Friday, September 17, 2010
Horror Comics Curved My Spine Part Four
So what was DC up to while all this was going on? Only pumping out the finest mystery/horror titles of the 70s: House of Secrets, Unexpected, Weird Mystery Tales, The Witching Hour, Ghosts, and DC’s finest, House of Mystery.
I can’t even begin to put into words the influence that Wrightson, Orlando, Alcala, Nino, Sparling, Adams, et al, had on my young brain. I literally haunted my 7-11 searching for the latest HOM, wondering what monsters waited beneath the cover. There are way too many classics to cover here, so I’ll just mention the two that come to mind when the words House of Mystery are brought up.
First, the oft-reprinted “The House of Gargoyles” (#175, August 1968) with art by Jack Sparling, wherein a murdering French artist meets his doom at the claws of stone gargoyles, magically come to life. This was one of those stories made famous by HOM (and accented by the amazing Neal Adams covers) that featured wide-eyed kids in peril (another famous one that comes to mind is Neal Adams’ Great God Pan tale, “Nightmare”).
My all-time favorite DC horror story has to be Michael Fleisher’s “They Shoot Butterflies, Don’t They?” (#220, December 1973), with art by the incomparable Alfredo Alcala. A loony lepidopterist hires a burly jungle guide to help him find the rare Heliconius Eyelitus, a butterfly found only in the jungles of Brazil. When the guide discovers a temple filled with wondrous treasure, he offs the butterfly hunter and any natives that get in his way. Too late, he finds that the temple is guarded by a swarm of the butterflies and they’re carnivorous. Check out the detail in Alcala’s jungle scenes, the care spent on every panel. Alcala was an artist, much like Wrightson, Adams, and all the other people connected with the comics that terrified and shocked me as a youngster. An artist that continued to thrill and chill throughout the years.
DC has been smart enough to reprint three volumes (so far) of the HOM run in nice fat 500+ page books at very affordable prices. They’re printed in black and white but HOM is ideal for that type of reproduction (as opposed to, say, Spider-Man or Superman, comics that rely on color). The “Showcase” volumes (which together reprint HOM #174-226) will only set you back $13 each on Amazon (half that if you don’t mind a used copy). A very small price to pay for some of the best horror comics of the 1970s.