Monday, December 4, 2017

EC Comics! It's An Entertaining Comic Issue 46

The EC Reign Month by Month 1950-1956
     46: June 1954

MAD #12

"Starchie!" ★★★★
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Will Elder

"From Eternity Back to Here!" ★ 1/2
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Bernie Krigstein

"Mark Trade!" ★★★ 1/2
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Jack Davis

"3-Dimensions!" ★★★★
Story by Harvey Kurtzman
Art by Wally Wood

"Starchie!" and Bottleneck run the halls of their high school like Big Men on Campus, selling school passes to the freshmen and breaking the hearts of nicely-drawn chicks like Biddy and Salonica. When they find out that fellow student, Wedgie, is selling passes as well, they take the interloper for a deadly ride. In the end, Bottleneck sells his best buddy out to the cops and takes the business over. Starchie rots in prison, missing his high school days and regretting his bad decisions. Elder and Kurtzman have teamed up in the past on some incredible parodies, but "Starchie!" could well be their apex (at least until the next peak comes along, that is).

Arguably, the funniest thing published in MAD to this point, "Starchie!" is jammed full of hilarious sight gags and knowing jabs at the industry that feeds Kurtzman and Elder. Starchie and Bottleneck smoke, chew tobacco, terrorize their principal, and break the fourth wall constantly. Kurtzman points out the silliness of a character who never graduates and has "criss-cross marks" on the side of his head! Biddy and Salonica have pimply faces, are drawn exactly alike (almost, ironically, like Jack Kamen women), and carry a heroin kit (!). When Wedgie threatens the Starchie trade, the boys strip him, take him for a ride, and dump him off a cliff. Perhaps my favorite moment (among many) is when Starchie sits in his cell, looks at Biddy's picture, remembers how he used to stave off her advances, and beats his head on the wall, chanting "JUST THINK! I GOT RID OF HER! SHE THREW HERSELF! JERK! FOOL! IDIOT!" No, wait, what about when Starchie calls his partner at the candy store and when Bottleneck asks where he is, Starchie sticks his head over the divider and exclaims, "I'm just on the other side of this jagged separation line, you fool!" No, wait . . .

Starchie and Bottleneck pull a fast one on Wedgie.

The Lone Guffaw.
("From Eternity Back to Here!")
Harvey takes aim at the film version of From Here to Eternity in "From Eternity Back to Here!" and shoots blanks; it's a painfully unfunny parody, the only point of interest being Bernie Krigstein's debut as a MAD artist. Krigstein is spot-on with his movie star doodles but his style really doesn't jibe with the MAD vibe (in fact, this is his only solo MAD work--he'll duet with Bill Elder later in the run). There's an amusing running joke concerning the famous shot of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr sucking face in the sand but that is the sole smile earned during its seven-page span.

There's a man who hunts and lives off the fat of the land, whose name is his trademark, his trademark his name . . . and that's his name . . . "Mark Trade!" While showing boy scouts the wonder of nature (and beavers who build brownstones and offer fixed rent), Mark is approached by Wildwood Magazine and offered five grand to hunt and stuff the rare species, Canis Bernardus Saintus, for the magazine's next cover. Never one to turn down a challenge (nor five grand), Mark solicits the help of his boy Friday, Morsemere (a tyke who happens to grow a five o'clock shadow), and his trusted St. Bernard, Sandy. Mark and his assistants hit the road but can't seem to find any game outside a skunk or two. Suddenly realizing he has no idea what a Canis Bernardus Saintus is, he visits the Wildwood office, where he's informed the rare species is a St. Bernard dawg. Weighing his love for Sandy in one hand and five grand in the other, Mark makes his decision and then retires from the stress of nature to live out his days at the Wiltshire-Plaza. One of Harvey's better "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" whackfests, "Mark Trade!" (a parody of the environment/nature-themed comic strip, "Mark Trail") manages to score on about half of its one-liners (a pretty good percentage for one of these things) and Jack Davis gives Elder a run for his money in the sight gag department. Highlights: Morsemere's stubble, the splash with the "subtly" placed cartoon characters, the subway visit, the brick-and-mortar beaver, and the horny boy scouts all elicit hearty guffaws. "Mark Trade!" gives hope that there is more to MAD than Kurtzman/Elder.

"Mark Trade!"

