GHOST COMICS start out as an Iger Shop reprint operation. Way to cash in on the horror boom! Just slam together some old stories and wrap them in a fresh and spicy cover. But you’ve got to hand it to Fiction House: their GHOST COMICS are strictly about ghosts. As we will see. In the first issues – mostly because they are reprinting the “Ghost Gallery” feature stories from JUMBO COMICS.
When they stopped using old material and created more and more new stories with their very own artists (from issue #5 on) GHOST COMICS were as good or bad as any other horror comic book of its day. And even threw in the odd werewolf or gorgon.
Here’s a chronological listing of all issues – with comments and annotations. We mention date of publication, cover motive and cover artist (if identified). Every issue has been indexed on the Grand Comics Database – the link will show you all available data, including cover shots and story descriptions.
Just click the underlined issue labeling.
A miniature splash page indicates that you can find this entire story in our “Stories” section.
Just click to read it.
GHOST COMICS / 11 issues
GHOST COMICS #1
(Winter) 1951/1952 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Woman in red dress carrying gun runnig away from giant spectre in the sky) – Maurice Whitman
“The Banshee Bells” (Alex Blum) – The Ghost Gallery
(reprinted from JUMBO COMICS #74, April 1945)
“Phantoms From The Sea” (Rafael Astarita) – Ghost Squadron
(reprinted from WINGS COMICS #72, August 1946, story is cut 2 pages short!)
“Flee The Phantoms!” (Alex Blum) – The Ghost Gallery
(reprinted from JUMBO COMICS #62, April 1944, story is cut 3 pages short!)
“The Parting!” (Alex Blum) – The Ghost Gallery
(reprinted from JUMBO COMICS # 72, February 1945, story is cut 1 page short!)
First story is a reprint, formerly titled “Tragedy At Bayou Bend!” – as you can see in the splash. The new title has been added into the upper right corner.
Though I don’t care for 1940s artwork (or for occult stories featuring ghosts and phantoms), this tale about a maddened convict commandeered by his evil brother’s ghost has its moments. It ends happily, but has that brutish touch to it – like the better stories in magazines like CRIME DOES NOT PAY. These by the way are absurdly overrated, but I will not digress here.
“Phantoms From The Sea” is not my cup of tea at all. Wartime heroics combined with well-meaning ghosts of superior staffers?! Must be a child of its time. And the time is August 1946, check watches please.
Let’s have a closer look at “Flee The Phantoms!”, the story they managed to shorten by whole 3 pages. And it still works. They rearranged the pages completely. Quite a job.
By comparing the two versions, they took out single panels (Man rising from car crash, flagging down the bus, passengers showing their tickets) and the whole original splash (wherein “Ghost Gallery” narrator Drew Murdoch opens his case file to present us this one).
Furthermore they rearranged balloons and filled them with new text. Last but not least they colored all the passengers on the phantom bus in ghostly white – so that the reader realizes quickly what is going on. Originally they were brightly clad people; protagonist Howards needs 6 panels more to realize he is facing ghosts.
I always admired the creative layout of “The Parting!”. Now I learn that this may very well be the result of a cut-and-paste job to rearrange the pages. Hmmmppphhh. Story is mildly interesting for featuring a devilish doll called “Mr. Dingle”. You can see a (German!) synopsis on my website FIFTIES HORROR – to see, click HERE.
By the way: the feature “Ghost Gallery” goes back to the autumn of 1942 when first installed in JUMBO COMICS #42. It appeared consecutively for 126 issues!
A lot of material to pick from.
And that is exactly the reason why it’s so hard to track down those reprints.
GHOST COMICS #2
(Spring?) 1952 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Woman in yellow nightgown sitting up in bed frightened by spooks) – Maurice Whitman
“I Woke In Terror…” (Alex Blum + Matt Baker) – The Ghost Gallery
(reprinted from JUMBO COMICS #71, January 1945, story is cut 2 pages short!)
“The Four Phantoms” (Alex Blum + Matt Baker?) – The Ghost Gallery
(reprinted from JUMBO COMICS #69, November 1944, story is cut 2 pages short!)
