Pre-Code Horror Month Day 17

Hello boils and ghouls, it’s yer ‘ol pal Johnny here, and boy do I have quite a treat for you! Every day of this frightful month, I will be posting and spooking — I mean speaking — about deviant “Pre-Code” horror comic covers. Pre-Code refers to anything published before 1955, when the Comic Code Authority was created in 1954 to censor comics from publishing “lurid and unsavory” stories and art, meaning things such things as vampires, werewolves, ghouls, zombies, ect could no longer be portrayed in comic books. As a result, good must ALWAYS triumph over evil and villains can never be sympathetic. Words such as “horror” and “terror” could not be used on comic covers. Dark times indeed. My selection for the month isn’t focused on those that are the most shocking (though a few are) but rather on the best of horror and terror (physical and psychological) and those which display a variety of classic horror images and settings. Over 20 different artists from over 10 different publishers will be featured. I hope you all enjoy!

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Journey into Mystery #15 (1954) Atlas Comics, Sol Brodsky
Love this “buried alive” cover for Journey into Mystery #15 by under-appreciated comic man Sol Brodsky. I say comic man because this dude did everything, and under-appreciated because the bulk of his work was behind the scenes so most folks don’t realize his generous and numerous contributions to comics. Brodsky was the production manager and Stan Lee’s right-hand man during Marvel Comics’ legendary Silver Age of comics and was a key asset in transforming the company into the pop culture powerhouse that it would become. This could seriously almost be an Iron Maiden album cover! That pale ghoul could totally be Eddie the Head, with little imagination needed. The haggard ghoul’s body fluctuates between totally skeletal and grossly emaciated, all completely bone white with a tattered red outfit hanging off it’s foul form. It seems to relish in its dark task of burying the screaming couple. It wears an almost childlike look of glee on its horrible face. I like the blues and dark shading of the double-wide grave and the perspective, looking up, which perfectly frames the gruesome scene. Furnace blazing in the background, and a flaming heap about to be dumped on the mostly buried helpless couple, with the story’s title “Till Death Do Us Part!” written over the flaming shovel load. The dirty faces of the buried couple are locked in an endless scream. Are they begging for mercy at an unfeeling executor, or are they crying out to each other, proclaiming their love one last time? They honestly just look like they are screaming mindlessly in fear, but these are the things I think about. My absolute favorite part of this cover is the couples’ hands, interlocked. What a nice detail to include! Their grisly fate is made even worse by the fact that they found love, the most wonderful thing in this world, and now they have to give that up with their lives.

John Foster

John Foster

John Foster used to be just a regular guy, but after reading 10,000 comics in one sitting, the resulting brain damage transformed him into something more. Now an adviser to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (the single most comprehensive guide to comic collecting and appraisal for 46 years running), this mindless misshapen mockery of a man can usually be found at his shop, South Philly Comics, listening to surf tunes pricing old funny books. To fulfill a life debt to Liam O, Johnny has agreed to share his thoughts on comics, old and new.
John Foster

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