Saturday, September 12, 2020

The House of Spiders

Charlton art regular, Sanho Kim, seemed to me to be a rather acquired taste. I remember as a kid and flipping through these poorly printed comics at the drug store and not finding Kim's style of eerie, otherworldly illustration at all to my liking. Coupled with the oddly cramped lettering and thin line technique, I typically chose to spend my hard earned allowance on an Eerie Pub or Marvel / Atlas reprint. But now in my half century of life, I look back on Sanho's silver age work with a much higher level of astonished analyzation, and find it fascinatingly spooky, even incredible, and highly atmospheric at times. See what you think with this spider-infested story from the July 1969 issue of Ghostly Tales #74 --plus, a great cover by DC legend, Jim Aparo.


JMR777 said...

This tale could have been turned into an episode for a TV horror anthology, with the explanation at the end that the large spider web was a prop from an old movie.

This was an interesting early comic by Sanho Kim, much of his later work is much more refined. I suppose as with most artists, their early work is rough around the edges with better work created as time goes by.

Some will say that Sanho Kim's "The Bloody Mermaid" was his magnum opus for Charlton, though his work "The Last Kamikaze" from Ghostly Tales #100 should get an honorable mention.

While many criticize Charlton for their poor printing of comics and low wages, the artists working for Charlton were given a free hand to draw what they wanted.
If any artist didn't like working for Charlton they could leave, they were not prisoners of Charlton. I suspect a few artists who left soon realized that what they gained in salary they lost in freedom of creativity. Maybe that is why Ditko stayed with Charlton for so long, free to do what you want without too much oversight is viewed as a fringe benefit by creative types.

Great stuff as always, Karswell, thanks!

Mr. Karswell said...

Yeah, I love The Bloody Mermaid issue, that might make its way here before we end 2020

BTX said...

Hmmm... Felt a bit anticlimactic even if Larry's "explanation" may not be what it seems. Kim's art looks very Ditkoesqe here... it comes across as a Spiderman Anti-Origin story....

Glowworm said...

From all of the familiar terms Larry and Teresa call one another, it's quite clear that they're definitely more than simply a scientist and his assistant. To be honest,I find these two to be absolutely charming and adorable. I love the line "Ugh! It's hideous. I think It's exactly what we want!" I also love that Larry's first thought when seeing the giant spiderweb is to climb on it! Obviously, if it was a real spiderweb, Larry would have been stuck or gotten trapped in it. While I'm slightly disappointed that Larry didn't become Spider Man, at the same time, I'm kind of glad the story didn't veer into that cliche after all as I actually liked this couple.
Of course, that giant spider must have just been shy and wanted some privacy.

Brian Barnes said...

The story isn't very good and the pacing is wonky and could have used some editing, but the atmosphere was decent so that made up for a lot of the demerits.

I'm with you on the art; when I was a kid, for instance, I'd read some superhero story with Romita art and then look at somebody like Colan and go "what the hell, learn to draw, buddy!" but years later I realized what a master Colan was and understood that there was this thing called "style." Now Colan's Dracula is the only Dracula for me.

I like the art here, I think it mostly suffers because of the pretty poor printing. It'd be interesting to see what the actual art boards looked like. I like the layout of page 6, it's got a really good panel to panel flow.

Grant said...

There's also Teresa's line about the danger of spiders being greatly exaggerated. I expect to hear that about them in a story about as much as I expect to hear it about snakes in a story (even though it's true of both of them in a huge way).

Like BTX, I wasn't expecting that "debunking" kind of ending, though it's entertaining. And I wasn't expecting any kind of HAPPY ending.

Maybe the strangest thing is the image of a spider with (supposedly) a man's face, who looks like he's luring a woman into the web, instead of the other way around. As in, all those cartoon Black Widows with women's faces.

I know this site is mainly about earlier horror comics, but I hope more Charlton ones come up here and there.

Mr. Cavin said...

I see what you mean. I can understand Young Karswell's rejection of this stuff (the lettering is even getting to me a little bit) as well as Current Karswell's newfound appreciation. I dig this; but I can't recall having ever seen any other story by Kim to go by. The wonkiness here really freshens-up the usual post-code doldrums, though. There's a dreamlike feeling of oddity that substitutes for the lack of real horror in a sort of David Lynch way. The prosaic ending only adds to that for me. I love these surreal landscapes--all those warped Ernst exteriors are really moody, and the kaleidoscope of weird wooden structure inside the house is brilliant, as if spider-men with nails and 2x4s have hammered a web out of housewares.

I think my favorite bit is when Theresa goes and gets coffee for most of page five. I love the wind and the snazzy way she walks. I really dig it when stories like these take a minute of downtime purely for texture.

Todd said...

I'm on the fence between feeling like there was no ending at all and enjoying the fact the ending was quite happy and not at all aggravatingly predictable. Sometimes, after ten or twenty years of twist endings, it can be disarmingly nice just to have characters walk away none the worse for wear.

Bill the Butcher said...

I've said before that I have absolutely no patience with the "spiders are horrible" trope, so I warmly approve of the resolution to this one. In fact I really like this one despite the appalling printing - you owe me for some kind of eyestrain medication, dammit - and the art which for some reason noticeably improved about halfway through. By the way, Larry looks like he's really enjoying himself when he's hanging from the web, like a child at the playground. "Look, mummy, I'm up here!"

Darci said...

At least the letters aren't by A. Machine. That really turned me off Charlton.

I love the twist ending that there was no twist.

Jordan179 said...

With the story ending with both alive and well, we may imagine them eventually marrying and having (arachno-philiac) children. 😊