“Atomic Explosion In Russia!” (Rafael Astarita / Ruben Moreira?) – Ghost Squadron (reprinted from WINGS COMICS # 77, January 1947, story is cut 1 page short!)
“She Was Frantic With Fear…” (Alex Blum) – The Ghost Gallery
(reprinted from JUMBO COMICS #80, October 1945)
What about that splash in the lead story? Has the cover been modeled after the splash – or has the splash been redrawn to fit the cover?
Solution: splash is brand new and executed by another artist than the original.
“I Woke In Terror…” proves again to be a fun blend of crime and occult. Two kids in a dark cellar, murderers on the loose, a tough mother with a rifle – and the ghost of a snowman!
Interestingly in the original it is told like the children may have dreamt the whole affair; even the snowman’s ghost is just a snowman!
Click on splash (to your right) to see the ORIGINAL story with the ORIGINAL splash posted in our „Stories“ section.
“The Four Phantoms” is a very tame account of people remembering their school teacher, whose ghost led them on through life.
Took me two hours to find that original for the reprinted “Atomic Explosion In Russia!”. And here’s why. It has nothing to do with Russia. Nor atomic explosions.
The 1947 original is about a female spy behind GERMAN lines. Emblems are changed from swastika to hammer-and-sickle, uniforms hastily decorated with red stars.
What’s more important: the woman shoots her own buddy to protect him from Nazi torture! In the reprint it is a commissar pulling the trigger in cold blood – and it makes no sense. Please compare the two pages.
And it gets even wilder. Most fun is the ending. Watch out:
Reprint: Woman fires missile (where does it come from?) into Russian dam and thus explodes the only few atomic warheads (!) the Soviet Union possesses. Balloon hinting: “If the western world ever learned how little we really have…” – looks like six to me!
Original: Woman dives kamikaze style into German dam (yes, the picture clearly shows a plane crashing into it, no missile), thus bursting the dam and destroying a weapons factory.
He-La-Hu, it’s 1952, and the Nazis have just left the building. Enter the next bunch of villains.
I marvel at how elegant (more or less!) these stories are ripped apart and pieced together again with a total different meaning.
“She Was Frantic With Fear…” is a hard boiled crime story about a boy being kidnapped and almost being buried alive!
To add horror to atrocity, the boy’s mother gets shot and floats downstream while her ghost calls the police. Strange? Of course, it’s a comic book!
GHOST COMICS #3
(Summer?) 1952 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Hovering green spectre commanding woman to stab her doppelganger) – Maurice Whitman + ???
“The Werewolf Hunter” (Lily Renée, signed in original)
(reprinted from RANGERS COMICS #15, February 1944,
there titled “Priestess Of The Spider Death”,
story is cut 1 page short)
“The Werewolf Hunter” – Part 2 – (Lily Renée)
(reprinted from RANGERS COMICS #37, October 1947,
there titled “The Far East – Bagdad”, allegedly Lily Renée,
story is cut 1 page short!)
“The Dark Eyes Of Destiny” (Gus Schrader? + Jack Kamen?) – The Ghost Gallery
(reprinted from JUMBO COMICS # 90, August 1946, originally titled “Eyes Of Azrael”)
Only cover of GHOST’S run that does not look like a Whitman solo job. Someone else is probably inking here.
Issue number Three again leads off with a crime/occult mixture: “Nobody Knew Who Wrote The Message…” is a reprint, though the characters’ names have been changed. What did they do that for? Making it hard for us to recover their tracks? Had again to search for half an hour.
I knew that 1940s comics could be whacky – and here’s a nice example: “The Werewolf Hunter”, a feature from RANGERS COMICS, running from 1943-48 in 34 installments, often drawn by one of the few women in the business: Lily Renée.
“The Werewolf Hunter” – Part 1 is posted on Pappy’s delightful „Golden Age Comics Blogzine“, click underlined title to see. The original is posted in our „Stories“ section – click the miniature splash (above!) to see it.
Strange fact coming up: the reprint has been completely REWRITTEN. Balloons appear in places they haven’t been before. The story remains the same though, it’s just worded another way!
