Thursday, June 27, 2013

Weird Science #12 (1952)

Credits:
Cover dated March/April 1952
Cover by Wally Wood

"A Gobl is a Knog's Best Friend" - Art by Wally Wood/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"The Last Man!" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"The Android!" - Art by Wally Wood/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Chewed Out!" - Art by Joe OrlandoStory by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines

"A Gobl is a Knog's Best Friend" - A rocket ship crew heads through space, and the commander gets frustrated with the annoying pet dog that one of his crew members has brought along. Eventually the rocket ship comes across an alien planet and upon landing a bizarre looking humanoid alien drives up in a vehicle. The alien invites them to come along and the men are brought to the alien's city. There they see many other aliens, which can communicate with each other, but not the humans. Later, other creatures that look just like humans come in, and the crew is brought to an area where they are held against their will. They eventually learn the language of these new creatures, who call themselves Gobls. The Gobls claim that the other aliens, the Kongs, keep them as pets. The rocket ship crew is kept on the planet as pets and the Knogs send some Gobls to Earth, thinking it was a friendly exchange of pets. One of the most bizarre EC story names ever, with a rather obvious premise and ending.

"The Last Man!" - A man heads into the atmosphere using a pod attached to a giant balloon, hoping to beat the record of the man who has attained the highest altitude. He is eventually able to rise high enough up to break the record, but while he is up there, nuclear war occurs on Earth and the entire surface of the Earth is destroyed. Eventually the man heads back down to the planet and gets out of the pod. He heads throughout the destroyed landscape searching for any other human being. He eventually comes across a beautiful young woman and thinks they can be the new Adam and Eve, only to discover that she is his sister.

"The Android!" - A man named Ron takes on a new secretary, the beautiful Ellen. He immediately falls in love with Ellen and desires to have an affair with her to get away from his wife Lee. Ellen isn't very accepting of his advances though. One night Ron runs into his friend Cal, who tells him he has been working for the government on creating androids. Ron decides to have Cal create him an Android that looks just like him which he can use to replace himself, that way he can run off with Ellen. The android is created and Ron gives it all of his personal information so it can take his place. When he goes to see Ellen however she reveals that she is an android herself and is only on a trial run, to be soon returned to the factory. When Ron returns home he finds that the android has contacted Cal, convincing him that Ron is the android and must be returned. The android is successful in fooling Cal, who kills Ron. The main character of this story is a bit too overzealous, considering Ellen never shows as much interest in him as he does in her, for obvious reasons.

"Chewed Out!" - A young man named Harold living in Arkansas is able to unintentionally contact an alien civilization that is traveling to Earth on a rocket ship after he buys a ham radio. Harold informs the authorities and the military arrives to manage the situation. Due to the publicity a large crowd gathers around Harold's house as he contacts with the aliens, who are soon to arrive on Earth. The military leader, a pushy General gets frustrated during the event and when it is time for the alien ship to land, it doesn't appear anywhere. The aliens tell Harold that they have landed in a strange lake. The General believes things to be a hoax and has Harold arrested in the radio destroyed. He buys a hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut from one of the local vendors. Biting into something hard in the hot dog, he pulls it out of his mouth and finds the alien's very tiny, destroyed ship. This story's spring board was "Pictures Don't Lie" by Katherine MacLean. The southern locale and bullying army general were inspired by Feldstein's own experiences when he was stationed in the Air Force in Arkansas during World War II. Both Feldstein have a brief cameo in the story.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Haunt of Fear #26

Credits:
Cover dated August 1954
Cover by Graham Ingels

"Marriage Vow" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by Otto Binder
"The Shadow Knows" - Art by Reed Crandall/Story by Otto Binder
"Spoiled" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Otto Binder
"Comes the Dawn!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Otto Binder

"Marriage Vow" - A man named Martin marries a beautiful, rich woman named Eva for her money. After a year of being married however, he gets bored with her and decides to kill her for her money. After convincing her to put him in her will, he tampers with their balcony and when she steps on it she falls to her death, being impaled on a spike fence he had installed. Eva comes back from the dead however, convinced that they cannot be seperated until he dies as well and forces Martin to continue living, eating and sleeping with her or she'll go to the police. Somewhat different than the typical EC formula (where you'd expect Eva to come back from the dead at the end of the story), which helps set this story apart from the typical EC fare.

"The Shadow Knows" - A salesman named Eric is carrying on an affair with a rich woman named Jondra who asks him to marry her. Since he is already married, Eric comes up with a plan to murder his wife, Mabel, and make it look like a suicide. He cuts of a letter from her making it look like a suicide note, then, sneaks out of his hotel at night, drives to his home and hangs his wife in the basement. Once Mabel is buried however, her shadow starts following Eric along. Jondra sees her shadow and thinks he is with another woman. He is able to convince her otherwise, but the shadow then murders Jondra and makes it appear as if Eric killed her. He is sentenced to die and following his burial Mabel's shadow returns to her grave. This is one of a couple of stories in this issue sharing very similar themes with stories from the past year that were in Tales from the Crypt. This particular story is a rehash of "Shadow of Death" from Tales from the Crypt #39.

"Spoiled" - A woman named becomes bored with her surgeon husband, who is either always away tending to patients, or spending time in his lab in the basement working on a new anesthetic. She starts going out to bars and starts carrying on an affair with another man. The two repeatedly see each other including at her own home since she can tell when her husband is finished with work in his lab by the light in his lab going off. One night however he is able to finish his new anesthetic and comes upstairs in a rush without turning the light off, finding them together. He decides to get revenge on the two of them by using his new anesthetic on them. He then switches their heads. The two wake up approximately a week later, and in horror discover their new bodies. A so-so story; the fact that the main character and her lover would carry on an affair while her husband was in the basement seemed quite foolhardy. They should have taken much better precautions (of course then we wouldn't have a story!). This story was adapted as a Tales from the Crypt episode.

"Comes the Dawn!" - Three men, Jack, Sam and Olaf pool their money and go on an expedition to the Arctic, hoping to find uraninum. They soon find a large amount of uranium, and land their plane near where they found it. They hire an eskimo named Kalak to bring them to where they detected the uranium and find a frozen coffin there. Kalak says it is a vampire that kills many of the eskimos in the spring time when it thaws. Kalak, scared, flees, stranding the 3 men. Luckily they find a cabin nearby where they can spend the night. Jack plots to kill his 2 colleagues so he alone can stake the claim to the uranium they found. He lights a fire around the coffin, letting the vampire loose. He then tricks Sam and Olaf into going outside and locks them out of the cabin such that the vampire kills them. Jack plans to destroy the vampire once the sun comes up, but realizes that based on the latitude he is at, the sun won't come up for another week and he'll starve to death before being able to leave the cabin. A so-so story which was very similar in theme to the story "By the Dawn's Early Light" which had appeared only a few months earlier in Tales from the Crypt #42. This is another story adapted for the Tales from the Crypt TV show.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Crime SuspenStories #5

Credits:
Cover dated June/July 1951
Cover by Johnny Craig

"The Sewer!" - Art by Johnny Craig/Story by Johnny Craig
"Mr. Biddy... Killer!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"The Gullible One" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Partially Dissolved!" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines

"The Sewer!" - A man named John is business manager for a handsome womanizing man named Harry. John plots with Harry's wife Irene to kill him such that they can be together. He knocks him out and causes him to drown in his bathtub. When they leave and try to hide Harry's body by dumping it in the sewer, Irene snaps and goes crazy. She starts screaming out about how they have killed Harry and runs off. John dumps Harry's body in the sewer then hides out. He then goes to the police station to see Irene but the police won't let her see him. When he returns home he finds cops waiting for him, so he runs off. He flees into the sewers in order to hide. While there, the body of Harry floats by and clogs the pipe that is letting out the water. As a result John drowns. Above ground, it is revealed that the cops were simply trying to warn John that Irene had escaped from the police and was trying to kill him; he was never a suspect. Craig has some really strong artwork in this story, particularly the last few pages which take place in a heavy rainstorm and in the sewers.

"Mr. Biddy... Killer!" - Archie Chester is frustrated by his shrew of a wife, who is constantly screaming at and arguing with him. While heading out to see some friends, Chester Archie comes across the mysterious Mr. Biddy. Mr. Biddy knows all about Archie's wife and tells Archie that he will kill her for him such that Archie can be free. Archie declines at first but later agrees to it. Mr. Biddy beats her to death with a pipe, but after calling the police he leaves. Archie is convicted for his wife's murder and sent to jail. He is set to be executed, but it is called off when it is discovered that Archie simply imagined Mr. Biddy and has gone crazy. That Mr. Biddy never really existed is rather easy to figure out from the start.

"The Gullible One" - A man named Hal goes on a trip to his friend Fred's hunting lodge along with 3 other friends. A massive snowstorm occurs and all five are trapped within the lodge. Weeks pass, and one day Fred is found dead. The four depart from the lodge and make it back to civilization, but with who killed Fred unknown, all four are set free. A year later, Fred's father invites them all to a memorial dinner. After dinner is served, he tells the four that he now knows who killed his son and that he has poisoned their dinner. He puts a glass in front of them which he claims has the antitode. After seeing everyone staring at him, Hal drinks it, even though he didn't commit the murder. Fred's father says he didn't know who was the killer and that the food wasn't poisoned, but the 'antidote' was, and Hal dies, having 'confessed' to Fred's murder. Hal's gullibleness never has much of a part in the storyline until the end, which is a decent one. The story was inspired by the Cornell Woolrich story "After Dinner Story".

