Hallowe’en Countdown III, Day 23

« A knot you are of damned bloodsuckers. » — William Shakespeare

One of my favourite Atlas mood-masters was Anthony Lewis “Tony” DiPreta (July 9, 1921 – June 2, 2010); it appears Mr. DiPreta and his colleague Murphy Anderson share not merely a birthday, but a day of birth as well.

Tony DiPreta’s long career in comics began with his arrival at the “Busy” Arnold studio, with his first credits appearing in early 1942. He worked extensively for Hillman Periodicals, handling such features as Airboy (yay!), Skinny McGinty, Flying Dutchman and Stupid Manny; Lev Gleason Publications (various crime stories and The Little Wise Guys); and of course Atlas Comics, where he chiefly, but not exclusively, cut loose on moody-but-not-gory horror stories, often with a finely-turned streak of gallows’ humour.

Tony survived the post-Code near-collapse of the comics industry when he succeeded Moe Leff on Ham Fisher‘s Joe Palooka strip, which he carried until the feature’s final curtain in 1984. In the 1970s, he also did a bit of moonlighting for Charlton, contributing to a couple of issues of The Flintstones spin-off The Great Gazoo. In 1994, DiPreta took on another venerable, long-running newspaper strip, medical soap opera Rex Morgan, M.D., until his well-earned retirement (DiPreta’s, not Morgan’s) in 2000.

For your reading pleasure and mine, I’ve selected this adorably wacky tale from Atlas’ Journey Into Mystery no. 11 (August, 1953). Writer unknown, which is a shame.

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Well, I suppose it might have been simpler to see who wasn’t around in the daytime, but let’s face it, Mazerok’s method is far more entertaining and original.
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The story was reprinted in Where Monsters Dwell no. 17 (Sept. 1972, Marvel); though cover-featured, the cover itself was a lacklustre job by an overworked and uninspired Gil Kane, stuck here with Vinnie Colletta, though to be fair, there’s nothing here to ruin. Beyond the cover, the insides are great: two Ditko stories (« I Opened the Door to… Nowhere! » and « The World Beyond », a low-key Russ Heath (« If the Coat Fits », also from JIM 11), and our featured yarn.
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Now that’s more like it! The Hidden Vampires‘ original place of appearance, Journey Into Mystery no. 11 (Aug. 1952, Atlas), boasts a just-about-classic cover by Russ Heath, with a fine colouring job by Stan Goldberg.
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Heath did a lovely job with the small space allotted to preview the other stories. Pre-Code Atlas books were graced with a clever and attractive cover grid.

– RG

2 thoughts on “Hallowe’en Countdown III, Day 23

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