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Monday, October 16, 2006

Spooktoberfest Special: The Horror of Haunted Love!

Let's not mince words here: Charlton Comics are not very good.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that a lot of very talented people worked somewhat hard to put these things out, and while I haven't read a whole lot of them, I assure you, there's a reason for it: I've never sat down with a copy of Fightin' Navy or Fightin' Army or Three-To-One Marny or whatever and not found it to be a grudging uphill battle just to get through it. Even Charlton Bullseye #1--the comic that gave us my current sidebar panel--is all but unreadable, and that's a comic where The Question fights a Robot Shark.

Which is why it should really come as no surprise that the alleged terror inspired by tonight's selection will leave your spine refreshingly tingle-free. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...


Charlton Comics: The company that has to constantly remind you that the horror comic you're reading--the one with all the ghosts--is, in fact, scary.

Released in 1978 under Charlton's "Modern Comics" Imprint--the bane of Crappy Comics Three-Packs everywhere--Haunted Love originally came out seven years earlier as an attempt to fuse the subtle terror of Silver-Age Horror with the heartfelt drama of Teen Romance Comics, and that works out about as well as you'd expect.

The cover story, "A Kiss To Save Him From The Grave," has a plot that was clichéd thirty years ago and really hasn't gotten much better with age, and yet it manages to drag on for a mind-numbing sixteen pages. So, on the off chance that you--like Registered Nurse Lucille Burton--missed every single episode of Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, The Outer Limits, and innumberable films from the mind of Roger Corman, allow me to hip you to some crucial knowledge:

If you take a new job that requires you to drive out to the Old Plantation in the middle of Creepy Swamp only to find out that you're replacing this woman...

...you might want to consider just placing an ad in the classifieds.

SPOILER WARNING: He's a ghost, Lucy and her boyfriend beat him up with the Power of Love, but on quiet nights she still hears blah blah blah blah blah.

The scariest thing in the entire story?

So yeah, not exactly the kind of fright-fest you'll be wanting this Halloween. But to be fair, it does have a ghost. The lead story, however, doesn't even bother with that. And yet it's far, far creepier.

Submitted for your approval... "The Eternal Teacher":

Written by Nicola Cuti with art by Joe Staton--who I can only assume knocked this thing out in about fifteen minutes, which would explain why he gave most of the characters three and a half acres of forehead--this one concerns one Ken Dupke, a teacher hired by the Benjamins to deal with their daughter, Elizabeth, whose condition requires the use of a live-in tutor:

What condition, you ask? Well, let's have a look!

Shades of Nabokov! Yes, Elizabeth--who must've been carrying her driver's liscense to get that kind of reaction, because she sure as heck doesn't look 18--is a barely-legal woman, but she has the mind of a child! So for the record, it's about right here that this story starts to get really uncomfortable. And yes. It gets worse.

Ken teachers her the alphabet and such, and by the time he's gone to sleep, she's read a bunch of books and put on one of her mother's dresses, waking Ken up at two in the morning to show him her progress and make him promise to stay with her forever, at which time Ken starts making out with his retarded student.


Of course, the next day, Ken bops down the stairs basking in the afterglow, at which time Elizabeth's Old Man breaks the bad news--which really would've been helpful yesterday: Every time Elizabeth goes to sleep, she forgets everything and regresses to her default five year-old mental capacity. Which, of course, leads us to this charming moment:

I'm not even sure if this qualifies as Haunted--or as Romance, for that matter--but if the goal here was to creep me out, Charlton Comics, then I say Mission Accomplished.


BONUS FEATURE: Do YOU Know What It Means
When The Pros Say "Kick Flip?"

...Because I'm pretty sure what it means when they say "eat it."

(For more fun with Charlton's ad department, check out this one, courtesey of Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin)

More From Spooktoberfest 2006!
| The Relatively Serious Review of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (With Bonus Flamewar!) |
| The Mind-Melting Horror of Halloween With Tarot |


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait a sec. Isn't that basically the plot for 50 First Dates?

10/17/2006 1:59 AM

Blogger Jake said...

