Hallowe’en Countdown III, Day 15

« Each time I enter this fog, it feels as though icy fingers were clutching at me! »

Étrange aventures, a squarebound quarterly digest (roughly 5 x 7 inches, 164 pages), was one of many titles published in France by Arédit / Artima between 1966 and 1984 through its Comics Pocket imprint. Étranges aventures was one of the collection’s flagship titles, with a healthy run of 79 issues from July, 1966 to March, 1984. Its contents were mostly repackaged and reformatted translations of various DC and Marvel (and the odd Charlton) comics in black and white, but with fun painted recreations of the original covers for the twenty-or-so issues. At under fifty cents a pop, they presented a bargain to the cash-strapped aficionado, thrifty access to scarce and/or pricey items.

ÉtrangesAventures12A
This is Étranges aventures no. 12 (April 1969); the issue is rounded out with The Challengers of the Unknown, Rip Hunter… Time Master, and The Doom Patrol.

This issue was a relative exception, cover-featuring an original work (or at least not an American one), the sort of material the publisher usually reserved for its more “serious” titles. These were often comics adaptations of horror or suspense novels issued earlier by mother company Les Presses de la Cité under its Fleuve Noir imprint. Graphic novels? Exactly.

Gipsy-Hill_11A
« If… if this giant is real…it must stand over twenty meters high! »
« That’s a mighty big ‘If’, Barney. Let’s take a closer look at him. »
He pulls from his pocket a small but powerful flashlight…
« Too late… the mist has hidden him. »
Cautiously, they climb through the sinister fog…
« Here’s the entrance… if the door isn’t locked or blocked by rust! »
« It takes quite a bit to frazzle my nerves… but this situation has given me cold sweats! »
Gypsy-Hill13A
« Welcome to the giant’s lair. He who has had the courage to venture this far will regret not having been cowardly, for he will find death. »
Gypsy-Hill49A
Prosaically, the whole affair turns out to be the work of unscrupulous special effects experts, vulgarly after some jewels. All this imaginative and diabolically elaborate work and expense for some shiny baubles!  Still, it’s all about mood.

Writer and artist unknown. And nationality, for that matter. In places, the artwork has clearly been resized and adjusted, and switches back and forth between halftone and line art reproduction. So the lasting mystery lies not in the story, but in its provenance.

– RG

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