Sunday, May 5, 2019

Witches of Salem

Satanic Saturday's at THOIA sometimes happen on Sundays --especially when Mr. Karswell can't quite get his atrocity act together-- and today we have what might possibly be one of the oldest stories ever posted around here. It's a wild 'n wicked Mark Swift (and his unfortunately named time machine) tale, from the July 1940 issue of Slam-Bang Comics #5. Yep, another bizarre adventure into witchery and the supernatural, and yeah its VERY old-timey, and very yellow, and OMG WTF is up with putting narrative blocks at the bottom of panels?! Yet despite all of that, this is a highly entertaining, two-fisted, slam-bangin' adventure into eerie evil, with a few surprisingly sinister moments, and one super, laugh out loud bit towards the end (first panel, last page.) Have fun, fiends!

There's another great yarn from this same issue too that I might post next, stay tombed...


Glowworm said...

One small thing: You mentioned that Mark has a laugh out loud bit of dialogue on the first panel of the last page--that's actually Rodney Kent, Mark's teacher who adopted the boy and the two of them created the time machine in order to see history up close and personal rather than simply teaching it from a book. (A little research on the internet helps.) Although Mark gets top billing, it seems his teacher is the main hero in this series.

Yeah, the first thing I noticed was that unfortunate name for their time machine--turns out a "retarder" is actually a term for a mechanical device used to slow vehicles or maintain a steady speed. So in this case, their time machine is literally a mechanical device used to slow down time. Doesn't make the name for it any less dated or unfortunate though.

What strikes me as odd here is how all of the witches in this story--with the exception of the witch-master are dressed in white--usually a color associated with goodness and purity as opposed to the usual black. Also of surprise to me--although it's not at all uncommon, is that for a story that takes place during Puritan times, the witches in question here are mostly men--in fact, I only see one old hag in the mix.
Also, since when are witches so easily frightened by guns?
Also,apparently the Devil doesn't like it when his living sacrifices have a staring contest with him.
Finally, those are the most rational Puritans I've come across in a comic. I was waiting for them to accuse Rodney and Mark of being witches too due to their odd garments and showing up in a weird vehicle from out of the sky.

Mestiere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Barnes said...

The old rule about not messing with past events has one exception: Fist-a-cuffs!

I loved the image of the devil in the splash, it's too bad they didn't continue that in the comic. This is really a man's adventure story with witches and devils, you could substitute Nazi spies for the witches and a Nazi robot for the devil and the story would read the same.

The art has a bit of Fletcher Hanks vibe, but a much better draftsman.

The devil is this thing is pretty weak, I don't know why anybody would worship it. If you face death bravely, it freaks him out, and he gets murder-ized by a bucket of water!

Nice one, I look forward to the second story!

Dr. Theda said...

An enjoyable read..... never heard of these "time-Travelers"

Mr. Cavin said...

I like the occasional glimpse into the hoary ol' dawn of the golden age. I also really liked the devil art here. I agree with Brian that the figure in the splash image is particularly nifty (and very reminiscent of German folk illustration from turn of the century postcards and political cartoons), but I do like the rather less whimsical page six devil, too. The way he rises from the fire to literally fill his frames makes him seem powerful and dominating. The story belies all that, of course. But the art is pretty wicked and effective.

JBM said...

Great post! For me, the last panel was the best. Mark says how grand it was almost getting sacrificed. I must agree with Brian and Mr. C. that the splash devil was terrific.(Maybe a swipe? or just such a traditional depiction.) I'd have to say that it was a lesser fire demon that the bucket of water defeated not ol' scratch himself. The early cartooning is just fine, especially when accompanied with a fun read. Why did the Puritans have him fight the witchmaster after they were captured? A puzzling pugilistic plot pick. Thank you Mr. K. you're the best!

JMR777 said...

Rodney Kent and Mark Swift are pre- Peabody and Sherman with their time retarder an early version of the WAYBACK machine. In the fist episode of Peabody's Improbable History, it was mentioned that the WAYBACK wasn't so much a time machine as a 'should have been' machine. The time retarder must work much the same way since Rodney and Mark weren't burned at the stake for their out of place clothing, the helping of a suspected witch, their flying machine, etc.

Followup footnote, I posted a comment under Bad Blood that 'From Beyond the Grave' could be found on youtube, I meant to say it could be seen for free on dailymotion.

Sorry for giving the wrong vid site.