Monday, July 11, 2016

EC Comics! It's an Entertaining Comic! Part Ten: May 1951




Featuring special guest host, John Scoleri!


The EC Reign Month by Month 1950-1956
10: May 1951


Craig
Crime SuspenStories #4

"Backlash" ★ 1/2
Story and Art by Johnny Craig

"Premium Overdue!" 
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Jack Kamen

"Conniver!" 
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Jack Davis

"Heads-Up!" ★ 1/2
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Graham Ingels




Pulp writer Dave Wilton comes up with what he figures to be the perfect crime, a locked-window and doors mystery that will make him the next Nero Wolfe, but the publishers aren't on the same track and they keep sending his manuscripts back unopened. The light bulb goes on over his head and he comes to the conclusion that writing won't pay the bills so why not try out his scenario and make a bundle? He gets into the home of a wealthy man, murders him, and gets out without a trace. The police are baffled and the public is panicked. A locksmith calls the murderer out, claiming he's built the perfect fortress, but the next day the man is found murdered within his locked home. A burst of conscience hits Wilton and he decides to go straight and pound the typewriter again but a final returned ms. has him spooked. It's from a publisher who's just been murdered in a similar locked-door scenario! As Dave ponders what to do, he's surprised by the murderer, come to kill the final "witness." Many of these EC killers do so for the strangest reasons, seemingly pushed to the brink by the smallest of things. Dave Wilton can't get anyone to buy his story so he turns to murder using the same m.o. that he'd used in his story. Isn't he afraid someone will connect the dots (obviously someone did in the end)? My favorite line of dialogue in "Backlash!" has to be when one cop asks his superior, as both are looking at the bullet-ridden corpse, "Couldn't it be suicide, Chief?" Now, I know we had nothing approaching CSI sixty years ago but three bullets fired from across the room sure doesn't signal self-inflicted to me. Classic Craig splash.

"Premium Overdue"
Thelma hates her slob of a husband, Sam, so she takes an insurance policy out on him and stages an auto accident. She gets the insurance money and lives high on the hog until she meets George, wealthy and handsome, and falls in love! Not a monetary transaction, but rather true love. The two marry and George makes Thelma his beneficiary but, soon after, the couple is involved in a nasty car accident and George is killed. Thelma is arrested and convicted of murder and muses that maybe, right at that moment, George and Sam are comparing notes in Heaven. No matter, she shrugs, she won't run into them where she's going. Obviously borrowing more than a few pages from James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, "Premium Overdue" is, nonetheless a fun read and that last panel, where Thelma sits in her cell, cigarette dangling from her sexy lips, and completes her tale with an "Oh well" kind of expository, is pretty spot on. Again, my least favorite EC artist, Jack Kamen, comes through in this instance since there's really nothing but panels of heads and solid backgrounds. The guy knew his way around a nice set of breasts though.

So are we! ("Backlash")
Much like the protagonist of "Backlash," Tom Brogan simmers in hatred over perceived slights and is pushed to commit murder in outlandish fashion. Tom despises his editor at a successful comic book company since Tom has been the one to build the company up from nothing without garnering the praise or the bread so the man plots a murder. He convinces one of his artists that the editor (Mr. Gaynor . . . get it? Gaines . . . Gaynor!) has designs on the man's girl. After he's convinced the artist has murdered the editor, Tom lounges in the office, drinking Gaynor's fine liquor. The artist enters the office, admitting he can't go through with the murder and tells Tom he's poisoned the wine. "Conniver" concludes with a good, solid twist but contains an amazingly intricate plot that hinges on all sorts of events happening just right. Jack Davis's art is fabulous and it's obvious that Al Feldstein is getting in a humorous dig at his boss, Bill Gaines.

"Heads-Up!"
Ghastly's art barely salvages "Heads-Up," a carny freaks tale about Fred, an exhibit owner who ignores his wife and spends more time with his two-headed main attraction, a pickled two-headed Mongolian named John. The wife and her lover plot the man's murder but he overhears them and, after his wife destroys John, gets a little bit of EC justice and a new attraction to boot. "Heads-Up" seems overly familiar and not just because of the love triangle. Still, Ingels's visions of a wonky society (who are the real freaks?) and its gloomy environs are nightmarish and disturbing. In particular, I love John's "view" of Fred and his wife from the murk of the formaldehyde. -Peter

Jack: I loved "Heads-Up!" and gave it an A+ in my little notebook where I keep track of everything. Maybe it's because the setting reminded me of Fredric Brown's story, "The Pickled Punks." Fred and Dora are a gruesome pair and the scene where she stomps on the two-headed corpse is particularly horrible. Unlike some prior stories, we get the hoped-for payoff here, in a final panel that reminded me more than a little of Ray Bradbury's "The Jar."

