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!
Spook #28 (1954) Star Publications, L.B. Cole
I always liked blobs and various slime creatures, so I knew I wanted to have at least one represented here in my month of Pre-Code horror covers. Spook #28 (1954) by artist L.B. Cole definitely fits the bill! L.B. Cole is widely known for his bold and beautiful Golden Age covers and for co-founding Star Publications in 1949. The first thing that strikes me when I look at this is the overwhelming amount of green consuming the page. The massive jade slime creature completely dominates the cover — so much so that it cannot even be totally contained on the page. We honestly have no clue just how large this thing is! In our 7 ⅛ x 10 ½ inch window, the only things that aren’t the enormous vert oozing mass, are type and two, unfortunate humans drowning in the “Creeping Death”! The only non-ooze element of the monster is that single large piercing bloodshot red eye with a spark of intelligence and a look of cold curiosity, focused solely on the trapped woman. The woman is transfixed in terror of the monstrous eye, her posture one of extreme and utter revulsion. Not only is she sinking into the creatures putrid mass, but is also engulfed by slime tendrils, which wrap around her neck, waist, and wrist, allowing her enough room to struggle and squirm, but not escape. The creature is toying with her, studying her. Just look at its treatment of the man gasping for breath. He is a head drowning in a sea of oozing horror, screaming like a man who can do nothing else but scream against his own imminent demise! If the creature is aware of the man or his pain, it either doesn’t show it or doesn’t care. Star Publications shut down late in 1954 after two tragedies: the Comic Code Authority going into effect in 1954, and the death of publisher Gerhard Kramer. Cole continued to get work doing cover art, especially from Classics Illustrated.