Wednesday, March 31, 2021

COMIC BOOK REVIEW! GRIMM'S GHOST STORIES #17 (Western Publishing, 1974)

Given how influential the New Trend EC Comics line was on the industry for years after its capitulation it's no surprise that every comic company extant would come up with a wide array of not only MAD comic book and magazine rips but horror titles as well. I will admit that a few of the horror ones did capture the old spirit (especially the Warren ones which weren't affected by the Comics Code) but most of 'em kinda fizzed about trying to be scary but failing miserably. I kinda recall the DC ones being like that, though Marvel's early-seventies entries which usually mixed the new efforts in with classic Kirby/Ditko/Heck reprints were remarkably good considering the conditions that the early-seventies publishers were working under. Wish I could get hold of some of those once again, especially the one whose title escapes me which printed the work of some undergrounder, perhaps Irons or Corben in a foreshadowing of Stan Lee's own dalliance with the underground in the pre-ARCADE effort to bring it into the mainstream, namely COMIX BOOK.

There's nothing as scabrous as anything along those lines in this ish of Western's GRIMM'S GHOST STORIES but I gotta admit that it sure was a fine kick-up-yer-feet Sunday afternoon read. Now I gotta admit that I never was one who was that keen on the whole Gold Key (or its successor Warren) comics because they seemed so kiddy-ish for a sophisticated eleven-year-old such as myself, but this effort would have satisfied me had I snatched the thing up offa the racks way back in the days when that quarter it woulda cost me to buy a title like this was really big money.  But eh, with the fine artwork and pretty good if predictable story lines that were now in their fifteenth or so generation of usage (but new to us young 'uns') I'm sure the money woulda been well spent. But just try explaining that to your parents!

There's a nice and acceptable Comics Code-styled Old Witch type telling these might as well have been Code Approved sagas who I assume is the Grimm mentioned on the cover. For a minute I thought these sagas were gonna be actual Grimm's Fairy Tales gone comic book but I guess this Grimm guy and the brothers have no connection whatsoever 'cept for their monikers. Some coincidence, eh? Well, at least you ain't gonna look like a sissy once your friends see you reading this thus being convinced that you have hit your second childhood and hit it good and HARD!

"Death Rattle" seems typical enough of these tamer horror efforts, yet another Medieval-set story about the evil second-in-line to the throne who offs the infant heir by slowly poisoning him with a baby rattle laced in nightshade. Seems so simple eh? Well, with alla the weird twists and happenstance this 'un provides the evil prince probably woulda wished he just let things be given how these stories always seem to turn out!

"The Cheaters" is a western tale about a slick gambler who murders the bum who helped him cheat at poker. Since these stories always fall into the same pattern I think I've told you enough. Skip it.

Yet another olde tymey European setting for "Portrait of Evil" which is a fairly exciting romp even if the title gives it away. A blind preacher spends an evening in the local haunted house to prove they's not such things as ghosts only to come to a rathe surprising if more or less standard conclusion.

'n now for the cover story "Curtain Call", where a camped up performance of Shakespeare in a theatre haunted by a ham actor turns into the comedy hit of the year, and for a pretty supernatural  reason at that!

Considering how a copy of GRIMM'S GHOST STORIES can probably had in any comic stack seen at a local antiques shop or flea market maybe it would we worth the modern day equivalent of the ten cents you woulda paid then for the thing in the here and now. The artwork is better than I remembered (still somewhat hack-y yet not offensive to the corneas) and the stories are worth reading alla way through without you wanting to shred the danged things in disgust. And who said that man, or at least suburban slob ranch house kiddies, lives on DC, Marvel and Archie alone? For a nice switcheroo from the usual pre-woke comics fare perhaps GRIMM'S GHOST STORIES is worth a trip to the local drive in moom pitcher palace turned rummage sale to pick up ata rather inoffensive price!


Robert Crumb said...

You'll be reviewing your belly button lint next.

Molly Hatch said...

Gold Key and Dell were the best.

A pile of those and, for the more intellectual reader, a few copies of Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock.

Bart Bright said...