New Reviews of Old Comics
I always shied away from the Charlton Comics in the past for some reason. Maybe it’s the lack of recognition factor, maybe it’s the oddball titles, or maybe it was because when I did see them on the newsstand they were always a little more expensive. Why would I pay more for something that looks unusual and not in an appealing way? Well, now that I’m more interested in reading those weirdo comics, this seems like a good opportunity to try Charlton again, especially since they’re not costing me any more than any another title, and why not start with Ghostly Haunts?
This is Charlton’s version of House of Mystery or House of Secrets, those classic DC horror/suspense titles of the 70s. The cover has a group of Native Americans, or Indians as they would have been called in 1974, tossing a woman into the mouth of an enormous multi-eyed water serpent. The opening story is introduced by a blue woman in a green dress with a red cape; I’ll assume she’s Charlton’ equivalent of Cain or Abel, but we don’t know her name. “A Nice Place to Die” was written by Joe Gill with art by Mike Vosburg, which opens with a kindly old couple sitting on their porch anticipating the approaching car. These young ‘uns have been hired to care for the old people, but the young caretakers are really just there to rip off the elderly couple. They may be old, but, as the reader might well expect, the old people have a few secrets of their own. In addition to a thoroughly predictable ending this story has three panels of “cheesecake” as the young thief prances around in her bra and panties. Well, as cheesecake as Charlton gets with their oversized Comics Code Authority Approval seal on the cover.
There is an un-illustrated short story that I didn’t read. Hey, I’m reading a comic and I expect to see some graphic story telling. Don’t try to trick me.
Next our nameless blue female guide relays the story of “The Last Cruise of the Princess III” as told by the artist Rudi Palais and the writer Jack Daniels. Jack Daniels? Yeah, right. I think that’s what the author was drinking when he wrote this, and that inspired a pen name. Anyway, some modern navy sailors come across an old abandoned tall ship, which they board (don’t people ever learn) and it winds up navigating itself, despite the sailor’s attempts to control it, to an island where they return it the original captain who happens to be a ghost. Once again the blue woman appears in many of the panels watching what’s going on, but not saying anything.
Finally we have “Moon of Vengeance” written by Jane Giddens with the famous Steve Ditko handling art chores. Destiny Fox continues her recovery from illness at her friend Elena’s cabin in the mountains. As they walk around Destiny feels an odd connection to the land. She is also haunted by a green misty monster. At some point I grew bored with the story and checked out, so I’m not sure how it ends, but I think she has some connection to an ancient Apache princess. If you ever read it, let me know if it turns out to be more interesting than I thought, but I doubt it will be.
The first story was OK, albeit predictable and the other two were less than good. If this were baseball Charlton would be doing good batting .333, too bad Charlton is publishing comics and not fielding a baseball team. Maybe this is why I hardly ever bought Charlton Comics.
Best Ad: Now here’s a deal. Charlton is offering subscriptions for $1.25, sure it’s only six issues, but that’s still a hell of a deal. Plus they will send subscribers, for free, a copy of The Comic Book Guide for the Artist/Writer/Letterer a 32 page digest loaded with facts for any beginning comic creator. I’d actually be interested in reading that. I was surprised to see Charlton offered 40 different titles in the ad, with Romance and humor making up over half the choices at 12 each. They actually licensed quite a few well known cartoon characters; Flintstones, Beetle Bailey, Blondie and others. Was it necessary to give the Great Gazoo his own title? He wasn’t even funny on the Flintstones, how is he going to fare flying solo? I know I have a few of those Armed Services titles somewhere in my collection. I think the only super-hero title was E-Man unless Phantom and Yang were superheroes, and maybe that’s how Charlton differentiated themselves from the other comic publishers. How’d that work out for them?