The 1950s were the golden age of the horror comic – with Tales from the Crypt and its ghoulish brethren capturing the imaginations of mid-century kids’ across the country (until it was finally censored into submission by Congress and clergy). What made them so captivating was not only the stories, but also the amazing artwork.
The covers were a great place to see the genre’s artwork at its best… but nowhere was the talent of both the illustrator and the author on a finer display than the splash panel on the title page. Let’s have a look at some great examples from the 1950s. Enjoy.
“Night can be horrible, but you’ll wish you stayed in the dark when you see the light in.. BLOOD MONEY”
“You thought you would take my place, eh? You thought you would make the world forget Maria Santori. Fool! You will die for your folly!… As the others will die!”
“This is the tale of a man who stood at the threshold of a frightening decision, wavered, then made one that eventually brought him to an end that was as inevitable as the darkness that follows dusk, for he made… a Pact with the Devil”
“Hollywood is the land of make believe where anything can happen… and sometimes does! The weird and unbelievable become stark reality when the movie set receives strange and unexpected visitors… THE MEN FROM MARS!”
“Slater dared to laugh at the legend of Manor House… but the strange twisting of the years led him there to his doom!”
“It was neither neither man nor beast, but a spawn of evil the likes of which had never before been seen on the face of the earth.”
“Alas – It is not true that dead men tell no tales. For the ravaged and offended dead stalk restlessly until avenged, as in – the blind, the doomed — and the dead!”
“Donald Maynard was the laughing stock of the campus! He was the butt of every joke, the fall guy.. but those who mocked him never understood the terrible rage he concealed until they faced… The BEAST WITHIN”
As this panel from Unseen demonstrates, the artistic skill was sometimes… well, let’s just a tad lacking. Yet it still evokes horror, imagination, and is just begging for 1950s boys to read more.
“…Now take a look at this graveyard scene… as you can see, the ghouls are at work! Trouble’s brewing for a certain doctor… read on and you’ll DIG what we mean!”
“In the immutable book of nature is writ in blood the life-span that is allotted to each poor mortal that dwells on this earth! Tamper with a man’s life, and you tamper with the angry forces of nature!”
“On a seemingly ordinary day, out of the thrashing, convulsive depths of the murky waters — there emerged the most terrible scourge ever to befall mankind! The ghastly, ghoulish, blood-congealing GKMLOOOMS!”
“It was a quiet morning. A bright sun. There was no hint of the horror that was to come! And Joe Turner, a quiet man, went to work, not realizing that in a short time he would be in the… CRYPT OF TOMORROW”
“Can the ancient dead rise from their tombs to claim the warm flesh of a living girl? What dread horror lies in the embalmed brain… in the preserved skull… behind the bandaged eyes of a mummy?”
“Can an ancient evil live through the centuries? Almost 4,000 years ago screaming victims by the hordes died in Moloch’s hellish embrace to sate the frightful bloodlust of the bull-headed destroyer of life!”
You might wonder where are the title splash panels from Tales from the Crypt and other EC comics? While EC had possibly the best writing and artists around, their splash panels centered on the mascots (the Crypt Keeper, the Old Witch, etc.) with gobs of text.
“Society had rejected him — he knew no friend – he was an outcast! Then, this pitiful being that nature bungled received a second chance! But had it come too late? Was it now impossible for him to accept society? The MONSTER in FLESH”
“You won’t believe a word of this, but it’s absolutely true! It’s not the wind, the rustling of leaves, or your imagination. I’m real, alive, a human soul shut away in a twisted prison of my own making. I cry out for freedom, but nobody wants to hear. Help me! Somebody help me!”
“How great is the gap between the past and the present? Are they more closely linked by the supernatural than we realize? Perhaps they are — and in a way almost too incredible to believe! For Sgt. Tom Sales, it was more than sanity could withstand! — You see, he relived his BLOODY YESTERDAY!!”
“The wind whistles through the jagged crags of the mountains, whistles and howls like a soul in torment! Death comes easily to men who venture here… a slight misstep and another body hurtles through space to lie crushed and broken below! Terror enough you say, but there is another kind of death here now, the ripping, tearing fangs of the WEREWOLF! With a mind-destroying howl, the beast makes its kill! Another man has died a most horrible death.”
“No person dares to think that foul and unnatural horrors lurk beneath the black surface of the earth waiting to crush human life between their slimy fingers… yet of all these monsters none are so appalling, so terrifying as the SERVANTS OF THE TOMB!”