Hallowe’en Countdown, Day 26

« I’m doing some new phony ghost effects and these hicks just eat it up! Show ‘em a ghost and they’ll swear they recognize it! »

Is it just me, or are horror covers more effective when they’re basically wordless? EC and DC and Charlton got it, but Marvel never did, with its protagonists/victims standing around uselessly pointing out the obvious: “Oh no! We’re trapped with… the Thing that walks!” “Uh, honey, I think it’s more of a Thing that shambles!”

This is House of Mystery no. 236 (October, 1975, DC) and it’s quite an issue on the inside too: Steve Ditko with Mike Royer inks (“Death Played a Sideshow“), and Paul Kirshner with Neal Adams inks (“Deep Sleep“.) Lest we forget: this fine cover palette brought to you by Tatjana Wood.

… and since this is our first, sadder Hallowe’en without the macabre Bernie Wrightson  (1948-2017) to inspire us, let’s have one more shot, shall we?

This is the frontispiece ushering us into issue 219 (Nov. 1973) of DC’s House of Mystery.

Interestingly, BW’s signature (at bottom, on the spine of a book in the centre) is reversed, which makes one wonder whether the image was flipped before dialogue was added. On the other hand, perhaps it made for better arcane lettering for a dusty grimoire.

– RG

2 thoughts on “Hallowe’en Countdown, Day 26

  1. Barney Dannelke October 27, 2017 / 00:15

    I think you have a perfectly valid horror cover thesis there. It’s the old movie director maxim – “don’t tell them something if you can simply *show* it to them.


    • gasp65 October 28, 2017 / 23:23

      And better yet, “don’t show them something if you can *imply* it”. The wise Val Lewton approach. I’m sure there are plenty of marketing adages that push in exactly the opposite direction… but fuck ’em, it’s art we care about here, not commerce.

      For every wise proverb, you can pretty much find another prescribing the reverse. Like “Never judge a book by its cover” vs “Clothes make the man”, or “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” vs “Better safe than sorry”.


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