Hello boils and ghouls, it’s yer ‘ol pal Johnny here, and boy do I have quite a treat for you! Every day of this frightful month, I will be posting and spooking — I mean speaking — about deviant “Pre-Code” horror comic covers. Pre-Code refers to anything published before 1955, when the Comic Code Authority was created in 1954 to censor comics from publishing “lurid and unsavory” stories and art, meaning things such things as vampires, werewolves, ghouls, zombies, ect could no longer be portrayed in comic books. As a result, good must ALWAYS triumph over evil and villains can never be sympathetic. Words such as “horror” and “terror” could not be used on comic covers. Dark times indeed. My selection for the month isn’t focused on those that are the most shocking (though a few are) but rather on the best of horror and terror (physical and psychological) and those which display a variety of classic horror images and settings. Over 20 different artists from over 10 different publishers will be featured. I hope you all enjoy!
Tales from the Crypt #28 (1952) EC Comics, Al Feldstein
Al Feldstein is the artist responsible for this grim and creepy cover for Tales from the Crypt #28, one of my all-time favorite “buried alive” covers. I am totally a sucker for cross section shots like this, so maybe that’s why it’s my favorite. The scene above ground is almost tranquil compared to the horror below. Despite being set in a graveyard, with an ominous, moss-draped tree overlooking a field of graves and a sinister grave digger lurking about, the dark blue sky and full moon make a peaceful image. Juxtaposed against the below-ground figure, who can be seen screaming and struggling inside the coffin cross section, the quiet scene above becomes terrifying. That figure with the shovel surely just buried our man below ground, and his terrified screams barely create a ripple in the air above! The amount of dirt and darkness around the helpless, doomed man is the perfect amount to create an appropriate feeling of isolation and hopelessness. Even the “GhouLunatics” seem to add something to this image, the Vault-Keeper looks like he is jeering at the suffocating claustrophobic torture of the buried man.