Thursday, April 18, 2024


Got myself a terrifying trim the other day, which reminded me of this hair-raising little story from the July 1953 issue of Chamber of Chills #18. Super duper, Jack Davis-esque art by Howard Nostrand as usual, and a truly creepy cover by lurid 'ol Lee Elias... yep, you've definitely come to the right place this eerie evening for a grave and a scare-cut!


Bill the Butcher said...

Saw the end coming about 2/3 of the way through, but even this kind of telegraphed tale does beg the question of why villains need to boast of their plans and found when they could avoid any repercussions by keeping their mouths shut.

Brian Barnes said...

I am always amazed by Nostrand. He did fine work on his own but his Davis lift was really amazing. Supposedly he did some Wally Wood lifts, too, and the EC artist were impressed with his ability.

There's a lot of subtle differences; Davis seemed to have more lean characters and Nostrand more rounded? I mean, it's hard to pick out the differences, but they are there. Nostrand really did have a Davis style that was different and was original. There's a bit of Powell in there, too, to my eyes.

BTW I'm sort of surprised that this tale doesn't really go all in; you don't see Martha's fate other than she's alone ... in a horror tale you expect her to jump off a cliff.

BTW this tale really sticks as close to a straight 6 panel page layout as you can.

Mr. Cavin said...

Yeah I guess we get a little hint of Martha's fate at the end when her brother refers to her in past tense, but it really is a little odd that the story doesn't choose between either of the usual routes for hapless wives, her murder or her suicide. I guess they just want to leave it to my imagination. And I got news for them, what happens to Martha in my imagination might get plenty freaky. Maybe she goes off the rails on a bloody, man-hating terror spree (starting with her banker) and is finally gunned down on a freight train south of Tulsa? Or maybe finds a genie bottle and Freaky Fridays with random men till she finally catches up with Amos--and in that last panel she's just lying to him. And those are the PG versions.

I like Nostrand's work here, which strikes me as much chunkier than Davis, with a heavier line, figures more rounded and ponderous, and a unique three dimensional heft. I see what Mr. Barnes is saying about a Dick Powell influence. I feel like Howard looks less like Jack here than he does in some of his more satirical horror stuff. Also: the work here really plays up the partnership between inker and colorist, and the colors really benefit from it.

This ish has one of my very favorite Lee Elias covers, too.

Grant said...

I could see the ending, but in my case that's because the story resembles an episode of THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR called "The Return of Verge Likens."
It has a very early Peter Fonda, and Robert Emhardt as one of those sleazy characters that people love to see him play. So it's kind of easy to imagine that actor playing Mr. Vessels.

It's kind of comical that he doesn't even bother using euphemisms (let alone actual lies) on Martha, like "You'll remain in the background!"
And especially "It's a men's party - so you won't be able to come!"
(That line suggests other things besides business.)

Jasper Bark said...

I think the line that telegraphed the ending to everyone was: "The only relative I have left is a brother... but he's gone away! I haven't heard from him in ages."

What I can't help wondering is does the guy walk into every barber shop and boast of his nefarious schemes, or is it just something about this barber that made him want to open up (a bit like his throat was opened up – seconds after this strip ended). said...

Howard Nostrand was one of the two best Jack Davis imitators.. which is sort of sad in a way because his art is at such a level of excellence and he never had to 'imitate' if he didn't want to.
I've read that the comic companies would outright tell artists to imitate Davis. he probably got some extra pay for doing that.
I wonder what his art would have looked like if he never did that. Maybe he was one of those guys that have to do that?
I haven't seen any thing he did in between the horror comics and Cracked.
He did lots of high quality stuff for Cracked but I still don't think he was utilized to his potential.
Nostrand and Lee Elias are my favourite Harvey artists.