Monday, October 1, 2012

Has Anyone Seen My Killer? / 5 Miles to Midnight

This October we'll do something different... I thought I'd make every post this month a double feature, as well as highlight a particular artist in both stories. Sound good? Today we have two Silver Age classics from Lee Elias-- Lee needs no introduction, his brilliant cover work alone during the pre-code era of Golden Age horror comics goes unmatched. Special thanks to Britt (?) from Coliseum of Comics in Kissimmee, FL for helping me find these two issues in their massive back issue bin. "Has Anyone Seen My Killer?" from the Jan-Feb 1975 issue of The Unexpected #161, and "5 Miles to Midnight" is from the October 1975 issue of The Unexpected #169.



















13 comments:

Brian Barnes said...

Those stories are beautifully illustrated but they are 70s DC "horror" stories, and, well, ugh.

There was great stuff in the 70s, Warren, a lot of Marvel (Werewolf By Night is still my all time favorite comic, and the Hell House riff (34-37) is probably one of the great comic haunted house stories.) But the DC stuff, it was always trite, boring, and the endings were always devoid of any impact.

I really hate to be critical, but writing was one of the low-points in 70s DC horror.

Karswell said...

I don't totally agree, though I do know what you mean at the same time...

More DC coming up-- just for Brian!

Dennis Radar aka BTK said...

great issue I read this one back at the otero home back in the 70's oh what a fun night that was

Chuck Wells said...

I so miss the good old days when both Marvel and DC issued monthly anthology titles built around genres like horror and science-fiction, but with work produced by their top tier of talent - and not predominantly the "indie" talent that seems to have eclipsed such efforts these days. And that's not meant to slam small press creators, many of whom produce work that is exceptional. I mostly just mean that overall going outside the box, these days, seems to always lean towards an artsy-fartsy kind of vibe, and when it comes to classics like "The Unexpected" having A-game artists was ahuge plus.

Mr. Cavin said...

That first one is especially interesting. I know they were juggling the comics code and all that, but it is really strange to see them try to make a horror story with all of the actual horror surgically removed (or strategically located between the panels). All we see is a tale in which a man doesn't raise the dead, is pretty nice to the villagers, and indulges some overheated seventies melodrama in the parlor (dig that smooth green leisure ensemble with the blue gloves at the bottom of page four--how Modesty Blaise!)--oh, and he wears a mask. I suspect I am supposed to infer all sorts of evil deeds, but none of it ever really materializes. Like the menace, the actual plot seems to relegated to my memory of other stories kind of like this one.

The art was mighty as hell, though. For my money, the three-panel unmasking sequence at the top of page five is even better than the version on the cover.

Brian Barnes said...

re Mr. Cavin,

You summed it up better than I did (sorry for carrying water on this, but it's a pet peeve of mine). This was 1975, at that point Marvel was publishing ToD and WWBN, both which were within the comic code and both were able to generate suspense and horror. Hell, WWBN did it while being firmly stuck in the superhero mentality for a bunch of it's run. Why couldn't DC do this?

Karswell said...

I'm a huge fan of 70s DC horror, the art in particular, and have no problems with the writing, though as I mentioned above I can see why some people would. But to me it seems no more weak or lame than the endless 40s and 50s horror film plots I thrived on and loved with late night television as a kid... it's all subjective, while at the same time, I did enjoy the Marvel reprints more, I still bought all the DC horror I could get my paws on!

Mestiere said...

I think 70s horror has its own kind of nostalgia, even DC horror. Some of that artwork was wonderful.

Mr. Cavin said...

Mr. Barnes:

Well, to be fair, I thought they did a pretty good job with today's second story (that nonsense title notwithstanding). Honestly, I know very little about silver age horror. I'm not much of a fan, not even of the Warren stuff frankly, so I'd really have to pretend to see any great gulf of storytelling quality between Marvel and DC when it comes to mainstream, post-code suspense. I would note that, all along, from the precode horror days through the silver age superhero era--up till the eighties at least--Marvel regularly outshone DC in my opinion. So I am inclined to agree with you, but it's just because I'm totally biased and also consistent.

Karswell said...

I keep getting a strange sense of deja vu with the monster of the first story... I almost feel like Lee might've swiped himself from one of his Harvey precode tales with the beastly facial close ups. I was double checking through the archive and stumbled onto his Elixir of Evil tale which isn't quite what I was looking for but worth a revisit if you haven't seen it already:

http://thehorrorsofitall.blogspot.com/2010/12/elixir-of-evil.html?m=0

There's lots of Lee's work in the THOIA archive too, if you enjoyed his work on these two stories then use the search engine and check out more!

JMR777 said...

I myself avoid the arguement which comic had the best horror, Marvel or DC. It is a matter of personal taste as to who did the best work, who generated the best stories, best art, etc. Just as each of the pre code horror publishers had their great artists and great stories and die hard fans, so too do we have that with silver and bronze age comics and their fans.

I myself am just glad to read these stories (and in some cases I get to read them for the first time) and leave the arguement/critique for someone else to discuss.

Thanks for a walk down memory lane Karswell.

Tony said...

In defense of DC's bronze age horror output, I would at least give them credit for publishing mostly new stories and art while most of Marvel's anthology horror line at that time reprinted both stories and art from their Atlas, pre-code era. In my opinion, both DC and Marvel published some great artwork but neither really boasted stellar writing most of the time, but I still love them both anyway mainly for nostalgic reasons.

Anonymous said...

Well, I really like the pre-code art better. It was more straight-forward, and you could tell the characters apart. The newer style was more confusing. In addition, the DC stuff doesn't have the impact of pre-code. Warren stuff was much better, but even with Warren, the newer art is eclipsed by the older (in many cases) more intricate pre-code art.