At one time or another, I’ve posted Don Rico’s “Doctor Horror” one-shot on just about every Internet venue available. It’s simply a story that must be experienced by as many readers as possible.
Why the great affection for a forgotten comic-book tale that was churned out decades ago to fill out the back pages of a mostly forgotten title (Captain Battle) that was briefly published by a nearly forgotten company (Lev Gleason)?
Well … it’s just not every day that you see a comic apparently devote seven of its pages to remaking – and surpassing – the “Night On Bald Mountain” sequence from Disney’s Fantasia.
To be honest, I’m not sure if Rico – a journeyman writer/artist who enjoyed a long career as a paperback novelist – actually had seen Fantasia but Doctor Horror’s similarity to the demon Chernabog is apparent: Both are creatures of pure evil bent upon corrupting the world, yet meet defeat at the hands of a higher, unseen power.
According to the always infallible Wikipedia, Rico started his artistic career carving wood engravings of Depression-era life for WPA Federal Art Project. His experience in the field surely influenced the style of drawing seen in “Doctor Horror,” as the demons are depicted as static – and oddly malevolent – creatures that probably could have given Fletcher Hanks nightmares.
But don’t listen to me. Judge the story yourself and share your thoughts …
From Captain Battle #2 (Lev Gleason, 1941), here’s “Doctor Horror” by Don Rico.