Category Archives: Horror/Fantasy

Black Magic #27 [v4n3] [1953]


A pair of Kirby stories, plus a cover, are among the things of note in this issue of the Simon&Kirby edited horror comic from Prize. The cover is for the story “The Cat People”, which opens up the book. In this 6-page story, George Gates goes to visit an old friend after a long time away in Europe, which ended in an extended hospital stay. He then freaks out when his friend’s kids are playing cat’s cradle, and tells the story of his recent time in Spain, when he got lost and was invited to stay the night in the remote cavern home of an old woman and her beautiful daughter. As you’d gather from the title, they turn out to be able to transform into cats, using a spell cast by the original version of the cat’s cradle game. He barely escapes with his life, and not untouched.

A nice little story with an especially well done bit of adventure in the chase scene. This story was reprinted, with some minor art touch-ups in DC’s BLACK MAGIC #2 [1974].

The next story isn’t Kirby, but “A Hole In His Head” is notable as being one of the first stories Steve Ditko drew. He’d go on to do some other noteworthy things.

More Kirby with the 5-page “The Merry Ghosts Of Campbell Castle”, a tale of the Scottish Highlands. Two friends go to Scotland, where one of them wants to write a book about his family, the Clan Campbell. Things spiral out of control as Campbell hears music and then later sees ghosts in the ancestral castle, eventually leading to his demise, and then his friend starts to hear the same music.

I especially like the look of the ghosts in this one, inked in a more delicate style and with far less shadow than the rest of the story (and most of Kirby’s horror work for the title), but still very detailed and expressive.

If you’re interested in BLACK MAGIC, be sure to check out the on-going series of posts on the title over on the S&K Blog, Little Shop of Horrors. Nine posts cover the first 26 issues of the title, the next one should start with this issue and the next few (here’s an earlier post from me on #28)


Where Monsters Dwell #2 [1970]


A trio of Kirby/Ayers 7-pagers reprinted in this issue, giving a nice sample of the range of monsters that rampaged through the pre-hero Marvel line.

Opening up is “I Created Sporr, The Thing That Could Not Die” from TALES OF SUSPENSE #11 [1960], which also provides the Kirby/Ayers cover for this issue. A scientist buys the castle supposedly owned by Doctor Frankenstein in Transylvania (I think someone was mixing their movie monsters there), planning some experiments on growth rays to cure world hunger. Unfortunately, just as he tries his first experiment on an amoeba, the superstitious villagers burst in and take him away, leading the amoeba to grow uncontrollably. Oddly, this was foretold in a local legend about Sporr. Our hero manages to break out of prison, rescue a young boy on crutches and then use his scientific know-how to lure Sporr into some quicksand. Everybody learns their lesson.

These 7-pagers are sometimes a bit unsatisfying in story terms, too quick to really get more than a sketch of events. Still gorgeous, though, and the cover and title page of this story are particular favourites among the Kirby/Ayers stuff, and Sporr’s a great little creature causing havoc on the eastern European landscape.

Next up is “I Am Dragoom! The Flaming Invader” from STRANGE TALES #76 [1960], and from an organic monster we now move to flames. Despite the title, this story is told by sci-fi/horror movie maker Victor Cartwright, who gets no respect, but a great deal of money, for his craft. That all changes when Dragoom, a flaming invader escaped from prison on the planet Vulcan comes to Earth to conquer. Mankind quickly falls to the threat of a ring of flames around the planet, until suddenly Dragoom gets word of some of his fellow creatures, police from Vulcan, arriving on Earth, and flees in fear. All special effects wizardry from Victor, of course.

This one works pretty well. Dragoom’s not that noteworthy, although the panel of him using a city block as a throne is really cool.

And finally, from STRANGE TALES #75 [1960] comes “Taboo! The Thing From the Murky Swamp”. An adventure writer heads down to the Amazon for some new ideas, and ignores local legends about a monster in a forbidden swamp. Never a good idea:

I love that last panel. Silent panels like that aren’t too common in these monster stories, making them all the more striking when they are used.

The creature reveals that it crashed in the swamp while journeying from a distant galaxy, and needed access to all human scientific knowledge to build a new spaceship. The United Nations agrees to this, foolishly as it turns out, since this was all a ruse by Taboo to gather intelligence for an invasion. Joke’s on him, as they planted an H-bomb on the device with the information. Just in case.

I do like that ending. Taboo’s okay, but the real highlight here is the amazon scenery.

Where Creatures Roam #5 [1971]


I swear, Marvel’s reprint department in the 1970s, sometimes I just don’t know about them…

This issue reprints “Gorgilla Strikes Again” from TALES TO ASTONISH #18 [1961], the Kirby/Ayers sequel to the original Gorgilla story that had been then-recently reprinted in MONSTERS ON THE PROWL #9 [1971] (not “Where Monsters Prowl”, as the note on the splash page says). The story is pretty good, although not as good as the original Gorgilla story, where he got to fight dinosaurs. In this one, Gorgilla feels a kinship with the humans who had recently discovered him. For some reason this kinship doesn’t extend to the people in the port city he sneaks into, or even the people on the boat he hides out in. No, Gorgilla is holding out for his true family, the people of New York City.


