a friggin’ romance book!

GhostWriterDetail“Ghost Writer” sounds like it could be a horror yarn, and it is – kind of. Insanely inane, but lovable baddie about TV comic Billy Conway who kills his ghost writer Foster – just because he wanted to be credited! Hey, stoopid, you’ve got no gag writer anymore! Then it gets worse: Conway is visited by a ghostly audience exposing him as the murderer. “Twist” coming up: it was all a costume rehersal! Hahahahahaah!!!!!!!!!!!
We post this story, the art by Ed Smalle is refreshingly different and interesting to look at.

If DC scripts could kill, half of the US would be a wasteland.

“The Unwanted Guest!” wraps up the issue with more DRAMA… sigh. The story is ridiculous beyond description. I’ll show you the top panel of page four. Nearly stopped reading there: An English cousin blackmails his American relatives and moves into their home, indulging in luxuries:


Prime example for over the top behavior in comic books

Turns out that the cousin is a nutcase, because he killed a dog in the war and is haunted by his eternal howling. I. Kid. You. Not.


House of Mystery #10

January 1953

Cover: (Couple making wishes in front of idol shooting light from its eyes) – Curt Swan + George Klein ?

HOM#10bad“The Wishes of Doom!” (Curt Swan + George Klein ?)

“The Brush That Could Haunt Men’s Souls” (Jim Mooney)

“The Weirdest Museum in the World” (Bob Brown)

“The Magician Who Haunted Hollywood” (Leonard Starr)

Suppose you were given ONE wish, what would you wish for? Yep, kiddies, “The Wishes of Doom!” is about a topic as old as the horror genre. The idol head of Shandu travels from hand to hand, granting the owners one wish. Every wish comes true, but with a curse attached. The only wish without a catch is one for the benefit of mankind.

Actually a nice story, a philanthropical tale – but no horror at all, as you might have guessed. The two-page sequence of a woman wishing herself beautiful I’ve seen somewhere else as a whole story. Can’t put my finger on it… happens more often than you think.

“The Brush That Could Haunt Men’s Souls” is surely one of the most stilted titles ever to grace a horror story. A DC writer’s wet dream. The ratio-twist incarnate! Paint me a nonsensical tale ending in the villain’s confession. Have a look at that brush-hair-raising splash:


But then, it isn’t. The story runs along otherwise. And is again (same plot formula, same author, I guess) quite fun. A magic painter’s brush travels from hand to hand, exposing bad people and helping the good ones. The story opens with comic book artist Ralph Cotton buying the magic brush and slipping it in the hands of a colleague who steals his ideas. This one makes a fool of himself in front of the editor:


“The Brush That Could Haunt Men’s Souls” wraps it up with two crime sequences. In one the brush is used as a deadly arrow! Tch, tch, tch…

WeirdestMuseum1“The Weirdest Museum in the World” is a next entertaining story! I am surprised. Are we witnessing a change of guard in HOUSE OF MISERY… sorry… MYSTERY. Maybe we don’t have to pull this pun anymore???

Eli Thornton runs the town’s „Animal Theater“ with exhibits of wildlife. Mr. Redgrave and Mr. Kirkson threaten to ruin him if he’s not able to pay his debts. Thornton upgrades his theater with a wild cat and a genuine werewolf. The werewolf, however, is newspaper reporter Ed Baker. He was killed by Kirkson and Redgrave and framed as a werewolf, because he was about to expose them as frauds.
Sounds winded and wildly constructed, but works fine on just six action-laden pages! See it posted in our “Stories” section by clicking on the miniature splash.

Now I’m curious. What about the final one – “The Magician Who Haunted Hollywood”? We get a tale of mild ghostly suspense. The actor Dick Mayhew seems to be “channeling” the ghost of the late magician Gregory. That is… okaaaaay.

HOUSE OF MYSTERY’s best issue so far! And their first issue with NO story told in first person!


House of Mystery #11

February 1953

Cover: (Séance society spelling the word “G-h-o-s-t” as astral body rises from man on the right) – Leonard Starr

HOM#11“The Deadly Game of G-H-O-S-T” (Leonard Starr)

“Superstition and the Ladder!” (??????) – half-pager

“The Bewitched Clock!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

“The Demon” (Bob Brown)

“Nine Lives Equal Death!” (Curt Swan + ?)

“The Deadly Game of G-H-O-S-T”: Not again that hogwash. Murderer is driven to a confession by making him believe he’s being haunted by a ghost. That exactly is the DC HORROR formula! Fake horror blended with wacky crime-solving machinations.

The corresponding cover to that story looked way more promising!

The plot of “The Bewitched Clock!” seems eerily familiar: A man comes into possession of a magic clock and has to relive the same day for eternity. Huh? Sounds like “Groundhog’s Day”, doesn’t it? The story does not turn into comedy, though. A nameless man uses his power to amass riches – until he is cursed to “stand still” in time. Not bad, but nothing to get excited about, either…


The ending of “The Bewitched Clock!”

I didn’t quite get the plot of “The Demon”, another hoax-exposing mystery stunt. A demon genie appearing from a magic lamp is an actor in a luminous suit. DC HORROR business as usual!

Is “Nine Lives Equal Death!” a horror story? George Crowley is granted the nine lives of a tiger he spares while on safari. He uses them up in criminal activities. It is supernatural, you gotta admit. But horror? Hmm. Crime, mystery, fantasy, drama. DC HORROR is once more not getting off the ground.


House of Mystery #12

March 1953

Cover: (Matador in arena being heckled by ghostly colleagues) – Curt Swan + George Klein

HomCover12“The Devil’s Chessboard” (Leonard Starr)

“The Trial of Harry New!” (???) – half-pager

“Men Never Die in Cell 13” (Curt Swan + ?)

“Spilled Salt!” (???) – half-pager

“Black Future” (Ed Smalle)

“The Secret of the Matador’s Sword!” (Curt Swan + George Klein)


Am relieved to see no ratio-twist shatter the supernatural suspense of “The Devil’s Chessboard”: Chess expert Alan Blake engages in a deadly game on the magical „devil’s chessboard“ where every lost piece equals a loss in real life. When Blake’s queen is taken, his fiancée suffers a heart attack. She survives only, because Blake can promote a pawn to a queen.


“Men Never Die in Cell 13” is an interesting crime story: Two newspaper reporters fake a murder to write a scoop from the death row. But then a real corpse is found and things get serious.

And we have a strange one: “Black Future” is a drama-adventure-fantasy. Every prophecy of a fortune teller comes true in the life of Jud Taylor. The fortune teller came from the future and knew about Taylor’s life.

“The Secret of the Matador’s Sword!” is a load of bull. Haha. Jose Pinto comes into possession of a magic sword, allowing him to win bullfights up to a certain number. In his last fight the sword proves to be cursed and leads to Pinto’s death.
Best story of the issue – and entertaining bullfighting horror in general. Find it posted in our ‚Stories‘ section.