In a final belch of lunacy this issue, Harvey Kurtzman and Wally Wood demonstrate the highs and lows of "3-Dimensions!" Harvey defies the critics, who claim that 3-D leads to eye strain or blurred vision, in several very helpful training panels and shows us how 3-D can liven up even the most boring proceedings. Unfortunately, for Woody and Harvey, things get a little out of hand at the climax but we get the picture anyway. An absolute joy from start to finish, "3-Dimensions!" defies simple synopsis; you have to experience this. Wally throws the rules out the window and performs some hilarious sleights of hand with panel placement and destruction. The sixth page may be the definitive statement ever recorded on . . . something. I dare you, the reader, to touch the panel reprinted below and not smell newsprint . . . well, um, okay, go get the funny book and try it then. --Melvin Enfantino

Jack: Archie and Jughead slouching their way through every panel, cigarettes hanging from their lips? Betty and Veronica built like Vegas showgirls? "Starchie!" is classic, early Mad, yet another display of the Kurtzman/Elder genius. "From Eternity Back to Here!" shows how bizarre the sight of Bernie Krigstein trying to do comedy can be, while "Mark Trade!" is much more enjoyable than "Mark Trail" ever was. "3-Dimensions!" cements Wally Wood as the second best Mad artist in these early issues (behind Elder, of course), but is page six really blank or is my electronic file copy of this issue missing something? Would they really print a blank page?


The Haunt of Fear #25

"The New Arrival" ★★★
Story by Otto Binder
Art by Graham Ingels

"Indisposed!" ★★★ 1/2
Story by Al Feldstein and William Gaines
Art by George Evans

"Out Cold" ★ 1/2
Story by Carl Wessler
Art by Jack Kamen

"The Light in His Life!" ★ 1/2
Story by Otto Binder
Art by Jack Davis

A sentient mansion tells us its tale of woe and how it is a house haunted by “a horrible living secret”, a secret whose anguished cries can be heard echoing throughout its corridors. One tempestuous night a driver cruising past the house has his car break down so, naturally, the man seeks assistance at the benighted residence despite the house’s best efforts to deter him with well-timed shutter-banging and bat-releasing. The man is greeted by the house’s human owner, a withered old woman who happily invites the young man to spend the night. The motorist remains ill-at-ease about the whole set-up, especially the woman’s insistence that her guest stay away from the room where her sick, mewling baby rests; surely a woman her age could not possibly be caring for a newborn? Rationalizing his way into bed, the man later awakens to the cries and then resolves to get to the bottom of it all. Breaking into the room, he’s horrified to find that the “baby” is actually a wretched, emaciated full-grown man chained the walls, and it isn’t long before the old madwoman has knocked the motorist out and claimed another “ittle dumpling” for her brood.

A boy's best friend?
("The New Arrival")

In retrospect, the whole framing device of the house relating the events of “The New Arrival” isn’t all that necessary, seeing as how the manse ends up playing virtually no role in the actual drama, but if you ask me that just adds to the charm of this flawed, perverted little chiller. If you look at it this way, the incapacitated house is there to play the part of the surrogate reader, cut off from the tragedy being enacted before it and “shouting at the screen” to no avail. This has the added benefit of diverting our attention away (at least partly) from how played-out the story’s setup is: dark and stormy night, broken-down car, weirdo crone, et al. The house is there to tell us, “Hey, I’m with you! I’ve seen this same thing for countless years…” The story is still far from perfect—Ingels’ art, in particular, looks really downgraded, the first half of the story showing only the minimum detail—but it’s redeemed by a pretty grisly climax that looks ahead to all of the psycho-family fare that would only begin to take prominence in the genre during the following decade. For all of its setbacks, you have to admit that “The New Arrival” could have been published in DC’s mystery line or even by, say, Dark Horse today with very little variation and still have managed to raise a hackle or two.

The joys of suburban living: henpecked husband Henry has just finished slaughtering his nagging wife Rita and pouring her segmented bits down his newly-installed garbage disposal. The murderer has figured out the timing for his crime so perfectly that he manages to bash Rita’s head in during their drive to the “airport” for Rita’s surprise “trip to Florida” and clean up the mess back at the kitchen just before his neighborhood pals show up for a celebratory stag night free of their respective ball-and-chains. One of the buds visiting that night is Henry’s neighbor George, a plumber who had offered to install the garbage disposal as a friendly favor. Henry is basking in the glow of his perfect crime when he casually mentions to the group that his house is on well water, a fact that draws some concern from George. As the plumber explains it, he had thought the well water intake pipe was the waste pipe during his installation, and the full ramifications of his mulligan is made apparent when the guys turn on the tap and see the bloody slop that was once Rita come pouring out of the faucet.