On arriving in the city, like most tourists, Gorgilla is feared and hunted, but he remains oblivious to that, and takes in a Yankees game. Meanwhile, some communists decide to take advantage of the confusion and stage an elaborate attack on a visiting foreign leader. Fortunately, Gorgilla stumbles across their plan, and this somehow leads to him chasing the spy up the Statue of Liberty, where a blast from a bazooka downs him. Yeah, I’m not clear on all of it myself. It does look great though. Gorgilla at a baseball game? Beautiful.

One page is edited out somewhere, I’m sure the one that makes the whole thing logical, making this a 12-page story now.

The cover is where it really gets confusing. Originally, the cover to TtA #18 featured art from the splash page of the story. I guess that didn’t feel right in 1971, so of course they commissioned a new cover, right? Nope. They grabbed the Kirby/Ayers cover to TALES TO ASTONISH #24 [1961], featuring the Abominable Snowman. Who doesn’t look that much like Gorgilla, and the scene doesn’t make much sense for this story. And they re-letter a few bits. And to compound the confusion, even though Gorgilla is brown, and the Abominable Snowman is brown, on this cover they re-colour the character white. Someone actually sat down and made these decisions…

Published 1971

The Demon #7 [1973] – Witchboy


This issue introduces Klarion, the Witchboy, one of Etrigan’s most persistent foes over the years. The story opens with Etrigan encountering a “Judge” in puritan garb who is searching for Klarion, and attacks Etrigan with a monstrous Draaga, which makes for a great two page splash. Etrigan defeats the creature but is poisoned, and collapses as Klarion and his cat Teekl appear, showing some control over his transformations by changing him back to Jason Blood.

Various hijinks then ensue in Blood’s apartment, including an attack from a Horigal.


Klarion’s people eventually capture him to put on trial, so he summons Etrigan who is able to defeat them. Klarion tries to overstep himself by controlling Etrigan, which Merlin’s Demon wont stand for.

Fun little story with some weird plot logic, but great monster images, and obviously a lot of thought behind Klarion, only some of which made it onto the page in his few Kirby written appearances.

Mike Royer inks the 20-page story and cover.

Published 1973

The Demon #13 [1973] – The Night of the Demon


Kirby concludes his three part story based on Frankenstein in this issue, as Etrigan destroys the lab of Baron von Evilstein, setting his experimental beasts free. Meanwhile, Randu and Harry manage to get the girl Janie, who has a psychic link with Evilstein’s monster, close to where the gentle creature is being tormented by a mob. Unfortunately Evilstein shows up and attacks, and the creature dies saving his only friend.


Etrigan of course takes the fight to Evilstein, and uses the Philosopher’s Stone against him.

I thought this storyline had a bit more potential than this final chapter realized, but I always do like the classic Kirby mis-understood beast archetype.

Mike Royer inks the cover and 20-page story.

Published 1973

Black Magic #28[v4n4] [1954]


Kirby drew the cover for this later issue of the Simon&Kirby edited title, as well as two 5-page stories. The shorter length stories generally aren’t my favourites, as they tend to be a bit sketchy in plotting, lacking any real characterization or resolution, although often having a few good images. This pair are typical examples.

First up is “An Eye for an Eye”, which is also the cover image (which pretty much gives away any surprise there was in the ending, although it wasn’t a great mystery. It is a great cover, though). A dying rich man, Roger Parris, refuses permission for his eyes to be transplanted to someone else after he dies, insisting he wouldn’t give up anything without getting full value in return.


After his death his assistant, Philip Stern, forges a note giving permission for the transplant, which the doctor quickly performs. When the police discover the forgery they try to find the assistant, only to find that he’s been moving from place to place, always vanishing shortly after a visit from a man in dark glasses before the police get there. Finally they police find the assistant with his eyes removed, and just catch a glimpse of the mysterious man, who looks like Roger Parris, except with Stern’s blue eyes (miscoloured brown in the last panel).

Obviously no real surprise in the quick ending, and the colouring mistake doesn’t help, but even with that the art does have some moments, none better than that creepy first panel.

Later in the issue is “Alive After Five Thousand Years”, a story about two archaeologists who find mummy in a cave, along with a sacrificial dagger and some scrolls that explain that the body is a man condemned for loving a princess (whose mummy was found the previous year and is in a museum in Cairo) and for stealing the Book of the Dead. The younger archaeologist ignores the warnings of his elder and reads the Book of the Dead scroll, bringing the mummy to life and driving the young man insane.


