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!
Unseen #10 (1953) Pines Publishing, Jack Katz
I know I said earlier this month that I was only featuring one classic famous movie monster, but I am such a sucker for mummies! I remembered this cover during my research and changed things up, and can you blame me? Jack Katz’s cover for The Unseen #10 is, if not number one, one of my all time favorite mummy covers. I’ll admit I actually had no idea that Katz was active this early on in comic books, I just know him for “First Kingdom” his twenty four issue, seven hundred and sixty eight page independently published science fiction-fantasy graphic novel that took him twelve years to illustrate, which came out during the Seventies and was completed by 1986. Certainly not the first graphic novel, “First Kingdom” was still pretty innovative and helped pave the way for the graphic novel medium. A guy who takes it upon himself to do something as intricate and grand as that is the kind of guy who is no slouch when it comes to drawing mummy bandages! It’s common to see the time not spent on mummy wraps so it’s always special when someone does take the time. Outside of spider webs and a few lines defining bricks, the background is solid black, giving full attention to the mummy as he traps a terrified man inside a sarcophagus. The man reaching out is a bit stiff but his face is a great display of fear. The mummy is rendered in wonderful detail and has an excellent sense of form underneath those bandages. It’s skin, where exposed, is warped and green and it’s face ghoulish and skull-like. I love the two pinpoints of light inside the black of it’s eye sockets. The shading and detail on the sarcophagus are spot on, and the gold really pops against the black background. Since his “First Kingdom” days, Katz taught art and painted and continued working on graphic novels and I’m pretty sure is the only artist featured this month that is still alive!