Tales from the Tomb, no1, Oct 1962 from Dell. Beautifully painted cover by L B Cole, who was Art Director and Editor at Dell in the early 60s.
All the stories inside this 84-page giant-sized one-shot are written by John Stanley of Little Lulu and Tubby fame. John Dtanley definitely put the “weird” in “weird menace”, as revealed by this giant-sized issue, packed with strangeness in an era of the Comics Code blandness. Dell never went the route of using the CCA, relying on their good brand to lead sales throughout the end of the 50s. Then they put out Tales from the Tomb.
Out of the 14 stories contained here, the most memorable is “Crazy Quilt” about a woman one the verge of a nervous breakdown after an odd encounter in the park.
Besides Crazy Quilt, the interior art is very plain. I’d like to see how the stories would feel with someone like Jack Davis, Steve Ditko, Bill Everett, Jack Kamen or Johnny Craig doing the sequential art.
“Turnabout” is a strange tale with very little dialogue about a hunter lost in the wilderness during a snowstorm. He finds a cabin with a nice warm bed. The only problem is that the bed is occupied by a dead body. With better art, it could’ve been truly macabre. In s couple of the panels, it’s hard to tell what’s happening, really taking the reader out of a tense and strange tale.
“Still Life” starts out with an artist returning home to the city from a vacation in rural New England. His neighbor, Betty, just walks into his studio to ask him about his vacation. Their relationship seems odd. She seems to know a lot about Randy the artist and his friends. When he asks her to model for him, she says she has a date and should be back around 11, but she doesn’t come home until 12:15. He tells Betty about a dead tree he painted and the haunting stories regarding it. The ending is good and again, would be better with better art.
“Mr. Green Must Be Fed” has something that would only frighten a child when a creature emerges from a throw rug on the floor. Frank Springer, whose art I normally admire, turns in bland uninspired work along with the rest of this giant-sized issue.