House of Mystery #13

April 1953

Cover: (Young couple approaches fortune teller’s booth, in which hooded figure beckons) – Leonard Starr

HomCover13“The Theater of a Thousand Thrills!” (Leonard Starr)

“Album of Fear!” (Ed Smalle)

“Lifelong Trance” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“Silk Gauze” (Morris Waldinger) – one-pager

“Nightmare Nemesis” (Curt Swan + Ray Burnley)

“The Tell-Tale Mirror!” (Jerry Grandenetti)

“The Theater of a Thousand Thrills!” is once more the run-of-the-mill DC suspense plot: An actor wants to poison his rival, but he’s tricked into confessing his plan. The story’s splash, however, promises something else. Read caption. No fair!


I’m beginning to like Ed Smalle’s artwork for DC HORROR. He looks refreshingly different than those run-of-the-mill (yeah, again!) artists we get all the time. Have a look at his “Album of Fear!” in our “Stories” section.
The horror-seeking eccentric Jasper Jennings records the sounds of dying men on his portable tape machine. A man covering up a crime drives Jennings insane by making him believe he’s being haunted by the voices of the dead.
There is that unnecessary ratio-twisting at the end, but it’s a fun story with some truly inventive and previously unseen sick panels.

“Nightmare Nemesis” is a strange mixture of science fiction and drama: Engineer Hank is radiated while working at the atomic plant and suffers from clairvoyant delusions of machines wanting to kill him. Hmmpphh. Neither fish nor fowl. Nor horror. No, no.

Last story is “The Tell-Tale Mirror!” and indeed a horror story! The tramp John Bowers finds a magic mirror which shows future catastrophes. Bowers shows up at blazing wax museum, robs the corpses of their jewelry (quite drastic) and becomes a rich man. Using his magic mirror, but not intervening or preventing the terrible events.


The story runs along very bland, though. Bowers sees himself being attacked by lions on page 4 – and we wait for this to happen on page 6. Nothing more to it.


House of Mystery #14

May 1953

Cover: (Doll maker holding puppet in his arms while man walks on scene looking like that doll) – Curt Swan + Ray Burnley

HOM#14bad“The Crimes of the Black Cat” (Bob Brown)

“Strange Fears!” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“Bells and Noises!” (Morris Waldinger) – one-pager

“The Melody of Death” (Bill Ely)    POST

“The Tree of Death!” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“I Hired a Ghost!” (Leonard Starr + Bruno Premiani)

“Black Magic!” (Morris Waldinger) – one-pager

“The Case of the Deadly Dolls” (Curt Swan + Ray Burnley)

Christ, what a feeble cover!
How’s it look on the inside? Things can only get better.
And they do – with a nice splash for the lead story: “The Crimes of the Black Cat”.


It ends right there! The rest of the story made me fume with anger. Joe Palmer is the last survivor of a robbers‘ gang. When his boss‘ black cat Damascus starts killing off the jurors who sentenced him to death and comes for him, Palmer is frightened and tries to get rid of the beast. But bullets can’t do no harm, because the police staged the whole affair – to make Palmer confess his crimes.
Again the crime ratio-twist on a whole new level of absurdity. DC writers are digging their grave deeper and deeper. In “The Crimes of the Black Cat” three members of a jury a killed, see for yourself:


But in the end it was all a clever police trick to make the gangster confess. Consider to what lengths police in the 50s went to solve a crime.


Stunt experts in make-up?! Criminy crime.

First contribution by Bill Ely: “The Melody of Death” is a very fun horror story (!) about a clash of cultures. Alex Breska runs a diner and worships Egyptian death god Anubis in his back room. A trio of be-bop musicians annoys his ears. They come for breakfast and start pulling Breska’s leg. He warns them to play his Egyptian notes, because they will profane the holy music. The boppers start jamming, turn into mummies and die.
“The Melody of Death” is a delight and a scarce highpoint of DC HORROR so far. I still hope they will be getting better, from the summer of 1953 on. We’ll see… Giving you a sneak panel filled with hilarious dialogue:


Whole story has been posted on my German website FIFTIES HORROR. Go there.

“I Hired a Ghost!” has nice touches, but is more business as usual from DC’s writing staff: Jason Hawley wears the cursed Malayan „moonstone“ to a Halloween party. A demonic figure appears, chases Hawley through the house, but falls to his death. It was Hawley’s manservant Weems, trying to rob the precious jewel.

The “demon” looks pretty weird, though, and looks like something the wondrous artist Matt Fox (did only 4 coves and 10 stories) might have drawn. Scrawny body, big pointed ears and wild hair. Let me show it to you in comparison… See?


Doesn’t seem to be a “swipe”, because both jobs appear simultaneously (April/May 1953)…
And we come around to the cover story: “The Case of the Deadly Dolls”. Which is a detective mystery yarn: Ingenious doll maker Mr. Coner fabricates dolls of people who die shortly afterwards. Investigating lieutenant Farragut finally detects a pattern and arrests the doll maker.


House of Mystery #15

June 1953

Cover: (Man backing away from mirror visions of an Indian, a monkey, a cloaked man and a dodo) – Curt Swan + ?

HOM#15bad“The Man Who Could Change People” (Curt Swan + ?)

“The Curse of the Golden Secret!” (Leonard Starr)

“Phantom Pilot!” (???) – half-pager

“The Winged Demon!” (Ed Smalle + Howard Sherman)

“Reflection of Death!” (???) – half-pager

“Last Mile Martin” (Jerry Grandenetti)


“The Man Who Could Change People” is a nice mystery yarn about professor Kley who transforms people on his home stage into animals. In the end, however, it’s your inane ratio-twist – revealing that it was all just parlor tricks. Dammit!

“The Curse of the Golden Secret!” features another shifter of shapes, this time the chemist Corbin who manages to create gold like the ancient alchemists did. He is, however, haunted by a curse attached to that fabricated gold. Having lost all his wealth, Corbin happily returns to his dull day job “making headache pills”. I could use one of these right now…

“The Winged Demon!” presents us another enjoyable contribution by Ed Smalle. Ward Creed killed a man to steal his precious pearls, but is haunted by the victim’s pet albatross Sinbad. The big bird keeps attacking Creed until he collapses and confesses to murder. Now for the inevitable ludicrous part: Sinbad was a radio-controlled guided missile made to look like a bird. Laughable, I know. Still “The Winged Demon!” is fun, because the plot’s cleverly embedded in Creed’s rantings from the madhouse.



“Last Mile Martin” is a crime story about a killer who escapes the death row over and over again – until he’s killed accidentally by a ricocheting bullet.


House of Mystery #16

July 1953

Cover: (Man stabbing his own greenish shadow) – Curt Swan + ?

HOM#16Cover“Dead Men Tell No Tales!” (Leonard Starr + ?)

“The Haunted Airfield” (???) – half-pager

“Lady Luck Wore Black!” (???)

“The Man Who Killed His Shadow” (Curt Swan + ?)

“His Name on a Bullet!” (Bill Ely, signed)

That is IMHO one of the nuttiest mystery title pages of all time:
A man stabbing a solid brick wall?!
Gotta be kidding me.
Well, okay, he was going for his own shadow. But is it any better trying to stab a shadow?!

“Dead Men Tell No Tales!” (yeah, the “no” is crossed out!) is a fraud-mystery story with a  séance-like setting; “Lady Luck Wore Black!” is some kind of spy set-up in the lovely state of Monaco; “His Name on a Bullet!” is a drama story about a superstitious police lieutenant.

