Wednesday, May 26, 2021

(Western Publishing)

When I was just clocking my way into the double digits you can bet your kajoobies that BELIEVE IT OR NOT was one of my fave-rave reads! Well, it was along with NANCY, DENNIS THE MENACE and of course those magazines which they always hadda put higher up onna racks only us kids were tall enough to peek into 'em anyway. My kiddoid mind was really wowed by the various (and true!) items that were presented within the pages of those easy-to-find paperback collections what with the strange historical facts to be found therein as well as the various bits of scientific facts that we all grew up with like peanuts are neither peas nor nuts, moths have no mouths and eat too much asparagus and you'll really have a hard time making the bathroom smell nice and dainty!

Of course my favorite BELIEVE IT OR NOT factoids where the ones which tended to get rather extreme in their efforts so-to-speak. Like the one that went something like "John Jehoshaphat, a career criminal, was sentenced to be executed in 1300, however when the executioner failed to show he was pardoned! A fellow inmate at the prison volunteered to do the head chopping, and it took him fifty-nine swings before the head finally came off!" Sure I exaggerate a bit, but when yer a pre-teenbo suburban slob ranch house kiddie things like this really do strike a nice 'n ghoulish inner chord with ya!

But when I read my first BELIEVE IT OR NOT! comic book which I scored in an early-seventies flea market/garage sale sweep one Sunday afternoon you could say that I was not pleased. The artwork was definitely not of the standard comic page variety and the stories were --- shall we say --- more comic book-y in that Gold Key style that I didn't quite care for. Worse yet there was nada of that blood and dismemberment that really appealed to my finer sense of being. 

Yeah, I know that Gold Key (later on Western) did not subscribe to the Comics Code, but still their stories were so pedestrian making me wonder just how could a kid who was digging those old Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko pre-superhero reprints really get absorbed into 'em? Sheesh, I'll take any of those DC and Marvel ARCHIE swipes with the Stan Goldberg faux-Dan DeCarlo artwork and definitely in need of a few creative writing classes stories over these grade-z turdsville sagas I'll tell ya!

Now that I have an older and hopefully have a more developed brain than I did during my adlo days I find BELIEVE IT OR NOT! a bit more entertaining. The definitely non-Ripley art is still comparatively tame next to the competition but I now find the stories at least readable and entertaining. Unfortunately there ain't no decapitations or poisonous rabbits to contend with here but we can't have everything I guess.

Maybe I should tell you that the subtitle of BELIEVE IT OR NOT! is "True Ghost Stories" so that's undoubtedly why none of the good grisly stuff is to be found here. But if you like a good enough ghost story and not the kind they mention in "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" you might find yourself eking some youthful fun 'n jamz outta these comics! Even if the conclusions are telegraphed pages in advance and with a subtitle like that just how far can one go without getting quite redundant anyway.

"When Hands Reach Out" takes place in 1434 England when Lord Berry was plagued by a pair of ghostly hands threatening him alla the time. An' if you don't think that some past misdeed of Berry was the cause of this supernatural travail you would certainly be in the wrong as usual. "The Tortured Spirit" tells of a 19th century case of possession in China when an evil force overtakes the body of a young man who, after being possessed, suddenly becomes a rather neat kinda guy if ya ask me! 

And then there's "Death Leap" a true-to-life saga from mid-nineteenth century India where an English Lieutenant sees a Captain race on his horse over a cliff only to disappear. Turns out the ol' Cap died a year earlier and given that the horse left no footprints it's obvious that a little ghost play was in store for whatever occult reason this soldier must repeatedly jump the cliff.

Hmmmm, the last story in this ish has a nice bit of tension to it. "The Day You Die" is the saga of a pampered pooch of a rich kid in 1631 England who consults a conjurer of some sorts to find out when his rich daddy was gonna check into the big castle inna sky, only the mystic summons up the spirit of a recently deceased man who sure doesn't take kindly to being disturbed even if he was only buried that morning! I mean, maybe if he was dead a hundred years I can understand, but sheesh he didn't even have the time to spoil!

So yeah, even with the predictability of it all these BELIEVE IT OR NOT! comics did have the right sorta suburban slob entertainment value to 'em. Of course I woulda preferred reading about that one bad guy who was cut up into six pieces and hanged on six different gallows, but I guess back then they had enough taste not to do anything that outrageous. Drat!


jimbo jeeves said...

an olg hippy on the cover

i hat e hippys

im a punk.

kill allthe hippys.

debs said...

lame-o! try something better. how about doonesbury? :)

jimbo jeeves said...

right about e c comics