"Partially Dissolved!" - An illusionist, Ventar, is successful at drawing large crowds, but plans to really dazzle people by escaping from 2 locked chests that are thrown into Lake Erie. He believes he can escape by using calcium chains to lock the chests, which dissolve in water. He tells the secret only to his assistant, Molto. However Molto betrays Ventar and uses real chains on the chests such that he is not able to escape. Knowing all of Ventar's secrets, Molto becomes famous himself. When he returns to Lake Erie he gloats about his betrayal of Ventar, only for Ventar's corpse to rise out of the water grab him, and drag him into the lake where he drowns.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Two-Fisted Tales #29

Credits:
Cover by Harvey Kurtzman
Cover dated September/October 1952

"Korea!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Red Knight!" - Art by John Severin/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Washington!" - Art by John Severin and Bill Elder/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Fire Mission!" - Art by Dave Berg/Story by Harvey Kurtzman

"Korea!" - This story takes place in Korea. While hiding out behind a jeep, playing dice, American soldiers are shot upon by the Koreans and several are killed. The Koreans steal their jeep, but two of them get in another jeep and head after them. One of the soldiers in particular is obsessed with getting revenge for the death of his friends. They are able to shoot down the jeep and follow the soldiers, killing one and taking the last hostage. They bring their wounded prisoner to the field hospital and he is taken away. One of the soldiers thinks of how easy it is to kill a man in combat and that they should remember how each and every life is important. A rather fast paced story. I was expecting some sort of twist in the end, with perhaps the prisoner turning on the men, but it ended in somewhat different fashion.

"Red Knight!" - This story is about the German World War I ace Baron  Manfred Von Richthofen. At the start of the story, his plane is seen coming down over France. Over the next 5 pages we are shown various victories of him, and how he writes a letter each time requesting acknowledgment of his latest kill. Richthofen eventually records a record 80 kills. As the story ends his plane comes down to the ground and he is found inside, dead. Another of many World War I stories featuring ace plane pilots, this one is slightly more interesting than usual.

"Washington!" - This story features George Washington in one of his earliest battles, in Manhattan in 1776. British ships come up the East River, further than the troops expected. The Militia men quickly get scared and start running away. Seeing this, Washington angrily  tries to get them to stay, ordering them, swearing at them and even trying to shoot at them. He is unsuccessful and left completely alone. An interesting and unique story, showing a side to George Washington that you wouldn't expect to be seen, with him being quite a failure as a commander. It was stories like this that made EC's war comics unique from others, which would be unlikely to show the  first president in such an unflattering light.

"Fire Mission!" - This story features a mortar crew that are stationed within a small trench while their sergeant receives orders from out front. Enemy soldiers push near them and several of the men are killed. One of the men including the sergeant are shot and another runs out, not worrying about what will happen and gets killed as well. One of the soldiers is really scared, but runs out to observe the enemy, and is successful as the mortar crew is able to take the enemy soldiers out. The soldier admits that he headed out to show that he wasn't scared and one of the older soldiers tells him that on the battlefield everyone is scared. Berg's sole art job for EC during the New Trend; he later would become a prolific artist for Mad magazine. His artwork is a bit more cartoonish than the typical EC war comic story, so its easy to see why this was his sole appearance.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weird Fantasy #21

Credits:
Cover dated September/October 1953
Cover by Al Williamson and Frank Frazetta

"My Home..." - Art by Joe Orlando/Story by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines
"Saved" - Art by Al Williamson/Story by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines
"Planely Possible" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines
"The Million Year Picnic" - Art by John Severin & Bill Elder/Ray Bradbury adaption by Al Feldstein




A rare cover collaboration between Williamson and Frazetta starts off this issue of Weird Fantasy.

"My Home..." - A being made up of pure energy is the sole inhabitant of a planet that four astronauts, Steve, Harold, Ken and his wife Helen arrive at. The astronauts plan to mine the planet for uranium, but the alien has different ideas. He inhabits the body of Harold, being able to control him. He then attacks one of the other astronauts until being shot. He then inhabits Ken's body. When Steve brings Harold's body outside to bury it, the alien has the rocket ship take off, stranding him. As the days pass, Helen and Ken grow further apart due to Ken's body decomposing. They stay apart from each other, but the alien/Ken desires to see her one last time. Now a rotting corpse, Helen dies of fright from seeing him and the alien departs his body. It remains in the rocket, which is now its home., This story seems inspired by "Who Goes There?" by John Campbell, which was eventually made into 3 movie versions called "The Thing".

"Saved" - A man named Jargot proclaims that his ship, the Mercury, can transport goods faster than any other ship, guaranteeing that he will break all speed records. While he is successful in doing so, all of his crew dies during the journey except for him. When this happens multiple times, a man named Keston, who works for the Galaxy Bureau of Investigation is assigned to go on the ship and find out what is going on. Because no one will go on the ship, he and Jargot have to knock out several men and bring them onboard while unconscious. Once they are in space, Jargot locks everyone up including Keston. He then takes them away 2 at a time and Keston hear only screams from elsewhere in the ship. When Jargot comes for Keston and the other last remaining man, Sangor, he brings them to the engine room and reveals that the engine uses a catalyst, human blood, to go so quickly. Sangor reveals he is a vampire however and kills Jargot. He tells Keston he saved him, but what he means is he's saving him for another meal later on. A good story for the most part, combining both sci-fi and horror elements, although the pun at the end leaves for a rather lame ending.

"Planely Possible" - A man, Mr. Thurmond and his wife are in a car accident. Thurmond wakes up in a hospital and his wife dies soon afterwards. A technician at the hospital, Warburton, tells Thurmond that he believes that there were 4 divergent possibilities that came from the car accident and that it is possible to send Thurmond to the plane where his wife survived and he died, so he can take his place there as if he hadn't died. Warburton is able to transfer him to another plane, but mistakenly sends him to one where both Thurmond and his wife survived. Thurmond throws his duplicate in the furnace, killing him, and takes his place. He soon wakes up however to find that all of this was a dream, and his wife never died after all. But that night, the version of him from another plane arrives and throws him in the furnace. A new interesting take on the multiple dimensions plot.

"The Million Year Picnic" - A father and mother bring their 3 sons on a boating trip on Mars. While traveling they see a rocket depart to Earth, the last rocket to depart to Earth, as nuclear war ends up destroying the rest of human civilization. The family travels to various abandoned martian cities and eventually decides on one to live in. They expect more people to join them soon and they'll restart human civilization in their own way. The boys are anxious to see Martians, and the father shows them the Martians by having them look in the water at their own reflections. An adaption of a Ray Bradbury story from the end of the Martian Chronicles. Its one of the less interesting ones.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tales from the Crypt #30

Credits:
Cover dated June/July 1952
Cover by Jack Davis

"Gas-tly Prospects!" - Art by Jack Davis/Written by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"A Hollywood Ending!" - Art by Joe Orlando/Written by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Auntie, It's Coal Inside!" - Art by Jack Kamen/Written by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Mournin', Ambrose..." - Art by Graham Ingels/Written by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines

My first issue in about a week or so; this is a slightly better than average issue of Tales from the Crypt.

"Gas-tly Prospects!" - This story is told by an old prospector named Jeff Whittiker, who heads to California to search for gold. Deep in the woods he comes across a stream filled with gold. One day however a man comes by and shoots Jeff, hoping to take over his territory. Jeff hides behind a rock with a shotgun, but the man waits him out and he dies. The man buries Jeff's corpse, but a wild cat comes by and digs him up, then fights with another cat and forgets about him. The man wakes up the next morning to find Jeff's corpse there, so he ties it up and throws it under water. Eventually however the corpse is loosened from its bonds and comes to the surface. The man decides to burn Jeff's corpse, but shotgun shells in his pocket explode, causing the woods around the man, and the man himself to be caught aflame, killing him. This story is told from an interesting perspective, that of a corpse.

"A Hollywood Ending!" - Hugh Howards, a famous Hollywood producer heads to the Arctic, where he meets a beautiful American woman named Terry. Terry tells Hugh that she has lived here for 6 years with a Dr. Wheems who has taken care of her after an accident she was in with her father where he died and she lost her memory. Hugh falls in love with Terry and convinces her to come with him to Hollywood to become a movie star. Dr. Wheems is fiercely against this, but they leave while he is asleep. At first all goes well in Hollywood, and the two are married. However soon the makeup man comes to see Hugh, telling him that Terry's skin is dry and cracking. Terry soon puts on a heavy veil and starts wearing gloves. She starts emitting a strange smell and locks herself up in her room. Dr. Wheems soon arrives and reveals the truth, that Terry died in the accident 6 years ago. Through an experiment he was able to keep her alive, but she had to be kept in cold weather to keep from decomposing. The two head into Terry's room where they find her rotting corpse remains. The strongest story of the issue, despite being a bit too wordy at times (particularly the final page).