You may have noticed I lost all interest about this issue…

“The Man Who Killed His Shadow” (title story, you guessed it) looks and feels very much like a horror story, finally: After having murdered the private detective Maxon, the gangster Nesbitt is followed by Maxon’s bodiless shadow. He can’t shake the crime re-enacting shadow of his victim and drives his car into a tree.

And now, hold on to your pants, they manage to attach a ratio-twist to even that! The police was following the crook, armed with a projector – Eeaaaggghh!! Do not try to picture how this must have looked; you’ll lose your sanity!

See whole story explained in sample panels in our introductory passages about the DC ratio-twist (click to jump to see samples).

In my mind there’s two guys at least, one of them dragging around the projector and the other an electric generator or some kind of power device to make the projector run. Then some cable connections – and we’re all set, guys!

Don’t mind that team looking like a movie crew following you, killer…
Have a nice day.


House of Mystery #17

August 1953

Cover: (In front of a TV camera an actor in revolutionary attire is confronted by a ghost looking just like him) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover17“Station G-H-O-S-T!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

“Beauty and the Beast!” (Curt Swan + Ray Burnley)

“The Man with the X-Ray Eyes!” (Howard Sherman)

“Black Cat” (???) – one-pager

“The Ordeal of Roger Black” (Bill Ely)

Glad to see Ruben Moreira back in the House of Mystery (it’s been half a year). Though he’s no master of sequential art, he’s a welcome relief from DC monotony. And he delivers a mild, but good-looking ghost story about a TV presenter of a mystery program who’s haunted by his own ancestor.

“Beauty and the Beast!” is a lovable crime story about Linda the lion tamer who gets involved in the schemes of a criminal circus director. She is made to believe to inhabit the powers of Greek sorceress Circe who changed men into animals. Intricate plot with a funny twist, but no horror story.

“The Man with the X-Ray Eyes!” anticipates the title of the 1963 film starring Ray Milland. The story sports the next clever police plot to make a murderer confess to his crime. Here, they paint the picture of the murder victim on contact lenses – so the killer is always confronted by the sight. O that tricky police! O that skillful contact lens painter!

ContactlensesSee that zany story posted in our „Stories“ section!

Wrapping up the issue with “The Ordeal of Roger Black”, a very neat crime yarn with stylish art by Bill Ely (reminding me of FAWCETT HORROR’s Bob McCarty here). In short: The executioner Roger Black rigs his jobs so that the criminals can escape – and pay him well. In the end something goes wrong, though, and Black takes a weapon in his hand…
Won’t tell you more, but you may read the whole story under this link HERE, a website where I collect interesting crime stories from the early 50s. Enjoy.


House of Mystery #18

September 1953

Cover: (Man accompanied by talking bird stumbling through swamp and shooting at alligator) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover18“Dance of Doom!” (Leonard Starr)

“Ghost Patrol!” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“The Fallen Moon!” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“The Bravest Man Alive!” (Curt Swan + Ray Burnley)

“Devil Bird!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

“The Mechanical Mind!” (Howard Sherman)

Indexers before me categorized all of HOM #18’s stories as “crime” stuff.
Nothing for us horror aficionados inside?

“Dance of Doom!” indeed is more of a ballet drama than horror or crime. The ambitious dancer Darius sabotages the stage and sees to it that two rival colleagues are crippled. Now Darius is the leading man, but goes insane with hallucinations caused by his guilt.
Artwork’s fine in this story, too fine to be by Leonard Starr? I wonder. The free-flowing panels and absurdist dance choreographies are quite something and look much better than his previous work for DC HORROR.


“The Bravest Man Alive!” is a fun story about two men who each claim to be the bravest man alive. Each opponent starts pulling pranks to scare the other out of his wits – and thus be announced the winner. In the end they engage in a pistol duel and perish both. Interesting read, but no horror.

“Devil Bird!” features six nice-looking pages by Ruben Moreira. I think he’s giving a nod to artists like Toth, Crandall and Grandenetti. The story, however, revolves around a talking bird which leads a killer to a treasure. Weird, but in an inane way. Police is waiting with open arms for Jules Diero, who has been dragged through deserts, swamps and over mountain tops – by a frigging BIRD, people! This is crime stuff for sure now!


The last story, “The Mechanical Mind!”, is the clunker of the issue. Sam Larkin poisons professor Hartford and hooks the scientist’s brain to a mechanical thinking machine to calculate gambling odds. Larkin wins at roulette and boxing bets. When he takes every last penny to the horse races, he is taught a lesson: Hartford is still alive and rigged all his winnings to ruin his criminal assistant.
Of course, of course, these scoundrels have to be taught a lesson. To that end, we gladly play dead for a week and pay tens of thousands of dollars to the local mafia to make the necessary arrangements. How wicked are the minds of DC writers?!


The art throughout HOM #18 is pleasant. HOUSE OF MYSTERY never looked better so far. Hope they’ll keep it up…

(Spoiler: No, they don’t. Artwork’s looking bleaker again in the next two issues).


House of Mystery #19

October 1953

Cover: (Man in orange suit backs away in fright from wall hung with grayish death masks) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover19“Ghost Writer!” (Leonard Starr)

“Black Fear!” (???) – half-pager

“Strange Sea Story!” (???) – half-pager

“Man of Evil!” (Curt Swan + Ray Burnley)

“The Strange Faces of Death!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

“Spirit’s Revenge!” (Nick Cardy)


Welcome back to a next mixed bag of crime-mystery and mild horror.

In “Ghost Writer!” Ralph Desmond writes novels which are dictated to him by the ghost of his 17th century ancestor. On the height of his success, Desmond vanishes into the past.

“Man of Evil!” sees Eddie Bascomb escape from prison and find shelter with professor Judson Lamont. Lamont studies the evil in human nature and makes Bascomb commit crimes. When a rival of the professor is found dead, the police arrest both men.

“Spirit’s Revenge!” introduces as to the art of Nick Cardy! Nice surprise to see a contributor to STANDARD HORROR (his rare horror work appeared in ADVENTURES INTO DARKNESS, OUT OF THE SHADOWS and THE UNSEEN) join the DC fold.Headache

Cardy will be back for some more pre-code issues (sadly, only four more). The artist continued, however, to work for HOUSE OF MYSTERY up until 1973. His artwork is fine, the story is not: The magician Carlton Van Dru claims to have powers of real magic. Scorned by his unbelieving colleagues, Van Dru swears revenge. One day he is found dead, but returns from the grave to taunt his fellow magicians. A police detective investigates and exposes a hoax. Yaaaaawwwwnnnnn!

Most unusual story of this issue is “The Strange Faces of Death!”, because the narrator-protagonist addresses us directly: Elmo Hackett, collector of death masks of people who died unnatural deaths, leads the reader through his exhibition. Until he finds his own mask on display. “Am I dead?”, wonders the befuddled collector and stares at us as if he’s been hit by a headache.


House of Mystery #20

November 1953

Cover: (Man in purple suit and cloak fleeing from car accident scene) – Leonard Starr

HomCover20“The Beast of Bristol” (Jim Mooney, signed)

“Strange Dream!” (???) one-pager

“Mr. Mortem!” (Leonard Starr)

“Red Car of Death” (???) one-pager

“The Lamp That Changed People!” (Nick Cardy)

“The Hex on My House!” (Curt Swan + ?)