Incomprehensible how much work Fiction House (and other companies of its time!) wasted to reprint something. Exact same thing goes for the second “Werewolf Hunter” story in this issue.
Two of those stories appear in GHOST #3, one of them straight spider horror with a sexy sorceress; the other a wild ride through the Middle East – who could ask for more?
Left out in the second reprint story is a scene where Prof. Broussard brutally drowns a scantily clad girl. You wonder why they start “censoring” their own stories. Is this already Fiction House toning it down in concern of public opinion? Or just a mood swing towards better taste?
For “Werewolf Hunter” see also the website „Ladies Making Comics“ – another „Werewolf Hunter“ story from RANGERS COMICS #40 (April 1948), drawn by Lily Renée.
“The Dark Eyes Of Destiny” is a flimsy story about mystic glasses changing from hand to hand. Predicting doom. Dooooom, I say!
Writing here is shamefully unbalanced – for a fun story concerning mystic glasses see “The Sorcerer’s Spectacles” from Ace’s HAND OF FATE #17, posted HERE.
GHOST COMICS #4
Fall 1952 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Woman in upridden skirt fleeing from three red devil spectres) – Maurice Whitman
“Death Is A Dream” (Bill Benulis + Jack Abel)
“No World For Me” (Jack Kamen)
(reprinted from ???)
“Flee The Mad Furies” (Alex Blum)
(reprinted from JUMBO COMICS #81, story is cut 1 page short)
“The Trumpet Of Valkyrie” (Rafael Astarita)
(reprinted from WINGS COMICS # 73, September 1946, a “Ghost Squadron” feature, story is cut 1 page short!)
“No World For Me” and “Flee The Mad Furies” are posted on Pappy’s delightful „Golden Age Comics Blogzine“, click HERE to see.
First original art in “Death Is A Dream”. Not in the rest of the stories though. They are covering up their tracks better now. Rearranged splash pages make the stories look new.
“Death Is A Dream” is a pathetic first try a something new. Frankly, I could not follow the story. It is too condensed and no fun this way. Makes your head spin.
For the first time in Fiction House horror, this issue features a two-page text story (“The Haunted House”).
Could not track down “No World For Me” – maybe this is NO reprint. Jack Kamen starts working for EC in spring 1950, but is still listed for the odd job at Fiction House way into 1952 (or are these all reprints?!). Probably. Still:
I’d like to offer a PRIZE here: “Spot the Original”!
If YOU can tell me if “No World For Me” is indeed a reprint (and where it’s coming from), I’m willing to post your name and picture here – along with an “Art Spotter of the Issue” honorable mention tag.
“Flee The Mad Furies” is a lame throw-that-old-black-magic-right-back-at-ya yarn. I have to point out though that evil black-haired Rowena wears much skimpier clothing in the original. In the first three pages there she appears in a weird tankini-like pirate outfit – complete with a cape!
In “The Trumpet Of Valkyrie” (a tale about a brave pilot leading the locals with the help of their folklore goddess against their oppressors) again features a clever switch of enemies: the original Nazis are replaced by unscrupulous Soviets. And always impressive how they cut a page from the story so you will hardly notice.
GHOST COMICS #5
Winter 1952 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Multi-handed Indian goddess fighting off adventurers) – Maurice Whitman
“Pilots’ Revenge” (Rafael Astarita)
(reprinted from WINGS COMICS #71, July 1946, story is cut 4 pages short!)
“Phantoms From The Sea” (Charles Nicholas? + ???)
“Second Life” (Lily Reneé, signed in original) – (reprinted from RANGERS COMICS #36, August 1947, story is cut 2 pages short!)
“Count Borka’s Return” (???)
First and only GHOST cover NOT to sport a sexy female in distress. In return we get a bare-breasted angry goddess.
“Satan Owned His Soul” is Fiction House’s first new straightforward horror comic story. Set in old England, we follow the ambitions of a young lawyer, who gets into bed with the forces of darkness. Horror tried readers see what’s coming, but still a valid story. With nice artwork by Benulis and Abel.
Followed by the company’s most audacious attempt of cutting down a story which has been published before. Whole 4 pages are plucked out of “Pilot’s Revenge” – leaving behind a four-page torso about a pilot accused of murder for dealing self justice to a traitor couple.
