Pre-Code Horror Month Day 18

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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Blue Bolt Weird Tales #119 (1953) Star Publications, L.B.Cole

“What was the hidden secret of the mysterious wooden chest, which caused death to so many greedy men? Did it actually contain demoniacal creatures of darkness, did it contain the – Demons of Docar?” So good! Another classic “greedy man gets way more than he bargained for” routine. Usually, the less text on a cover the better, but when it is small, well placed, and awesome, I don’t mind too much. Like on this very busy cover of Blue Bolt Weird Tales #119 by the one and only L.B. Cole! This is actually the second and final L.B. Cole cover for my month of Pre-Code Horror covers and honestly I was a little shocked that L.B. made the cut TWICE. It’s not a matter of talent at all, L.B. is just a name I don’t think of when I think of the Horror genre. This cover is a decent example of L.B. Cole’s use of what he called “poster colors” which was a technique employing primary colors, usually over a black background. Here we have that, with the exception of the green, but it really is like he created this image by using color to carve out the black. We have a total of ten gruesome demons whirling about the page, amid the smoke and fire summoned forth by the open chest. I like how we don’t see anything else besides the demonic inferno and the ground is only hinted at with the man’s shadow and the box sitting there. As if once the box was opened, all Hell broke loose and instantly transformed this man’s reality into a deadly nightmare! Now he is being thrown down onto his back by a large, fanged, red demon with it’s hands gripped around his throat. Blue demons are close at each side as flames and various monsters fly about. Everything appears to be happening so quickly that the man doesn’t even have time to be shocked or scared of the impossible sight of terrifying demons flying around before him! His fearful face could be the response to anyone or anything strangling the life from him. Though it does seem like the man WILL have time to fear the demons, they have the look like they relish torment, I’m pretty sure each one will get a piece of him!

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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