“The Beast of Bristol” is surprisingly okay, about an English horror actor fearing to lose his mind and going on nightly killing sprees – and he does!
Neatly wrapped in a scheme of his agent to drive him insane. Solid artwork by Jim Mooney, delivering some nice panels.


“Mr. Mortem!” is the strange man stalking the story’s protagonist, Drew Wilson. Wilson, salesman for auto parts, notices that Mr. Mortem is always present when a deadly accident happens. He realizes that Mortem is Death personified and tries to run and hide from the sinister man.

Second supernatural story in a row, not bad for DC HORROR.

“The Lamp That Changed People!” is an ironic little tale about a pompous woman who gets the chance (via a magical lamp) to be any person she wants. But her high-flying plans are thwarted by her well-meaning husband. Nice art by the always enjoyable Nick Cardy!

“The Hex on My House!” may be a good omen. For hope springs eternal. But first see our story synopsis: The madwoman Eliza Jason goes around putting hexes on people. Her husband Joad collects money to make the curses go away. Finally district attorney Clark starts investigating and exposes the Jasons for extortion. Now he feels a hex on him.
“The Hex on My House!” runs along as the typical DC ratio-twist affair. The ghost is just a painted balloon – but in the end the ghost returns (and seems to be real!).

Is this a new deal in DC HORROR? Have we seen the last of the mind-numbing ratio-twist?! Stay tuned for the next issue!



House of Mystery #21

December 1953

Cover: (Madman shining red, yellow and blue spotlights from above on three men in different poses) – Leonard Starr

HOM#21cover“The Man Who Could See Death!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

“Amazing Power!” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“The Madman of Maricombe Island!” (Nick Cardy)

“The Sorrow of the Spirits!” (Curt Swan + Ray Burnley)

“Death and the Icy Sea!” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“The Magic Spotlight!” (Leonard Starr + ?)

That is one sad cover.
That’s not horror, that’s not even mystery. That’s kiddie time at the circus!
Jesus crap! Is this book inside as feeble as it looks from the outside? Let’s go in…

And it’s back – the accursed DC ratio-twist strikes again in “The Man Who Could See Death!”; this time it’s a conspiracy of mediums wanting to prevent their exposure as frauds by a brave newspaperman. Nice art by Moreira, by the way, but the script is laughable as ever…

“The Madman of Maricombe Island!” is a fine prison colony story: On Maricombe Island the guard Letrec tries to break the prisoner Dubois. Dubois, however, withstands every way of torture – and Letrec’s mind goes to waste. Subtly illustrated by Nick Cardy.

“The Sorrow of the Spirits!” is about a scientist contacting the spirit world and meeting his ancestor (Genghis Khan in person!). The dead want to return to life and inhabit the bodies of their descendants. Before our scientist (his name is Ganges, would you believe it) can finish a machine to shut out the evil spirits from our world, he is chased in front of a speeding truck – and killed. Where would comic books be without those speeding trucks?!
Your handy ending. Deus ex machina. God from the machine, i.e. a lorry, harhar.

Here comes the title story, “The Magic Spotlight!”. Another ratio-twist story, but not as bland as usual: Stage electrician Grew pretends to be the „Emotion Master“ by casting magical spotlights. But he is only sabotaging the other acts.
As elaborate as the plot may be, “The Magic Spotlight!” remains utter nonsense. Whose deranged mind thinks up such a scheme?! Ah, wait, got it: DC writers, of course…

Artwork throughout this issue is quite good, giving you one example here. A ghostly panorama of spirits walking next to us. Got kind of a Mardi Gras feeling to it…



House of Mystery #22

January 1954

Cover: (Explorer discovering colleague frozen in block of ice) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover22“The Phantom’s Return!” (Curt Swan + ?)

“The Second Life of General Marcellus!” (Nick Cardy)

“The Painter of Doom!” (Jim McArdle) – two-pager

“The Isle of the Ageless!” (Leonard Starr)

“The Haunted Bed!” (???) – half-pager

“The Ghost of Devil Mountain!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)
“The Phantom’s Return!” presents us the usual DC crime-drama in mystery’s disguise. This time, however, it’s almost fun to read because the main character is a special effects man for the movies – and he makes good use of the tricks of his trade.

“The Second Life of General Marcellus!” has a fantastic ring to it: Newspaper reporter Mark Ransom is convinced to be the reincarnation of Roman general Marcellus. Traveling to Italy he discovers the place where Marcellus died. Ransom is killed by the falling statue of his ancient rival. Woooah, Nellie. Ironical, innit?
Not that bad, but the story is text-heavy – and Cardy’s art seems watered down tragically (when compared to his contributions to STANDARD HORROR).

“The Isle of the Ageless!” makes you marvel how elaborate DC writers are able to contrive their plots. A millionaire is going to be robbed of his money. His secretary stages a hustle involving a treasure map, a fountain of youth, a hidden island plus natives let in on the plot, special make-up effects and false diamonds. In the end the millionaire, however, gets the better of his conniving assistant – because he saw it all coming!
And all that on a mere six pages. Mind-blowing. Aaargghh.

“The Ghost of Devil Mountain!” is a moody piece of mountaineers trying to climb the haunted Mount Taroo. Has its moments!


Hmmpffh. Don’t you wish you’d rather had bought THIS magazine? Nice ad from this issue. There’s even a Batman-Robin pie fight!

House of Mystery #23

February 1954

Cover: (Stamp collector looking at stamps, some of them come alive and take demonic shapes) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover23“The Flying Dutchman” (Jim Mooney)

“The Phantom Highwayman Rides Again!” (Ramona Fradon)

“Body Possessed” (Morris Waldinger) – one-pager

“The Gangster and the Ghost” (Curt Swan + Ray Burnley)

“Voice from Nowhere!” (Morris Waldinger) – one-pager

“The Stamps of Doom” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

Things coming alive seems to be a recurrent theme with DC HORROR: Toys, fingers, statues and now stamps! Why not? I am sitting here waiting for my shoes getting a move on and attack me! Yesterday I barely managed to ward off a malicious pen – imagine.

DC planned to scare the pants off their childish readers and then the pants to start wrestling with the kids – or make them buy SUPERMAN comics. Why am I digressing? Cause I think things coming alive is a pretty silly concept. But talking about silly… let’s go inside, shall we?

“The Flying Dutchman” (Jim Mooney) sees “unemployed seaman” Mike Dillon get shanghaied onto the fabled Flying Dutchman where he has to “scrub the deck for hours till his hands are blistered”. Not tolerating this menial work, Dillon drives a cutlass through the cruel captain’s heart. The captain just laughs: “You fool! No man can kill me!”.
Later on Dillon will find out that the sword is just a fake one (“Its blade telescopes into itself”) and the ship a front for a sailing counterfeiting operation! Oh, boy! What high adventure! What cheap tricks! Glad the coast guard comes around putting a stop to all this.

“The Phantom Highwayman Rides Again” features fresh artwork from Ramona Fradon (one of the few women at DC at that time – or was she the ONLY one?). This is going to be her only pre-code horror story, anyway. Fradon will work on HOM #42, 48, 56, 147, 223, 230 and some more… she co-created METAMORPHO and took over the newspaper strip BRENDA STARR from Dale Messick in 1980.