Oh, dear, what horror it would be living with the sheer hell of a hot 18-year-old who likes to play dress up, who will never remember anything you do to her tonight, and whom you can mold in whatever image you want every day!

10/17/2006 4:22 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree about the whole thing with the retarded girl being creepy, but I'm a little surprised. How can you do a post on Charlton Horror comics and not include a pin-up of the mascot of Ghost Manor? I don't know the name, but she's like this smoking hot Spanish Librarian Ghost Superhero. I have no idea what the thinking was behind the design, but the end result is completely awesome.

10/17/2006 8:08 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

In the picture where we first see Elizabeth, either she's very small or those candles are huge!

10/17/2006 8:09 AM

Blogger Ryan Jett said...

The rest of the art is lax to say the least, but I love that final frame where he's hugging the girl and the expression on her face is one of abject terror; maybe that was where the whole "horror" bit comes in.

You'd think her parents might fire some poofy-haired weirdo they found forceably hugging their retarded daughter while she has a full-on freak-fest on his second day of employment.

10/17/2006 9:21 AM

Blogger SallyP said...

Actually, I am quite fond of Joe Staton, but he definitely phoned that art in. Blurghh. And as for horror, well Tarot is a WHOLE lot scarier! She can put your eye out with those things!

10/17/2006 10:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am now going to use the lessons taught to me by the CHRIS' ISB posts to create the ultimate HORROR / ROMANCE story idea...ever.


Merging the lessons taught by
The ISB Guide To Writing:
Silver Age Horror Comics

...wherein, you place a skeleton WHERE IT SOULDN'T BE...

And Romance Special:
How To Get A Girl in Ten Days

(and some racy touches of Tarot thrown in for good measure)

After your male lead has climbed a tree to rescue the little ninny's cat with the grippe...to lure the unsuspecting girl into falling for your "horrific hero"...

I suggest placing a 7inch spring-loaded skeleton in the pants of your male protagonist/antagonist before his hot date.

Wait for the set-up for any "bone" / "boner" /"jump his bones" joke/situation...

The rest writes itself.

Extra points if the little fellow has glowing eyes or can TALK. Especially in a creepy voice (or at least use a creepy font).

Full marks if it's ACTUALLY a haunted "member".

EISNER award (or at least an EC type award) if it's his "conjoined dead twin" and the title of the story is "Family member".


What? Where's everybody going?


10/17/2006 11:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy smokes, Ace Frehley is pointing right at me! It's like he's pointing right through my SOULLLLLLLL!

10/17/2006 4:09 PM

Blogger Mark Kardwell said...

Reminds me of that dodgy old gag.

What's the number one cause of pedophilia?

Sexy kids.

10/17/2006 6:38 PM

Blogger Mark W. Hale said...

Does this mean KISS wants to go steady with me?

10/17/2006 6:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be go out of my mind if that was my teacher. He looks like he has a playroom in his basement, though he has no kids of his own.

10/17/2006 10:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the picture where we first see Elizabeth, either she's very small or those candles are huge!

Those candles are totally phallic, man!

Verification word: kszzb, or how a drunken Ace Frehley pronounces the band.

10/18/2006 8:29 PM

Blogger Mr. Penguin said...

In the late 70s, I went to 3rd grade with one of the kids from the family that owned Charlton Publications and we got a tour of the bullpen and got to take a stack of comics home. It was totally awesome. Strangely, Charlton also published porn magazines. I wonder now if there was any editorial crossover? "Dear Publisher, I never thought I'd write in to a magazine like this, but I'm a tutor..."

11/03/2006 3:09 AM

Blogger space.opera said...

I was having dinner with a very attractive young lady who confessed to me that when she was a child her favorite comic was "Haunted Love" and her favorite story was "Eternal Teacher". When I told her I had created HL and had written ET, she was very impressed.
So, you didn't like it. Gee, that breaks my heart. :0)
Nicola Cuti

12/29/2009 11:23 PM

Anonymous Edgar said...

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Anonymous Griffin said...

Here, I do not actually imagine it may work.
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