Friday, October 26, 2012

"For the Love of Death!"/ "If the Coat Fits..."

  It’s my birthday!
 Man, this has been my busiest month on here. Probably has something to do with being born in the Halloween season. I was “marked”, I guess.

 Here are my two personal favorite horror comics stories. I don’t think they’re the best; they’re just the ones I’ve revisited most often.
 “Wolf Bait” from the same issue of Haunt of Fear that “For the Love of Death” comes from is a more disturbing story in many ways with its ambiguous ending, but something about For the Love of Death has always haunted me. The basic plot has been done before, in Finnegan’s Wake of all things, but this story’s treatment of the idea makes for a most compellingly morbid character study.
 From Haunt of Fear #13, here’s “For the Love of Death”. Art by Graham Ingels. © EC.

 The ending may have been a cliché, but it’s the build-up which makes this one a creeper. There aren’t too many 50’s horror comic stories you can say that about.
 Now here’s my favorite Atlas/Marvel horror story. Like Death above, this story also comes from an issue full of winners; the reprint book Where Monsters Dwell #17. I already included the ridiculous, but endlessly amusing, “The Hidden Vampires” from that same issue on my list of top 11 comic book vampire stories. This one though is much more sinister and subtle, although there are still a few unintentional laughs to be had (Isn’t Harry’s wife a bit young for him? And man, I’ve never seen so many scenes of people smoking). Originally printed in Journey into Mystery #11, here’s “If the Coat Fits”. Art by Russ Heath. All © Marvel.

 Now wouldn’t that have made a terrific Twilight Zone episode? Logical flaws aside, I still find If the Coat Fits an effective chiller, something of a precursor to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the “Shadow People” urban legends involving the “Hat-Man”.
 I particularly like how the seemingly inconsequential paperboy becomes the audience identification figure in the final panel. Note how his face is obscured at first, but then becomes clearly depicted after the protagonists have “turned”.
 Hope you liked these stories enough to re-read them, because the streets aren’t going to be safe this evening when I go on my birthday bender! No puffer fish like last year, just good ‘ol reckless stupidity.

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