With Further Ado #163: Hosting Halloween

Halloween is seemingly right around the corner. There’s a lot of candy in the stores. Of course, we know that this is all part of a pantry loading strategy. That’s consumer-package-ese for a plan to make you buy more than you need right now.  In other words, the candy companies want households across America to buy their Halloween candy ‘early’, then give in to temptation and eat it, and then rush back to store to buy more candy to give out to trick or treaters.

Of course, in the this crazy world of delta variants and anti-vaxxers, it’s hard to predict just what will happen this Halloween.

I can safely predict that (1) I won’t be buying bags of Halloween Candy for trick-or-treaters (We always give away comics.) and (2) I’ll be reading a spooky story or two.

And in that… vein, let’s turn the spotlight on a few wonderful comics I recently rescued from bargain boxes from various comic shops.  And the theme for this week is Horror Hosts.

Spooky radio shows and comics have been using Horror Hosts to introduce, or queue up, creepy tales for years and years. They typically don’t engage in the story itself but rather just make a few ghastly puns and set the stage for a story. The fine of art of horror hosting is almost a lost art, I’m afraid.

Do You Believe in… Ghosts ?

This issue of DC’s long-running Ghosts touts the fact that is the 10th anniversary of the title (with 27 Spine cracking pages), but even cheesy sales copy can’t keep you from admiring the brilliant Joe Kubert cover.

The horror host for this one is a bit of a puzzler. He’s called Squire Shade, but he seems to be an almost total rip-off of that perennial Hawkman foe, The Gentleman Ghost. In some issues Squire Shade has a portly girth, but in this issue he could’ve been a ….dead ringer… for the confounding arch nemesis of the Winged Wonder.

This comic does have a couple of nice-looking stories. One by the a long-time favorite, the always-dependable Dan Spiegle, and the other by the seldom seen (but brilliant) Noly Zamora. He was part of that Philippine wave of artists who worked in American comics in the 1970s. Like many of his compatriots, his work is solid and gorgeous.

Stately Ghost Manor… Alfred the Ghost Butler Speaking

Maybe it’s just something that happens to long time collectors, but I’ve been enjoying so many old Charlton comics lately. Never cared for them much as a kid. Now I realize there’s usually such a charm to them. And Ghost Manor #15, from November 1970 is no exception.

The compelling Steve Ditko cover pulled me in, and I am not even a big Ditko fan. But it was the horror hostess inside got me really interested in this series.  Although she’s not named in this issue, the blue skinned, “mod” young narrator is “Winnie the Witch”.

This witch is hip and groovy and oh-so-of the moment. In some ways, she seems like a precursor to Cynthia from DC’s The Witching Hour. Instead of a creepy old woman as a witch, Winnie inverts the trope and is instead a young, sexy witch. You’ve seen it a million times from Bewitcheds Elizabeth Montgomery to Bell, Book and Candle‘s Kim Novak.  But few times do you stumble across a young witch with blue skin!

Take a Detour to… The Twilight Zone  

Rod Serling isn’t really a horror host, but they kind of treat him like one in the old Gold Key Twilight Zone comic series.  And I think that younger folks who are just discovering The Twilight Zone TV series often think its appeal is due to it being “so scary”. Oh, sure some episodes were scary, but it’s such a thoughtful show. Not really a horror anthology.

I picked up Twilight Zone #67, originally published in November 1975, mostly because the wonderful George Wilson cover caught my eye. It’s a tease for the first story called “Unburied Alive.”  The big surprise wasn’t’ the shocking ending but the wonderful artwork from early in the career of Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. This master draftsman clearly “had it”, even back then, with solid, yet animated, figure work and clever, angular layouts. This one put the treat back into Trick or Treat.

This One Warrants Another Look

Vampiress Carmilla is a new comic with an old feel. Warrant publications pays homage to the old B&W magazines of yesteryear with short, black and white stories.  In this new magazine, the sexy vampiress showcases grim tales with a perpetual smirk and plenty of puns. It’s enough to make you feel like it 1972 all over again!

Of note, Warrant’s flagship magazine, The Creeps, is changing its name to Shudder and staring over with a new #1 soon.  I’m always pick up and issue whenever I see one and am never disappointed.  If your local comic shop doesn’t carry it yet, you can snag one here.