"Auntie, It's Coal Inside!" - A seven year old boy named Toby keeps hearing a voice in his head that tells him to do bad things, in particular to take coal out of the coal bin in the basement despite his aunt Agnes telling him not to. Toby is immediately caught by her and she gets upset, telling him his father was a drunkard whose drunk driving killed both him and his Toby's mother. Agnes threatens Toby with going to the orphanage if he isn't good. Agnes decides to have a lock put on the coal-bin door, and the locksmith catches Toby trying to escape from his room, getting him in even bigger trouble. One day when Agnes orders more coal to be delivered she accidently locks herself in the coal bin. She calls out to Toby to let her out, but he thinks it is the voice inside his head and ignores it. When the coal truck arrives and pours the coal into the coal bin, Agnes gets crushed by it. Another kid-themed story by Jack Kamen, this is a fairly good one and one of the better of such stories.

"Mournin', Ambrose..." - A young man named Andrew is invited to his uncle Ambrose's mansion. There he meets Ambrose and his eccentric wife, Elsa. Ambrose tells Andrew that she has been this way since three relatives that had come to visit all mysteriously died. Elsa tells Andrew of a passage from Macbeth then meets him again later on and tells Andrew that Ambrose is a fiend. Andrew is awakened by Ambrose later that night who tells him that Elsa has died. after her funeral, Andrew repeatedly sees Ambrose visiting her body in the mausoleum outside. Thinking of Elsa's references to Macbeth, Andrew grabs it from the mansion's library but instead finds it to be a diary of Elsa's revealing that Ambrose murdered the 3 relatives. Ambrose refuses to consent to an autopsy of Elsa's body and it is soon discovered that he kept visiting her because he is a ghoul and was consuming his corpse. An average story to wrap up the issue.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mad #4

Credits:
Cover dated April/May 1953
Cover by Harvey Kurtzman

"Superduperman!" - Art by Wally Wood/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Flob Was A Slob!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Robin Hood!" - Art by John Severin/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Shadow!" - Art by Bill Elder/Story by Harvey Kurtzman

An average issue of Mad quality-wise, but it was the issue during which Mad started to become really popular, and started to hit its stride by doing parodies of other things from popular culture.

"Superduperman!" - A parody of Superman, the story stars Clark Bent, a miserable, emaciated man who is assistant to the copy boy. In love with reporter Lois Pain, Clark spends his life savings on a neckalce for her only for her to knock him aside, calling him a creep. Clark changes into his Superduperman persona, then has to battle Captain Marbles, a similar hulking presense who is trying to rob a safe. Superduperman manages to defeat Captain Marbles by getting him to punch himself in the face. Superduperman thinks Lois will be impressed with him now and reveals his hidden identiy to her, but she still thinks he is a creep and knocks him over.

"Flob Was A Slob!" - A young woman named Ramona Snarfle is engaged to her childhood sweethear, Sheldon, a rather baffoonish character who spends his time trying to catch a butterfly. The handsome Rackstraw Him appears and takes Ramona away with him. He shows her quite a good time at a variety of places, but she soon discovers that he is a crook, and when he tries to get her to sell racing forms she leaves him and returns to Sheldon. The story ends with Ramona in the present, where she has left Sheldon to sell racing forms.

"Robin Hood!" - A parody of Robin Hood, the story begins with two locals watching as the Sheriff of Nottingham passes by with a number of merchants. Robin Hood shows up and introduces his variety of merry men. They then pursue the merchants while our protagonists pursue Maid Marion. As Robin and his merry men are about to leave, our protagonists ask if they can provide them with some money since all they have is two cents. Robin Hood's merry men instead rob the men of the two cents and their clothing.

"Shadow!" - A woman named Marlo Pain shows up at a bar full of seedy looking characters, saying that she is the only one who knows the voice of the mysterious, invisible Shadowskeedeeboomboom. Shadow shows up, but due to him being invisible survives while all the men there end up killing one another. Margo and Shadow leave and Margo finds her life to be threatened. They eventually come upon a cabin connected to dynamite. Shadow convinces her to sit inside and he then pushes the trigger, killing her since she's the only one who recognizes his voice.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Shock Illustrated #2

Credits:
Cover dated Winter 1955
Cover by Ruddy Nappi

"The Lipstick Killer" - Art by Reed Crandall/Story by Daniel Keyes (credited as A.D. Locke)
"My Brother's Keeper" - Art by George Evans/Story by Jack Oleck
"A Question of Time" - Art by Al Williamson/Story by Al Feldstein
"Dead Right" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by Al Feldstein (credited as Alfred E Neuman)

Shock Illustrated was one of EC's picto-fiction magazines, which were created after the failure of EC's New Direction line. They featured prose stories, with art from EC's regulars. Unfortunately they were not a commercial success and were soon cancelled. With EC's artists not confined to the small size of a comic book panel for their art, the artwork in these issues is some of the best that EC ever published. In addition, some of the issues featured painted covers, the only such ones done for EC. Rudy Nappi's one for this issue is quite a strong one. In regards to Shock Illustrated in particular, it was the first of the picto-fiction magazines, and began very similar in fashion to the Psychoanalysis comic. Starting with the second issue, it became more like Shock SuspenStories the comic, with the occasional psychiatrist-centric story included, such as the opening story in this issue.

"The Lipstick Killer" - A young man named Lennie has killed a woman in her apartment after she caught him going through his dresser drawers, looking for her makeup and lipstick. Lennie regrets his actions and writes on the mirror in her lipstick. Lennie is caught by the police when he escapes and put on trial, where he is called a sex maniac and is disowned by his parents, who tell him he was adopted. In prison, Lennie meets the prison psychiatrist who goes into his psyche and how he would go through other people's things as a child. He recalls his time at the orphanage, and the nurse who he was very fond of until she caught him in her room and was mean to him afterwards. When Lennie attacks the psychiatrist, he is put into solitary confinement which causes him to go crazy. The psychiatrist meets with him one last time and discovers that the beginning of everything was from when he accidently killed his baby sibling with a pair of scissors, mistakening it for a doll. A sort of holdover from the psychiatrist-themed stories that were prevelant in the first issue. Things drag on for a bit midway through, but the story does have an interesting and surprising ending.

"My Brother's Keeper" - This story features a family that lives on a farm away from town, with two adult sons, Walt and Larry. Larry is large in size, but mentally handicapped, and Walt is fiercely protective of him. When they go into town for groceries, the local kids often make fun of Larry and Walt fights them off. Walt is extremely close to Larry and in addition to bringing him into town every once and a while also plays with him in the local graveyard. The locals from town soon come to talk to Walt and Larry's parents about taking away their son to an institution. This greatly upsets Walt who screams at them and threatens them with a pitch fork. Walt soon realizes that even his parents are on the side of the townfolk and greatly fears what will happen to Larry. Another incident soon happens in the town with Walt and Larry, and they flee to the graveyard. There, Walt realizes that Larry will be taken away for sure this time. He decides it would be best if Larry was saved from this fate through death. Walt bashes Larry's head in with a broken gravestone then buries his body. Upon returning home he finds the townfolk there already and is gleeful that they won't be able to do anything to Larry. But it is Walt himself who is taken away and thrown in the institution. It was always him they were after, due to how violent he would get whenever he felt Larry was threatened. The story ends with Walt screaming maniacally in his padded cell. In my eyes this is arguably the single best EC story of all time. An amazing twist ending and tragic story, with Walt killing the one person who was most important to him. It takes some obvious inspirations from the famous book "Of Mice and Men", and there is an obvious nod to the book with the name of Larry (the name and character inspired by "Lennie" from that book). Apparantely Oleck did other versions of this story that appeared in competitor comics like Black Magic, although I've never been able to come across one of the other tellings. George Evans also turns in some strong artwork.

"A Question of Time" - The local sheriff finds a woman named Lila dead. He goes to see her husband Harry, figuring that he did it. The entire town knew about Lila fooling around with other men, but nobody told him about it. They all assumed he'd find out someday and do something about it. Harry refuses to confess, and the sheriff leaves. Later, Lila, who is still alive comes home, and knowing the truth, he kills her. This story is simply a retelling of the story of the same name from Crime SuspenStories #13. A so-so and confusing at times story, and it would have been good if they could have chosen another story to redo.

"Dead Right" - An older man named Carl is good friends with a man named Joseph who they knew from when they were in medical school together. Both bachelors, the two frequently keep themselves company and are the beneficiaries in each other's wills. The two argue over what happens at death, with Joseph thinking that a person's senses still work while Carl disagrees. One night Joseph tells Carl that he has had some money troubles and has poisoned him. Carl collapses, dead, but still has all the senses he would as if he was still alive. He lays there, unable to do a thing as Joseph closes his eyes then proceeds to have his body taken away, embalmed and buried. It is at that moment that Joseph opens up the coffin and admits to Carl that it was all a gag; he didn't poison him but gave him something that would temporarily paralyze him so as to get him to consider his theory. But Carl doesn't come back to consciousness, as he had died for real at the moment Joseph told him that he poisoned him. A fairly good story, that is a retelling of a story done in Tales from the Crypt #37. Unlike the previous story, this one was drawn by a different artist, Graham Ingels (Jack Davis had done the original story). The original version of the story had been adapted in the Tales from the Crypt TV series.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Frontline Combat #6

Credits:
Cover dated May/June 1952
Cover by Harvey Kurtzman

"A Platoon!" - Art by Bill Elder & John Severin/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"War of 1812!" - Art by Wally Wood/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Ace!" - Art by John Severin/Story by Harvey Kurtzman
"Bellyrobber!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Harvey Kurtzman

Another fairly good issue of Frontline Combat. This issue is notable for me for being the last EC war comic for me to acquire, and my review for this blog is actually the first time I've read the issue. Each story focuses on a particular soldier or character in particular. No real duds here, with Bellyrobber being my personal favorite of the issue.

