Hallowe’en Countdown VI, Day 26

« I was already doing a lot of splendid research reading all the books about ghosts I could get hold of, and particularly true ghost stories – so much so that it became necessary for me to read a chapter of Little Women every night before I turned out the light – and at the same time I was collecting pictures of houses, particularly odd houses, to see what I could find to make into a suitable haunted house. » — Shirley Jackson

This one’s from the department of historiated text. What text? “those fiction pieces that nobody read” in comic books, prose pages mandated by the United States Postal Service. The USPS insisted that comic books «… have at least two pages of text to be considered a magazine and qualify for the cheaper magazine postage rates. »

By the Sixties, most of these pages consisted of letters to the editor, but not every company followed this practice. After EC pioneered the letters page idea in the early 1950s, ACG, DC, Archie and Marvel followed suit. But not Dell/Gold Key, Harvey and Charlton.

For its mystery titles, Gold Key naturally opted for a ‘unusual history’ format, enlisting, to provide spot illustrations, veteran cartoonist Joe Certa, best-known for his co-creation of and long run (1955-1968!) on J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter and his stylish run on Gold Key’s Dark Shadows comic book series (1969-76). While Certa started out with a pretty mainstream approach, as the Sixties wore on, his style got increasingly angular, spare and expressive. Personally, I love it… but I know it’s not for all palates.

This one appeared in Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery no. 17 (Mar. 1967, Western); « It was more than two centuries ago when the monstrous creature known simply as ‘the Beast’ appeared in the province of Auvergne, in France. » Perhaps you’ve seen the action-packed, *slightly* fictionalised cinematic account of the events, 2001’s Le pacte des loups, aka Brotherhood of the Wolves.
This one’s from Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery no. 28 (Dec. 1969, Western); « When Gustave Labahn appeared in Munich, Germany in 1890, he was indeed a man of mystery. Nothing was known of his except that he was tall, lithe and powerful, with strangely hypnotic eyes, and a possessor of unlimited wealth. »
This one, from Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery no. 28 (Dec. 1969, Western) states: « He was a man of a hundred names and countless identities. No one knew his true origin. It was said he was descended from an evil medieval warlock. Others said he was a reincarnation of the Count de St-Germain… a man who claimed to be more than 2,000 years old. He called himself Raoul Plessy, but his followers he was known as La bête… The Beast. »
Appearing in Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery no. 50 (Oct. 1973, Western), this one concerns the 1793 murder of French revolution leader Jean-Paul Marat by Charlotte Corday. Exceptionally, the art on this one is the work of John Celardo, a lovely, delicate composition.
One from Grimm’s Ghost Stories no. 5 (Aug. 1972, Western). The cat’s name is Satan, we are told.
From Ripley’s Believe It or Not! no. 8 (Feb. 1968, Western), this piece tells the story of a coffin that found its way home to one of my favourite places, Canada’s Prince Edward Island. Here’s a more sober account of the legend.
From Ripley’s Believe It or Not! no. 15 (Feb. 1968, Western), this one concerns the purported haunting of Scotland’s Meggernie Castle.
A cozy one from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! no. 21 (Aug. 1970, Western): « In the northeastern corner of Mississippi, near the town of Aberdeen, lies a stretch of deserted country road which has lately become known as one of the most haunted spots in the United States. »
A great drawing from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! no. 41 (July 1973, Western); The text opens with « Ash Manor House in Sussex, England, was over six hundred years old when bought in 1934 by a man named Keel. Mr. Keel did not believe in ghosts. Neither did his attractive wife. »
This hails from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! no. 42 (Aug. 1973, Western). The piece recounts anecdotes about such thespians as Burl Ives, Jackie Gleason, Rudolph Valentino and our beloved Vincent Price.
And here are a couple of samples of full pieces to give you an idea of how they looked in print. This thoroughly seasonal one saw print in Grimm’s Ghost Stories no. 6 (Nov. 1972, Western).

One more? Here’s a favourite from The Twilight Zone no. 42 (Mar. 1972, Western):

-RG