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.
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!
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.
Coming tomorrow: A Vampire Viking! Or is it a Viking Vampire? I never can tell …
The horror comics Joe Simon and Jack Kirby produced for Prize Comics tended to emphasize mystery over gore, a choice that cast the supernatural as more of an inscrutable force of nature than outright malevolence.
Today’s tale, in fact, plays much like an episode from Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone – a program the comic predates by at least seven years. If he were aware of the story, I’m sure Serling would have been intrigued by the premise of an old man’s loneliness creating an unexpected companion.
The real point of interest, however, is the aforementioned “companion.” A creature composed of rags and trash, it bears a striking resemblance to a character created by Joe Simon years later: Brother Power The Geek.
Simon isn’t credited as the writer of the Black Magic story, but the coincidence is too great to think he didn’t have a hand in creating both characters. Although some consider Brother Power the worst super-hero title of the 1960s – if not ever – I’ve always liked Simon’s weird take on the Hippie Counter-Culture and The Silver Surfer.
(But what do I know? I also liked Prez… )
The 13 Days Of Halloween continue with “A Rag – A Bone And A Hank Of Hair!” The story originally appeared in Black Magic # 13 (Prize, June 1952) and was drawn by the great Mort Meskin.
Coming tomorrow: Earth is haunted by dead, floating fetuses from Mars!!! (That should garner a few Google hits … )
Today’s pick is easily one of my all-time favorite Pre-Code horror stories. I first encountered an edited version of “The Greatest Horror…” in DC’s brief series of Black Magic reprints of the 1970s, but the tale achieves its greatest impact free of Comics Code restrictions.
The big question, of course, is who exactly is this “great horror?” Is it one of the freaks who populate the story, or – in the fashion of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s X-Men, the prejudice and hatred that lurks within “normal” mens’ hearts?
Our Four-Star Fright Fest – along with the entire 31-day Halloween marathon – concludes with “The Greatest Horror Of Them All” by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
The story originally appeared in Black Magic #29 (Prize Comics, March-April 1954).
The third incarnation of Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein often found itself entangled in unlikely love scenarios, probably because everyone loves a good “Beauty And The Beast” tale and the cartoonist was admittedly a bit low on inspiration at the time.
Of course, none of these tales end happily … mostly because the monster isn’t really capable of much except destruction. That’s part of the character’s tragedy, I suppose, and once again a marked difference from the original malcontent that declared war against humanity in those early issues of Prize Comics.
The Time Bullet’s Three Faces Of Frankenstein week concludes with “Entranced,” one of Briefer’s better anti-romance comics. The story originally appeared in Frankenstein Comics #29 (Prize, Februrary-March 1954).
As if it needs to be pointed out, the script and art are by Briefer.
Three years after the demise of Dick Briefer’s acclaimed Frankenstein title, he returned to the trenches and revived the character to capitalize on the booming horror comics market.
Much to his regret, Briefer had never been able to sell a syndicated newspaper strip based on the humorous Frankenstein. Therefore, the cartoonist’s third iteration of Mary Shelley’s classic creation returned the monster to it’s original, bestial state. Unlike the version that appeared during the early ‘40s, however, this Frankenstein was less an evil mastermind than an inhuman engine of destruction.
(That could, on occasion, still be pitied.)
As I’ve written in earlier posts, Briefer thought less of this comic than the earlier Frankenstein strips. While it definitely lacks the zip of his earlier efforts, the third series is still entertaining and could even serve as an unacknowledged influence on the earliest Lee-Kirby Hulk stories.
Um….with a lot more murder and mayhem than was ever allowed in any Silver-Age Marvel Comic.
The Time Bullet’s Three Faces Of Frankenstein week continues with “The Rebirth of The Monster” from Frankenstein Comics #18 (Prize Comics, March 1952). The art and story are by Briefer.
Our Three Faces Of Frankenstein week continues as the world’s friendliest monster solves the unemployment crisis!
The story originally appeared in Frankenstein Comics #14 (Prize Comics, July-August 1948). It was written and drawn – once again – by Dick Briefer.
Coming tomorrow: The third and final face of Frankenstein!
Frankenstein’s Monster a … matchmaker? Stranger things have happened, especially with Dick Briefer’s version of the classic Mary Shelley character.
The Time Bullet’s Three Faces Of Frankenstein week continues with “The Strange Love Of Shirley Schmool,” a decidedly different tale of romance that definitely lives up to its title!
The story originally appeared in Frankenstein Comics #7 (Prize Comics, May-June 1947). It was written by Dick Briefer and Ed Goggin and drawn by Briefer.
By 1945, Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein had adopted a lighter tone as the Monster abandoned random acts of violence in favor of such pursuits as tracking down a copy of Jack & The Beanstalk. The change had evidently proved popular as Frankenstein graduated to his own comic, a move that prompted Briefer to ditch the horror elements entirely and reboot the character as a gentle giant who sought a down-to-earth existence.
The following story, “Frankenstein’s Family,” epitomizes this new approach as Briefer throws caution to the wind and amps up the surreal humor that set the feature apart from just about everything else on the newsstands back then.
“Frankenstein’s Family” originally appeared in Frankenstein Comics #3 (Crestwood, July-August 1946). The story was scripted by Briefer with Bruce Elliott and drawn by Briefer.
The Three Faces Of Frankenstein week continues with The Creature teaming up with Satan himself to see if a pure soul can be corrupted.
Yes … your eyes aren’t deceiving you Time Bulleteer. Today’s story is an adaptation of the Biblical story of Job that features Frankenstein’s Monster.
It’s just one of many reasons why I love comic-books so …
“Frankenstein Meets The Devil” first appeared in Prize Comics #31 (Crestwood Publications, June 1943). It was written and drawn by Dick Briefer.
Talk about divine intervention! I do like the image of Frankenstein and Satan playing cards at the end, though.
Tomorrow: The Second Face Of Frankenstein!