Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Monster of Dread End...

Originally Published: “Ghost Stories” #1, Dell Comics, September 1962
Writer: John Stanley
Art By: Ed Robbins

Submitted by: E.M. Tonner

Ghost Stories #1

The year was 1962.

The Beatles had signed with Brian Epstein earlier in the year and released their debut single, “Love Me Do”. In response to the Soviet Union agreeing to remove its missiles from Cuba, US President John F. Kennedy ends the quarantine of the Caribbean nation. Film actress and sex icon, Marilyn Monroe is found dead in her Los Angeles, California home after apparently overdosing on sleeping pills. Amazing Fantasy issue 15 (the first appearance of Spider-Man) is released in August. Dell Comics releases “Ghost Stories” #1 one month later. The Comics Code Authority had been in effect for eight years.

Dell Comics never joined the Comics Code Authority. Their comics were clearly intended for young children, having the Disney license as well as other children’s properties. Dell refused to join the Code and instead began publishing in its comics a "Pledge to Parents" that promised their editorial process "eliminates, rather than regulates, objectionable [sic] material" and concluded with the now classic credo "Dell Comics Are Good Comics." (Thanks Wikipedia)

However, 1962 was a transitional year for Dell. The long partnership Dell Comics had held with Western Publishing dissolved. Western decided to create its own in-house comic publishing company, Gold Key Comics. With the departure of Western went the Disney and Warner Bros. licenses and left Dell Comics at a crossroads. Not only had it lost a large portion of its licensed titles, many artists and writers had followed the titles to Gold Key Comics.

One writer who didn’t jump ship was John Stanley. Fans of comics will associate John Stanley with “Little Lulu” and “Nancy and Sluggo”. He scripted “Little Lulu” from 1945 to 1959 as well as providing the artwork with Irving Tripp. With the loss of most its licensed titles, Dell knew they had to come up with something fast. They also knew that the Code had left a rather large vacuum in the field of horror comics. Simply put, there were none.

It was this set of unique circumstances that led Dell to tap on the shoulder of Mr. John Stanley to pen issue one of their new title “Ghost Stories”. The consummate professional, John Stanley pulled off one of the greatest horror comic stories of all time. That’s right, he only wrote one issue in what could be considered one of the greatest style departures in the history of comics. He also contributed to “Tales From The Tomb” a month later, which is also very memorable. John Stanley brought a new direction to the horror comic, as he knew how children thought, and certainly knew how to fire the dark side of their imagination.

You can find "The Monster of Dread End..." all over the internet. I have it in Submissions as well.

For those interested in the works of John Stanley, Frank M. Young has a fantastic blog entitled Stanley Stories that includes much of Mr. Stanley's work in comics.

In the next post...

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