"A Platoon!" - A story that takes place during the Korean War, it focuses on a soldier named Ed. He is an experienced soldier, but doesn't want any responsibilities, despite there being a shortage of officers. During the oncoming battle, some chaos ensues but Ed keeps a fellow soldier from fleeing and helps direct the fellow soldiers. After the battle is over, the wounded Captain wants to put Ed in for a battlefield commission, but Ed declines, still wanting no responsibilities.

"War of 1812!" - This story focuses on a wounded native american soldier, in the aftermath of a battle during the war of 1812. Flashbacks show a battle taking place in the woods between the Americans, English and native americans. The native americans, made up of a number of different tribes are led by the great chief Tecumsah. But when Tecumsah takes a bullet to the heart and dies, the native american soldiers flee. Our protagonist is soon come across by an American soldier who scalps him.

"Ace!" - This story takes place during World War I. It focuses on an American pilot, Harry Chesterfield, trying to become an ace. The story begins as he gets his third kill, requiring only 2 more to become an Ace. He and his fellow soldiers happily eat at the round table. He soon after gets his fourth kill, and the happy meals continue. Harry finally gets his fifth kill, but it results in him being led into a trap and his plane is shot down, killing him. The meals at the round table continue, but there is a noticable absent with Harry no longer there. One of the earlier World War I plane-based stories, which would become more prevalent once George Evans joined the EC ranks.

"Bellyrobber!" - This story, taking place in the Korean War, features a rather grumpy cook, for whom his fellow soldiers never see smile or in a good mood. One day he comes across a young Korean kid in their tent. Bellyrobber befriends the kid and takes care of him, showing a human side to him. One day he finds that 2 Korean soldiers have come across the tent and while Bellyrobber is able to kill them, it is not before they have killed the child. This causes Bellyrobber to return to his angry, grumpy self.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Vault of Horror #16

Credits:
Cover dated December 1950/January 1951
Cover by Johnny Craig

"Werewolf Concerto!" - Art by Johnny Craig/Story by Johnny Craig
"Fitting Punishment" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by Al Feldstein & Johnny Craig
"The Grave Wager" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Al Feldstein & Johnny Craig
"Escape!" - Art by Al Feldstein/Story by Al Feldstein & Johnny Craig

One of the oddest EC covers ever kicks off this issue of the Vault of Horror. It features a rather minimalist style and is the only EC horror comic to show only 2 of the 3 horror hosts on the cover, with the Crypt Keeper not having a story inside.

"Werewolf Concerto!" - Three deaths occur in a hotel, causing much anguish for the hotel owner, Hubert as the guests all flee. Hubert comes up with an idea to attract attention to his hotel by inviting the famous concert pianist Mademoiselle Micheline to stay at his hotel for free. Hubert doesn't see Micheline arrive, but some attendants of her carry a large piano inside. He later meets her leaving from her room and believes the lack of evidence that she signed in must have been an error. The murders at the hotel continue and everyone else leaves. Micheline is the only one that stays. Soon after, Hubert turns into a werewolf; it was he who had been killing the guests. With no other guests, he heads to Micheline's suite to find her, but she is gone. He bangs on her piano and it opens up, revealing dirt inside. Hubert realizes that Micheline is a vampire, but it is too late as she attacks him. This story was later adapted into an episode of the Tales from the Crypt TV show. It is interesting enough the only story in the issue that features a female character in it.

"Fitting Punishment" - A cheap old undertaker named Ezra is forced to take care of his nephew Stanley when his sister dies. Ezra hates that Stanley is around and constantly tries ways to save or make money, such as taking gold teeth from the people he buries. When Ezra blames Stanley for a mistake that causes him to have to buy an extra coffin, he hits Stanley with a hammer, crippling him. With Stanley now useless to him, he knocks him down a set of stairs, killing him. He then puts him in the extra coffin he had bought, but needs to saw his feet off since Stanley is too tall. After Stanley is buries, Ezra hears strange sounds and night and finds Stanley's feet at his doorstep. He tosses them in the fire, but Stanley's corpse soon returns to get them back. This story is inspired by "In the Vault" by H.P. Lovecraft. It was also made into an episode of the Tales from the Crypt TV show.

"The Grave Wager" - While visiting an amusement park, 3 men come across Pirro, the Wax-Man, a man who is able to resemble a wax figure. One of the men, Roger, who isn't shocked by Pirro or any of the wax figures they see there decides on a wager with his friends where he will sit in a room with a corpse for the night. His 2 friends dig up a corpse with him, but later go to see Pirro and convince him to wear make-up and play the corpse. That night he rises up, but Roger freaks out, killing him and going insane as a result. The issue's weakest story, both in art and writing.

"Escape!" - A prisoner named Luger comes up with a plan to escape from the prison where he is being held. He manages to have himiself transfered from his job of transporting bricks to working in the morgue. There he plans to sneak out of the prison in a coffin, as he frequently sees the coffins of those prisoners who have died escorted out of the prison in a hearse. During a visiting day, he tells one of his colleagues to rescue him from the coffin after it is transported out of the prison. The night finally arrives for him to escape and he heads into the coffin. A couple of men come to carry the coffin out, but carry it to a crematorium that had recently been contructed in the courtyard. A plot that had been redone multiple times over the years, including a couple of stories that I have already covered in this blog in The Haunt of Fear #13 and Tales From the Crypt #45. This was yet another story that was adapted into an episode of the Tales from the Crypt TV show, making 3 stories from this issue alone.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Impact #3

Credits:
Cover dated July/August 1955
Cover by Jack Davis

"Life Sentence" - Art by Reed Crandall/Story by ???
"The Debt" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Carl Wessler
"Totally Blind" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Otto Binder
"The Good Fairy" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by ???

Impact was another of EC's New Direction titles. Its focus was on shock endings, one of the things that EC was most well known for. Like EC's other New Direction titles, things just couldn't compare to the golden age of EC's New Trend, but in general it was a better comic than the other New Direction titles. Overall this is an average issue, with the first story being the best and the issue gradually getting weaker with each successive story.

"Life Sentence" - A pastor reveals to a man named Paul that his father has died, bringing him to the dirty house where his father lived. Paul has utter disdain for his father. They talk about Paul's childhood, when his brother Danny died of typhoid. Soon after his father, who had come back from a hardware convention completely changed. He left Paul's mother and moved to a house on the other side of town. There he angrily yells at anyone who comes near. Paul and his mother are able to get by through charity provided to them by the pastor. Back in the present, the pastor reveals to Paul that his father was a typhoid carrier which was the reason for his strange change in behavior for so many years.

"The Debt" - A man named Joe Wiler is released from prison after spending 8 years there. On his way out he is greeted by his old friend and boss, Mr. Ryder, President of the local bank. Flashbacks show how Joe's son Ted was consistently behaving badly and breaking the law. Ted tries to settle down and Joe gets him a job at the bank, but Ryder has a hard time believing that he has changed. Ted gets married, and Ryder becomes suspicoius of the car Ted drives and the fact that he accompanies a country club. One day Ryder tells Joe that Ted has stolen $5,000 from the Bank. Joe takes the blame for it to cover for his son, even though Ryder knows he is lying about it. Back in the present, Ryder, who has suffered a heart attack and is on his death bed reveals that he was the one who stole the money.

"Totally Blind" - A woman named Mildred is very down on herself due to how ugly she is. As a result, she has never had a man love her. But one day she meets a handsome new neighbor of hers, Jim, who is blind. The two soon become friends and he asks her to marry him. Millie, continuously down on herself says they can't get married due to how ugly she is, but he convinces her how foolish this is and that he's known this of her since the beginning. One day Jim falls and hits his head. He later tells Millie he has an ability to get an operation which can restore his sight. Millie wants him to have it before they get married, such that he can see how ugly she is and leave her. Jim tells Millie that she is being a fool and that the fall restored his sight and he has been able to see what she looks like for a while now.

"The Good Fairy" - An old man named Crowder runs a store and is known as a penny pincher and grumpy old man. One day a little girld opens a lemonade stand in front of his store, angering him greatly. The girl's sad story about her sick mother causes many to sympathize with her and buy lemonade from her. Crowder complains, but the police is on the girl's side. Each night the girl's lemonade jar mysteriously gets filled up, causing her to think that she has a good fairy helping her out. This gets Crowder even more upset. But as the story ends it is revealed that Crowder is the good fairy, filling the jar in secret since he has a reputation to maintain.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Incredible Science Fiction #30

Credits:
Cover dated July/August 1955
Cover by Jack Davis

"Clean Start" - Art by Wally Wood
"Marbles" - Art by Bernie Krigstein
"Conditioned Reflex" - Art by Joe Orlando
"Barrier" - Art by Jack Davis

All stories are by Jack Oleck

Incredible Science Fiction was a retitling of Weird Science-Fantasy so as to ensure compliance with the Comics Code, which the comic was forced to follow for the entirety of its 4 issue run. The effect of the Comics Code wasn't too apparent in this issue, but would be in later ones. The comic was notable for featuring the only Jack Davis covers and stories for an EC sci-fi comic.

