Tales from the box of interesting is the result of finding an old, old box of comics in my move from Kentucky to Tennessee. Most of these are some of my first comics. The comics in this feature all came from the old shrink wrapped 3 for $1 sets that were often sold after the comics had a run on the news stands. As a result they are a mix-match of oddities.
Back in the old days when comics were sold on news stands they were often removed and resold in shrink wrapped sets. The sets were a catch as catch can mix of whatever was left on the news stand. At the time the nearest news stand to me was over an hour away so most of my comics as a kid came to me in this way. Wendell's General Store was a 1/2 a mile from my house and often I went there after school with a few dollars and grabbed a glass bottle of some kind of soft drink and a pack of comics. You never really knew what you would find in the middle (as they were blocked off in the bag by the other two on the sides) and often that became a huge part of the fun. For whatever reason I hadn't placed these comics into my main collection and when I searched through them recently I was bombarded by memories, thus this column was born.
I hope to update this weekly as I read through some of the comics. The comics in question are simply a bizarre mix of superheroes, army, horror, cartoon and everything under the sun from that by-gone age of comic books. They average in date from 1974-1978 (although one or two extend to further into the 80's). I hope this article will informs and helps people realize my love for the earlier age of comics, when heroes and villains acted in character and the latest "shake up" wasn't the norm but yet comics were still loaded with killer stories (and some stories that were just plain weird).
Now to Baron Weirwolf's Haunted Library #35
Some comics you love for the coolness factor while some comics you love for nostalgia. This is a comic I love just for how down right silly it is. That's not a knock to the ones who created it but at the same time one reads something like this and can't help but chuckle. It's really hard to describe why before going over the stories contained within, so I will just let that part do the talking.
Baron Weirwulf's Haunted Library (at one time simply called Haunted Library) was one of those horror anthology series. Within the pages were three self contained stories much like horror comics of the past. The main difference is that these are much lighter and probably were intended to be such. While (if you notice on the cover below) these books had no comics code authority stamp, they were still sold on regular news stands (as all comics of the day were). Even though the lack of CCA stamp granted the publishers more leniency in what they published few were brave enough to push the envelope too far (possibly incurring the wrath of the government as which is what nearly happened in the early 1950's). I mention all this because there needs to be a context to when these were published (which adds to some of the chuckle moments within them). There were some constraints at the time even without CCA stamps.
This comic was published long after the infamous Spider-Man and Green Lantern/Green Arrow drug awareness issues (Both published without CCA stamps as the rules stated NO mentioning of any types of drugs in any context). After those infamous publications the rules relaxed some on comic publishers and some (like Charlton) published comics without any seal whatsoever. Still it wasn't a time of freedom from the CCA just yet, but it is important to note that comics were being published in those days on regular news stands without CCA approval. For that alone this and other comics are noteworthy.
Still, the comic is more funny than noteworthy in some social sense, so let's get to the fun part.
So the cover introduces us to our first story, it also should be noted these stories are reprints (Primarily from 1974). As I move forward in Tales from the Box of Interesting you will probably discover that there are MANY comics that utilized the reprint idea.
But first let me introduce you all to one of the most blood curdling and horrifying images ever published in comics:
Yes, Robin Williams as a body builder-AHHHHHH!
Just a note I could have went with Bruce Jenner there too, but he has enough problems now with having the Kardashians as step daughters and I feel too sorry for him to make fun of him.
Back to the topic, the first time I saw that image I wondered if Ken had become a real boy. It's not a wise choice to wear a light colored Speedo for a black and white picture if you are a white guy, that is today's lesson kids. Now on to the story.
The mysterious edible egg. Looks like Harry just lives on the beach and finds stuff. A note here is that is it me or does the rock outcropping look like some sort of fallen monster. I wonder if that was on purpose.
So then Harry drags his new find to the house:
So either Harry has the distinction of being raised in a similar manner to Carl Grimes in the Walking Dead or he's a Ninja with the hide in shadows of Bruce Lee. I'm betting on the former (more on that later, but first let's have some fun poking at Lori Grimes' lack of parenting skills. because we should take every single opportunity to do so).
Special thanks to The Laughing Dead for those photos, click on link for even more.
Moving on, Carl-err-Harry's dad catches wind of something on the beach, and Harry is told he has to sit at home. Apparently his dad doubles as some kind of game warden cause he talks like he has to take care of this because it's his job. Or maybe Mom is in the circus and it's the off season, who knows.
Dad runs into a big scaly, ugly monster. The first one he finds is dead, but then:
By the way, Harry's dad is the brown haired guy with a gun. He's also the ONLY one who brought a gun.
So after this encounter Dad deduces that those two monsters were mates. So apparently Dad is a sheriff, game warden and a biologist now. Well with that many talents he should be set for any economic fall out.