PhantomHighwaymanBack to the story of “The Phantom Highwayman Rides Again”: London eccentric Derek Drew falls in love with a young woman named Minerva and starts to court her. Drew has a dark secret, though. He was a highwayman of the 16th century who was betrayed by a woman also named Minerva! Furthermore, Drew doesn’t want to marry Minerva, but murder her! That’s a fresh perspective! The story’s not bad, but indeed does teeter on the brink of horror. See it posted HERE.

And we get another British ghost story with “The Gangster and the Ghost”, wherein American gangster Earl Crandall learns that he has English roots and used to be the Earl of Crandall (Jeez!). Not believing, of course, that a ghost haunts the castle he inherits, Crandall enters the premises in the company of a “ghost-breaker”.
Me, your trusty “story-breaker”, reveals it all to be just another ratio twist affair. An entertaining one, though. They play ghost to bring a murderer to confess his crime.
I am quite sure the writers used this very same plot before (they did indeed, I checked, namely in SENSATION MYSTERY #115 and in HOUSE OF MYSTERY #3,  4, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15 and 17!).
One could fill a whole book with these stories alone! I just forgot about it, because forgetting is the most important function of your brain. My brain works very well, I read a lot of comic books…


I was wondering. This is not the first story about a castle being torn down stone for stone and then being rebuilt on American soil. Has this been ever done for REAL? Sounds utterly fantastic to me. The cost of such an operation seems to be staggering…
Well, it has been done with a (rather small) church in the United Kingdom in 2013, apparently. You can watch a BBC news clip about the affair.

What’s that piece of paper the mailman just delivered? A postcard from hell? Nice. Cut out those “The Stamps of Doom”, harhar. The story is mediocre, but takes us to the excavation of a Nazi concentration camp commander’s quarters – where 13 rare stamps depicting atrocities are kept. That I call wacky.

We post this story very soon on our German website about pre-code horror in general. As a teaser to lure readers over to this new DC HORROR website. And vice versa…


House of Mystery #24

March 1954

HomCover24Cover: (Crone-like witch cackling at elegant woman standing to her left) – Ruben Moreira

“Kill the Black Cat” (Jim Mooney, signed)

“The Freak Show of Doom!” (Curt Swan + ?)

“The Walking Stick” (Bill Ely) – two-pager

“The Flaming Treasure” (Ray Bailey)

“The Bewitched Beauty!” (Ruben Moreira)

First story, “Kill the Black Cat”, refrains from a ratio twist, but is a run-of-the-mill mystery about a carpenter who kills a fortune teller and his black cat, Satan –  and is being haunted by visions of attacking cats. As he flees into the state forest, he is done in by a wild living panther. ‘Nuff said.

“The Freak Show of Doom!” sounds promising, and offers a nice pun in the splash.

FreakPunThe rest is quite entertaining as well. A gruesome character naming himself “Death” joins a freak show and causes sheer terror. So the owner and his other attractions plan to “kill” death. Will this work? See it posted in our “Stories” section.

A gang of ruthless oil drillers invades an Indian burial ground in “The Flaming Treasure”. The clever Indians, however, scare them away by telling a horrible yarn about the prospectors who came before them. Unusual for DC HORROR, we get a drastic drowning in quicksand and a fiery plunge  – again into the treacherous quicksand. Haunting pictures, strong stuff.


Closing a better-than-usual DC HORROR book is “The Bewitched Beauty!”, a tale told in the first person (a beloved DC story-telling device we saw last in HOM #22). And, whooaaa, there it comes: the ratio-twist rearing his addle head again in a tale so ridiculously concocted it defies summary. It really does. I refuse to summarize this. Sorry.

House of Mystery #25

April 1954

Cover: (Ghost hands playing a violin as astonished musician looks on) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover25“The Man With Three Eyes” (Curt Swan + Ray Burnley)

“A Second in Eternity” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“The Devil’s Toy Shop” (Bill Ely)

“Death Dagger” (Morris Waldinger) – one-pager

“The Hands That Could Haunt” (Ruben Moreira)

“The Whirlpool of Doom” (Howard Purcell + Ray Burnley)

This issue is missing from our review. Couldn’t get my hands on it.
Am not exactly heart-broken by this fact, but “The Devil’s Toy Shop” by Bill Ely sounds promising.


House of Mystery #26

May 1954

Cover: (Phantom preventing knife thrower from going through with his act) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover26“The Man With the Magic Ears!” (Curt Swan + Ray Burnley)

“Written in the Sands!” (George Papp) – two-pager

“The Ship from the Past!” (Howard Purcell + Ray Burnley)

“Can You Explain It?” (Bill Ely) – two-pager

“The Dress of Doom!” (George Papp)

“The Human Target!” (Ruben Moreira)

Well, I was surprised. “The Man With the Magic Ears!” is not so much horror, but great psychedelia! Pioneering engineer Alfred Jarvis builds a machine with which he can hear the sounds plants make. Their cries, their sobs, their dying sighs. He goes on a rampage to stop people from cutting flowers, but is suspected to be a madman.
Curt Swan and Ray Burnley deliver one of their most inspired jobs – fun read! See it here: Click splash to be routed to FIFTIES HORROR.


Who’s screaming so horribly here? The readers?

“The Ship from the Past!” – just a flimsy seafaring yarn about a “spectral ship” pursuing a modern freighter. It’s all a ruse, though, for a wanted criminal to flee the country… Jeez! Don’t ask me, the story lost me somewhere in the middle.

“The Dress of Doom!” marks George Papp’s first full-length story for DC HORROR. George Who? Papp started out delivering “filler” pages for DC’s ACTION COMICS as early as 1938. He then worked on the “Congo Bill” feature in MORE FUN COMICS and became late 40s and early 50s foremost artist for GREEN ARROW stories. He moonlighted just this once for pre-code HOM and rather returned to draw Green Arrow.

Story’s a big fuss about a supposedly cursed wedding dress. Booooring.

If you are “The Human Target!”, better not fall in love with the knife-thrower’s girl! That is summed up the morale of this tale of jealousy and unrequited love. Starts out as an EC-ish crime story out of the pages of CRIME SUSPENSTORIES, then adds a flavor of horror, but ends in a twisted “twin brother” rationalization. Hmmmph.


House of Mystery #27

June 1954

Cover: (Man dressed as pilot surrounded by four larger-than-life playing cards) – Curt Swan + George Klein

HomCover27“The Magic Mask of Murano!” (Bill Ely)

“The Crew-Less Ship!” (???) – one-pager

“Death’s IOU” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

“Death at the Controls” (???) – half-pager

“The Man Who Built a Crazy House!” (Jim Mooney)

“Professor Eureka” – funny one-page filler by Henry Boltinoff

“Fate Holds Four Aces!” (Curt Swan + ?)

“The Magic Mask of Murano!” sports nice artwork again by Bill Ely, but is a bland tale of an allegedly magic mask preventing those from harm who wear it. When two thugs steal it and perform a bank robbery, the joke is on them, anyhow. Crime-mystery here, gladly without ratio-twist.

Next story, too, held no interest for me. “Death’s IOU” portrays two French noblemen dueling themselves over a period of weeks. One manipulates the pistol of the other, but the plan… foreseeable… backfires. Ahem.