"Clean Start" - The Solar Federation, consisting of alien beings from throughout the galaxy becomes concerned as the war-obsessed humanity becomes more advanced and nears space travel. A pair of blob-like aliens, Brx and Lth head to Earth, desiring to head to the point in time wheere humanity's desire to kill each other first started. They find as they travel through time however that this aspect of humanity has always existed. So they decide instead to wipe out humanity, saving only one male and one female, so they can teach them to live peacefully and pass such mentality throughout their descendents. They set a device to go off in ten days. Lth, who has transformed herself to look like a human woman searches throughout mankind, but has a hard time choosing and ultimately decides on a random man to save as the device goes off. She returns to her ship but is shocked when the man transforms back into Brx. A strong story to start off the comic, with some good Wood artwork as well.

"Marbles" -  Mankind finally heads to space. As they head there, they make a strange discovery. As they head further into space their destinations become smaller and smaller. The astronauts claim that their planets are small enough to bring into the ship, and they soon fly around, collecting all of the planets of the solar system and bringing them into the ship. In reality, the crew of the ship have gone utterly insane. A rather mediocre story, and at 5 pages one of EC's shortest.

"Conditioned Reflex" - In the story's prologue, a scientist discusses the identification of a methane-based planet discovered by humanity due to the entire planet bursting into flames. The story shows that the planet did have life, which had discovered mankind. Feeling threatened by humanity, the aliens decide to send one of them, Quor to Earth, after having undergone surgery to make him look like a human. Quor heads to Earth and works as a farmhand, getting used to Earth habits, such as smoking a cigarette to relax. He decides to flee when the daughter of the farm owner falls in love with him. Quor quickly is able to infiltrate Earth's government buildings and find out the information he needs. He returns to his planet where he is to present before the leaders of the planet. He lights a cigarette to relax, and the spark causes the entire planet to explode. A strong story with an very interesting twist at the end. Although things are a bit repetive with the second story in the issue featuringn aliens deciding to infiltrate humanity.

"Barrier" - The Eastern and Western Alliances of Earth have been at war with each other for nearly 50 years. Believing the side that lands on the moon will win the war, the Western Alliance sends a rocket into space but it crashes into something and falls back to Earth. The Western Alliance realizes that there is a sort of barrier surrounding the Earth. They decide to team up with the Western Alliance and blow a hole in the barrier so their rocket can get through. As soon as they get through the barrier however, a flying saucer comes after them and forces them back inside. The Western Alliance scientist realizes that alien forces from space have locked humanity in, viewing them as a savage race. The THIRD story in this issue with the theme of aliens fearing humanity. How many ways can the same story be told?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Haunt of Fear #21

Credits:
Cover dated September/October 1953
Cover by Graham Ingels

"An Off-Color Heir" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Dig That Cat… He's Real Gone!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Corker!" - Art by Jack Kamen & Bill Elder/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"The High Cost of Dying!" - Art by Reed Crandall/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines


"An Off-Color Heir" - An artist named Laura meets a man named Gilbert and they fall in love. Gilbert convinces her to marry him and come with him to his mansion in New Orleans. The mansion is in a remote location and has portraits of his ancestors including one of a Baron Gilles De Rais who seems familiar to her. The mansion has many rooms, but Gilbert refuses to let her go in one of them. Eventually Gilbert starts growing a beard. Laura finds some hair dye in the bathroom one day and realizes he is going gray. Eventually she steals his keys and goes into the locked room, finding numerous corpses in there. She then realizes where she had seen Gilles De Rais before. She rubs off some of the white paint on his beard, revealing blue behind it. Gilbert then reveals himself behind her, showing his own blue beard and holding a razor. He says De Rais was the original bluebeard and he is carrying on the family tradition, A fairly good story, inspired by the bluebeard serial killer folktale.

"Dig That Cat… He's Real Gone!" - A homeless man named Ulrich is approached by a Dr. Manfred who tells him that he can help make them rich by giving Ulrich the 9 lives of a cat. Manfred performs an operation on Ulrich, killing a common cat but transferring its 9 lives to Ulrich. Through his multiple lives, Ulrich and Manfred are able to make a lot of money by showing Ulrich doing crazy, life threatening stunts and taking all wagers against it. Ulrich soon becomes greedy however and purposely gets the two of them in a car wreck. Manfred dies, but Ulrich comes back yet again. Now on his own, Ulrich hires a man to ensure his body won't be embalmed, but the man ends up robbing him and taking one of his lives. Now down to his last life, Ulrich has himself buried alive. However it isn't until he's buried that he remembers that the cat gave one of its lives during the operation and he only had 8 lives, not 9. Ulrich dies for real this time. A very good and original story, which was adapted as one of the first couple of episodes of the Tales from the Crypt TV show.

"Corker!" - A woman named Janet goes to a swami with her fiance Peter. Janet recently underwent a major personality change where she started seeking out evil things. She also has felt some suicidal tendencies. She has tried traditional therapy to no luck. The swami believes that she is infected with a lamia, a type of devil. Upon hearing that she witnesses the hanging of a man during which time his head got tore off, the swami thinks that a decapitation lamia infected her. He says this type of lamia is impossible to remove unless she is beheaded. Janet runs off and Peter chases her. She jumps into an oncoming subway and is decapitated. Peter is then infected himself by the lamia. Another Jack Kamen collaboration, this time with Bill Elder. A fairly good and original story.

"The High Cost of Dying!" - This story takes place in Paris in the 1800's. A poor man named Henri carries around a body with him. Flashbacks reveal that Henri's wife Suzette died in her sleep. A new ordinance requires all bodies to be buried within 24 hours or they will be sent to the conservatory of medicine to be dissected by medical students. Henri is too poor to bury her, especially with his two starving children. An officer tells Henri that the Commissioner of Health makes 75 francs per body and that Henri should consider bringing Suzette to the conservatory himself to pocket the 75 francs. Back in the present, Henri brings the body he is carrying to the conservatory and receives 75 francs. The next morning Henri eats with his children, buys them new clothes and they hold a funeral for Suzette. In the conservatory, it is soon discovered that the body Henri brought them was that of the Commissioner of Health. Another strong story to wrap up this very good issue. Some really good artwork from Crandall here and a sympathetic main character.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Crime SuspenStories #13

Credits:
Cover dated October/November 1952
Cover by Johnny Craig

"Hear No Evil!" - Art by Johnny Craig and Jack Kamen/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"First Impulse!/Second Chance!" - Art by Sid Check/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"A Question of Time!!" - Art by Al Williamson/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Forty Whacks!" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines

"Hear No Evil!" - A woman named Rita meets a wealthy man named Fred who is deaf, and communicates by having people write down everything for him. She decides to marry Fred for his money, and often belittles him out loud, knowing that he can't hear her. An amount of time goes by, and Rita starts carrying on an affair with a friend of Fred's named Vance. When Fred gets in a car accident, he comes home and almost catches them together. Rita decides to poison Fred through his coffee, but Fred switches cups with one intended for Vance, and he dies instead. A distraught Rita confesses to the police and is taken away. Fred then turns on some music, revealing that he had recovered his hearing after being in the car accident. A rare team up of Johnny Craig and Jack Kamen in this story, which was there only team up in EC.

"First Impulse!/Second Chance!" - A woman named Helen suspects that her boyfriend is cheating on her with her sister, Joan. She follows them and witnesses them buying a ring. Thinking they are going to get married, she pulls out a gun and when they get home, she shoots them. As they die, she realizes that they were actually buying an engagement ring for her, and her sister was merely helping her boyfriend pick it out. In the second story, things pick off as Helen's boyfriend and Joan are able to explain things, so Helen doesn't shoot them. Joan drives Helen's boyfriend to the station as he is going on a trip, but in actuality they run off together, and Helen's suspicions were revealed to be correct. Another one of EC's "quickies" which appeared most often in Crime SuspenStories. Sid Check makes another rare art appearance.
"A Question of Time!!" - The local sheriff finds a woman named Lila dead. He goes to see her husband Harry, figuring that he did it. The entire town knew about Lila fooling around with other men, but nobody told him about it. They all assumed he'd find out someday and do something about it. Harry refuses to confess, and the sheriff leaves. Later, Lila, who is still alive comes home, and knowing the truth, he kills her. This is a rather confusing story when you read it and isn't the most interesting one either (the vast majority of the story is simply Harry and the sheriff talking). It was later redone in EC's picto-fiction comics.

"Forty Whacks!" - A young woman named Fanny finds an axe in the attic, and enraged with her overbearing parents kills them both with it. When the police take her in, she blames the axe. At the police station, the head detective is greeted by his wife and son. His wife tells her about Lizzie Borden, who infamously murdered her father and step-mother with an axe. His wife tells her that she had moved to this town and had lived in Fanny's house. At that moment, their son looks at the axe, which is revealed to be the axe that Lizzie Borden used, and goes crazy, killing his parents with it. Obviously inspired by the real life incident of Lizzie Borden killing her parents with an axe, which was also featured on the cover of this issue. A rare instance where Graham Ingels did not do the Old Witch's story in Crime SuspenStories.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Two-Fisted Tales #41

Credits:
Cover dated February/March 1955
Cover by Jack Davis

"Code of Honor!" - Art by John Severin/Story by John Severin
"Mau Mau!" - Art by Bernie Krigstein/Story by ???
"Carl Akeley!" - Art by Wally Wood/Story by Jerry De Fuccio
"Yellow!" - Art by George Evans/Art by George Evans

Today I cover the final issue of Two-Fisted Tales. By this point in the comic's run, it had gone through another stylistic change and featured a variety of war, historical and adventure-type stories. It was a more interesting style than the John Severin/Colin Dawkins heavy presence that dominated the comic for the previous year. Unfortunately sales were not good and it ended up being the final issue.