Astonishingly it works! It is cleverly rewritten into a first person narrative. The price to pay is the beautiful original page layout which now looks rather stiff.
“Phantoms From The Sea” is a lighthouse set caper about a band of “shipwreckers” being overwhelmed by the ghosts of their previous victims. I don’t care much for that stuff…
Posted on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click on underlined title (and please scroll down to see the story!).
“Second Life” looks like a 1940s reprint – and it is.
I could identify it as a “Werewolf Hunter” feature from RANGERS COMICS #36. Prof. Broussard goes on a trance journey into the days of King Richard of England and thwarts the plan of poisoning the regent.
“Count Borka’s Return” poses a bit of a mystery. A bland story, but illustrated with interesting artwork (falsely credited to Jack Katz before) – especially the splash is beautiful in a fascinating way. Who did this?
GHOST COMICS #6
Spring 1953 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Humpbacked fiend holding lantern over unconscious and chained woman on the ground) – Maurice Whitman
“The Sleepers In The Crypt” (John Belcastro ?)
“Zandini Did It!” (A. Albert, signed)
“Payoff Blues” (Jack Kamen)
(reprinted from JUMBO COMICS #114, August 1948, story is cut short by 3 pages!)
“Ghost Squadron / Brother Chai Was Drinking A Toast…”
(Maurice Whitman, taking over the feature from Rafael Astarita)
(reprinted from WINGS COMICS # 80, April 1947, story is cut 4 pages short!)
“Two Must Die” (Bill Benulis? + Jack Abel?)
What a fine cover this is.
Combining all the clichés we love in a horror book.
A blonde in a red dress, in bondage and distress, a hunchbacked green-haired fiend with probably more than voyeuristic intentions. Add an athletic male bursting with cocked guns onto the scene, not noticing the huge spider web in the corner where an ominous blue specter lurks.
Gosh, what is going to happen next?!
Looking at the contents we detect an outrage. This issue presents not four, but five full stories. Great value, you might think? Incorrect, because they cripple two perfectly good stories from years ago to fit in.
One WHOLE reprint plus a filler page would have made all the difference compared to TWO incomprehensible stumps of comic stories… Tchtchtch. Let’s go inside, shall we?
Enter artist A. Albert, of whom no first name is known. But he signed that way. Only for this reason we do know of him. Albert seems to have exclusively contributed to WINGS, PLANET, JET ACES and GHOST, doing two dozen stories for Fiction House – and no more. Mr. Albert will be back for more in the next issues. His style is quite nice, reminding me a bit of Bob McCarty.
“The Sleepers In The Crypt” is an uninteresting crime mystery with some ghosts thrown in; “Zandini Did It!” is a first person narrative, told by a gangster awaiting his execution. First (or second) person narrative always enhances a story – in my book, at least.
Jack Kamen’s “Payoff Blues” is bad, because three pages of fine action are cut in this reprint. The original (a “Ghost Gallery” feature, of course) is much more enjoyable, the shortened version here hardly makes sense!See the reprint HERE at „MagicWhistle“ – we post the ORIGINAL in our stories section (click miniature splash below)!
“Ghost Squadron” is another reprint, terribly gutted by four pages, completely rearranged and partly redrawn. File under “How To Butcher Original Art”.
Had difficulties finding the original, because I looked for Astarita. Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr. kindly pointed out that this is Maurice Whitman – imitating Astarita.
And at last original art with “Two Must Die”.
Run of the mill mystic revenge tale about two greedy mine-owners responsible for their workers’ death. Strange artwork though.
Doubted the original credit for Benulis/Abel. Cause it looks “off” – compared to their other contributions. But this is just a sloppy and/or hasty job.
“Zandini Did It!” and “Two Must Die” are both posted on THIS comics art blog
GHOST COMICS #7
(Summer?) 1953 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Madman standing next to woman on operating table firing gun at the apparitions in the window) – Maurice Whitman
“Bride Of Horror” (Bill Benulis + Jack Abel, signed)
“The Demon Of Devonshire” – A Ghost Gallery Thriller (??? + Jack Abel ?)