Crackpot architecture is the feature of the following yarn, “The Man Who Built a Crazy House!”. Inventive starting point for a story! Asa Hartley builds a loony-looking house to ruin the neighborhood – for the good townsfolk drove off his father. The police chief, however (who is telling this story as a narrator!), digs deeper and uncovers a crime committed years ago. Mildly entertaining read, high marks for architectural detail!


And it’s a wrap for this issue with “Fate Holds Four Aces!”, told in real first-person by Jane Howard, “newspaperwoman”. She tells us of her encounter with Joe Kerr, the gambler who was searching frantically for a special “joker” card. He gets killed in the process, victim of his own greed. Not inventive enough to earn a post.

The artwork throughout the last issues of HOM is above par, by the way. Since Ely joined the fold as a regular, the staff team of Swan-Moreira-Ely (with guests Mooney, Purcell, Cardy, Mayo and such) produce crisp state-of-the-art comic pages! Well, it is 1954 and one notices where horror artists as Jack Davis, Bob Powell, Alex Toth set the standard before.

Have a look at that stylish splash by Curt Swan to the gambling story:



House of Mystery #28

July 1954

Cover: (Man looking up at clock with death symbols, ghost gun materializing over his head) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover28“The Wings of Mr. Milo!” (Curt Swan + ?)

“The Spider-Man!” (Ed Smalle)

“Saved by the Dead” (???) – one-pager

“The Secret Fear of Harvey Hall!” (Nick Cardy)

“The Clock Strikes Death!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

O sweet lordamercy! “The Wings of Mr. Milo!” is a mad tale about men changing into birds and trying to commit financial fraud at the same time. What are these DC writers coming up with?! This happens when you work on superhero comics! Don’t try this at home, kiddies… Frankly, this story lost me on page 3 (of 6).

One of the many stories called “The Spider-Man!” – way before Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created wall-crawling Peter Parker in 1962. The story follows the exact same formula as last issue’s “Fate Holds Four Aces!”.
A biologist tells us of his meeting with insect expert Weems. Weems collects not cards of dead celebrities, but insects inhabitating the spirits of people who just died. Looking for a “spider” person, Weems ironically turns out to be that next victim.
The cheek. I wonder if they’ll come up with yet another version of that… May I suggest a farmer washing hogs and looking for a special BULL to complete his passion?

Finally something good with “The Secret Fear of Harvey Hall!”, in which artist Nick Cardy is “channeling” George Evans heavily. Nice. Although the story is unbalanced, it has some pretty touches. Psychiatrist Harvey Hall relates to us, the readers, how he cured certain phobias. Then he commits a crime (this is coming out of the blue), but now HE develops a phobia and tries to cure himself. Phone phobia – ever heard of it? Here it comes:


“The Clock Strikes Death!” welcomes back the crime-mystery whodunit with the ghost-breaking twist (see notes for HOM #23). A timepiece releases the spirit of a long-dead killer. Of course it doesn’t, it’s all an elaborate scam for I-am-not-sure-what. But the police chief gets to impersonate the ghost and has the time of his LIFE. Hah.

Brrrr. This issue is crammed with overconstructed plots. And all of the stories are told in first-person narrative. Next, please!


House of Mystery #29

August 1954

Cover: (Fierce man on his fours threatening a lion in front of him) – Curt Swan + Stan Kaye

HomCover29“Hangman’s House!” (Howard Purcell + Ray Burnley)

“Enter the Ghost!” (Ruben Moreira)

“Psychic Detective” (Morris Waldinger) – one-pager

“The Weaver of Fate” (Mort Meskin)

“Ghostly Executioner” (Morris Waldinger) – one-pager

“The Man Who Became a Lion!” (Curt Swan + Ray Burnley)

Look at that cover. That’s no horror book. That’s no mystery book. That is a what-the-fuck-is-going-on book! Who-came-up-with-this-crap book. Did-someone-get-paid-for-this book?


„Hangman! Hangman, please!“

And what does the guy in the background mean by “I don’t know which one to shoot”? Are you out of your mind, you trigger-happy bastard?! Shooting the man would be plain murder. Just to give you a hint. Cripes.
From thumbing through this issue, I fear the worst. I’d be surprised to find a good story in here. So let’s read ‘em.

Almost a farce is “Hangman’s House!”, the story of Frenchman Pierre Gault. All of his predecessors in the family were hangmen. Now it’s Pierre’s turn, but he refuses to do the job. Doubts arise when people keep dying by accident in his presence. All he wants is to… drive his taxi-cab. All his denial gets HIM hanged in the end. Straight mystery, yes, but much too foreseeable.

And we have no winner in “Enter the Ghost!”, wherein a ghost threatens a troupe of theater actors. In the end there probably was no ghost, but all along the jealous understudy. Leave me alone already. Next.

Mort Meskin contributes “The Weaver of Fate”, another contrived affair about a supernatural fraud. Gladly a brave man and the cops step in and shut down the scam. Whew. No fun, either.

Closing the issue is the cover story, “The Man Who Became a Lion!”. We travel to deepest, darkest Africa where the most ugly beast rears its head – the DC ratio twist. A hunter and a lion seem to exchange “souls”. Impossible, you say? Rightly so, because a witch doctor has been bribed with a nice, shiny tic-toc watch. Oh, no.

Hate to say it, but I told you so. No good story in this issue.

Incidentally, “The Man Who Became a Lion!” is the LAST story by Curt Swan for DC HORROR. He’s out of the picture now and will take over the chores for SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN.


House of Mystery #30

September 1954

Cover: (Chinese courtroom scene – lawyer pointing a big green statue) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover30“The Demon Gun!” (Jim Mooney)

“Mysterious Photo” (???) – one-pager

“The Phantom of the Sea!” (Bill Ely)

“The Terrible Tree-Men of Tanganyika” (Ralph Mayo) – two-pager

“I Was Born To Kill!” (Howard Purcell + Ray Burnley)

“The Statue That Was Tried for Murder!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)


“The Demon Gun!” is told in second-person. A rare, but most effective story telling device for comic book stories, which I love very much. Can DC ruin it for me? No, they don’t. Good story, actually:
Cowardly hunter Folsom kills his sharp-shooting rival Ellis and grabs his magic rifle. Now Folsom hits every time, but has to pay a price, of course.
See some teaser panels below and click HERE to read full story!


The story is followed by a very interesting advertisement – lookit this:


Holy moly! September 1954 – and the Americans start the Space Race! This puts history in new perspective. The Russkis must have seen this ad, panicked and developed their Sputnik programme (launched 1957).  You know the rest. So, it all started with Tootsie Rolls. Who would’ve thunk, eh?

“The Phantom of the Sea!” features nice artwork by Bill Ely and a moody story of a cursed “dead man’s chest”. A scheming gangster falls victim to a killer wave. Believe it or not! Up to now this is a ratio-twist FREE issue.
But here it comes in “I Was Born To Kill!”. Aw, too bad. Hodgepodge of a story about a man donating blood which makes the recipients violent. Behind all that, however, is a fake doctor who wanted revenge. Please don’t bother to look it up.

“The Statue That Was Tried for Murder!” is a feeble baddie of a story. DC writers transport their inane mystery to 17th century China where a murderer’s weapon is executed, not the murderer! What kind of nonsense is this? Chinese police come across this crime scene and assume the statue is the killer?!


