Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Witch Girl!

Here's a cool Don Heck story about juicy jealousy and bloodthirsty black magic, from the March 1954 issue of Weird Terror #10. Nicely scripted, and good Heck art that only occasionally gets undermined by the less than perfect printing (I did fix some of the crazier off-register panels, though!) Some of you might remember this tale in our Chilling Archives Horror by Heck hardcover collection from 2015.


Glowworm said...

Whenever I see this story, I recall there's another one almost identical to it that came a year before also in March, but in 1953 from Tales of Horror #5 called "Sisters of The Witch". The setting and the names of the characters are different, but everything in the story is strikingly similar from the fourth one finding the hidden room to the fates of the first and second sisters and the death of the one who turned to witchcraft. The biggest difference is the jealous sister, called Martha, is actually really homely looking, whereas here, Elvira, is quite pretty in spite of her face constantly brooding and scowling. Honestly, I prefer the other story a bit more but the tale itself is pretty good. Love the fourth and fifth panels of the last page when Elvira casts her spell and it fails.

Mr. Karswell said...

>I recall there's another one almost identical to it that came a year before also in March, but in 1953 from Tales of Horror #5 called "Sisters of The Witch".

And that story can also be found in THOIA's archive from way back in 2010, right here:


Glowworm said...

Thanks, Mr. Karswell. Had a feeling you had posted that one ages ago but wasn't sure. I wonder if the scriptwriter for both these stories were the same, I wouldn't be surprised honestly.

Grant said...

Since everyone is brining up similarities, this is a slight one, or maybe more.
It reminds me of the pretty popular TV movie HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, where sisters played by Eleanor Parker, Jessica Walter, Jill Haworth and Sally Field (!) have to spend a night in their family home, where someone decides to murder them one at a time.
The difference is that you don't know whether it's one of them or someone else.

Mr. Cavin said...

Of course this is another excellent example of Don Heck's superior artwork, especially his character development. These women are very finely crafted in a really small space. Portraits of Elvira on pages two and three are excellent. I also really dig the coloring here, so it's a shame that this example has registration issues. A close look at the splash page reveals careful color modulations in the swamp and trees that really enhance the mood. I'm a little surprised that the snake isn't more distinguished from the tree, but it's rather neat that there are places where it's hard to know which is which according to shape, too. (I'm not into that crosshatched sky though, Don!).

In a story that looks this good, I still think the stand-out element is that four-panel progression at the bottom of the second page. What a neat example of narrative expediency. I know it still feels laughably convenient--it's like the precode version of a record scratch crash cut--but it's still super charming for all that. I am especially delighted with the way the color enhances the mood shift from mopey pity-party to sinister plotting in that bisected middle area. Bravo.

If I'd written this, Elvira would have killed all three of her sisters only to discover that John Bell had been rendered incapable of falling in love with any woman after an old war injury. How ironic!

Brian Barnes said...

There's a lot to like here; Heck does a really good job of creating the four sisters and making them separate entities, though, as mentioned, Elvira is kind of a looker so the story really doesn't work on that level. That said, ugly = evil is a trope we can probably do away with.

The writer also goes a good way to try to make it so you don't have any sympathy for 3 of the sisters. Don't know if it's necessary in a horror story where innocents die left and right!

The character of John, though, is a complete cypher in this thing! He's the Maltese falcon of the story, just there to move the plot along.

I am kind of sad that we didn't see Mary's fate -- was her head going to explode? That might have been a bit much for the 50s!

JMR777 said...

Why does the good idea always come so late for me?

You're a witch girl, and you've gone too far, but you know it doesn't matter anyway...