Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Tales from the Witch's Cauldron

Finishing up our jolting January with a doomed double feature that goes way way back-- pre pre code days!  Both witch's tales here are from 1942 and were spooky back-up features from Blue Ribbon Comics #20 and Blue Ribbon Comics #22, (basically padding for this predominately superhero title produced by Archie Comics.) They're definitely a bit old fashioned in art and storytelling, but still effectively fun, and ominously enough, the second story hints at our theme for February. Enjoy, and we'll see all you quivering love birds next month for THOIA's Valentine's Massacre 2020.


Brian Barnes said...

Wow. Yeah, that's a 40s comic. I had to re-read the first one, I got lost half-way through. I do like the odd time-skip nature of the telling (it worked much better in the second tale than the first) but still both were relatively hard reads.

The witch and Lucifer are great hosts, and thank Satan Lucifer is around otherwise the witch would be explaining the plot to thin air!

First story, first page, the insert panel -- the hand is backwards. The witch has the power to tell stories and twist her wrist around 180 degrees!

Best part -- I do like the ghostly kiss where he gets a lung full of gas! That's actually a pretty effective scary idea!

JMR777 said...

The splash from the first tale, with a bit of editing, would make a great All Hallows decoration.

The themes from these two tales best summed up -nobody lived happily ever after.

Unknown said...

Mr. Karswell said...

>First story, first page, the insert panel -- the hand is backwards

@ Brian: You're backwards man, that hand is fine

>make a great All Hallows decoration



JBM said...

Thank you Mr.K. for tossing these gems at us. First page inset panel had me thinking she was holding a party with those balloons? Nice bony fingered witch. Wow quick plot exposition makes for a wild ride. The simple artwork works well for me. After hearing he was a goner, I love the shocked expression on his face before fainting. What was with the victim hearing the echo/esp of the Dr. Wallace/ Wade. That policeman was a convenient passer-by. The yellow narration boxes give it that early comics feel. What a story. The second entry, the witch lost her green hue. She must be feelin' better. A couple driving through a storm is a bigtime fun cliché. Another jump right in, sit right down plot( we let our hair hang down the previous two posts) Had to look up the pulmotor. Wow again! I loved the surprising ending.

Glowworm said...

Some of the dialogue from the second tale is unintentionally hilarious. My favorites include the hotel manager proclaiming: "Why do these things have to happen in my hotel?" You mean this has happened here before?
"And then, as John's lips meet Mary's, a suffocating odor of gas rises from her!" Man,don't you hate those silent but deadly farts? I guess Mary was too embarrassed to admit it.

I love how the doctor's house in the first tale gets a magical makeover when he comes back from the dead,only to immediately lose it once he's gotten his revenge.

Grant said...

Maybe it's pretty unlikely, but on Page 2, I almost expected John to learn at the last second how he'd been tricked, and not commit the murder. After all, it could still be a horror story if John and Frank ganged up on Wallace. (Maybe Frank could even keep John from knowing Wallace had a legitimate grudge against him.)

I wonder if the name John Payne was a coincidence. I'm not sure how big the actor of that name was in 1942 (that's some time before ONE obvious thing, his role in MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET).

Mr. Cavin said...

I thought both stories were really excellent. I don't usually expect all that much from the pre-precode, but these were both solid gold. A little over direct and on-the-nose? Maybe. But that resonates perfectly well with me; it just reminds me of campfire stories and the simple oral ancestry of scary tales.

For me it's that second splash panel that has the most vintage Halloween visual panache, but I'm certainly not knocking that first splash. The house--and especially its wuthering landscape--is so dynamite an image that I forgive them for jamming it sideways into the exposition (but even without the good art it's an awesome story detail).

Weighing in on the hand: I agree with Karswell, though the linework is raw enough that I can see how what I see as fingernails (the palm facing me) can be interpreted as knuckles (the palm facing away). So the clue, of course, is the thumb--not which side it's on, but rather the side of the hand that it is opposing.

Mr. Karswell said...

Glad you enjoyed this double header... I'll dig around for more early examples of comic book horror to post in the coming months-- stay tombed! But for now, we're off into February for THOIA's Valentines Massacre 2020 --NEXT!

Grrrrrrrace said...

You gotta dig that hotel manager, smoking his pipe in the room FILLED WITH GAS.