Nightmare fuel.
“Indisposed” is one of those prime slices of suburban Guignol that EC only managed to pull off on a small number of occasions. Having George Evans in your corner certainly never hurts, but Feldstein’s script works just as adeptly as the artist’s noirish inks here. When those two forces are working in concert as they are here it results in some of the company’s grimmest narratives, Evans’ illustrations lending an air of kitchen sink realism (sorry) to all the gruesome shenanigans, producing a disturbing frisson that no other artist could touch. Reading an Evans story like “Indisposed,” you get the feeling that something like this could very well happen (and probably has). This story had two of the most shocking and unsettling panels this side of “Squeeze Play”, the first being Henry’s happy bludgeoning of his wife (his hard smile, the blurred action of his hands, Rita’s outstretched arms—ugh), and the second being the one immediately following it, an extreme close-up of Henry’s blood-drenched hands mopping up the mess in the kitchen through the filter of Marie Severin’s crimson coloring. Yikes.

Smitten with the new redheaded typist at the office, Ralph Cowan plans to ask the beauty out on a date, and here the story posits just what would have happened had Ralph gotten this chance. It’s your typical American love story: boy asks girl on date; girl says yes; boy eventually discovers that girl has weird, profound, and seemingly random distaste for all cats big and small;  boy sees this demonstrated firsthand when girl sends a little kitty into the end zone with a swift kick; boy naturally proposes marriage after this; girl thinks mom isn’t going to approve of union; boy visits old biddy to ask for daughter’s hand and instead gets a mickey slipped in his wine that completely paralyzes him; girl turns out to be flesh-hungry ghoul who wanted to find true love but instead concedes boy’s body to old biddy who proceeds to chop it to bits with a hatchet. Yes, this idyllic story would have happened, if daydreaming Ralph hadn’t walked right out of the office window and fallen twenty stories to his death.

Thank you, Jack Kamen.
("Out Cold")
Holy shnikes! “Out Cold” just might be the whackiest tale that ever graced EC’s horror titles, operating on a level of pure lunacy that was generally reserved for the company’s early SF stories. Carl Wessler’s script is a discordance of moods and tempers, going from straight romantic drama to tongue-in-cheek satire at the turn of a dime. Once we get to the panel of Ralph cowering in terror as his redheaded sweetheart and two maleficent kitties look on with evil grins as Granny the Crossdresser prepares to turn him into mince meat, we realize that we have stepped off the bus into Crazy-Town. This is the kind of delirious, barely coherent yarn that we would have found in the competitor’s rags, so in a lot of ways “Out Cold” feels completely alien. And that ending! Nothing spices up a confused narrative like a guy getting killed for being horny.

The life of a trapper is hard and harsh in equal measure, as young Ned Drake discovers when he listens to some sage words of advice from old-timer Jake Barrow after he mentions his plans to bring his wife along to stay for the winter. Jake advises that Ned reconsider this point, as the isolation and freezing weather have a way of bringing out the worst in people, as it did for Jake and his wife Miranda. Though Jake was able to keep busy in his off-hours by reading his treasured books, Miranda’s only hobby was stuffing her face. Once the store of food was gobbled up, Miranda grew desperate and began eyeing the supply of whale oil used for keeping the cabin lamps alight. After guzzling her way through the casks of oil, Miranda then began making designs on the tallow candles fashioned from whale blubber. The “fat slob” greedily chomped down every last candle and then even slurped up the fat shavings from the animal hides Jake was planning on using for light to read his books. This proved to be the last straw for the trapper, who then made one final innovation to provide fuel for the kerosene lamp in whose glow he now relates this tale to Ned: rendering Miranda down to her most basic elements.

The one shining ray.
("The Light in His Life!")