I'm not with you regarding Jack Davis's art in "Conniver!" since it seems muddy to me. I don't think he's quite there yet as of the May 1951 issues. Craig's story is all over the place. When I saw the splash page I thought it was a great use of white space, but as I read on I began to wonder if it was also a sign of laziness or overwork, especially when I reached page six, where the exact same panel is repeated three times with different word balloons! Finally, "Premium Overdue!" is a pleasant surprise, and not just for its use of plot twists from James M. Cain. Kamen really can draw a pretty girl very well and that's what this story requires. I love the hardboiled dialogue, too!

"Heads-Up!"
Jose: Dave’s provocation to murder in “Backlash” may be pretty flimsy, but I still enjoyed the story. Writers can tend to be narcissistic at times, and this story is like a textbook example of authorial butt-hurt: I got five rejections on my murder mystery story so now I’m gonna show the world that I know what the hell I’m talking about. The ending takes some corkscrews in trying to catch us up to speed with what’s happened, but the final panel delivers.

Kamen has been delivering some much-needed swagger with his recent pieces, and although Feldstein borrows liberally from Cain you get the sense that he’s finally pegged the type of narrative that works best with Smilin’ Jack. Personally, I found “Conniver” to be a bit of a write-off. Poisoned alcohol is starting to become a worn-out trope, and Davis’s art is nothing spectacular. Not so the contributions of Graham Ingels. While the reader might have the story’s final revelation down pat as soon as they connect the dots between “two-headed freak exhibit” and “scheming lovers,” Ingels enlivens the story with his usual putrid panache. Who else can you depend on for drawing eldritch carnival horrors like four-armed fetuses and floating heads with finger-jaws, transforming buxom vamps into raving maniacs all within the space of a single panel? If I haven’t made it clear in this marathon already, consider me a devout acolyte of the Church of Ghastly.

John: Am I the only one who wanted at least some sort of explanation behind the perfect locked door mystery in "Backlash"? As a result, the final panel failed to impress me. I liked Kamen's art in "Premium Overdue," and thought the story delivered the goods. "Conniver" had little to offer, and even the twist ending did nothing for me. "Heads-Up" was fun tale with some familiar elements. Yes, we get that there's no such thing as fidelity in the circus. Still, the story goes somewhere I wasn't quite expecting with the final twist, so it earns points for that.


Feldstein
Tales from the Crypt #23

"Reflection of Death!" 
Story and Art by Al Feldstein

"Last Respects!" ★ 1/2
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Graham Ingels

"Seance!" 
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Jack Davis

"Voodoo Death!" 
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Johnny Craig

Carl and Al are driving home after a long night of partying one New Year’s Eve. Al’s so ragged that he can barely keep his eyes open; he trades driving duties with Carl and tries to catch a few z’s before getting home. There’s hardly time for a cat nap though when the rocketing approach of two headlights signals that our heroes are bound for a head-on collision. After blacking out, Al wakes up on the side of the road and tries to hail a ride back to the city. The Good Samaritan who stops for him quickly becomes a Terrified Samaritan upon seeing Al. This chain of events is repeated with a number of other folks, including a friendly hobo and a lady whose car Al borrows (after she faints) to drive back to his place. If the newspaper proclaiming the date to be nearly two months out from New Year’s was bad, then the foreclosure sign on Al’s dilapidated house really throws him for a loop. Seeking Carl’s residence offers a brief glimmer of hope; his old pal shows no signs of the delirious terror that had overcome all the other folks who’ve bumped into Al tonight. When Al tells him the whole story, Carl says he doesn’t appreciate the joke. After all, he knows for a fact that his friend Al died two months ago in that auto accident, the same accident that blinded Carl for life! A quick glance in the mirror reveals Al for the desiccated corpse that he is, much to his mind-numbing horror. But all is well, for this is only a terrible nightmare Al has suffered as he napped in the passenger seat. Carl has just finished comforting him when the twin headlights of another car hurtle towards their own.

