« The thing to do was kill it. Obviously. » — Ira Levin, Rosemary’s Baby
Last year, in the course of my post celebrating Luís Dominguez’s life and covers, I noted in passing, about The House of Mystery no. 235 (Sept. 1975, DC), that it held the only DC ‘horror’ story I ever found actually scary.
Since I’d hate to just leave you with such a tease, here it is, so you can be your own judge of the yarn’s merits (or its failings, however the chips may fall).
That poor, fragile, lonely woman! It’s not enough to be trapped in a loveless marriage with the world’s coldest fish, but any sympathy and hope she seems to receive from anyone is mere pretence in the process of gaslighting her. Of course, the plot is redolent of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist and other, and much needed, contemporary critiques of the obligations and ambivalences of motherhood — unthinkable in earlier days — but it has its own points to make.
This is, to my knowledge, one of the few horror stories in mainstream comics of that period to be both written and illustrated by women: Maxene Fabe and Ramona Fradon, respectively. While Fradon is justly celebrated for her defining work on Aquaman in the 1950s and on Metamorpho in the 1960s, Ms. Fabe’s is likely a less familiar name to most comics readers. In the 1970s, she wrote around twenty-five scripts for DC comics, almost exclusively short horror and humour pieces for editor Joe Orlando. Of these, four are Fabe and Fradon collaborations: the (almost) equally dark conte cruel Last Voyage of the Lady Luck in House of Secrets no. 136 (Oct. 1975, DC); the more conventional The Swinger in Secrets of Haunted House no. 3 (Aug.-Sept. 1975, DC), working from a plot by Mike Pellowski, and finally, the sardonically humorous Bride of the Pharaoh in House of Mystery no. 251 (Mar.-Apr. 1977, DC).
Great post. I assumed that Maxine Fabe and Ramona Fradon must be pseudonyms! So interesting that both were female comics creators in a man’s world.
I like Fradon’s artwork, which has a lot of verve, as well as a curious Golden Age stamp to it, occasionally channeling CC Beck it seems to me, or even Eisner’s studio. I wish she’d been assigned her own character in the 70s.
Well, she did get assigned to Plastic Man in the 70s, and hers was the finest run (ten issues) outside of Jack Cole’s, imho. She had just the right touch for the job. I like her inking herself best, but the issue with Mike Royer inks (no. 14) is particularly gorgeous, and highly recommended.
And thanks for the kind words!
I didn’t know – thanks – I have a rendezvous with eBay I believe!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Don’t forget Ramona’s work on Super Friends in the later 70s! She introduced a lot of kids into the world of superheroes in that period.