Friday, December 1, 2023

The Third Wish / Menace of Death

We ended last month with a Tale of Terror, so lets keep it rollin' into December with a deadly double feature from the Golden Age of Charlton comics! And like our last entry, both of these are also illustrated by the wonderfully low-fi hand of Alan Mandel (god, even his signature feels childish, haha...) and we get yet another weirdly wishful variation of the 'ol tragic Monkey's Paw tale, from the February 1946 issue of Yellowjacket Comics #8. And after that, it's time to endure the selfish shenanigans of a thievin' group of brutal bastards, via the April 1946 issue of Yellowjacket Comics #9. Yes, my fellow fiends, --"The Old Witch" strikes again!


Brian Barnes said...

Again, it's amazing how fully formed these are, even early ECs don't have the pattern down as well as these. Of course, the concept came from radio shows so the idea of a horror host was already in place (I'm not sure why the witch seem Scottish, might be from a radio program of maybe a Shakespeare reference.)

The cat is back! I love that thing!

Why the heck did that family get that cursed idol? They helped the guy out, even though he pretty much seems like the devil! And I love how level headed the husband was in this!

The second one is fun, I wonder how many bodies those Tibetan monks have to clean up every week? And to keep pushing that idol back has got to be hard work!

I actually like the witch better when she is drawn badly; here she just looks like an old lady. It's why Ghastly, with his slimy and crawling artwork, worked so well for the old witch. She looked so much more unnerving.

JMR777 said...

In the first tale, we don't know if the traveler is someone in need of help or possibly a warlock or demon out to tempt the old couple. Maybe he was ol' scratch himself, he seems to look like the way the devil is portrayed masquerading as a human, slightly pointed ears, moustache, sinister smile, etc. The story never says so we are left with that loose end to ponder.

In the second tale, the four were just begging for it. They were rescued from poor health and possibly starvation, then repay good with evil, no sympathy for evil or stupid or both.

I don't know why, but I really like these 1940's horror tales. It's as if the early horror comics were finding their footing in the early days of comics, different ideas were tried to find out what worked or not. For example, the second tale was more action adventure with a hint of supernatural (the idol falling over at the last moment) than pure horror.

There was an old time radio program titled "The Witch's Tale" back in the thirties, I wonder if the witch in question is a representation of that show and its narrator.

Bill the Butcher said...

I don't see how "bad" the artwork is. Certainly it isn't what would be acceptable in 2023, but it isn't that bad. Eileen's crushed face is especially a good touch.

Speaking of that, it's probably the colourist who is responsible for shifting Eileen in her car to broad daylight, even though by the "Meanwhile" narration box it has to be the middle of the night.

Both in the original Monkey's Paw story and here, I always wonder why the old man didn't just use his third wish to make his resurrected child whole and healthy again.

Mr. Cavin said...

Hah! Today's theme is definitely "piss poor gratitude." This would have made a great Thanksgiving post. So yeah, if a devilish stranger out of the night presents me with a relic he's promised will make me "wish for death," well, I might not not immediately try that out, you know?

Alan Mandel is already appreciably better here than he was in the last post. Here, even the anodyne panels are alive and interesting. The second story is all about some plunderers arguing the deets of their schemes, but the art is way better at padding that out than the tiresome writing is. While almost anything would have improved the dialog on page six of that story, the art is starting to remind me of Toth.

Karswell mentioned the underground indie comics of the eighties in the intro to the last post and that aesthetic is even more crystal clear here--the character work in both of these stories evokes the look of Charles Burns or Daniel Clowes. Thankfully, the naive outsider weirdness sneaks through, though: What is up with that huge skeleton in the splash? Mandel thinks human anatomy is constructed along the lines of an erector set bridge or his drafting table lamp. It's amazing!

Back to the first story: Since the idea was to lift a famous story (with only just enough details changed to project culpability), I appreciate that they added value by really slathering on the deviance: The lovingly described--then portrayed!--facial trauma, the peekaboo wet burial shroud. Yellowjacket was in it to win it.

NERODART said...

Nerodart says....
Congrats on the retelling of THE MONKEYS PAW
And the statement was right, there was something to the simplexty of amok 40s horror tales in the second one NEAT

Grant said...

I know it used to be a popular thing for "mature" men to call their wives "Mother," but it seems like I've never heard of the wives calling their husbands "Father." Was that ever common?

All joking aside, a little of that story's artwork has a Mike Judge kind of look, especially the wife in Panel 4 of Page 2. At a quick glance, she's almost Beavis or Butthead!

It's easy to second-guess, but this seems like one horror story about money where a character isn't greedy ENOUGH. After all, if he'd wished for a million dollars instead of five-thousand, their daughter's insurance wouldn't have covered it.
Something else might've gone wrong (according to the man's warning), but not that.