Nope, nobody can see me here ("Reflection of Death")
“Reflection of Death” is assuredly grounded in a classic concept, this one being “the corpse who knew too little.” This tale, like “House of Horror” (HoF #15) and “Death Suited Him” (TftC #21) before it, was likely suggested by one of the many anecdotes recounted in the “Trail of the Tingling Spine” chapter from Bennett Cerf’s Try and Stop Me. (Research also reveals that an account from said chapter would later be adapted into “Jivaro Death” for the decidedly non-horrific Two-Fisted Tales.) Credit must be given to Feldstein, who reconfigured the urban legend’s usual ending—the dead man calling his own home and being told by a friend of the family that his wife/mother/etc. is away attending the man’s funeral—and freshened it with the dream motif that allowed for the darkly ironic conclusion that we have here. There are a couple of things that have always bothered me about the story, both in this comic and in the Amicus adaptation. Like, was Al’s body really thrown so far from the site of the accident that nobody could find it in two months’ time? Both comic and film compound this error in their own hilarious ways: in Feldstein’s story, Al awakens at the literal edge of a country road. You’re telling me not one person noticed the dead guy rotting away during their trip to the in-laws? In the film, Ian Hendry’s character awakens to the sight of the still-burning vehicle, which implies either that he underwent bodily decay in a record amount of time or that his sense of time is totally out of whack in his undead state and the rest of the segment’s events actually take place months afterward. All this is to say that “Reflection of Death” may be imperfect, but it’s still pretty good.

Tony has come to a lonely cemetery to pay his “Last Respects” to his dear departed Anna, entombed within the Cooper family vault. He presents her casket with a small trinket, a tiny stuffed animal Tony had won for her one afternoon at the carnival. They were so happy and in love then, even if Anna was underage, even if Tony was the Cooper family’s chauffeur, even if Anna’s ratty old uncle would annul their secret marriage in a heartbeat if he were to hear of it. And that’s just what happens when one night, soaked by the rain from rendezvousing with Tony, Anna confesses all to her vicious keeper. Catching a chill, she becomes bedridden with pneumonia and only has the vile ranting of her uncle to keep her company till the day she dies. Tony, banished from the house and shattered by news of his wife’s death, happily announces to Anna’s corpse that he has killed her uncle and that all is well now. Too bad for him that the mausoleum door blows shut, effectively locking him in and stifling all his cries for help. When the police later find him, they’re surprised to discover that Tony’s death wasn’t brought about by want of water or food. The urn of rain water, picked bones in the casket, and Tony’s formaldehyde-poisoned system tell them all they need to know about those final, desperate hours.

"Last Respects"
I remember this story really hitting a nerve with me the first time I read it as an adolescent. While flesh-hungry fiends and grave desecration were certainly not taboo subjects in EC Comics, there was something entirely wrong about the prospect of a man facing his own imminent death and forced to devour the body of his old lover in the hopes of survival. The only reason I docked “Last Respects” the half-star was because it didn’t quite register the same way this time around. The romance seemed a bit too bright-eyed, the uncle such an easy target for disdain, and I was left with the impression that Feldstein was just setting all this up to get to the gross-out. While I still feel that way, I do have to pay my own respects to this creepshow for unnerving 15-year-old Me.

Breaking up the impact of the previous stories (and their attendant rambling commentaries) is “Séance,” drawn by the inimitable Jack Davis. Davis had yet to assume the headlining act for Tales from the Crypt at this point—he would later form a “Terror Triumvirate” with Johnny Craig (Vault of Horror) and “Ghastly” Graham Ingels (Haunt of Fear)—and this story is another in a line of Al Feldstein’s try-outs, simplistic stories that would be supplied to newcomer artists who had yet to hone their craft and become identified with a narrative style that would fit their illustrative needs. (Don’t believe me? Check out the high Gothic melodramas Ingels started out drawing and watch as each of his assignments become progressively oozier from there.) “Séance” involves a stuffy head honcho business-type denying that there’s any authenticity to the tableside visitations an employee’s wife claims to have witnessed at her favorite medium’s headquarters. The head honcho stakes his employee’s proposed raise on proving that the medium is for real and, posing as a widower, the head honcho tells the medium to contact his dead wife’s ghost. After a brief moment of spiritual constipation, the medium brings forth the voice of the honcho’s wife. The honcho outs the medium as a fraud but, upon returning home, discovers that his beloved Martha’s spirit had been willed right out of her body. Those expecting to see any of Davis’s cartoonish verve here will have to make do with the sight of a dead trooper’s exploded face.