“When Dead Rogues Ride” (A. Albert)
“The Gallows Ghost” (Bill Discount, signed)
“Who Called Us Back?” (John Belcastro, signed “Johnny Bell”)
First issue containing only original art. Though the second story is subtitled “A Ghost Gallery Thriller” this is no reprint but a fresh contribution from an uncredited mystery artist, probably inked by Jack Abel again.
“Bride Of Horror” is (again) a piece of writing struggling with pace and rhythm. But quite a good story about a family curse and a wolfish affliction – see it posted here by clicking the miniature splash.
Benulis and Abel really make an effort here.
Their artwork is beautiful to behold and inventive in its composition and “camerawork”.
Much more pedestrian artwork in “The Demon Of Devonshire”, but another twist I didn’t see coming. The police inspector troubled by ghostly apparitions IS the mad killer himself.
Story is told by “Ghost Gallery” host Drew Murdoch who takes an active role here – bringing down the fiend at the end.
The writing in “When Dead Rogues Ride” is so unbalanced that I wonder if this is a watered down and truncated reprint – but can’t be. This is new artwork by A. Albert again!
I’m at a loss with “The Gallows Ghost”: Is this a four page “filler” with no point to it – or is it a cool and wild “jazz”-like study of a man going mad?! Judge for yourself in our post!
(Never thought I’d post something by Bill Discount; a very self-confident artist; 33 entries in comics history and most of them are SIGNED…)
And another fast paced horror hodgepodge closing this issue: “Who Called Us Back?” proves to be fairly entertaining – though the woman’s “headlights” are a mean distraction. Page 3 especially. Belcastro at the height of his abilities here, nice work.
You’ll find the story posted in our „Stories“ section.
GHOST COMICS #8
(Fall?) 1953 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Hand holding voodoo doll rising from swamp and terrorizing couple nearby) – Maurice Whitman
“The Curse Of The Mist-Things”
(John Belcastro, signed “Johnny Bell”)
“The Face In The Shroud” (Bill Benulis + Jack Abel, signed)
“Return Engagement” (Bill Discount, signed)
“The Soul Stealer” (???)
“The Last Of The Glanamores” (Larry Woromay)
“All NEW eerie mysteries” says a scroll right above the title logo. We’ll take their word for it.
I hardly assume that readers complained about the reprints in issues #1 to #6, but they are really caring for their horror line now.
In “The Curse Of The Mist-Things” a ghostly gypsy caravan arrives at Belfast manor – to claim the lord’s daughter who is of gypsy origin. In his youth the lord killed a man and kidnapped a gypsy woman. Nothing special here. Read it on Pappy’s delightful „Golden Age Comics Blogzine“ (click underlined title).
“The Face In The Shroud” is the best looking story of the issue – and no disappointment. Another fine Benulis/Abel collaboration establishing a crime mystery with a séance gone wrong (posted HERE).
Bill Discount probably never looked better than in “Return Engagement” – any idea WHOM he is swiping here?! Sorry, that was probably unfair. I am wronging the man. He earns our respect for this story (posted HERE).
“The Soul Stealer” is this issue’s mystery. The artwork looks like Gerald Altman meets Dick Beck. It’s a very good voodoo story by the way in which tourists get haunted by wild dreams – until one of them is ready to become a zombie. There’s even a special twist on the story’s meta-level.
Postscript September 2013: Having studied the artists for FAWCETT HORROR, I now believe “The Soul Stealer” bears the artistic mark of Ed Waldman. Who’s credited to have worked for Fiction House in the late 1940s…
Solid art by Jack Davis look-alike Larry Woromay in “The Last Of The Glanamores”. The story is well done family curse fare (with a strong female character helping out), but family curse stories NEVER spark my interest. Not my cup of tea.
See it posted on the wonderful „Four-Color Shadows“ comics art blog (click underlined title).
Note that only two out of five stories take place in contemporary America. One of them even backdropping against an exotic voodoo locale. Fiction House concentrates on ghostly (hence the title!) mysteries far away or long gone.
