Hallowe’en Countdown VI, Day 5

« I lived on a houseboat in Amsterdam for a year. It was intense, and it’s possible that I even had a few blackouts. » — Wolfgang Beltracchi

Today’s featured tale is an old favourite illustrated by one of American comics’ perennial mal-aimés, the much-maligned Jack Sparling (1916-1997), a prolific, reliable, distinctive stylist who toiled for just about every publisher on the block. Of course, he’s persona non grata with the superhero set (a compliment in my book!) but his chief strengths lay just about everywhere else, in humour, horror, crime and adventure… you name it.

I love how cosy — that pervasive, foggy ambience! — yet harrowing this tale is. Nice to see one of those insufferable, know-it-all ‘ghost busters’ get his bitter requital. And who knew that some witches were so neat, so domestically inclined? Work that mop, boy!

The writer’s uncredited, and that’s a shame, because this is anything but formulaic — and DC’s mystery books were formulaic to a fault, especially under Joe Orlando‘s guidance. I suspect the author to be editor Murray Boltinoff — he often pitched in, under sundry bynames.
This is It’s Midnight… The Witching Hour! no. 21 (June-July 1972, DC), edited by Murray Boltinoff and with cover art by Nick Cardy.

-RG

5 thoughts on “Hallowe’en Countdown VI, Day 5

  1. sbmumford October 5, 2022 / 22:40

    Thanks for this – another great artist I’d never heard of., though I might well have read the story when it first came out.

    Many nice telling details that go above and beyond, like the gutter emptying into a barrel on the second page. Sparling’s drawing is detailed yet still has a nice verve and interesting distortions. Yet not even credited in 1972! DC!
    I’d have assigned him to a superhero title… why not Superman for a few issues?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gasp65 October 6, 2022 / 10:22

      Hi SB! I’m so glad to have had the pleasure of formally introducing you to Mr. Sparling’s work!

      > Many nice telling details that go above and beyond, like the gutter emptying into a barrel on the second page.

      Ah, it’s a joy to encounter someone who appreciates these discreet touches of verisimilitude. To me, this sort of small detail speaks of experience and observation and elevates the work above mundane, rote cliché.

      > Sparling’s drawing is detailed yet still has a nice verve and interesting distortions. Yet not even credited in 1972! DC!

      I couldn’t agree more — and even in-house, when reprint collections are assembled, a lot of stories’ authorship remains unknown. Terrible and unforgivable. Low pay *and* anonymity too?

      > I’d have assigned him to a superhero title… why not Superman for a few issues?

      I’d have loved to see that. He did handle a few superhero or superhero-adjacent features at DC in the late Silver Age: Challengers of the Unknown, Animal Man, Eclipso, Metamorpho, Plastic Man… even a couple of issues of Green Lantern right after Gil Kane’s departure. His pencils combined well with Sid Greene’s inks. He also landed the unenviable task of finishing The Creeper no.6 when Steve Ditko fell ill.

      Like

  2. sbmumford October 6, 2022 / 12:56

    Yes, I see from the bio page you linked to that he drew some superheroes. I’d like to read some of those!

    Also loved the hilarious sexy cavewomen fighting panel, which looks like it must have been from his last decade, though I have no idea where it would have been published – Playboy? – and it’s unattributed. Crazy but fun body distortion.

    It’s remarkable how much talent has resided among American illustrators, yet so generally unsung and forgotten.

    Like

    • gasp65 October 16, 2022 / 21:26

      And thank *you*, Mazoli! Hearing from our readers means a lot to us.

      Liked by 1 person

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