Monday, April 27, 2020

The Death of a Puppet!

A superb Atlas entry from the March 1953 issue of Spellbound #13, with wicked art by Jim Mooney. Tales about puppets and dummies usually seem to contain the same old string-along story twists we've seen countless times before, but this one goes for the startlingly simple, yet highly effective extra implication gusto-- and all in 4 perfect pages too!


JBM said...

That's heavy man. Thank you Mr.K. for a wonderful post.

Brian Barnes said...


Except the printing errors, that is, which muddied the hell out of some fine art. I'm not a big fan of the opening panels but the splash is aces. Page 2, panel 1 is a great angle, with the puppet in the forefront. The Atlas 4 panel run on page 3 is very cinematic (with the zoom out from the paper to face) and let's face it, the last panel has got to be in the top 100 pre-code horror panels. It's just great (not minding the offset printing, GRRRR.)

Mooney really does a great job here. Was it Stan? He didn't sign it, so probably not, thought it does read a little like Stan.

What is even better is our hero is a kind man -- he feels for his puppets, he's worried that he's causing murders, and he tries to figure out why, only to have his words come back to haunt him. It's an interesting twist, but not a surprising one. It's just fun.

All in 4 tight pages. "Superb" is right.

Mr. Cavin said...

Yeah, this is pretty perfect. I love drawings of people reading newspapers, so obviously this one is totally for me. Mooney drew a paper in over one-third of the panels here. I do like the opening sequence quite a lot, but even more than that I like the whole first page. I tend to lean toward precode stories like this one, where the splash is on the bottom. Probably because, aesthetically, I prefer the title to fall somewhere in the middle of the page. I also dig how the puppeteer looks like Bug-Eyed Earl from the Red Meat comic.

And that Carl Burgos cover is very solid. With all that moody texture and beefy line work, it comes off as almost literally heavy. I like the way the colorist blocked it into discrete areas, almost like a color wheel--or even an abstracted comics page.

RM said...

I remember this (as a reprint in the '70s), very effective. Great use of the comics medium in that it would be less effective as literature or film. The last three panels, and especially the hands in the final one, have stuck with me through the years,

Grant said...

I know it from the same reprint.
Along with a completely comical one called "The Pitchman." It turned out to be Vault of Evil # 10. I was glad to find it again.