"Code of Honor!" - A man named Stephen Graves Ashley is a deadly marksman. He is frequently in duels, for which he has never lost. This is largely because he takes offense at the most minor things and forces people to face him on in a duel. When a man named Benton calls Ashley a murderer, he challenges him to a duel. Ashley easily kills him in the duel, as well as another man who tried to convince Ashley to call off the duel and got called into a duel himself. Ashley later travels to Louisiana and encounters a Frenchman at a dance named Jean Le Poer whom he also challenges to a duel after he tries to step in during a dance with a young woman. Being in the New Orleans area, Ashley soon realizes that he will have to duel with swords instead of a gun. Ashley's cousin warns him about dueling Le Poer, which he ignores. Ashley quickly loses his duel to Le Poer and is killed, not knowing that he is the deadliest swordsman in France. A fairly interesting story to start the issue with a lead character who is easy to dislike. It is good to see him get the comeuppance in the end.

"Mau Mau!" - A pair of white men, McBan and Quantock are in Kenya, working on the filming of a movie. They recruit a member of the local Mau Mau tribe, Limuru, who acts as a consultant for them, and immediately pays dividends by killing a Mau Mau terrorist who approaches them. In the camp, they soon meet another Mau Mau tribesman, Hinga, who repairs their power generator for them. Limuru warns McBan and Quantock about Hinga, who he say swill do evil things. When one of the men is killed by a beast, Limuru tells McBan and Quantock that it was actually a Mau Mau ritual murder, and he blames Hinga. Hinga soon escapes. Limuru is used in a scene to play a Mau Mau oath giver, but when he does so, he riles up the Mau Mau tribesman for real, and they attack.  They are saved by the local military, which incidentally is led by Hinga. A so-so art job from Krigstein, and probably the weakest story of the issue, although its not bad.

"Carl Akeley!" - This story is a historical telling of certain events in the life of Carl Akeley. It starts with his childhood, and then moves into his time as a skilled explorer in Africa. During one incident he is charged upon by an elephant and slammed into the ground. He surprisingly survives despite his major injuries. During another expedition he is attacked by a leopard and manages to fight it off with his bare hands. The story ends revealing that his ultimate fate was dying due to a mosquito bite. Two-Fisted Tales featured a number of tales covering particular people from a historical perspective, and this story was similar in vein, but rather than focus on a particular major war figure, it featured an explorer. An interesting take, with some good art from Wood.

"Yellow!" - This story features a pair of plane pilots during World War I, Stone and Curry. Stone is consistently nervous while in flight and becomes a bit obsessed with outdoing Curry. This is particularly the case after Stone makes a call out of someone being yellow after the death of a fellow pilot. Stone becomes obsessed with matching and beating Stone. He soon surpasses Curry in kills, despite how frightened he is and then helps save Curry in battle. Afterwards when Curry thanks him, Stone says that his call out of him caused him to focus so heavily. It is then that Curry reveals that it wasn't Stone he was calling yellow, but himself. One of the better George Evans World War I plane stories, with some characters and a storyline more interesting than the typical historical fare.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weird Fantasy #7

Credits:
Cover dated May/June 1951
Cover by Al Feldstein

"7 Year Old Genius!" - Art by Al Feldstein/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Come Into My Parlor" -  Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Across the Sun!" - Art by George Roussos/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Breakdown!" - Art by Wally Wood/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines

"7 Year Old Genius!" - Seven year old Rufus is not only a genius, but the smartest being on Earth. He has his parents bring him to the White House to meet the President. He is stopped on the way, but is encountered by the Secretary of Defense. The Secretary of Defense has Rufus prove him genius to himself and many other people and does a background check, finding that Rufus is this way due to his father being exposed to radiation. Rufus is able to create a cure for cancer and other great things, but is pressured to develop a Hydrogen Bomb. He finds based on his study that such a bomb would destroy the Earth, so he refuses to provide it. He is viewed as a traitor as a result, and eventually relents, but gives falsified data. This results in him being discredited. Discovering some EC comics, he feels that only EC can publish his story and meets Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein, who show up at the end of the story. Meanwhile the government has finished the Hydrogen Bomb and plans to test it shortly. This story is okay, but very remiscent of "The Radioactive Child" from Weird Science #16, published about 6 months prior. It features cameos from Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein (who appeared in many early EC stories). It also features a Secretary of Defense character that was a frequently appearing character in many Feldstein-drawn stories.

"Come Into My Parlor" - A man named Stephen Lamb finishes up a report he has written on spiders. Suddenly there is a flash and a beautiful woman appears. Named Wanta, she claims that she comes from 4,000 years in the future. Wanta claims that there are no men in the future and that she and the other women of the future need to serve man. Stephen heads to the future with her where it is seemingly paradise. He can get as much food and drink as he wants and there are beautiful women everywhere. Eventually he gets drunk and Wanta leads him to a room where there is a spitfire grill. Stephen is tied up and put on the grill, as Wanta's civilization wants to literally cook and serve him. Stephen wakes up, with it all being a dream, but Wanta then appears for real. This story is inspired by Damon Knight's short story "To Serve Man" which later got adapted into a very well known Twilight Zone episode. The dream twist at the end seems tacked on, as if they needed an extra page to add to the story.

"Across the Sun!" - Humanity has sent a rocket to Mars, but it has vanished and never returned. A second rocket is set to head out, but minutes before the rocket is to blast off the original rocket returns. The crew from teh original rocket come down and say to not blast off. They tell their story, of how they were captured by a flying saucer and brought to a world that looked identical to our Earth, except that it has 2 moons. There, they meet the alien race that inhabits it. The aliens tell them that their planet is directly across the sun from the Earth such that it can never be seen. They say that they had gone to war with Earth many years ago and destroyed their civilization, which included the destruction of one of the Earth's moons. They tell the men to return to Earth and not head back into sapce or they'll destroy humanity again. Pacing's a bit poor on this story. Things go by very slow for the first 5 pages, then rush to a swift conclusion on the final page with an absurd amount of text in the last few panels.

"Breakdown!" - A woman named Mary comes to the FBI with her husband Donald, who has gone insane. She tells the men from the FBI of how one night at her farm, her brother Larry was visiting and they saw a strange light in the sky. Soon after a strange man named Mr. Trance showed up asking to use the phone. Mr. Trance stays the night, but Mary soon suspects something is wrong with him. Their dog is very scared of Mr. Trance, then soon falls over dead. Mr. Trance also doesn't cast a reflection in the mirror. Larry heads out to find Mr. Trance's broken down car but doesn't find it, only scorched marks in a field. Donald heads upstairs to see Mr. Trance but when he comes downstairs, he has gone crazy. Mr. Trance comes downstairs and explains that he is an alien being using a hypnotic shield. If his hypnotic shield isn't active, such as when he is asleep, his true form appears so horrific that it will cause a person looking at it to go insane. Larry pulls out a gun to shoot Mr. Trance while Mary and Donald flee. Larry kills Mr. Trance, but goes crazy upon seeing his true form. Back in the present, the men at the FBI reveal themselves to be aliens and remove their hypnotic shields, causing Mary to go insane. A fairly good story to wrap things up, the best in the issue. The aliens are pretty horrific looking, even if it is said in the story that they are merely the artist's renditions since their true form would cause the reader to go crazy as well.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tales from the Crypt #24

Credits:
Cover dated June/July 1951
Cover by Al Feldstein

"Bats in My Belfry!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"The Living Death!" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"Midnight Snack!" - Art by Johnny Craig/Story by Johnny Craig
"Scared to Death!" - Art by Wally Wood/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines

One of Tales from the Crypt's most well known covers starts off this issue.

"Bats in My Belfry!" - A stage actor named Harry goes deaf. This results in the end of his acting career and a lot of financial stress for he and his wife, Joan. Harry goes to see a blind friend, John, who reveals that he went to a man who was able to give him cat eyes that permit him to see. Harry heads to see the man, who provides him with the hearing organ of a bat. Upon returning home, with hearing abilities greatly in excess of that of a normal person, Harry is able to hear Joan talking to her lover on the phone. He later notices strange things happening to him. He wakes up in the closet, hanging upside down, notices hair growing on his face and a membrane growing beneath his arms. He returns to see his friend John, who he finds turning into a panther. Harry realizes he is turning into a bat. His wife and her lover plot to kill Harry for his life insurance, but he manages to overtake the lover in an alley. Now fully transformed into a vampire bat, he drinks the lover's blood, then returns home and does the same to his wife.  This story was the inspiration for the Tales from the Crypt TV episode "Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow". The episode had nothing to do with that original story, making me wonder why they didn't name it after this story. It was in the final season of the show, and was still a rather poor episode though.

"The Living Death!" - Two medical students, Lester and Arnold are close friends, even going after the same woman, Laurie. The two head into seperate fields, with Lester focusing on curing illness through psychological means, while Arnold focuses on surgery. Lester is set to marry Laurie, but when she develops a tumor the two conflict over whether to operate on her through psychosomatic means or surgery. Arnold wins out, but she dies during the procedure. Years go by. Arnold develops a brain tumor, and with no one who can operate on him, he goes to see Lester. Lester desires to prove to Arnold that he could have saved Laurie many years before and puts Arnold into a hypnotic trance so he cannot die. Upon leaving however, Arnold is it by a car and is killed. His body doesn't die however, nor even start decomposing. People don't believe Lester at first, but do as time goes by and nothing happens to Arnold. Months pass. Arnold calls out for Lester to help him with the pain. Lester mistakenly says "Laurie", the word he has chosen to break Arnold out of the trance. This causes Arnold to die for real, and he immediately decomposes. This story was inspired by the Edgar Allen Poe story "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar".

