Hallowe’en Countdown II, Day 1

« His face taut… his coloring now shell white… Fred took the object from his bowling bag… his friends screamed in horror… »*

Welcome to the second edition of Who’s Out There’s annual Hallowe’en Countdown. We’ll be greasing the rails to carry us along with sinister haste through to that most shiver-iffic of holidays, but duly noting and relishing each daily marker along the way.

Let’s push off with a tasteful dash of splatter and a tidy selection of Eerie Pubs‘ typically over-the-top, gloriously gory cover artwork. While EP covers featured the work of a handful of artists, none is better-remembered or more closely associated with the line than former Irving Klaw-associated fetish specialist Bill Alexander. Fact is, the notoriously cheap-jack publisher cut ‘n’ pasted and endlessly recycled (not to say bowdlerized) Alexander’s work, and it’s sadly safe to assume he was only remunerated once, and poorly at that. Just another soul stranded in the limbo of exploitation publishing…

Weird vol. 3 no. 5 (December, 1969)
Weird vol. 6 no. 2 (March, 1972)
Witches’ Tales vol. 4 no. 3 (May, 1972)
Tales From the Tomb vol. 4 no. 4 (September, 1972)
Witches’ Tales vol.  4 no. 6 (November, 1972)

And the insides, you ask? Oh, that. Some reprints of lacklustre pre-Code
horror (Ajax/ Farrell) owned by publisher and gun enthusiast Myron Fass sometimes with added gore, sometimes redrawn from scratch and updated. Then, for a while, actual original material, not entirely devoid of occasional just-about-accidental charm. It’s a special kind of charge to witness the Grand Guignol excesses of pedestrian early 60s Jack Kirby inkers Dick Ayers and Chic Stone as they give vent to their less wholesome tendencies, overcompensating with eyeball-gouging and limb-hacking vengeance.

But all is not blood ‘n’ guts ‘n’ fury… sometimes the quiet, ink-washed ambience weaves a low-rent hypnotic spell and the fool thing works. But what with all the reprints and mediocrity, it’s a uncommonly perverse mania that drives a collector to pursue a complete set of these musty bits of flotsam. After decades of neglect, they’ve become impressively pricey.

– RG

* from « The Mad Bowler » (Horror Tales vol. 4 no. 6, Oct. 1972). Read it here!

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