Blergh! ("Seance")
"Voodoo Death"
Verbose captions in a Johnny Craig story are a strange sight indeed, but it turns out “Voodoo Death” was penned by Feldstein, though the marriage is smoother than one might expect. Bill leaves his friend Jay to fend for himself after their spying of a voodoo ritual in Haiti incites the wrath of the natives. Bill is “relieved” to see a discombobulated Jay stumble into their hotel room later that night, but the presence of an eerie little cloth doll sporting a mean-looking steel pin in Bill’s stateroom aboard the voyage home has the explorer thinking that their experience will be haunting them in more ways than one. Even after tossing the doll out the porthole and later into the fire when the figure arrives in a package at his apartment, Bill can’t seem to be rid of the thing. Jay arrives just as his friend reaches delirium and calmly tells him to look up as the doll sends the pin home into Bill’s neck. Tearing the doll to pieces doesn’t relieve the terror at all. Not only is the poisoned pin killing Bill by inches, but the doll’s innards reveal the heart of his friend Jay, who was killed by the Haitian natives and sent back as a zombie to avenge the Americans’ sacrilege. A bit heavy on the expository towards the end, “Voodoo Death” still manages to be a chilly little number, conjuring images of the clay figures from Robert Bloch’s “Mannikins of Horror” and Richard Matheson’s He-Who-Kills from “Prey.” The climactic panel, with Jay revealing his stitched-up chest, is a stunner. I also really enjoy the constant presence of the Vault-Keeper throughout the tale, pointing to panels, commenting on events, leading us along to the finale where he guffaws over the fallen forms of our cast. It really enhances the storyteller aspect of the GhouLunatics. -Jose

"Voodoo Death"

Too much Taco Bell ("Seance")
Peter: This is one solid horror comic! Even "Voodoo Death!," with its protracted shock ending, is readable. "Last Respects!" would have been shocking for its time; cannibalism being one of those rare "uncharted territories" that even EC had not visited much. Though it's somewhat subtly portrayed, the sheer horror of the unseen act hits home when two characters have this interaction:

"The guy must have been trapped in here! He stayed alive by catching water in this urn..."

"And eating... Oh God, no!"

And, if we didn't quite get what poor Tony was surviving on, the Vault-Keeper provides a bit more detail:

They took Tony away! They put the white picked-clean bones back into the coffin and sealed it up again! Then they closed the mausoleum...

Perhaps out of sentimental reasons, my favorite story of the issue is "Reflection of Death!" (though I'll acknowledge that "Last Respects!" is a better story overall) even though, sixty years on, its impact is muted due to the inferior copies that came later. This is the first of the ten stories that Amicus adapted for the films, Tales from the Crypt (1972) and The Vault of Horror (1973). In the "Reflection" segment (which appeared in Tales), screenwriter Milton Subotsky wisely changes the dynamic from two men to an adulterous man and his mistress (though, for some reason, the dead man is named Carl). Otherwise, it's a faithful adaptation. Again, we see how ruthless these pre-code horror writers could be with their characters since neither Carl nor Al is guilty of anything other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, so the fate meted upon both is deliciously unwarranted (as opposed to the film version, which provides adultery as a motive for damnation). The climax presents a paradox: is Al a walking corpse resurrected (and if so, did he crawl from the grave and somehow have memory loss until he reached the road he was killed on?) or is he doomed to be caught in the same nightmare forever? Don't think too long; this one'll hurt your brain.

Carl Maitland discovers the truth in Tales from the Crypt!

"Reflection of Death"
Jack: You read a story in an old comic book! It seems strangely familiar! "Reflection of Death!" is a story that builds toward the panel where we see the decaying corpse and that had better be a good panel or else the story fails. Here, Feldstein does a good job, though the "it was all a nightmare" and the circular story take something away from the overall effect. "Last Respects!" is tedious until the end, when the "yuck" factor goes off the charts. In "Seance!" Jack Davis wins the prize in this issue for most horrible panel with the soldier whose face is half-shot away and his eyeball is dangling. "Voodoo Death!" seems like we've read the story before, where people spy on a voodoo ritual and are punished for what they see. Was this a popular tourist activity in 1951?

