Hallowe’en Countdown II, Day 2

« … it was a balled-up thing… like an empty wrapper thrown carelessly aside… but somehow still recognizable as having once been human… »

Dell’s Ghost Stories (1962-1973, with issues 21 to 37 lazily and straight-up reprinting numbers 1 to 16… with a single, perplexing exception, the all-new, surprisingly decent issue 35, late in 1972) were quite tame, trifling stuff, with one notorious bright spot: the première issue, entirely written by John Stanley (1914-1993) and comprising, amidst other excellent short pieces, what’s possibly the most nightmarish tale to see print up ’til then in American comics (particularly all-ages comics!), « The Monster of Dread End ». It represented the kind of material few comics publishers could have gotten away with at the time, save, ironically, one of the squeaky-clean stalwarts (Dell, Gilberton, Gold Key…) that opted out of the industry’s recently-instituted governing censorship board, the Comics Code Authority. Their reasoning was that, having never published anything objectionable to begin with, they were unlikely to head down that sordid path in the future.

Journeyman cartoonist Frank Springer (1929-2009) provided some decent artwork through most of the book’s run, but as he didn’t have much to work with, script-wise (Carl Memling was no substitute for Mr. Stanley), the end result remains underwhelming. Looking at the bright side, he did provide a couple of quite alluring covers, the final, non-painted entries in our select little gallery.

If you haven’t already made its acquaintance, treat yourself to the nerve-tingling Number One, available gratis under the auspices of the fine folks at comicbookplus.com. Love the semi-woodcut technique used on the cover by the Unknown Artiste.
Ghost Stories no. 3 (April-June 1963). Cover artist unknown.
Ghost Stories no. 10 (April-June 1965). Cover artist unknown.
Ghost Stories no. 19 (August 1967). Cover and interiors by Frank Springer.
Ghost Stories no. 31 (January 1972). Cover and interiors by Frank Springer, price and indicia aside, a facsimile of issue 11 (July-September 1965). My own tepid introduction to the series.


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