Although I can appreciate the muted reveal of Jake’s crime in the final panel—he looking on in grim satisfaction at the tiny flame inside the lamp as Ned backs away gagging—everything else in “The Light in His Life” is just a dreary retread of Feldstein’s old spouse-pushed-to-the-edge-enacting-ironic-vengeance formula realized through the "talents" of Otto Binder. Jack Davis’ depiction of Miranda seems to be… inconsistent, to say the least. In some panels she’s not recognizable as a woman; in other she’s not recognizable as a human. The endless “let’s see what she’ll eat next” pattern the story follows gets old real quick, but it should be noted that the sight of Miranda chugging oil and chewing candles has the power to provoke a more icky visceral reaction from the reader than any display of overt violence in this funny book. --Jose

Peter is forced to pick up all of Jose's toys again.
("The New Arrival")
Peter: "The New Arrival" is like one of those jokes your co-worker tells you where you patiently wait through the long monologue hoping for a great punchline (but knowing it'll be weak) and then that final line is delivered and . . . holy cow, it's not too bad! The revelation that the old lady was keeping something other than a baby upstairs isn't that startling; the unsettling bit is the notion that this is her own kid kept chained for forty years. After several weak entries lately, Graham finds his old form again. Anything George Evans works on becomes that much more readable, even a so-so script like "Indisposed!" Having been married once, I felt complete sympathy for Henry. "Out Cold" is more silly, warmed-over nonsense ostensibly whipped up as fast as possible to fill space and then handed over to . . . guess who? The Denver Broncos could probably use the kicking skills of Wilma. "Out Cold" does contain the funniest bit of dialogue this month (outside of anything in Mad) when dopey Ralph takes his header and Wilma exclaims, "Why, the stupid @#!!!" The final tale, "The Light in His Life!," starts off intriguingly, almost as though we're in the room around the candle fire while Jake begins his story. But then Otto falls back on that cliched fat-hate that Al used to load into lots of his narratives. Miranda's growing obesity and disgusting eating habits (seriously, candles?) are all bait for the reader to find sympathy for the skinny guy. Ironic, since EC publisher Gaines was morbidly obese.

Jack: That is one heck of a garbage disposal in "Indisposed!" The story was completely satisfying, with nice art by Evans and a great final panel payoff. "Out Cold" meanders along pretty well but the revelation that the women are a ghoul and a witch is a letdown and the final half-page twist is unnecessary. Still, it's better than the lame "The New Arrival," which continues to track the decline of Ghastly's art. It's never good when a story is narrated by an inanimate object, and I found the surprise twist to be a big disappointment. Worst of all is "The Light in His Life!"--I think Otto Binder and Carl Wessler are vying for worst EC horror writer. Who will win?

Weird Science-Fantasy #24

". . . For Posterity" ★★★
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Wally Wood

"The Teacher from Mars" ★★★
Story by Eando Binder
Adaptation by Al Feldstein
Art by Joe Orlando

"The Pioneer" ★★★★
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Bernie Krigstein

"Upheaval!" ★★
Story by Harlan Ellison and Al Feldstein
Art by Al Williamson and Roy Krenkel

Marty and Phil are two young men who are out prospecting in the desert for uranium when they witness the landing of a spaceship! They explore the ship's interior and suddenly the hatch closes and the ship takes off into outer space. They pass out from the tumult and later awaken to see the ship hurtling through the vast unknown. When it lands and the hatch opens, they are shocked to see that, instead of horribly-tentacled alien monsters, they are greeted by a huge crowd of beautiful women! The queen explains that all of the men died off centuries before, due to fallout from an atomic war, and the women discovered how to reproduce by means of a chemical, yet that chemical has now run out. Fortunately, the women also discovered how to travel through space and time and oh, by the way, they are on Planet Earth, six thousand years in the future!

Phil seems to think he needs to get married first!
("...For Posterity")
They hopped in a space ship and traveled back through time, eventually ensnaring Marty and Phil, who jump at the chance to do their duty "For Posterity . . ." and help repopulate future Earth. Their work complete, they are whisked back to the present-day desert as if no time had passed. Both men awaken from what seems like a dream, but their suspicions are confirmed when they find roses pinned to their sleeping bags.

Hoo boy! I could've read about ten more pages of this highly entertaining yarn. Wally Wood is the perfect choice to illustrate a story that features a planet of gorgeous gals and, while his art in some places here is not as strong as usual, the story is a ton of fun. My favorite bit of dialogue:

Queen: It is up to you! You know the story, now. We cannot force you to help us! If you want to, we will be most grateful!

Phil: Look, Ma'am! We're just two normal guys! I mean . . .

Jack is reminded of eighth grade for some reason.
("The Teacher from Mars")
Marty: That's a big crowd out there!

