Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Son of Satan

Nope, it's not Daimon Hellstrom-- it's the other SOS as featured in a truly wild and unusual tale from the February 1954 issue of Tales of Horror #9, with wonderfully atmospheric art by George Olesen.

More Satan in our next post too-- HAIL!


JMR777 said...

Man, what a tale!

On the first page the devil looks like a psychotic Santa Claus on LSD.

On page four we see the child/imp acting cruelly and viciously, though today his antics would end up on Jackass or Youtube, and be considered quite tame by most.

How did the real child survive as he was abandoned in the woods, or was there a she wolf who took him in as a new Romulus?

On the last page with the denizens of hell feasting, it reminded me of the family get togethers around Thanksgiving, with the demons showing slightly better table manners than some family members I recall.

While the scares were weak this was might have been due to the comics code starting to kick in or a publisher seeing the writing on the wall.

Brian Barnes said...

I love this.

It reads like a fairy tale; there are some parts of the narrative missing but fairy tales are always short on detail outside the straw men and morality plays.

I love the old man Satan. It's such a bizarre visual from the normal magician like or devil with horns Satan you see in horror comics.

This tale shows a rather capricious god; he lets a family raise an evil imp for years, while their real son survives as a lonely feral child, he lets Satan grab and torture -- in hell! -- an innocent couple! And all he does is throw down a lighting bolt at the right time. You know, there's a much easier solutions, like, oh, not letting Satan switch children in the first place?

Mestiere said...

I love this one! The art is terrific and there is a lot of imagination.

That giant hand coming down from the sky was actually Satan's, so when the Devil was cast out of Heaven the upper atmosphere counted as part of the Earth.

The substitution of a baby by an evil replacement is part of fairy lore, the changeling. The modern equivalent are the stories of the vanishing pregnancies of UFO experiencers and the ones about alleged hybrids being raised as humans. They are said to look different from their siblings and have telepathic and psychokinetic powers. And of course the alleged aliens look indistinguishable from classical elves and fairies. Myths are still being created.

Lots of memorable images: the hand coming out of the sky, the walking boar skeleton, the parents thrown in the lake of fire. Such generosity by the author and the artist.

Had the good son killed the bad one instead of it been divine intervention, we would have had a repetition of the Cain and Abel drama, but with Cain as the hero. I would have loved that. Still, this story was a winner.

Brian Barnes said...

Hm, it seems an earlier comment got eaten. I'll try to recreate.

Like Mesterie, I love this thing. It's obviously written like a fairy tale, so the logic inconsistencies and lack of detail (how did the original boy survive) can all be safely ignored, what's important is the morality play.

That says, it certain shows the "god works in mysterious ways" or, capricious way. He let's Satan take the family to be tortured -- an innocent family -- leaves them years of suffering with an evil imp and leaves the original (good) boy to live alone in the woods, and only hands out the smallest of help (the lightning bolt/boar skeleton.) It's very much in the greek tragedy where people suffer, suffer, and suffer some more until a single movement by the gods changes everything.

And dapper Satan is just a great image.

Trevor Markwart said...

I love these pre-code adaptations of folk tales I've never heard of before. This one is terrific! I was really drawn in here. Thanks for posting this one!

Grant said...

Speaking of mythology and speaking of Romulus, mythology and religion of course are full of abandoned babies growing up anyway and ruining things for whoever tried to get rid of them, like Moses and Jason and so on, so that fits into this story too.
It's also slightly funny to see a character in a loincloth in a comic story from the ' 50s set in ITALY. It's almost as though someone knew the Peplum movies were around the corner.

Mr. Cavin said...

Usually these good vs. evil stories starring Satan tend too much toward Jack Chicky moral evangelism for me. But not so this time, owing to that very same dreamy folk vibe that everyone else is talking about. This is more reminiscent of a Hellboy story than the usual directly pre- or post-code Red Devil scares, and it's quite easy to imagine this slicked-up with the kind of mannered contextualizing that Mignola or Corben have spent their careers tinkering with--not that this needs any more cultural sophistication than it already has, mind. I thought the bottom of page two was especially fine, though it's surely the pig skeleton psychopomp that will stick with me longest.

JMR777 said...

To add to the fun-filled insanity of this story, look at page one bottom right panel, then Google the image of Colonel Sanders on the updated KFC logo.

Talk about a fast food freak out!

This story was lots of fun. A real great find Karswell!