GHOST COMICS #9
Winter 1953 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Fight scene in cellar: Woman with knife, man with gun, fiend with lead pipe) – Maurice Whitman
“The Devil Seeds” (John Belcastro, signed “Johnny Bell”)
“The Thing That Walked At Night” (Bill Benulis + Jack Abel, signed)
“The Throwback!” (Bill Discount, signed)
“Monster Fang!” (Jack Abel ?)
“The Monster Of The Sea” (A. Albert, signed)
Third issue in a row featuring (more or less) the same artists. Got it steady now. The advertisement on page 3 concentrates (not as usual) on their “Big Six” comic books, but on the freshly launched 3-D titles SHEENA and CIRCUS. They will remain one-shots…
“The Devil Seeds” sadly lacks a twist, but is otherwise a fine story. Belcastro’s artwork is intriguing and the first-person narrative about a farmer set out to destroy an evil plant runs along smoothly.
“The Thing That Walked At Night” is the best horror story from Fiction House so far. Inspired art by Benulis/Abel again; and – what’s more – a terrific story (with a twist!) about an adopted girl turning werewolf.
Read it in our „Stories“ section.
And Bill Discount is back with “The Throwback!”. Quite a solid job again, on page 4 I see possible influences by Bob Powell.
The plot of “Monster Fang!” sounds familiar: Mountain climbers meet ghosts of their past and die one by one. Seen this somewhere else… There’s the 10 page “Eerie Footsteps In The Red Snow!” in BEWARE! TERROR TALES #2 from July 1952. But in here the climber has to kill his mates first to have them return as avenging spirits.
And there’s “Death On Ice” in STRANGE FANTASY #6 from June 1953. Group of climbers meet ghostly apparitions and Death himself. So maybe it’s a clever mix of both of these stories… Anyway: If this is a Jack Abel solo job, it’s one of his very first.
Oh, boy! “The Monster Of The Sea” is a kiddie tale! About a young boy getting granted three wishes. It is entertaining though and features a beautiful fantasy splash. The charm of this story lies in its off-beatness: a kid, a sloppy father, a sea-captain and an enormous sea snake?! Why not?
GHOST COMICS #10
(Spring?) 1954 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Crouching werewolf holding scantily clad woman by the arm, a skeleton looming over them) – Maurice Whitman
“Ghost Of The Gorgon” (John Belcastro, signed “Johnny Bell”)
“The Ghost Of Doctor Renick” (Bill Benulis, signed)
“Halfway To Hades” (A. Albert, signed)
„The Strange Case Of The Absent Floor“ (Will Eisner) – Dr. Drew
(reprinted from RANGERS COMICS #47, June 1949)
Another nonsensical overblown cover trying to cram everything but a giant spider into one sensational picture. And sadly it’s already end of the line for new horror: the reprints are back! Although it is only one and it’s a nice one at that.
The usual house ad on page three starts lying in a big way: The “Big Six” from Fiction House are a) only five (because GHOST is featured twice!) and b) PLANET may no longer be available (last issue appeared in winter).
“Ghost Of The Gorgon” is another fine Belcastro job. I also like Medusa stories (cause I like what this woman does with her hair…) – although they are never surprising in any way.
“Ghost Of The Gorgon” proves to be a straight horror-adventure and is a nice opener for this penultimate issue. See it on Karswell’s fantastic blog „The Horrors Of It All“.
Bill Benulis presents his first solo work (of only six he did for Fiction House) and does not disappoint. In “The Ghost Of Doctor Renick” his style looks like Edward Goldfarb meets Gene Fawcette.
Add Bob Powell’s “camerawork” and you get a gorgeous look to a weak and schmaltzy ghost yarn about a widowed doctor rescuing a young boy. First person narrative by the way. And involvement of a female ghost in a rather sexy nightgown.
“Halfway To Hades” sounds more sensational than it turns out to be. Two students stumble upon the haunted “Halfway House” where gangsters used to meet and mingle. They are being chased by ghosts, but manage to escape. See it on Karswell’s fantastic blog „The Horrors Of It All“.
„The Strange Case Of The Absent Floor“ (posted on „MagicWhistle“) is the first of a mystery series featuring Dr. Drew that ran in RANGERS COMICS # 47 to 60. Some say that artist Grandenetti (who worked on backgrounds for Will Eisner’s “Spirit”) paid homage to his mentor.
