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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Old and the New

In the late 1960s I used to visit a second hand bookstall after I'd been to the Saturday morning ABC Minors matinees at the local Ritz cinema. Rooting through the stall for American comics was a perfect way to follow up a weekly fix of Flash Gordon serials and classic MGM and Warners cartoons. One day I found a comic I'd never seen before; Fantastic Tales No.4.

Fantastic Tales was in fact a British title; a 68 page "shilling comic" published by Top Sellers, the company who would later publish various full colour reprints of Tarzan, Korak, Laurel and Hardy and more. I think this particular issue was published in 1963/64, but on the second hand stall it cost me 6d back around 1968. Inside was a selection of various black and white short twist-in-the-tale supernatural stories reprinted from U.S. titles published by ACG (American Comics Group). Leading off the comic was an 8 pager that became one of my favourite stories of the genre, The Old and the New illustrated by Ogden Whitney. A story that originally appeared in ACG's Forbidden Worlds No.60, in 1952.

Now, for your New Year's Eve entertainment, you can read it too. Click on each image to see it larger, then you may have to click on it again to see it in full readable size..

Reading it now, the story isn't particularly shocking, but there's still something about it that fascinates me. Ogden Whitney, (famous for his work on Herbie for ACG) illustrates it superbly and right from the start there's an air of impending danger and something "not quite right". Whitney uses effective composition to pull the reader right into the story, such as page 4 panel 6, as we become helpless onlookers with the couple, and page 7 panel 2, where the girl turns directly to us as though we are in the back seat of the car.

Reading it for the first time in 2010 you might think it's a bit cheesy by modern standards, but I hope you enjoy it. These are the kind of stories that inspired The Twilight Zone and if you like those wonderful old Rod Serling shows you should enjoy this.

The same story was reprinted again several years later in one of Alan Class' comics, Suspense but the reproduction was poor. This time they used the actual cover too, although it ruins a major part of the story somewhat:

Here's the cover in its original form on the 1952 comic Forbidden Worlds where the story first appeared:

Wherever you're heading this New Year's Eve have a safe night, and if you end up at a party at a house you've never visited before, be sure to check the date.
Happy New Year 2011!


Sid Smith said...

Sometime back in the mid-60s I came across an edition of one of those black and white, Amazing Tales-type comics. It wasn't mine but a friend of a friend and I never got to actually read the story.

However the cover has stayed with me ever since. I'm guessing it was around 64 - 66 but can't really be sure.

The cover featured a man hiding in a shadowy alleyway, his face frozen with abject terror as a robot emerges at the alleyway entrance.

The thing is, what was really scary about it was that it was only the robot's foot that the artist revealed leaving the rest to the imagination.

At least that's the way I remember it. Just the metal foot and the hunted man's eyes bugging out!

Given the passage of time and a young febrile imagination, it's possible I'm adding things to the original drawing.

I can't remember anything of the story but that cover image has stayed with me since that day. If it rings a bell with anyone please let me know. I'd love to be able to see the cover after all these years.

Many thanks for prompting this memory!

Lew Stringer said...

It sounds familiar Sid. I think it originally appeared on the cover of one of Marvel's 1950s horror comics. The reprint you saw must have been on a Sinister Tales or Creepy Worlds or one of those Alan Class comics.

Fanton said...

Happy New Year, Lew - her's to a wonderful 2011!

Sid Smith said...

Many thanks for the suggestions, Lew!

Best wishes for the year ahead.

Gareth said...

The Alan Class Comics go for quite a lot on ebay now,even in yellowed condition.I wish comics like that were still around.

Peter M said...

Thanks for sharing this Lew.

Sid Smith said...

Hi there Lew,
I left a comment on this blog entry back in 2010. I thought it might amuse you to know that I found the answer to my query just the other day via an amazing (to me at least) coincidence. The details are over on my blog inThe curious case of the cosmic comic book coincidence. Cheers.

Lew Stringer said...

Blimey, it WAS a copy of Sinister Tales. Yes, that's the one I thought you meant. Well done on tracking it down. That's an excellent Bill Everett cover. Very creepy.

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