Friday, November 13, 2015

Poe 1954, Pt. 1

(Continued from Poe 1953, Pt. 5)

BLACK MAGIC  28
"BURIED ALIVE!"

Prize Group was an imprint of Crestwood Publications, who like many other companies began with pulps and then branched out into color comic-books.  Crestwood are known for having done the first genuine "horror" comic, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF FRANKENSTEIN, by Dick Briefer, and for having started the staggeringly suggessful romance comics genre with YOUNG ROMANCE, the work of Joe Simon & Jack Kirby.  The Prize Group imprint was S&K's baby, designed specifically to focus on genres aimed at an older audience.

BLACK MAGIC was their horror anthology, notable for its "non-gory" content, a stark contrast to the gruesome content of many comics of the period.

Now, what we have here is either a loose adaptation, or at least "inspired by", not one but TWO Edgar Allan Poe stories...

     "THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER" and "THE PREMATURE BURIAL"

The main framework of the story, someone going to visit an old friend, who is obsessed with an early death, and has a sister the main character has not met before, a sister who appears to die but is in fact entombed alive-- is definitely "HOUSE OF USHER".  In fact, the scene where the main character talks to his friend's sister, urging her to get out and live life, anticipates the early section of the Roger Corman / Richard Matheson film adaptation!

However, the sequence on the 2nd page, where the man's friend shows off a specially-designed mausoleum with several safety features, comes from "THE PREMATURE BURIAL"-- in fact, the whole business of showing off the mausoleum is not from Poe, but from the Corman / Matheson film with Ray Milland!

Perhaps most striking of all, the final scene, the opening of the coffin, also was not from Poe, but appeared almost verbatim in the Corman / Matheson film PIT & THE PENDULUM!!  In effect, it would appear THIS single comic may have influenced the first 3 Corman POE films!  Things like this more and more convince me that many writers in Hollywood borrowed from COMIC-BOOKS more than they would ever want anyone to know, or would ever admit.

The story is by Jack Oleck, a very prolific writer.  The art is by STEVE DITKO, unquestionably one of the most unique stylists and voices in the history of American comics.

This was the 4th comics adaptation of "USHER", following Charlton's YELLOWJACKET COMICS #4 (Dec'44), and Gilberton's CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED #40 (Aug'47), and EC's THE VAULT OF HORROR #13 [2] (Jun-Jul'50), the last one 4 years earlier!

A more "authentic" to Poe version of "PREMATURE BURIAL" would not turn up in comics until 1973!

BLACK MAGIC  #28  (v.4 #4)
cover by JACK KIRBY   (Prize  /  January-February 1954)
"BURIED ALIVE!"  
     (adapted from "THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER")  /  Version 4
     (including elements of "THE PREMATURE BURIAL")  /  Version 1
Story by Jack Oleck  /  Art by STEVE DITKO  /  Page 22
Page 23
Page 24
Page 25
Page 26
Page 27
Eerie Publications was one of the companies set up by el cheapo schlockmeister Myron Fass (infamously of M.F. Enterprises, who put out the android "Captain Marvel" who yelled "SPLIT!" --and then did).  While clearly meant to imitate and compete with the glorious James Warren B&W horror comics magazines (CREEPY, EERIE, etc.), the byword for these was "tacky".  On every level.  Instead of trying to raise the bar on quality of art and writing, these seem more aimed at the lowest possible dominator, kids who could take a perverse pleasure in being able to read shocking, brutally violent stuff that made the worst excesses of the early-1950s seem tame by comparison.

I bring this up because the above Steve Ditko story was "reworked" (whatever that means) with artist Cirilo Munoz, and appeared in an issue of WEIRD, and then reprinted twice.  It's not exactly a reprint... but apparently, it's the SAME story, with entirely different art.  Or something.  I'll be setting up a separate page for that before long, but for now, here's the covers the "redo", "The Dead Live", can be found in...

WEIRD  v.8  4
cover by BILL ALEXANDER   (Eerie Publications  /  August 1974)
TERROR TALES  v.8  3
cover by FERNANDO FERNANDEZ   (Eerie Publications  /  October 1977)
WEIRD  v.14  3
cover by BILL ALEXANDER  /  (Eerie Publications  /  November 1981)
54 YEARS after its debut, the original Steve Ditko story was finally reprinted--  
3 times in 3 years!!

Pure Imagination was the imprint of Greg Theakston, whose specialty was doing affordable reprints of public domain material that he didn't have to pay royalties on.  He's done collections on a number of artists, including Jack Kirby, Wally Wood, and...  Steve Ditko!

