Sunday, February 22, 2009

Death Song! / The Thing With Red Eyes

Our last pre-code story from Don Heck this weekend comes from the September 1953 issue of Horrific #7, but it’s actually a reprint from the Nov. ’52 issue of Weird Terror #2 (another Comic Media horror title.) Strange to see a publisher re-use its own story just one year later but I guess the competative newsstand times were tough back then so they re-used whatever they had when they could.

Plus, as promised, after this story we’ve got a fine example of Heck’s Silver Age work from his astonishing days at Marvel. Enjoy!








And in case you missed them the first time around, there’s plenty more Don Heck in the THOIA Archives! Just click the titles below:




And speaking of Comic Media’s Weird Terror mag, stick around on Monday and Tuesday for a couple examples from this series, including some tentacled terror from Al Tewks and a fabulously sweaty freak-fest from THOIA fave Rudy Palais!

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The Thing with Red Eyes
From the May 1961 issue of Tales to Astonish #19




9 comments:

Mr. Cavin said...

Once, in the past, I commented about the blithe use of unnecessarily odd-shaped panels in pre-code horror. How that always annoys me. Here is a perfect example of the opposite: a circular panel used to striking effect in the middle of page three. As a matter of fact, all of page three is pretty good, I thought. I'm still on the fence about Heck, he comes and he goes for me (sometimes within the space of a singe panel). But that page is very well parsed, even when I think the renderings themselves aren't always exactly up to snuff. Now I want to comb through the backposts just to see if I think Heck makes up for his lackluster draftsmanship, in my opinion, with a consistently intelligent visual strategy.

I assume the end is supposed to indicate that the previously burnt violin is now hauntingly rested upon the splattered corpse, but I wish more of a point had been made of the maestro hopping out the window without his own instrument. As it stands, this is a little vague. As a matter of fact, my first interpretation was that everyone was nonplussed by the musician's final act: scrawling "the end" in a pool of his own ejecta.

(It should be noted that this final panel pretty much works for the end of both stories. Is this a sinister pattern?)

AndyDecker said...

Yes, the end was a bit vague. A by-the-numbers plot, but the execution was good.

The long Anonymus post yesterday was quite interesting. I know there are a lot of tales about how Marvel worked - like the one when Thomas allegedly sent the artist just a few pages ripped out of a Lancer Conan instead of a typed up plot -, and frankly I can´t imagine the strain on the artist to get that much pages done in a short time - also without the help of a detailed script.

When I now see this well told tales drawn by Heck I gather that atmospheric horror tales was more his thing than the Hulk smashing. Of course one has to remember that these were different times. The restrictions of the Code sure had an impact. The non-scary monsters, the non-sexual women, the artists hadn´t a lot they could really work with any longer. Plus the working conditions to feed the ever expanding line ... It is a wonder that so much memorable, comics defining stuff was produced in the 60s. Marvel and DC still plunder that corpse.

I still don´t like Heck´s Marvel work :-) but I can appreciate it better now, if that makes any sense.

Anonymous said...

WOW TWO KILLER HECK STORIES! OF ALL THE MUSICIAN REVENGE STORIES THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST. THE SPLASH AND THE 2 PANELS AT THE TOP OF PAGE THREE ARE CREEPY. AND I DONT KNOW ABOUT ANYONE ELSE BUT I LOOK AT HECKS SILVER AGE WORK HERE AS SOMEONE WHO REFINED HIS STYLE TO KEEP UP WITH A POSSIBLE STEADIER WORKFLOW BUT DIDNT REALLY LOSE ANY OF THE BEST ASPECTS OF HIS WORK.

TOP NOTCH WEEKEND KARS, THANKS AGAIN!!

Horror pariah said...

I once met Heck back in the '80's. He was particularly proud of his romance, war, and horror work, but seemed to really get angry about any mentions of his time at Marvel. He said he never had a problem with the "Marvel method" but hated being constantly pressured to draw like Kirby and that he though Stan was a pain in the ass(he also said he based his depiction of the Wasp off his wife)and that some of the hate mail he got really hurt his feelings. Mark Evanier even seemed apologetic on his blog when he passed away after years of criticizing him. I always grew up considering him one of the main 3 artists at Marvel in the early Silver Age.
As for the stories, yeah i think this is one of the best musician horror stories i've ever read. Particularly like the panel of Marleau lurking ouside in the alley. What i find interesting is the story's assertion that Marleau really WAS talented and that he could never have been a sucess without the murder, when usually in these stories he'd have been less talented and plagiarised Ricco. I thought the second story was really creepy, especially the odd look of the doll. The ambiguos ending is some good 'ol fashioned nightmare fuel, and better handled than most other endings of this type. My only gripe is; If the doll was a real voodoo doll, wouldn't altering the doll's features change Rocco's face into Kanes? and cause him to fall too?.

Anonymous said...

From Andy Decker:

"I still don´t like Heck´s Marvel work :-) but I can appreciate it better now, if that makes any sense."

It makes perfect sense, and it cheers me immensely to "hear" you "say" it. You're also right that Heck was better at atmosphere and mood than at action. The more "realistic" nature of his early Antman stories suited him well, but unfortunately (for Don) those very stories helped usher in the bigger-than-life theatrics of the Marvel age of superheroes. Don just couldn't compete on that stage, I'll be the first to admit it.

My turn for redundancy; thanks so much, Karswell. I've absolutely loved this Heck tribute.

todd said...

"What i find interesting is the story's assertion that Marleau really WAS talented and that he could never have been a sucess without the murder, when usually in these stories he'd have been less talented and plagiarised Ricco."

Right on.

I wish I had more to add, but do not mistake the lack of comment for lack of interest.

red said...

Redtube

Anonymous said...

heck of a tribute this weekend kars, nice job and thanks!

Karswell said...

Hey everybody, thanks for the comments... I'll have Monday's post up in a little bit, had a really busy Sunday.

Glad some of you enjoyed the Heck Fest, I've got more artist tributes coming up in March, and more trips in the Silver Age Time Machine as well.