"Midnight Snack!" - A man reads horror stories late at night. Suddenly his feels dizzy and finds himself out in the middle of town. Hungry, he stops by a restaurant but the scent of cooking meat repulses him. He leaves the restaurant and has another dizzy sensation, waking up in a graveyard. Having a shovel with him, he digs up the body of a recently buried corpse. After another dizzy spell he awakens finding the body partially devoured. He grabs the corpse and starts running, being chased by an agngry mob. He trips and falls, but then awakens at his home, believing it all to be a dream. When he opens his refridgerator however, he finds a partially devoured corpse inside. He realizes that it wasn't a dream, and he's a ghoul. Bit of a drawn out story with an obvious conclusion; this is the weakest story of the issue.

"Scared to Death!" - A man named Ralph is brought to a party held in the honor of a young woman named Cora, whose uncle Alex is quite wealthy. With Cora being the heir to her uncle's fortune, Ralph decides to start a romance with her, and eventually marries her. Not liking the way Alex is treating him, Ralph is able to convince Cora to let him kill her, and he strikes him one night while he is out on a stroll, killing him. Alex's death has a grave effect on Cora, who suffers a heart attack and becomes bound to a wheel chair. Ralph decides to kill her as well, figuring he can do it by inducing another heart attack. He tries to convince Cora that her uncle Alex is back from the grave and wants revenge. He is successful and she has a heart attack and dies. Moments later however, Alex's corpse arrives for real. He grabs ahold of Alex and carries him into the middle of a pond where the mud, acting like quicksand, quickly consumes them. Some only so-so artwork from Wood here, but overall a fairly good rotting corpse story.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Panic #1

Credits:
Cover dated March 1954
Cover by Al Feldstein

"My Gun is the Jury!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Al Feldstein
"This is Your Strife" - Art by Joe Orlando/Story by Al Feldstein
"Little Red Riding Hood" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines
"The Night Before Christmas" - Art by Bill Elder/Adaption of Charles Clement Moore poem

Today I cover the first issue of Panic, EC's own copy of the very popular Mad. The introduction at the start of the issue jokingly states that Mad was a ripoff of Panic, which sat around unpublished for over a year. In what you wouldn't think to be that offensive a comic, it caused 2 major controversies.

"My Gun is the Jury!" - Mike Hammershlammer, a detective investigates the murder of a man who was shot. Throughout the story he comes across a number of beautiful women whom he shoots, saying that they were criminals involved with other crimes. He is also invited by a woman named Stella to come to her apartment but passes up on it, wanting to continue his investigation. Eventually he comes to see her and realizes she was involved in the crime with the various other women. He shoots her, but then realizes she was a man. Mike removes his cap, revealing that he was a woman. A parody of Micky Spillane stories which was quite an inspiration for Feldstein. This story resulted in a bit of controversy for EC when both EC's business manager, Lyle Stuart, and receptionist, Shirley Norris were arrested over selling "disgusting" literature. The case was thrown out of court rather quickly.

"This is Your Strife" - This story is a parody of the "This is Your Life" show. A man named Melvin Melville is brought to the stage and a number of people from his life are brought before him. each asks if they found his wife, who dissappeared many years ago. It soon becomes very apparant based on these people that Melvin murdered his wife although nobody realizes until the end of the story when her bones are brought out and everyone realizes that he killed her.

"Little Red Riding Hood" - The extremely beautiful Gwendolyn moves to town, but ignores all the guys coming after her, instead focusing on the geeky Melvin. Melvin asks why she is interested in him and she tells her of her childhood, during which she was the real Red Riding Hood. She is told to head to her grandmother's house. There she finds a wolf laying in her grandmother's bed. A woodsman arrives and shoots the wolf. Back in the present, Gwendolyn reveals that the wolf really was her grandmother, and that when they mature her family turns into werewolves. She turns into one and kills Melvin. This story is a Grim Fairy Tale, the sole one to not appear in one of EC's horror comics.

"The Night Before Christmas" - This story is an illustrated parody of the Clement Clarke Moore poem about Santa Claus. Containing very little dialogue, it is a series of comedic panels and sequences done in typical Bill Elder fashion. The story ends showing Bill Gianes as Santa Claus, with all the EC staff coming out of his sack. Surprisingly enough this story caused quite the controversy at the time and Panic was banned in Massachusetts for its offensive portrayal of Santa Claus here (which isn't that offensive).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Shock SuspenStories #15

Credits:
Cover dated May 1954
Cover by Jack Kamen

"Raw Deal" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Otto Binder
"The Confidant" - Art by Wally Wood/Story by Jack Oleck
"For Cryin' Out Loud!" - Art by Reed Crandall/Story by Otto Binder
"Well Trained" - Art by George Evans/Story by Carl Wessler

"Raw Deal" - A hospital patient, the sole survivor of a plane that crashed in the Pacific Ocean repeatedly screams out "I hate her!". A couple of doctors try to figure out what is going on with him and by giving him certain medication are able to get him to behave in a normal fashion. They soon find that he is referring to his wife, making them wonder why he hates her so. Through additional medication he eventually tells his story, of how he he met his wife and swiftly within a month they became married. They headed on a plane trip to Hawaii for their honeymoon, but on the way it crashed in the pacific, with them being the only 2 survivors. This surprises the doctors, as the man was the only one found. He recounts the experience of being lost in the middle of the ocean on a raft and how they had no food to sustain themselves on. Eventually his wife started drinking salt water, went crazy and died. The man slips back into his crazed state, but the doctors realize what happened to his wife, since he is not really saying "I hate her!" but rather "I ate her!" A decent start to the issue and the best story here, in an issue that is only so-so at best.

"The Confidant" - A mysterious man wearing a trench coat comes to a town where people are in search of a man who raped and murdered a 19 year old woman. The mysterious man claims to be here to see one of his children and takes a taxi ride to the darkest corner of town. The taxi driver follows him and finds him talking in an apartment to a man he believes to be the killer. He summons a number of other people and a mob grows, returning to the apartment. There they only find the mysterious man, who tells them that he can't tell them anything about the killer. The mob starts beating on him, and the man dies as a result. It is then that they find a note from the killer stating that he has to confess his crimes. They remove the trench coat of the mysterious man and realize that he was a priest. Not that good a story in my eyes as you think it would be so simple for the fact that the man was a priest to be made clear to the mob. Couldn't the priest have simply told them that fact instead of taking a beating until he died?

"For Cryin' Out Loud!" - A criminal named Marty steals $40,000 but becomes sloppy while hiding and is found out by a woman he meets at a restaurant. When she demand over half the money, he strangles her in an alley and flees. He repeatedly hears a voice in his head shouting out that he is a murderer. As he walks down the street people look at him in a strange way causing him to run off, thinking they can hear him. This happens repeatedly. Eventually he decides to head into a boiler factory with an extremely loud amount of noise to block out the voice in his head. This results in him going deaf, but the voice still shouts out. He can't take it anymore and says out loud that he is a murderer. As the story ends it is revealed that he had scratches on his face which is why everyone was giving him weird looks. This story was adapted into an episode of the Tales from the Crypt TV series, with some adjustments made to the story. Kudos to Crandall in finding ways to repeatedly cover up half of the protagonist's face until the final panel.

"Well Trained" - A detective named Tom comes home one day and finds his wife murdered, with the killer standing right over her. Tom chases down the killer and viciously beats him, but decides to not kill him and call the cops. Tom is obsessed with ensuring that the killer, who is named Mike, goes to the electric chair. He meets with him daily as he heals from his injuries telling him in great detail the process for him being executed. The daily abuse is enough to cause Mike to run off. Other cops try to shoot him, but Tom always stands in the way, desiring for him to die in the electric chair. Their chase brings them down to the subway where Mike runs on the track but is hit by the subway car as he steps on the third rail. As a result, Tom will never know if he was electrocuted on the third rail or was hit by the train first. A so-so story. I don't really understand what the big deal was at the end as Mike still suffered a rather horrific death. What does it matter if it was by being hit by a subway car instead of being electrocuted?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Piracy #1

Credits:
Cover dated November 1954
Cover by Wally Wood

"The Privateer" - Art by Reed Crandall/Writer Unknown
"The Mutineers" - Art by Wally Wood/Writer Unknown
"Harpooned" - Art by Al Williamson & Angelo Torres/Writer Unknown
""Shanghaied" - Art by Jack Davis/Writer Unknown

The final new comic title produced by EC prior to the end of the New Trend, Piracy focused, naturally, on pirates. The comic appeared shortly before the start of the New Direction comics first started getting published by EC and is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a New Direction title (although it was included with the New Direction set in the EC Library). In my mind Piracy has a fairly strong first few issues but isn't as interesting later on, which I suppose isn't that surprising considering later issues had to go through the comics code.