STEVE DITKO:  EDGE OF GENIUS
cover by STEVE DITKO   (Pure Imagination  /  2008)
Fantagraphics is one of the most successful "independant" comics publishers of the last few decades, their output a wildly ecclectic mix of unusual new material and classic reprints.

STRANGE SUSPENSE:  STEVE DITKO ARCHIVES  Vol.1
cover by STEVE DITKO   (Fantagraphics  /  October 2009)
LOS ARCHIVOS de STEVE DITKO  Vol.1
cover by STEVE DITKO   (Diabolo Ediciones  /  Spain  /  December 2010)
Copyright (C) Crestwood Publications.

Scan of BLACK MAGIC #28 from the Heritage Auctions site.
Scans of BLACK MAGIC #28 interiors
     from Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogspot
     Special thanks to "Pappy"!
All other scans from the GCD site.

Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa

For more:
Read about Edgar Allen Poe at Wikipedia.

Read about Crestwood Publications at Wikipedia.
Read about BLACK MAGIC at Wikipedia.
Read about Jack Kirby at this blog.
Read about Jack Oleck at Wikipedia
Read about Steve Ditko at Wikipedia.
Read about Steve Ditko at the Steve Ditko site.
See more of Steve Ditko's work at the Steve Ditko Comics Weblog site.
See my Steve Ditko tribute!
Visit the Steve Ditko Fans FB group!
Visit the Steve Ditko Apprciation Group on FB!
See Steve Ditko Books IN PRINT at Steve Ditko Comics Weblog.

     "The Fall Of The House Of Usher":
Read about Basil Rathbone at Wikipedia.
Read about THE WEIRD CIRCLE radio show at Wikipedia.
Read about Gladys Thornton at the IMDB site.
Read about the ESCAPE radio show at Wikipedia.
Read about Paul Free at Wikipedia.
Read about THE CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER at Wikipedia.
Read about Kevin McCarthy at Wikipedia.
Read about Arnold Moss at Wikipedia.

Read about THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER at Wikipedia.
Read the complete story at the xroads.virginia.edu site.

Hear the Basil Rathbone HOUSE OF USHER recording!
Hear the Gladys Thornton WEIRD CIRCLE episode!
Hear the Paul Frees ESCAPE episode!
Hear the Kevin McCarthy CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER episode!

Read the Gus Schrotter HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Harley M. Griffiths HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!

Read the Harry Harrison HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!   (coming soon!)
Read the Steve Ditko HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the George Evans HOUSE OF USHER illustrated story!

Read the Osvaldo Talo HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Tom Sutton HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!

Read the Dino Battaglia HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!   (coming soon!)
Read the Gino Dauro HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!   (coming soon!)
Read the Miguel Gomez Esteban HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
     (coming soon!)

Read the Carlos Moro HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!   (coming soon!)
Read the Jerry Grandenetti HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Cirilo Munoz HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!

Read the Martin Salvador HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Guido Del Carpio Rivera HOUSE OF USHER illustrated story!
     (coming soon!)


Read the Nestor Redondo HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!
Read the Pablo Marcos HOUSE OF USHER illustrated story!   (coming soon!)
Read the Novelas Inmortales HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!   (coming soon!)
Read the Arturo Arnau HOUSE OF USHER illustrated story!   (coming soon!)
Read the E.C. Nickel HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!   (coming soon!)

Read the Richard Corben HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!   (coming soon!)
Read the P.Craig Russell / Jay Geldof HOUSE OF USHER adaptation!   
     (coming soon!)

     "The Premature Burial":
Read about THE PREMATURE BURIAL at Wikipedia.
Read the complete story at the Poe Stories site.
Read the complete story at the About.com Classic Literature site.

Hear The CBS Radio Mystery Theater PREMATURE BURIAL episode!

Read the Steve Ditko PREMATURE BURIAL adaptation!
Read the George Evans PREMATURE BURIAL illustrated story!
Read the Gedeone Malagola PREMATURE BURIAL adaptation!
Read the Juez Xirinius PREMATURE BURIAL adaptation! 
Read the Cirilo Munoz PREMATURE BURIAL adaptation!

Read the Vicente Alcazar PREMATURE BURIAL adaptation!
Read the Joe Ollman PREMATURE BURIAL adaptation!   (coming soon!)
Read the Richard Corben PREMATURE BURIAL adaptation!   (coming soon!)

     Misc.:
Read the Steve Ditko USHER / PREMATURE BURIAL adaptation!
Read the Steve Ditko MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH adaptation!
Read the Steve Ditko RAVEN story!

See my Edgar Allan Poe overview at this very blog!

(Continued in Poe 1954, Pt. 2)

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