It seems much more likely that Eisner himself conceived and executed most of these pages. If you’re interested to learn more, have a look at our section “Art Spotting Controversy” in the menu bar – or just click HERE.
GHOST COMICS #11
(Summer ?) 1954 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Couple struggling on staircase, being beckoned by a woman’s skeletal phantom) – Maurice Whitman
“Lords Of The Upper Air” (John Belcastro, signed “Johnny Bell”)
“Grab-Bag” (Bill Benulis + Jack Abel)
“Werewolf Hunter” (George Evans, signed)
(reprinted from RANGERS COMICS #39, February 1948)
„The Witch’s Doll“ (Will Eisner + Jerry Grandenetti ?) – Dr. Drew
(reprinted from RANGERS COMICS #49, October 1949)
Last issue. Filled up with two reprints. Cover is almost suspenseless – compared to the ones before. Only four ghoulish fiends threatening a couple from afar?!
This is the only horror cover sporting a balloon, by the way! And one of only a dozen covers EVER to feature a balloon in Fiction House’s history of 826 title pages (the others being three very early JUMBO COMICS, the penultimate issues of FIGHT COMICS and WINGS COMICS, the one-shot issue of KNOCKOUT ADVENTURES – and strangely enough six issues of WAMBI, JUNGLE BOY!).
I love doing odd counts…
It’s a last Belcastro with “Lords Of The Upper Air”, a poetic sounding title if ever there was one in horror comics. Solid story again about mountain climbers in the Himalayan stumbling upon a tribe of “snowmen” with supernatural powers.
Followed sadly by a last Benulis/Abel effort: “Grab-Bag” is no masterpiece, but a fresh story far apart from all clichés and formulas. A group of girls is being haunted by the ghost of a mysterious evil woman, whose stylish accessories came into the girls’ possession.
“Modern” way of creating horror – as opposed to bothering with vampiristic heritages, folkloristic curses from the past or go to great lengths by visiting exotic locales.
(Just a reminder: that miniature splash on the left points to our posting of this fine tale from GHOST COMICS #9, executed by Benulis & Abel, of course.)
Next: Nice to have a look at an early George Evans in that “Werewolf Hunter” reprint. An artist who went on to real horror fame with Fawcett and EC, of course. Three stories are published on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All“ – to read click underlined titles.
I have to admit that I see touches of Grandenetti in „The Witch’s Doll“ (the third installment) of the “Dr. Drew” series. Layout and page compositions seem more conventional and some faces don’t strike me as Eisner’s.
The story („The Witch’s Doll“) itself is weak and illogical. On page 7 Dr. Drew destroys two voodoo witch dolls (one of them a doll in his own semblance) which were actively “working” moments ago. Shouldn’t the good doctor have gone to pieces – just like the doll did?!
Anyway, we’re finished with GHOST COMICS, so let’s have a quick glance at Fiction House’s other horror title.
MONSTER / 2 issues
The publication of the sister title MONSTER in 1953 (only twice!) is a bit of a mystery.
Looking at the artists’ line-up both issues were probably brought out in the first half of the year 1953. But why only twice? Did it catch on so badly? GHOST COMICS went on as usual, unaffected by MONSTER.
A title, by the way, which is just great for a horror book – and was never used before!
1953 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Green fiend swinging club and grabbing woman in white dress) – Maurice Whitman
“The Monster” (???)
“The Mirror” (???)
“Traitor’s House” (Anthony D’Adamo, signed)
„The Philosopher’s Stone“ (Jerry Grandenetti, signed = Will Eisner) – Dr. Drew
(reprinted from RANGERS COMICS #48, August 1949)
That is just a wonderful Maurice Whitman cover, gracing MONSTER in a way like Whitman did with so many classic Fiction House title pages.
A brutish monster, a damsel in distress, violent action – and please admire that tilted perspective! And the colors are beautifully arranged. The London fog could have been more on the impenetrable side…
The contents of this issue are, alas, more than weird.
First there’s “The Monster” (a ten-page story!) referring to the cover, nice touch there, but what about that artwork?!