John: I loved "Reflection of Death!" and thought that the use of POV shots worked perfectly. While another artist might have given us a better-looking rotting corpse, I give Feldstein credit for his (Return of the Living Dead) Tarman-looking dead man. Kudos to "Last Respects!" for going the extra mile, making what would have been another forgettable story into one that will stick with readers long after they finished it. What is up with Jack Davis? The art in "Seance!" is dreadful (the one particularly gruesome panel Crypt-Keeper Jack mentions above notwithstanding). I kept waiting for Bill to suffer the fate of the voodoo doll in "Voodoo Death!" but he didn't drown when he threw it in the ocean, burn when he threw it into the fire, or get torn to pieces. Frankly, by the time it was over, I liked my ideas for the story better.


Craig
Vault of Horror #18

"Sink-Hole!" 1/2
Story and Art by Johnny Craig

"Lend Me a Hand!" ★ 1/2
Story by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines
Art by Jack Davis

"The Mask of Horror" 
Story by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines
Art by Jack Kamen

"Dying to Lose Weight!" 
Story by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines
Art by Graham Ingels

Shirley is a slim, pretty redhead who likes to wear tight sweaters, yet she can't seem to find a man. She joins a lonely hearts club and receives a proposal by mail from a man whose photo looks good. When she travels to his farm to meet him, she finds that the photo was 15 years old and he's now a crotchety old skinflint who marries her and then makes her miserable. One day, along comes Rick Hudson, the studly young health inspector, and Shirley falls hard. She brains hubby with a skillet and then drives him and his tractor into a giant "Sink-Hole!" After she is cleared at the inquest, she tells Rick they can be together but he replies that he's happily married and he's being transferred to a new territory. Months later, she goes to the well to draw up a bucket of water and the corpse of her late husband drags her down to the depths.

Johnny Craig comes through!
I just love Johnny Craig's work! His stories are crisply illustrated and tend to the crime and thriller genre more than the gruesome horror genre, but he manages to depict a suitably decrepit corpse when the need arises.

Dr. Johnstone is a great surgeon who lives by his hands, so when his right hand is amputated after a car accident he falls apart. He decides that he needs a hand from a freshly killed corpse, so he finds a convenient drunk and says "Lend Me a Hand!" Once he grafts the hand onto his stump, his troubles really begin, and the hand ends up leading him to the drunk's grave, digging it up, removing itself from his stump, and strangling him.

The "hand with a mind of its own" was not a new idea in 1951, but Jack Davis does a fine job of portraying the gradually increasing horror of the situation. There's little to surprise the reader here, but it's entertaining enough.

About as good a match as the hole
I just patched in a Sheetrock ceiling.
Not so entertaining is "The Mask of Horror," a tired story about a man who buys a mask and costume to attend a party. The shopkeeper says the mask will reveal his true nature and, after he meets a woman in a vampire mask, he discovers to his horror that the horrible mask really does show what he's made of. Jack Kamen once again shows that he can draw a pretty girl as well as anyone, but his efforts at drawing horrifying scenes and characters are woefully inadequate.

In a small town, there are several residents whose obesity finds them "Dying to Lose Weight!" Along comes Dr. Perdo, who sells them a costly pill that is guaranteed to help them shed the pounds. He leaves town and his pill works only too well--they lose so much weight that they all die! When Perdo comes back to town in disguise and is discovered, he hides in a mausoleum where one of his victims is buried and is later found to have been devoured by a massive tapeworm. Yuck! Ghastly is really in his element with the awful people in this story, which would have been better with a more graphic payoff at the end. As it is, we barely get to see the tapeworm. -Jack

Trust us--this is the highlight of Kamen''s tale.
Peter: If Crypt #23 was one of the single best issues we've surveyed so far, Vault #18 is at the exact opposite end of the spectrum, filled with hoary cliches, twist endings that don't surprise and (especially in the case of "The Mask of Horror") good examples of what happens when writers have no idea how to end a story while dealing with a looming deadline. Of the four, the most readable would have to be "Dying to Lose Weight!," but Al seems to lose the prize on that as well, with a meandering climax (though I'll give the story an extra star for its disgusting reveal) and undisclosed motives. Johnny Craig's "Sink-Hole" has gorgeous art (starring Lucille Ball as Shirley) and a nice change of pace in that Shirley's imagined paramour wants nothing to do with her and leaves her in the dust, but that's about it. When Shirley begins her drawing from the well, there's no doubt, to us, what will be on the end of that rope, and Johnny does nothing to confound us.