That is about as R-rated as a comic could get in 1954, it seems to me!

There's a new teacher at Caslon Prep in Elkhart, Indiana, and his name is Mun Zeerohs--a Martian! He's patient and kind, despite being tormented by the nasty young men, who are led by Tom Blaine. Blaine plays one cruel prank after another on the new teacher, who is about to throw in the towel and head back to Mars when he learns that his son was killed protecting Blaine's father from space pirates. Young Tom sees the error of his ways and he and "The Teacher From Mars" become friends.

Joe Orlando is the right choice to draw this adaptation of a story from the February 1941 pulp, Thrilling Wonder Stories; his teenage students are just creepy enough and the Martian teacher is just weird enough to make the whole thing work. The story veers a bit too close to Messiah imagery (the teacher quotes Jesus on the cross in one thought balloon) but, for some reason, it all fits together neatly in the end. It's interesting that editor Al Feldstein thought to pull an old Binder story out of the files now that one of the Binders was writing new stories for EC.

Krigstein does Kirby?
("The Pioneer")
Professor Alec Lathem is injured when his new rocket fuel explodes and, after that day, he is obsessed with developing a rocket engine and also very short-tempered. Fired from his university post, he buys a farm in the country and begins to build a prototype but is pestered by Hiram Jenkins, a nosy hick neighbor. Lathem finally tests the engine and Jenkins is fried to a crisp by the flame from the exhaust; the cops come and take the professor away. From then on, the professor lives a fantasy life, thinking that he is being taken seriously and encouraged in his research, while in reality he is in jail and on Death Row. He is finally electrocuted but, in his mind, he is taking off on the first trip into outer space.

A brilliant synthesis of art and story, "The Pioneer" is a fascinating psychological study of a man whose mania blinds him to the truth of his experience. Krigstein's art is almost Kirby-esque in spots and the contrast between the narration by the professor and the reality of what is happening, as shown pictorially, is powerful.

Earthmen search the vast reaches of space, seeking proof that there is life elsewhere. Finding none, they are on the verge of being convinced that man is the ultimate result of evolution when they land on a green planet where first their ship and then their bodies are sucked underground as if by a giant mass of protoplasm. They are saved by a sudden "Upheaval!" that delivers men and ship back to the surface; flying away, they realize that they are not the end of the evolutionary line and that a more-advanced life form just vomited them up.

Too talky and too preachy, the Ellison/Feldstein co-production wastes more technically superb art by Williamson and Krenkel. Al's little in-joke comes on page three, as one crew member remarks, with a lascivious grin: "What I'd like to find is a planet completely inhabited by women! Nuthin' but women!" All he needs to do is turn back to the first story in this very fine issue of Weird Science-Fantasy!--Jack

Jack and Jose look on as Peter expresses himself.
Peter: Fresh from his viewing of Cat-Women of the Moon, Al Feldstein delivers the novel known as ". . . For Posterity," a boring, talky, silly space opera that wastes Wally's talents and eight pages. I'm sure the kids appreciated the long x-y, y-y, yy-y, why-why discussion between the Queen of Outer Space and Buck Rogers. I love the panel where Phil gasps about sure death coming through the portal and how he wished he'd brought a knife. Only problem is that Wally's depiction makes Phil look super cool and calm! "The Teacher From Mars" is obviously Al's way of expanding the "literary" horizons of the EC SF tale but Eando Binder (a pseudonym for brother Earl and Otto) is no Ray Bradbury. "Teacher" is predictable, maudlin nonsense featuring some of Joe Orlando's worst art. Really, this strip looks so out of place in an EC SF title. "Upheaval!" begins as another one of those interminable "Space explorers searching for life" snoozers but has a decent twist (and a very funny wink-and-a-nod from Al when one of the travelers exclaims "What I'd like to find is a planet completely inhabited by women! Nuthin' but women!"). Nothing here screams "Future Great Writer." "Upheaval!" was based on Ellison's short story, "Mealtime," which was adapted (by Ellison under his Cordwainer Bird pseudonym) a decade later as the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode, "The Price of Doom." As with most anything to do with Harlan, there's an interesting story to go with that adaptation. "The Pioneer" is, by far, the best story this issue. Professor Lathem's sad, strange trip from genius to lunatic is heartbreaking and the march from cell to electric chair particularly powerful. I could have done without that tacked-on final panel, seemingly placed to help the slower readers comprehend what had just happened, as the penultimate panel would have been the perfect last look at Lathem.