Anyhow, the statue is beheaded, the killer rejoices. But is being HAUNTED by a statue looking like his victim (ouch, just hit my head on the table, cause I nodded off for a moment). The logical explanation being (DC calls this a “twist”, probably) that there really were hundreds of statues with the likeness of the victim around all over the city. Aaarrrgggh!

Where’s Fu Manchu when we need him?!


House of Mystery #31

October 1954

Cover: (Woman behind rock spying on two sorcerers) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover31“The Incredible Illusions!” (Bill Ely)

“The Uncanny Creature of Carl Griffin!”( Mort Meskin + George Roussos)

“Sounds in the Night!” (???) – one-pager

“The Dark Horseman!” (???)

“I Was a Sorcerer’s Apprentice!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)


“The Incredible Illusions!” is about an inventor of household appliances who is being tricked by his business partner. With the help of magnets (!) he creates the illusion that the machines are attacking. Whooa, you had me scared there for a moment. And look at that dishwasher – soon to be standard equipment of the US army…


And we find a Meskin/Roussos collabo in “The Uncanny Creature of Carl Griffin!” – like in few of the later issues of STANDARD HORROR (for comparison see our website about it).

The story is so ridiculous it’s kinda fun. By twisting the words “Great Scott!” into “Sceat Grott!”, Carl Griffin wins command over a demon-like creature. The creature does his every bidding and kills his rival, Frank Carter, for him. The blame falls on Griffin, though, who fails to call his demon to help – because he forgot his “magic spell” all of a sudden!
He spends the rest of his days in a padded cell, shouting phrases like “Jumpin Jehosaphat!”, “Holy Cow!”, “For Pete’s sake!” and “By George!”. The DC writers got to be kidding us! They are certainly pulling our leg with this one – and I don’t mind this time. Delightfully over the top!


Yeah, take him away, boys! And please take “The Dark Horseman!” along with you. Next story is a dismal hogwash I abandoned reading after three pages. Business partners, big money, rivalry, plotting, framing, ghosts in the sky, blah blah blah… Yecch. The mystery artwork’s not any good, either.

So it boils down to the cover story, “I Was a Sorcerer’s Apprentice!”. A fascinating story, proving how fascinatingly sloppy DC writers could be. They offer us just half of a story. Tourists enter a castle and find the diary of a sorcerer. Flashback to the middle ages and the tale of a young man learning the ropes from his master.
One day, though, he wants to quit, but the master won’t let him. The man’s wife advises her husband to use his magic power to overcome his master. End of diary! The modern tourists gape at the book and wonder: “Now we’ll never know if he ever won his freedom…”.
End caption reads: “Indeed, dear readers. What do YOU think?”.
Well, I think I’ll roll up your fine magazine and stick it where the sun don’t shine…

Jeez. Four more of those comic books to go and I can conclude my study into DC HORROR! Or maybe I should stop NOW and leave you pondering if I ever read those four last issues of HOUSE OF MISERY (intended typo!). What do YOU think?


House of Mystery #32

November 1954

Cover: (Green pied piper walking over ocean waves and luring ships) – Bill Ely

HomCover32“The Magic Gloves” (John Prentice)

“Concerto from the Dead!” (???) – one-pager

“The Invisible Man!” (Howard Purcell + Charles Paris)

“Professor Eureka” – funny one-page filler by Henry Boltinoff

“The Diary of a Nightmare” (Jim Mooney)

“The Pied Piper of the Sea!” (Bill Ely)

Have we seen the always stylish John Prentice before? No! HOM #32 marks his first appearance at DC HORROR. He will contribute to the next few issues, too (and regularly until 1957).

“The Magic Gloves” show him at mediocre level. Fitting like a glove is the mediocre story about a pair of magic gloves which won’t let any harm come to its wearer. A gang robs a safe, using the gloves as protection against the cops’ bullets. They go to jail, anyway.

We present the next crime-mystery with “The Invisible Man!”, another heist job. Here one of the gangsters is invisible – thanks to a herbal potion stolen from the Peruvian temple of Cibola. The other spills the back-to-visibility potion over the loot and is caught, while his invisible partner is now doomed to be a vanishing act for the rest of his life. Mildly entertaining.

“The Diary of a Nightmare” shamelessly exploits the action parts of the Frankenstein formula. Meaning we get three pages of a mob hunting a misshapen monster. Joe Dillon lets an evil doctor operate on him, but wakes up a disfigured person with superhuman strength.
Fun part of the story is a “censorship bar” across Dillon’s face. Egad, this guy is SO ugly we did not dare draw him! This is just pathetic, folks.


TalesOfHorror#1Made me think of another book where they tried to scare us by not scaring us. It’s on the cover of Toby’s TALES OF HORROR #1 from June 1952. But they use it ONLY on the cover, not in the inside story “The Ugliest Man in the World!”.

“The Pied Piper of the Sea!” is the only genuine first-person narrative, but “Invisible Man” and “Nightmare” use it, too.  Large parts of those stories are told in first-person “diary mode”, but not from the first caption on…

Anyhow, back to our “sea piper” who lures ships to their doom on moonlit nights. Captain Barney joins the hunt out of curiosity and comes across the flute-playing phantom.
Barney uncovers the phantom as a hoax, making clever us of sea drifts and abysmal music.


You mean, it was all a criminal scheme?” – “Certainly! We fill books with stories who look like mysteries, but are just plain old hogwash. The readers fell for it – hook, line and sinker!”. Glad we talked about it…

House of Mystery #33

December 1954

Cover: (Two men marveling over their vision of a giant man destroying an overground railway line) – Ruben Moreira

HomCover33“Mr. Misfortune!” (John Prentice)

“The Girl from the Looking Glass!” (Jim Mooney)

“The Hand of Clay!” (???) – half-pager

“The Tall Tale that Came True!” (Bill Ely, signed)

“Professor Eureka” – funny one-page filler by Henry Boltinoff

“The Giant of out Nowhere!” (Ruben Moreira, signed)

Well, it’s the end of 1954 and the seal of the Comics Code not far away. DC seems to tone it down even more.
“Mr. Misfortune!” is the most mild-mannered of all crime-mysteries so far. A business scam is exposed to take over share-holder value. Don’t get me wrong, this is a nice story, expertly written, composed and drawn. But who wants to read it?
Well, you had to, from 1955 on: code-approved family entertainment, clean-shaven, optimistic, jolly good whimsical newspaperman-plays-detective routine. Brrrr.

A time travel mystery awaits us next in “The Girl from the Looking Glass!”. John Howard steps through a mirror into Elizabethan England and tries to rescue sweet Mary from her queen-commanded wedding to an English nobleman. The mirror breaks, but John finds Mary in his own timeline. I didn’t get it. It doesn’t matter…


Nothing new in “The Tall Tale that Came True!”, wherein a gangster surprises another gangster who thought the first one dead… ach, spare me. “The shots don’t hurt him!” – cause he is wearing a bullet-proof vest, ya dummy!