Jose: I, for one, think that “Sink-Hole” is easily one of the best stories we’ve seen thus far in our retrospective. Johnny Craig brings a literary bent and perception of character to his stories that can at times be missing in the more purple-toned scripts of Feldstein. Just look at the effective repetition of the “house where no one lived” descriptor. First, it exemplifies the disappointment of Shirley’s expectations; later, it adds a poignant note to her crime and the renewed life with Rick she hopes to lead; and finally, it adds a grim note of finality to the tragedy, drawing the whole thing to a satisfying close. It’s the rare EC story where the “villain” gets their house style-comeuppance, but one where we feel a touch of sympathy nonetheless. We understand why Shirley did what she did, and it makes her ultimate fate all the more powerful. The cartoon violence that Davis brings to “Lend Me a Hand” may seem more sophomoric by comparison, but it’s a nice, light spritzer to the bourbon-on-rocks reality of Craig’s story.

More giant tapeworm, please!
If “Premium Overdue” showed Jack Kamen restored to his natural habitat, “Mask of Horror” is like seeing the proud lion of the Savannah stuck inside a dismal urban cage where all his good qualities become squandered. The horror mode just doesn’t seem to agree with ol’ Jack, and the meandering script by Feldstein—one that has our hero discover his fiancé has been stepping out with another guy and then instantly falls in love with a complete stranger at a party after a couple of dances—doesn’t do either of them any favors. “Dying to Lose Weight” follows a predictably gruesome path, but sadly the tale takes a last minute scenic route into subtlety by giving the reader just a mere glimpse of the mutant tapeworm that Ingels could likely have worked wonders with.

John: Put me down as a fan of "Sink-Hole!" Shirley lonely-hearts gets shafted, does something about it and, much to her surprise, there's no chance of living happily ever after with the young Turk she fell for on the farm. Johnny Craig closes the tale out with a fine decaying corpse (topping Feldstein's in this month's TFtC). It's icing on the horrifying cake, as far as I'm concerned. Of course, the dead man's hand is going to try and get revenge in "Lend Me a Hand!" but it doesn't explain why the rest of his body plays along. I don't know what I found less believable in "The Mask of Horror," that after seeing his gal cheating on him he still decides to go to the costume party, or that he finds true love in a mere handful of panels. Add to that a disappointing climax and you're left with a story best forgotten. “Dying to Lose Weight” pulls the punch that would have made it a classic in my book. I really wanted to see the gigantic tapeworm!




Next Week...


5 comments:

Grant said...

"as opposed to the film, which provides adultery as a motive for damnation."
As much as I like the film, that's always been a problem for me, its puritanical attitude about that character (which is putting it mildly). Especially considering how SAD the character is about leaving his family (Ian Hendry is very convincing when it comes to that).

When it comes to "Sink-Hole," is "Rick Hudson" just a coincidence or a parody of Rock Hudson's name?

Jack Seabrook said...

I would say it's a coincidence. I don't think Rock Hudson was well known enough to parody yet.

Grant said...

That's just what I was wondering.

Jordan Prejean said...

Even though Ingels covers didn't sell as well as the other cover artists, I love the look he brought to the covers of Haunt of Fear when he finally took over those duties. That being said, Johnny Craig has to be the best cover artist EC had (and that's saying something). Davis's Crypt covers were good but Craig just nailed it every time, and he was very prolific. Love his illustration for "Heads Up!" and the corpse coming out of the well is just a classic. When the Senate Subcommittee went after Gaines it was Craig's covers that brought the heat down, ironically because he was known as the psychological (read: subtle) horror writer (whereas Davis was the gross out artist) and yet his covers were wonderfully over the top.

Jack Seabrook said...

I agree with you about Johnny Craig's covers. They do what a comic book cover is supposed to do--make you pick it up and buy it!