Monday, January 31, 2011

Best Horror Comic Cover - Part 2

We'll get to Creepy 79, I promise.

But first, I wanted to talk about, well... this:

This is the cover to Harvey publications' 'Black Cat Mystery' issue 50, June 1954.
Cover artist is probably Lee Elias (although it may have been Warren Kremer).

At first glance, you probably say 'Ewww' or 'Man, they could get away with a lot before the Code came in!' It's a pretty gruesome image; a man's face and hands being melted away by a small bar of Radium. Actually, as Radium goes, that's a HUGE bar of Radium. And you'll be happy to know that even a huge bar of Radium-226 won't melt your face off at all, but radiation poisoning does exist so don't try this at home.

Where was I?

Oh yes.

The shocking cover is going to sell comics. Especially horror comics. And that is a shocking image. But do you know why it's a great cover.


'Yeah, the A-Bombs won the war but now they've blown up in our face! Science has really mucked it up this time!'

1954. Nine cold years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most people were led to believe that the Atomic bomb was just a really powerful bomb. It blew stuff up. Radiation was good, it made X-Rays and glow-in-the-dark numerals on your Swiss watch. Governments around the world were testing atomic bombs left, right and center. Check out Bikini Atoll for a little history lesson.

Horror is exploitative. Let's be honest. It uses sex, murder, monsters and any other headline it can wrap its talons around. So in June 1954 it was Radiation Poisoning!

One last thing...

You'll notice with all these old covers that the logo takes up the top third of the comic. That's a lot of real estate. Do you know why that is?

Take a look at the typical newsstand in 1948:

For 90% of the titles, the only thing you would see was the top third. :)

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