Jiminy Kill-It

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The “Gentle Giant” era of Dick Briefer’s classic Frankenstein series ended with the 17th issue of the character’s eponymous magazine. It would be three years before Briefer’s take on the monster would appear again, and at that point the series shifted into a pure horror mode to capitalize on the popularity of EC-styled comic books.

Perhaps sensing the end was near, the final issue of the “funny” Frankenstein is a bit darker than previous installments. The stories downplay the goofy surrealism of earlier stories and focus on the “lighter side” of murder and mayhem.

It’s a tribute to Briefer’s talent that he pulls off such a difficult feat. Much like his monstrous creation, Briefer was truly one of a kind.

The Thirteen Days Of Halloween continue with “Voice Of His Conscience.” The story originally appeared in Frankenstein Comics # 17 (Prize Comics, January-February 1949).

The story was written and drawn by Briefer.

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If you’d like to read more of Briefer’s Frankenstein, I dedicated a week to his three distinct takes on the character a few years ago.

Coming tomorrow: One of cinema’s original scream queens!

Party On, Garth

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The Thirteen Days Of Halloween continue with the macabre menace of the Vampiric Viking, Garth! The story originally appeared in Strange Fantasy #12 (Ajax-Farrell, June-July 1954).

There are no credited artists or writers for this tale, but it’s safe to assume it was produced by the Iger Studio.

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And they umm… lived (?) … umm … happily (?) ever after?!?!?

Given that the Iger Studio’s only staff writer was a woman, the fate of the tale’s female protagonist is especially  interesting. Is the last panel a barbed commentary on ’50s suburbia? An insight into the paranoia of that particular decade?

It’s worth pondering …

Coming tomorrow: Frankenstein’s Monster let’s his conscience be his guide!!!

Styx And Stones

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It’s that time of year again when yours truly sets aside mortal concerns to celebrate the Thirteen Days Of Halloween! This humble blog will host a Golden Age fright fest every day until Oct. 31, an event that should test the endurance of the staff at Time Bullet Central since we’ve barely managed more than 13 posts all year long.

First up, the inaugural adventure of Dr. Styx, a proto-Phantom Stranger who battled the numerous supernatural menaces that lurked within the pages of Prize’s Treasure Comics. Although the good Doctor’s adventures only lasted six issues, he did brush up against the Cthulhu Mythos and survived to tell the tale.

(Let’s see that Zatara jerk match that feat!)

From Treasure Comics #2 (Prize Comics, August-September 1945), Dr. Styx steps in to save the world when a misguided mystic decides to mess around with the Necronomicon. The writer and artist of this untitled tale are sadly uncredited.

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Coming tomorrow: A Vampire Viking! Or is it a Viking Vampire? I never can tell …

Mother Mayhem

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Comic-book entrepreneur Harry A. Chesler used to joke that his middle initial stood for “Anything.” Given that his studio produced a character like Mother Hubbard, it’s safe to say there was more than an ounce of truth to his jest.

Mother Hubbard was a crime-fighting witch who used her magic against Nazi torturers, soul-stealing elves and  – in today’s story –  ogres and gnomes who rob the eyeballs of sleeping children.

Yep, pure 100 percent nightmare fuel. It’s no wonder the good Mother only appeared in less than a handful of tales.

The 13 Days Of Halloween conclude with Mother Hubbard’s third, and final, adventure from Scoop Comics #3 (Chesler, March 1942). The story and art are uncredited, although I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that the creators were somehow related to the Brothers Grimm.

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Brrrrr…..

That’s it for another Halloween, Time Bulleteers! Don’t worry, we’ll be back Nov. 2 for a special All Soul’s Day tale starring the Golden Age Ghost Rider!

Fishy Business

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Everyone loves Disney’s adaptation of “The Little Mermaid,” but when you put some thought into the concept half-human/half-fish she-creatures aren’t quite as cute and spunky as Ariel appeared on the big screen back in ’89.

Today’s Pre-Code chiller illustrates that point beautifully  horrifically with a love tale turned bitter between a more malevolent – if somewhat gullible – mermaid and a seafaring adventurer who may well be an ancestor of Star Trek’s James T. Kirk based upon his rather manipulative approach to love and romance.

The 13 Days Of Halloween continue with “Monsters Of The Deep” from The Unseen # 14 (Standard, April 1954). The art is by Ralph Mayo.

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Coming tomorrow: We’ve saved the strangest for last! Introducing Mother Hubbard!! But will she save the world or destroy it!?!

A Wolf In Wolf’s Clothing

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Fox Publications’ Phantom Lady may have been the poster girl for “headlight comics,” but her toughness could never be questioned. Not only did she turn back threats from serial killers and Communist zombies, but as today’s tale proves Sandra Knight had more than enough skill to take down one of the may werewolves that populated Golden Age comics.

The 13 Days Of Halloween continue with “The Monster In The Pool” from Phantom Lady #16 (Fox, February 1948). The story is uncredited, by the Grand Comics Database guesses the story was scripted by Ruth Roche and drawn by either B. Tirado or Gus Schrotter.

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Coming tomorrow: A tormented artist tries to win over his true love! It’s a Pre-Code horror comic, what could possibly go wrong?!?

Stack O’ Wax

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Tex Blaisdell is best remembered for his stints assisting such great newspaper strip cartoonists as Hal Foster, Stan Drake, Al Capp, Bud Sagendorf and many others. He even took over Little Orphan Annie for five years after the feature’s creator, Harold Gray, passed away.

Like many of his contemporaries, however, Blaisdell also worked in the comic-book field and inked many Silver Age tales for DC. Less well known is his shot at Pre-Code horror comics, a House Of Wax rip-off published by lowly Charlton Comics.

Blaisdell’s work elevates the tale, though. One panel toward the end of the tale, in particular, deserves inclusion in the Pre-Code Horror Comic Hall Of Fame for sheer audaciousness.

(You’ll know it when you see it. By the way, there is a Pre-Code Horror Comic Hall Of Fame… right???)

The 13 Days Of Halloween continues with “Murderers’ Row” from The Thing #5 (Charlton, October-November 1952).

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As a special bonus, here’s the entertainingly sick cover to The Thing #5 by Lou Morales.

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I owe a tip of the hat to the Fawcett & Charlton Horror site for bringing this story to the Internet’s attention. Although I poke fun at Charlton’s bottom-of-the-barrel reputation among Golden Age publishers, The Thing actually turned into one of the better horror titles of the era once Steve Ditko jumped on board. A selection of those stories were posted during last year’s Halloween fest.

Coming tomorrow: Matt Baker’s Phantom Lady Vs. A Werewolf! You know she’s had experience dealing with wolves!!