Saturday, June 1, 2013

Carnival of Terror

It's finally June, and here in the midwest among the severe thunderstorms and terrifying tornado alley action, the carnival has rolled into town-- and for those of you looking for some cheap thrills, this carnival spells ghostly TERROR! From the February 1952 issue of Web of Mystery #7, art by Charles Nicholas in his very first appearance as a steady contributor to Ace horror!


Turok1952 said...

Dear all,

Some of these stories seem like they could easily have made the progression into a regular feature. This is one such story.

Another interesting thought I had was this: What if this story had appeared, say, a dozen years later and some tv studio honcho had picked it up? In 1952 the medium, and certainly the culture, was not ready for this story line.

I don't know. I must defer to those much wiser, but it does seem that timing is everything, and not just in embryology!

Mestiere said...

The artwork was good, but I found the storytelling awkward and arbitrary. Why did the girl's ghost had to appear to Neal? The explanation at the end that she and Neal were "carnival crazy" seems almost appended since we didn't see that from either Neal or the girl. How could the carnival business be "deep in his blood" if it was Neal's first day on the job? And what exactly was Neal's job? He seems to go from one ride to the next without doing anything and he never showed any carnival related skills. If he was a psychic or medium it would make more sense in the contest of a horror comic.

In the vision with the lions Neal is devoured, but when the lions escaped for real it turned out the girl could tame them. If that is the case, why did she need Neal? And how come all those accidents were going to happen the same day? I feel the story could have been clearer.

Brian Barnes said...

That's one dynamic cover ... normally these horror comics have either badly positioned figures or movement that's too static. That's a great, eye-catching cover.

As for the story, I don't get why people had a problem with it. This happens to me ALL the time. I can't go to a carnival without a beautiful women picking me up out of nowhere and then I suddenly black out.

Of course, I usually wake up with a kidney missing, but other than that, it's exactly like the story above!

Trevor M said...

Kidney? You're lucky. It's always my #@*%$^*! wallet!

But yes, otherwise exactly like the story...

JMR777 said...

I think Neal was a laborer or general overall help in the Carnival (I think but I'm not sure that a roustabout put up/took down the tents, assembled/disassembled the rides, cleaned up the grounds after the carnival closed,etc. Generally the hired hand/hired help)

It was a good story, though it was tame by 1950's standards (no vampires/warewolves/zombies/spirits needing vengance/devil offering a deal, etc)
It is a good tale which much like many such tales, it could have been treated differently so many ways.

SpaceLord said...

Thanks for posting this.
And linking to my website ACE HORROR.
Charles Nicholas indeed tried his hand at horror first in Ace Magazines.
And soon after at the American Comics Group. Later on he contributed to Quality's WEB OF EVIL as well.
His crisp and clean style seems to blend a bit of romance and glamour into the dire horror lore...

Mr. Cavin said...

In general, I found the work awkward here, but page three panel four is like an impressionistic masterpiece, so it all balances back out to even again. The story is kind of a hoot, though. It's a two-act play in which we are given a sequence of expository calamities--then they go over here and HORROR HAPPENS!, then it's suddenly deserted and MORE HORROR!--and then we are given a replay in which things TURN OUT SURPRISINGLY DIFFERENTLY! It's like Tarantino's Death Proof with a comically large number of obstructive word balloons.

AB said...

Good splash panel image. Dreadful printing as usual for '50s comics.

You don't often see the word "geek" in print prior to recent decades. It's always in the context of a circus performer.