Meanwhile Egg starts talking to Harry and tells him to turn on the furnace even though it's summer. No one notices though, which in itself is odd. Then we get a sort of explanation from a ghost guy (least I think it's a guy, could go either way when you think about it) who just kind of pops into the story.
So the Ghost Narrator just kind of appears, and tells us this great revelation that these two stupid monsters just had an egg that will wipe out our civilization.
So I guess it's up to Mom and Dad to step up and save the world-NOPE:
Remember the thing I mentioned about Carl and supervision, yeah.
At least Dad acknowledged the heat I guess. Don't even ask me who Mike's wife is, my assumption is he is the guy the creature killed earlier, but he was never mentioned by name. But great parenting leaving two little kids at home alone for an indeterminate amount of time.
Harry gets called by Egg again and:
What's this, what nefarious plot is the egg setting into motion?
Harry struggles for one panel on the choice of being a typical big brother and letting the monster hatch out and eat his sister or do the right thing. So he grabs up the most convenient weapon he has:
A TEDDY BEAR, and he manages to crack open Egg with it. Ha take that evil people who say Teddy Bears offer no protection!!!
Although if this thing was so evolved, you'd think it wouldn't be so stupid as to try to get in between the bond of family, wouldn't you?
So Harry turns certain doom for all of humanity into a huge omelet with his teddy bear, even the Ghost Narrator had to crack a joke at that one.
Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. Well I guess someone did, but dude how can you not laugh at that?
So the next tale of "horror" is kind of boring, so I am going to give a real Reader's Digest version of it.
Pretty much the king is invincible, in a "Game of Thrones" type move someone plans an assassination, they get to the castle and see his armor on the stairs. They whack off the armor's head, it's empty, king is upstairs dieing while they are being killed by the armor.
Aren't you glad I spared you that one.
But now we must feature another ad from this comic, because the ads are almost as entertaining as the comics.
I cut off the ad in the scan, but you get the main drift.
That's right, learn the power of witchcraft through the mail. Now we can laugh, but I bet at the time this ad set of a few "groups" who say they like to look out for our best interests. I really can't look this ad over and not chuckle and when you think about it the ad was way ahead of it's time.
But now on to another fun one:
You gotta love that title, especially when you get through the story.
So one would think we, as a society, would get beyond judging people by appearance. I mean the dude Mordred is creepy looking and has a creepy name, but most of that he can't help right? Of course he is burring a body in the middle of the night, so I guess the lesson in this panel is sometimes things are as they appear?
But there is a knock at the door and who should it be but Dr. Fairweather (Gotta love the naming here too).
"Comely colleague" did you ever think you would ever see those two words together in your life? Still I guess it was easier in the age before sexual harassment law suits.
Fairweather accuses Mordred of murdering patients, to which he finally confesses:
OK seriously, that guy is just creepy looking with the pointy head and the sharks teeth, I mean damned with the high minded crap at this point. Seriously what was she thinking confronting him at home, ALONE! Guy is creepy, just talk to him at the office with a bunch of security around, much safer.
So Fairweather runs out INTO THE GARDEN! I mean this is after Mordred tells her he is feeding bodies to the plants. I swear if it wasn't for stupid actions there would never be horror tales.
All kidding aside, I have to give this story some art credit, this panel is kind of scary all by itself (or even with the inane dialogue).
Little Shop of Horrors this ain't. So Mordred dancing around like an idiot when suddenly:
As you can see, this story ends kind of abruptly. It makes me wonder if there was going to be more to it or something but it got cut due to space. Also note the lantern falls right on Fairweather as well, maybe she was supposed to die too. Then again you could argue artistic license with the words on the next panel about being awakened by a surge of heat. But even the plants away from his house in that panel look creepy.
However, that middle panel does show a bit of weakness in the art, the first time I read it I didn't even realize the woman in the panel was supposed to be Fairweather, I had no idea who she was. But to me it looked like she died with Mordred. Why would the plants let her go and keep him? His skin looked a bit like tanned leather to me, maybe the plants liked that sort of thing.
Of course we have to have the last gasp ending as well, the plants couldn't die that easy, right?
So at this point I figure some hardcore comic guys are fuming saying "you don't respect the hard work of comic creators" and I have to say nothing could be further from the truth. I fully recognize that comic creators of the past were working very hard to push out a great deal of product since they were making very little in the way of a salary. Such an environment causes a creator to run with every single idea good or bad just to make ends meet. I know for a fact that I have had ideas that are funny and probably deserve some ridicule even though at the time I thought they were great.
Still no matter how good the creator is they have some stinkers and of course those are fun to poke at. And how can you not at least smile at a story that shows a kid saving the world with a teddy bear, regardless if it's good or not.
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