Pre-Code Horror Month Day 23

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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Weird Mysteries #5 (1953) Stanley Morse Comics, Bernard Baily

Classic lobotomy cover by Bernard Baily for Weird Mysteries #5 from Stanley Morse Comics. We had a Baily cover earlier this month with Mister Mystery #12 — that hard-to-look at “injury to eye” cover. If you saw it, you can never forget it. Now, this image delivers everything I want from a lobotomy cover! I appreciate that all we can see are the arms and gloved hands of the person extracting the brain, we don’t need to see anything of the rest of them, that’s not what this is about. This is about the cold, cruel act of extracting a brain. The empty husk of a head is absolutely disgusting. Now, in these brain removal situations, usually the top of the head would be cleanly cut, with a straight edge, but that is not the case here. Here we have a jagged line across the head showing the complete lack of disregard for their subject, the important thing to this surgeon is the brain nothing else. Also, what kinda head is that? A ape or gorilla head? Is it just a haggard, mangled human head? I can see it either way. Regardless, the head retains an expression of pain and suffering. With the electrodes attached to the head keeping the brain functioning, the creature/man felt the pain of its own eyes being plucked out of their sockets as well as its nose being cut off, suffering tremendously and helplessly. Its mouth hanging open, teeth seldom and worn down, dripping saliva, adds a pathetic and pitiful feeling to this image. Fun Fact: Legendary fantasy and science fiction artist, Frank Frazetta got his start, at 16 years old, in the comic industry at Bernard Baily’s art studio doing pencil clean-ups! Other future comic legends getting their foothold into the industry at Baily’s studio were Gil Kane and Carmine Infantino!

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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