The police don’t believe the story, but eventually the mummy of the princess also vanishes from the museum, with the guard having been killed with the sacrificial dagger and a handprint identical to the one left by the original mummy’s hand left on the sarcophagus.

Mostly good moody artwork (although a few panels look a bit rushed or poorly inked), but the story does need a few more pages and more of a resolution than it had.

Published 1954

Black Magic #4 [1974] – Last Second of Life


The S&K reprint for this issue is the 10-page “Last Second of Life” from BLACK MAGIC #1[v1n1] [1950], the first issue of the horror series. It’s the story of businessman Matthew Crane, who sees his business partner die, showing panic in his eyes during his last seconds. Crane then gets curious about death. At first his assistant thinks that Crane is showing some signs of compassion for the ill, but it soon becomes obvious that he’s just interested in being around when someone dies so that he can find out what they see that so spooked his partner.


He finally gets his wish, getting a dying young woman to describe what she sees, and of course it drives him insane, and he’s been locked up and screaming ever since.

Great job on this story, it was a strong way to launch the series back in 1950. I especially like how Crane gets increasingly rougher and more beast-like as he gets more desperate through the story, and a lot of the background details, like the elaborate statues in Crane’s house, really add to the mood.

The cover for this issue is an unused Kirby cover for “Last Second” from 1950. There were several tries at the cover before they decided to go with another story for the cover of #1.

Published 1974

The Demon #8 [1973] – The Phantom of the Sewers


Kirby opens up up the issue with a nice look at Jason Blood’s collection of ancient artifacts, which is doubly impressive when you consider that he keeps them in an apartment. Rent there must be killer.


Gotta say, Etrigan’s face in that third panel seems off. Anyway, finding some weapons missing, they find a tunnel where he confronts the thief, the Phantom of the Sewers, presumably inspired by one of the movies with a similar theme. Etrigan recovers Merlin’s sword, but loses the Phantom, who we see has a hidden lair where he worships a statue that looks a lot like Glenda. Back home, Jason Blood decides to use the Philosopher’s Stone to freeze out Etrigan, which appears to work. Bad timing, though, as the Phantom kidnaps Glenda at a party, convinced she’s the one who betrayed him, and plans revenge. Being able to turn into a demon is useful under those circumstances.

Not one of my favourite issues of the series, as a few bits of the art seem a bit clumsy, and a few bits of the story are abrupt (Jason’s decision to try to kill Etrigan at that particular point, the party they decide to throw). A lot of the visuals are nice, in particular all the stuff around Jason’s apartment.

Mike Royer inks the 23-page story and cover.

Published 1973

Where Creatures Roam #4 [1971] – Vandoom, the Man Who Made a Creature


A 13-page Kirby/Ayers reprint from TALES TO ASTONISH #17 [1961] leads off this issue. This one has a wax museum owner specializing in monsters deciding to create a massive new creature to renew interest in his museum. Personally I’d suggest moving out of a small village in Transylvania. Anyway, some great images of the creation of the creature, from the skeleton out. I love that panel of him working on the eye, giving a nice sense of scale to the whole creature.


Of course the villagers are suspicious, and rightly so as the creature comes to life in a billion-to-one lightning strike (although given how often that happens in these stories I think those odds are off). The creature is attacked by the villagers, but then an alien invasion from Mars lands in the village, planning to use it as their base. The creature attacks them and drives them off, saving the Earth, but dies in the process. The villagers realize they were wrong and help Vandoom create a new statue as a monument.

Kind of a by-the-numbers story after you’ve read enough of them, but as a stand-alone it’s a fun story with some great visuals.

The cover is sort of a reprint of the cover to TALES TO ASTONISH #17, heavily modified with a whole new face on the monster, the general form kept but with the fur effect smoothed out, and a few extra fleeing villagers.

Published 1971

The Demon #3 [1972] – Reincarnators


Returning home from his adventure where he found out about his link to the Demon, Jason Blood is plagued by nightmares of his connection to Etrigan. He has little time to relax, as the Cult of Master Eye is using spells to kill the members of a UN taskforce investigating the supernatural, including Jason’s friend Randu Singh.


Their spells involve switching people with identities from their past life to use them as untraceable assassins. Unfortunately for them, Randu is able to transform Jason to Etrigan in time, and he goes to the cult’s headquarters, cleaning house and reducing their leader to a lower life form.

I’ve mentioned before that I kind of wish on the early DEMON issues that Kirby had stayed with the Merlin/Morgaine storyline rather than move quickly to villain of the month. That’s the case here, although the visuals in here, including the monster in Jason’s dreams and the cult symbols (I wonder if that was something that Kirby had planned for SPIRIT WORLD and used here when that mag didn’t continue).

Mike Royer inks the 22-page story and cover.

Published 1972