“The Giant of out Nowhere!” is another fine example of a mystery story gone wrong. Scientist Ray Stevens researches a mass hysteria phenomenon: dozens of people all hallucinated about a giant roaming through the city. All of these people were cured by “Handar the Hindu”, a mysterious healer.
Stevens can’t expose Handar as a fraud, but discovers an absurd conspiracy behind all of it. Handar is in reality the dictator Lopez, posing as a healer to attract president Hegel who fled the country they both are coming from. The dozens of people were Handar’s henchmen faking hallucinations to build up a reputation for Handar.
So Hegel visits Handar to consult him about his health issues. Now Handar unmasks himself as Lopez and is about to shoot Hegel down (and go undisturbed about his dictatorship business) – when Stevens bursts in through the door (accompanied by the police force) and arrests Handar/Lopez.

Classic DC mystery stuff for you! These writers should have gone into politics…



House of Mystery #34

January 1955

Cover: (“Miss Doom” is getting her trophy at the judges’ stand of a beauty contest) – Win Mortimer

HomCover34“The Hundred-Year Duel!” (Jim Mooney)

“The Man Who Became a Fish” (Howard Sherman + Sheldon Moldoff ?)

“Man or Wolf?” (???) – half-pager

“Professor Eureka” – funny one-page filler by Henry Boltinoff

“Sorcery from the Skies!” (Bill Ely)

“Shorty” – funny half-page filler by Henry Boltinoff

“Doom Enters a Beauty Contest!” (John Prentice)

“The Hundred-Year Duel!” is interesting insofar as a Native American is the central character here.
Charlie Whitehorse of Sioux descent feels compelled to battle a Crow warrior – as their forefathers decreed a hundred years ago. Their duel to the death in a nightly baseball stadium ends with the burying of the war-axe.
I give this folklore mystery credit for its inventiveness. Showing you part of the moody splash:


The first pages of “The Man Who Became a Fish” are promising fun, but then the story deteriorates fast. Dr. Clay claims to be able to transform any living matter back into a more primordial fish-like state! Two cops come searching his house for escaped convict Bolton. They are made to believe that Bolton swims around as a fish now in Clay’s big aquarium tank.
Bolton, however, was just hiding behind the tank and blows the place sky-high with a time bomb. Sounds better than it looks…
There is a possible Sheldon Moldoff-sighting on inks for this story. Doubt this.


Anyhow, they had (a) human-looking fish way before Monty Python floated through their hit movie “Meaning of Life” in 1983.


Sloppy job by Bill Ely on “Sorcery from the Skies!” – didn’t believe it at first. Terrible story, too. In a reconstructed New England fishing village strange things are happening. Wagons, boats and statues begin to stir like being moved by magic. Behind all this is a clever newspaperman cashing in on the phenomenon. The town sheriff can call the bluff and arrests the guy.
Is this a crime now – entertaining the public?! Maybe for DC it was… heh,heh…

So get a show on the road with “Doom Enters a Beauty Contest!”, the promising title story! What do we get? Total baloney! Beautiful, orphaned Amy Leaf comes under custody of her uncle. He forces her to dress as plainly as possible and hide her beauty (because he was left by his pretty wife and cannot stand stunning women anymore).
Uncle tells her gruesome family history tales and manipulates the world around Amy to play dead (!) when she passes in make-up. Her boyfriend and husband-to-be , Bob, uncovers the plot.
Jeezus friggin’ Christ! Typical DC hogwash. How could this EVER work in the real world?! Makes me angry. Have two sample panels, please:



House of Mystery #35

February 1955

Cover: (Man confronting frightened ghost in a dungeon) – Jim Mooney

HomCover35“The Fatal Superstition” (John Prentice)

“Bebe” – funny half-page filler by Henry Boltinoff

“The Golden Man!” (Jim McArdle)

“Curse of the Blankenships” (Morris Waldinger) – half-pager

“Ghostly Miners” (Morris Waldinger) – one-pager

“The Island of No Return!” (Howard Purcell + Charles Paris)

“The Man Who Haunted a Ghost!” (Jim Mooney)

The cover of this issue is taken from the splash of the corresponding story. But first stories first.

“The Fatal Superstition” is a silly yarn about one business partner killing the other, but framing a superstition jinx for it. One he created before, that is! Wearing polka-dot kerchiefs around your neck will bring you bad luck. Guess what.
In the end the murdering partner will meet his fate – when polka-dot kerchiefs block his view and let him steer his car into a tree! Yehehes! Utter code-approved silliness, I repeat. But not without a certain screwball charm…

“The Golden Man!” is the story of a glorious misinterpretation. Ray James thinks his neighbor Meeker has constructed a machine that turns metal into gold overnight. James murders the old inventor in his sleep – only to find out that the machine never worked!
Ha, that’s irony for you! Meeker’s son supplied his father secretly with golden painted bricks to make him think he succeeded. DC is “gold-bricking” it again, huh?!

Holy Hannah and Great Scott! What is going on in “The Island of No Return!”? A first-person narrative and the narrator DIES in the end? No horror, but a straight crime/adventure thriller. The adventurer Bart Madden leaves a trail of bodies to get his hands on a sunken pirate treasure. Too bad the island natives don’t take friendly to his actions.
Ironic twist here: The “savages” spare him as long as Madden wears his diving suit and helmet (they deem him their sea god). But the oxygen runs out… enjoy the finale:


Irony is a dish best served holding your breath…

Very unusual, outright exceptional for a DC story – and in February 1955, too!
I suspect they “threw this out” before the code seal on the next issue made a publication impossible.

As noted above, the splash to “The Man Who Haunted a Ghost!” made this issue’s cover. A first to DC HORROR, as far as I recall…

Ah, this now sends a shiver down my spine. It’s the last DC HORROR story I will review – and it ends with my behated ratio-twist. The twist is so feeble I caught it on first glance:


That’s gotta be the old projection gimmick! And it is. Frankly, I am disappointed, DC. You feed me dozens of the most fantastic twists – and THIS one you dare serve us NOW?

Ah, well, what’s it about? Scotch millionaire McNally gets murdered; his best friend Duncan frames the former’s cousin. Duncan makes the ghost of the castle (where McNally was killed) confess with cheap recorded trickery (actor playing the ghost). Come on, DC, you can do better than that!

So, dear readers, scroll up to the top of the page – and start all over again! HOM #35 was the last issue to appear without the code seal. We stop our research at this point. But I guess the following 286 issues don’t change that much! Hah!

Let’s make our count for the 35 pre-code issues of HOUSE OF MYSTERY:

We only looked at “full-length stories” (anything more than 2 pages), of which we have 143. Almost half of those are told in first person (71). Which artists contributed how much?

Curt Swan                   31

Ruben Moreira           22

Leonard Starr             14

Jim Mooney                13

Howard Purcell          11

Bill Ely                          10

Bob Brown                   6

Ed Smalle                      5

Nick Cardy                    5

Jerry Grandenetti        4

John Prentice               4

Howard Sherman       3

Mort Meskin                2

Each 1 story: Win Mortimer, Jon Small, Ramona Fradon, Ray Bailey, George Papp and Jim McArdle. Mystery artwork in 7 stories.

We see Curt Swan in almost every issue. Latecomers Ely and Cardy replace Starr and Purcell.

Remarkable is how relatively “easy” to spot these artists were. They all do pencils and ink alone. We’ll see a very different picture when it comes to PHANTOM STRANGER and the SENSATIONS…