The lunatic but genius finale of "3-Dimensions!"

Next Week . . .
Jack has to read another Losers story!!!


Anonymous said...

At the midpoint of the comic book's 23-issue run, Mad #12 is the pinnacle of the title. "Starchie" is my favorite Elder story of all-time. "3-Dimensions" may be one of the best things Mad has ever done from the beginning of its comic book run through the seventy years of the magazine, and, yes, they did print a blank page. Why? Because they were funny enough to get away with it. The least memorable story is "Mark Trade", and it's great.

And then there is "From Eternity Back to Here," in which Krigstein essentially begins the transformation of the Kurtzman comic book into the most successful humor magazine of all time. Kurtzman didn't start out doing movie parodies; this one was only the fourth to appear in Mad. Elder drew "Ping Pong" back in #6, and he made no effort at all to caricature any of the real actors from the movie; he simply drew funny Bill Elder characters and treated the source material exactly the way he treated Sherlock Holmes or comic books. In "Hah, Noon", Davis does a pretty good caricature of Gary Cooper, but he doesn't commit to the idea of matching the characters to the actors; virtually all of the people in the story are stock Davis characters doing funny stuff. In "Sane", Severin doesn't seem to make any attempt to parody the actors. His lead is a generic Severin hero who doesn't look at all like Alan Ladd, and his villain looks more like Charles Bronson than Jack Palance.

Elder and Davis were funny artists. All of Elder's best work is in the humor field, and I think most people would say that their favorite Davis work is in the same genre. But Krigstein, of course, is as funny as death and can't put in the laugh-a-minute details in which Elder and Davis specialize. So he does something entirely different: he draws beautiful caricatures; his Lancaster, Sinatra, and Borgnine are great. And in his only solo performance, he begins the change in the style of the book.

From 5th grade through 8th grade (1970 - 1974) I survived on a literary diet of Mad magazine, as did millions of other kids the same age throughout the 1960s and 1970s. And the cornerstone of each issue was the brilliant Mort Drucker movie parody with the spot on caricatures that Drucker and Angelo Torres did better than anyone else anywhere. That model starts with Krigstein's story in Mad #12, and then Kurtzman began to run with it. He assigned the next four movie parodies to Wood, who was, of course, as great at caricature as he was at everything else a comic book artist could try. Wood developed the model pretty much to perfection. By "Cane Mutiny" in Mad #19, all the elements of a Mort Drucker parody are in place: An opening in which a forever young caricature of doomed Robert Francis breaks the fourth wall to introduce the movie, perfect caricatures of Bogart, Jose Ferrer, and Fred MacMurray scamper around throughout the body of the story, and a couple of celebrities from another movie -- Charles Laughton and Clark Gable -- drop in at the end to pull the curtain. Thus, I consider this a transformational issue of Mad, as well as an incredibly funny one.



Anonymous said...

I frequent the website The Horror of It All, which collects scans of horror comics. I remember coming across a knock-off (or similar) version of 'Out Cold'. Except in this version the threat was vampires and instead he got hit by a car.

Jack Seabrook said...

Good points, Jim! I think Elder could have done more horror had he been given the chance--"Strop! You're Killing Me!" is a one heck of a story. I love your comment that "Krigstein is as funny as death" and agree that his story pointed toward the direction MAD would later go. I'm a couple of years younger than you but I read a load of those MAD paperbacks growing up in the '70s and I liked them better than the magazine, which always seemed to have too much filler. My favorite artist was always Don Martin.

As for another version of "Out Cold," that's more in Peter and Jose's wheelhouse than mine.

Nequam said...

[Removed prior comment since I couldn't edit]

Interestingly, the comic the anonymous poster was thinking of is called "If!" and was from Suspense #27 (February 1953). The GCD lists this issue of Haunt of Fear as coming out May/June 1954... did EC actually steal/borrow from one of its competitors? You can read "If!" here at and decide for yourself...

Jack Seabrook said...

I just read "If" and you are absolutely right. It looks like Carl Wessler was writing for Marvel before he went to EC, so it would not surprise me if he's the uncredited author of "If" and then recycled his own script for EC. I prefer Fred Kida's art on "If" to Jack Kamen's art on "Out Cold."

Anonymous said...

Thanks Nequam, that had been bugging me.