Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Ghosts Of Charlton!

Dick Giordano

Charlton Comics had a long tradition of "horror" comics to its credit by the time the Silver Age was in full bloom during the 60's. One of their venerable titles was Unusual Tales which gave way in 1965 to become a home for the superhero Blue Beetle, the Dan Garrett version before the character was revamped by Steve Ditko.

Bill Fraccio and Tony Tallarico

But by 1966 the steam seemed to be running out of the superhero craze and Blue Beetle gave way itself to an old comic, but one done with a distinctly EC flavor by adding a snarky ghost host.

Rocke Mastroserio
 
Ghostly Tales took over  the series with the May 1966 fifty-fifth issue  and launched, slowly but surely, a new era in Charlton ghostly books. Ghostly Tales was alone for quite a while.

Steve Ditko

Even one-shots like Shadows from Beyond hosted by The Old Gypsy Woman, in late 1966 didn't quite catch fire. Oddly this comic like The Blue Beetle appears to be also a continuation of Unusual Tales. Charlton's numbering is a horror story all its own.

Pat Boyette

It wasn't until a full year later in 1967 that a full-blown spin-off title The Many Ghosts of Dr.Graves arrived to keep Ghostly Tales company on the newsstands.

Rocke Mastroserio

Also out in the later part of that year was the debut of Strange Suspense Stories a series that straddled the horror and sci-fi realms, but it would be many months before a second issue arrived for this short-lived but vivid series.

Rocke Mastroserio

In the early part of 1968 there was even the oddball one-shot in the fourth issue Charlton Premiere called of all things "Unlikely Tales" which was very much in the...ahem...spirit of the other books, but would only see this one edition.

Rocke Mastroserio

Finally a third full-blown title joined the ranks when Ghost Manor debuted in the summer of 1968.

Pat Boyette

That title stumbled along with various concepts, even featuring The Old Witch as a host for a time. But it really came alive when Winnie the Witch showed up in the auspicious thirteenth issue in 1970.

Steve Ditko

But by 1971 the Ghost Manor closed in a manner of speaking.

Jean Elier

It relaunched immediately with Winnie the Witch still installed as hostess and its numbering intact, but with the new title of Ghostly Haunts.

Steve Ditko

That same month in 1971 saw the release of another title called simply Haunted. The host was an offbeat little ghostly character named Impy.

Pat Boyette

A few months later Ghost Manor reappeared with a new number one and a new host by the name of Mr.Bones, the butler of the manor it seems.

Wayne Howard

The following year in 1972 Wayne Howard's Midnight Tales debuted, offering a robust twist on the classic ghost  host material with Professor Coffin and his gorgeous niece Arachne on hand to spin the tales, and even take part in some.

Tom Sutton

Haunted Love joined the line-up in early 1973 and gave readers ghost stories with a specific romantic flavor. This title was a neat blend of Charlton's now familiar horror look with their reasonably successful romance comics.

Don Newton

It would be a few years, but in 1975 under the guidance of assistant editor Nick Cuti things really began to shake up a bit. Strange Suspense Stories was long gone and Haunted Love would last only a few more issues.  The title Haunted was revamped and re-branded with a new host, specifically one Baron Weirwulf who even added his name to the title on the cover if not in the actual indicia. More was to come.

Tom Sutton

The summer of 1975 saw a burst of activity as Beyond the Gave was added to the roster.The host was one Mortimer Tishin.

Tom Sutton

It came out in the same month as its companion title Creepy Things. The host for this one was one Dee Munn.

Don Newton

The very next month saw the debut of yet another title, Monster Hunters with tales by Baron Whiteshroud.

Joe Staton

Scary Tales with the provocative hostess the Baroness R.H. Von Bludd, also arrived in the summer of 1975 and proved to last of this crop of new titles, and the most successful not completing its run until the early 1980's. But it was also the last new horror title Charlton ever created in its long history.

The ghost host comics from Charlton had a special flavor, a sense of fun which was often lacking or seemed somewhat forced in other titles from other companies. For a time it seemed only Charlton was keeping the genre alive. They produced at least one ghostly title right up until the company's demise.

Ultimately the ghost books along with all the other titles from Charlton ceased. The company went away like so many of its predecessors. But for a time in the Silver and Bronze Ages, they produced some great comics with work from true masters of the genre. Artists like Tom Sutton, Pat Boyette, Don Newton, Wayne Howard, Steve Ditko, and Rocke Mastroserio are considered special talents with a particular zeal for ghostly work. Most of these outstanding artists are sadly gone to that great beyond, as has the company they worked for, but the comics are still with us, and that's something we can all be thankful for on this Halloween Eve.

I hope folks have enjoyed a month of ghostly posts here at the Dojo. Next time we'll change gears and get around to some things which have been piling up as the delightful month of October has unfolded. Until then as always...

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