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!
Frankenstein #24 (1953) Prize Comics, Dick Briefer
Frankenstein’s monster has been depicted in so many ways in so many mediums by so many different artists but, in comics, there is one name that will always be at the top of the list and that name is Dick Briefer. Frankenstein #24, from Prize Comics, is easily my all-time favorite Frankenstein cover by Dick Briefer. Or even Frankenstein cover in general. And it is my only cover featuring a classic famous movie monster this month. Briefer perfectly captures a somber moment here, a painful realization from the creature’s limited intellect that it is, in fact, a hideous monster. The creature’s profile view is racked with pain at the discovery of his hideous reflection caught in the murky swamp water which throws back a pained look of shock and sorrow. The acrid swamp full of life but made of decay makes the perfect setting for reflecting the monster’s own situation: a creature made of death but somehow given life. This life is not light and pretty and the color palette and line work reflect that feeling. From the thick black lines outlining the monster and it’s surroundings and scratchy line work adding detail and rugged texture, to the monster’s reflection a grayish dim flash color emerging from the sulfuric green/yellow water, everything on this cover looks like it is in a state of decay! Prize Comics’ Frankenstein debuted in Prize Comics #7 (1940) in a story titled “New Adventures of Frankenstein,” which was written and illustrated by Briefer under the pen name Frank N. Stein, is considered by most comic book historians the first ongoing horror comic feature. After the Comic Code went into effect, Dick Briefer left the comic book world and entered the commercial advertising art field due to the many and ridiculous restrictions brought on by the Comic Code, which was especially harsh towards horror comics and other violent genres.