"The Privateeer" - Ballard James, an English Plantation owner becomes a privateer in England's war against Spain. Insistent that he is a privateer, not a Pirate, James insists on directly striking the first Spanish ship they come across rather then feigning friendship at first as a pirate might do. Weeks go by without coming across another ship however, causing James to decide to strike an allied French ship when they come across it. Rather than publicly declare himself a pirate, James attacks ship after ship, regardless of country, reporting only occasionally to England to provide the government the required part of the bounty. Eventually James attacks even a British man-of-war, turning on the very government that commissioned him. His last goal to capture merchant ships such that he can retire, James eventually comes across a trio of them only to be tricked, as all 3 are pirate ships, who defeat his crew and kill him. A decent start to Piracy with a strong art job throughout. Crandall would often do the lead off story for Piracy as well as several covers, and was probably the strongest artist at doing pirate-based stories.

"The Mutineers" - This story features a first mate aboard a ship who frequently finds himself in the middle of the captain and the crew. The captain gets upset with him for not reprimanding a crew member, while the crew wants to mutiny, which he denies them. When the ship hits a big storm, the captain refuses to adjust the sails to help them out of it, thinking it can put off a mutiny. Eventually the mutiny arrives and O'Hara helps the captain in keeping the men from taking over the ship. When the captain sends up a young crew member to climb the top of the ship and he falls to his death, O'Hara has decided he's had enough, and he leads the entire crow on a row boat away from the ship, leaving the captain all by himself. At 8 pages this would typically be the first story of the issue but it has been moved to second here. Overall its a fairly good one, although not as strong as the first and last story.

"Harpooned" - This story takes place on a whaling boat. The first mate of the boat is very upset at the captain, particularly when he comes out with the men on a row boat in an attempt to harpoon a whale. When the whale surfaces the men harpoon it, but the first mate manages to get the rope on the spear tied around the captain's neck, which throws him overboard and causes him to drown when the whale heads below water. The whale later resurfaces however, destroying the boat, and causing the first mate to be impaled on the spear sticking out of the whale. A rather poor story, but some really strong art here by Williamson and Torres. This was one of their rare collaborations in the late days of EC when Torres started doing more credited work for EC. Unfortunately they only did one more for Piracy, in the next issue.

"Shanghaied" - A ship captain named Walton is approached by a man named Pigott who has brought him some shanghaied men that can act as crew members for him once he's on the open sea. Walton is against shanghaiing and is about to send him away but notices one of the men and has Pigott bring him on board. As Pigott carries the man to Walton's cabin, Walton reveals that the man actually shanghaied him over ten years ago. Walton tells Pigott how he was shanghaied and forced to work on the open sea for several years. This started a quest of his where he searched for the man who shanghaied him, and he eventually rose through the ranks, becoming a sea captain. Pigott thinks that Walton will exert some violence on the man when he awakens, but surprisingly he shakes his hand and thanks him for getting a successful career at sea started for him A good story to wrap up the issue, with a decent surprising ending.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Vault of Horror #36

Credits:
Cover dated May 1954
Cover by Johnny Craig

"Twin Bill!" - Art by Johnny Craig/Story by Johnny Craig
"Witch Witch's Witch!" - Art by Jack Davis/Story by Johnny Craig
"Pipe Dream" - Art by Bernie Krigstein/Story by Johnny Craig
"Two-Timed!" - Art by Graham Ingels/Story by Jack Oleck

A fairly strong late issue of the Vault of Horror, principally through the efforts of Johnny Craig. By this point, Craig was editor of the comic, and he wrote 3 out of 4 stories here, the most he'd ever write for a single EC comic.

"Twin Bill!" - A man, Larry Bannister, catches his wife and lover together at their cabin in the woods. He forces them at gunpoint to hike a mile into the woods then dig their own graves. When the lover fights back, Larry strikes him unconscious, and he buries both him and his wife alive. Larry returns to his car only to find that it won't start due to a dead battery. He returns home in his wife's car and it takes him several weeks to be able to return to the cabin to replace the battery. He forgets the keys however, and figures that he will dig up his wife's corpse and take them from her purse rather than have to make the long trip home to get them and risk that his car will be seen. When he arrives at the grave however, he finds it empty. Larry flees back towards the cabin, seeing the figures of his wife and lover in the distance, and when he makes it back, he waits there, hoping to shoot them when they come in. They finally do come in, but when he turns on the flashlight they are revealed to be rotting corpses, fused together, and his gun has no effect as they kill him. Some very strong artwork from Craig on this story, which also does a very good job of providing a very dark, scary atmosphere throughout.

"Witch Witch's Witch!" - A man named Eric who lives in a small European village goes away on business one week and when he has returned, he is now married to a woman named Helena. This upsets Eric's mother, as well as his fiance Alicia and her mother, but Eric will hear none of it. Soon afterwards, Eric's mother dies of a heart attack. The local church group bans Helena from attending and soon after their leader dies. Alicia's mother starts a rumor that Helena is a witch and caused this, and one day while passing her by, Helena stares at her and she drops dead. The rumors continue to build that Helena is a witch and at her mother's funeral, Alicia starts grabbing her chest with pain, claiming that Helena is doing it. A mob rushes to Eric and Helena's house, accusing her of a witch and finding a pin cushion shaped as a human that they think is the cause of Alicia's suffering. Eric tries to stop them, but is shot, and the mob carries Helena to the town square where they put her in the middle of a roaring bonfire. Suddenly, Helena raises her arms, shouts out a chant, transforms into her true form, and the entire mob turns to rats. Another strong story; its not often in these types of stories where someone is accused of being a witch, and then actually ends up being one.

"Pipe Dream" - The old Chinese man Chen Chu Yang spends his days smoking opium in a den and dreaming. He tells of how years ago, he had dreamed of his wife dying after smoking his opium and when he came home she had died. Chen is supported by his son, but he is soon drafted. Chen returns to his smoking and dreams that his son will die as well, and he does, being struck by a car on the way home from his going-away party. Chen's daughter marries a man against his wishes and months later she tells him he unbearable and beats her. Due to Chinese honor Chen tells her she must stay with him and will only be free if he dies. Chen then has another opium-induced dream where he is able to kill his son-in-law and free his daughter. When he awakens the man has died, but with no explanation, his daughter is put to death for the murder. Chen returns to his opium to dream another dream. Another strong tale, and similar to the recently reviewed "Murder Dream" it is a surrealistic, largely dream-based story, although this story is a bit better than that one.

"Two-Timed!" - A boy hears a noise one night and heads outside to the woods, where he finds an adult man who has just beat a woman to death with a pipe. The man grabs the boy, but suddenly there is a bang and the boy falls unconscious. When he wakes, his parents are there with the local constable and the man is gone, but the ground is all burned as if there was an explosion. Years pass. The boy, now an adult, hears that his wife is plotting to kill him, so he plans to kill her instead. He fools her into thinking he is going away then brings her into the woods where he beats her with a pipe. He suddenly notices a boy and grabs onto him, but realizes it is himself at a younger age and lets go. Thinking the bang he heard years before may have been a gunshot, he grabs a gun from his beaten wife and lights her on fire. Suddenly a shot rings out and he topples over. The town constable comes out and reveals that a paper at the scene many years ago had the current date on it, which led him here. An odd, confusing tale which is quite a disappointment after the first three stories in this issue.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Psychoanalysis #1

Credits:
Cover dated March/April 1955
Cover by Jack Kamen

"Freddy Carter (Session 1)" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Daniel Keyes
"Ellen Lyman (Session 1)" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Daniel Keyes
"Mark Stone (Session 1)" - Art by Jack Kamen/Story by Robert Bernstein

Probably the most unique of EC's New Direction titles, Psychoanalysis focused on three patients of a psychiatrist, the type of story you would never expect for a comic book. The title was unique from other EC stories for several other reasons as well, such as being the only EC title that was exclusive to one artist, Jack Kamen. Kamen was perfectly suited for the comic, where much of the activity occured in a psychiatrist's office. The title also brought in a couple of outside writers in Daniel Keyes and Robert Bernstein who weren't used for EC's other titles, at least until the picto-fiction era.

"Freddy Carter (Session 1)" - Freddy is a teenage boy that has acted out recently, including stealing a wristwatch from a friend. He also is failing in school and doesn't do well at sports. The psychiatrist soon notices that a lot of blame comes from his well to do parents. His father is obsessed with him being good in sports and going into the same field of work as him. His mother satisfies his interest in arts and other less manly things, but also smuthers him. This makes his father even more upset at him. All of this has caused Freddy to act out and to steal from his friend, whom he is jealous of because he has much better parents.

"Ellen Lyman (Session 1)" - Ellen is a young woman who is frequently having very sever migraines. She is also suffering from insomnia and whenever she does sleep has a bizarre dream. During the dream she is trying to get into a garden but is refused by a man standing there. He gives her a rabbit, which soon becomes worn and lumpy. She is told she can go through the gate if she gets a hundred on a test, but instead fails. She eventually finds the guard of the gate dead and heads into the garden, but finds the garden dark and decrepid. The psychiatrist works through Ellen's childhood, finding that a lot of these things stem from the poor household in which she grew up and the jealousy of her older sister.

"Mark Stone (Session 1)" - Mark Stone is an overweight writer who is frequently having pains in his chest that cause him to pass out. He is a successful writer, making a lot of money, but he typically spends it all and is sick with his work, thinking it is too commercialized. He is always down on any other writer whom he comes across who he thinks has done a better job than himself. Similar to Freddy, he also recounts a bad childhood during which his father was very critical of him.