Looks like a swipe to me, I see references to Iger Studio work and even Al Feldstein here and there. This was done for MONSTER (no reprint, I believe), but a lame and careless story about a scientist creating a monster.
Then there’s “The Mirror” – this must be a 1940s reprint. And heavily truncated, I suspect: Looked for hours, but can’t find it! Story is about an evil mirror and a woman probably as evil – sacrificing unsuspecting people into a dark mirror world. Might be a solid story, alas not on these clouded four pages.
I’d like to extend the PRIZE offer from GHOST #4: “Spot the Original”!
If YOU can tell me where from “No World For Me” AND “The Mirror” are originating, I’ll send you something nice in the mail.
“Traitor’s House” is the second original artwork in this issue; signed by a certain Anthony D’Adamo (had to practice the pronunciation of that tongue-twister!). D’Adamo worked only for Fiction House, and only in the years 1952/53. His jobs for RANGERS COMICS #66 to #68 look quite different, though…
Interesting narrative perspective in “Traitor’s House” – the house itself tells this tale in first person. Foreign agents use a derelict house to hide and torture an American scientist. Ghosts from the past come to the rescue.
„The Philosopher’s Stone“ is the second case from the “Secret Files of Dr. Drew”. The first was to appear in GHOST #10, the third in GHOST #11. This does not mean that MONSTER came out between those two issues. GHOST #10 + #11 are definitely from 1954, whereas MONSTER is from around summer 1953. Strange? Thus it is written.
Great story by the way, maybe THE classic Dr. Drew episode – breathlessly told and breathtakingly illustrated. We think by the master himself, Will Eisner.
THE MONSTER #2
1953 / Art director: Jerry Iger
Cover: (Giant humpbacked fiend emerging from the ground and reaching out for bystanders) – Maurice Whitman, signed “MW”
“The Dark Abysmal” (John Belcastro, signed “Johnny Bell”)
“Tiger Kiss” (A. Albert ?)
“Where The Undead Roam” (Bill Benulis + Jack Abel, signed)
“Kohnoori’s Curse” (Bill Discount)
“The Deadman’s Chest” (Art Peddy + Bernard Sachs)
All new material in this issue, no reprints. Note that the second issue is called “THE Monster”, whereas #1 was just “Monster”.
“The Dark Abysmal” is strange, but charming story with intriguing and slightly ironic (look at the depiction of the country folk) artwork by Belcastro.
More science fiction than horror: a boy befriends an alien creature which goes on a rampage when confronted with human greed.
Too mild to be an EC yarn, “The Dark Abysmal” makes a nice double feature with that kiddie story from GHOST COMICS #9 (“The Monster Of The Sea”), produced around the summer of 1953, too. I suspect the same author.
“Tiger Kiss” is solidly done, but pure formula. And I somehow do not understand it. Next, please.
Benulis and Abel offer their only contribution to MONSTER with “Where The Undead Roam”. Unbalanced bayou voodoo hodgepodge, still worthwhile looking at. They create a most impressive voodoo slave (have a look at that splash!). I feel they are anticipating the look of Neil Gaiman’s 1988 “Sandman” character here…
The zombies’ movement through the waters clearly pays homage to Graham Ingels’ “Horror We? How’s Bayou?” from HAUNT OF FEAR #17 (the rotting dead rising from the swamp, to be seen only from the crown of their heads down to their nostrils).
And let’s have another upload of a Bill Discount story: “Kohnoori’s Curse” is run of the mill, but looks great and couldn’t be much better for its meager four pages!
That’s it for the MONSTER.
Title was abandoned after this second issue. Maybe readers did not get enough monsters for their money…
There remains however one more “new” Fiction House horror story – hidden in the very last issue of their famous JUMBO COMICS (#167 from March 1953):
„The Cult Of The Leopardmen“ (John Belcastro)
After some Iger Studio “Ghost Gallery” reprints in the previous JUMBO books, it’s John Belcastro’s honor to design “Cult Of The Leopardmen!” – maybe his first horror work at all. Click the miniature splash on the right to read Fiction House’s most unknown horror story in our “Stories” section.