Monday, July 15, 2013

"Forbidden Tales of the Mansion That Was Trying to Save on Its Electric Bill By Turning Off Unnecessary Lights During the 1970s Energy Crisis"

As you may remember a couple days ago, we were looking at the gothic romance comic Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love, which presented us with neo-Wuthering-Eyre-style love stories until it abruptly ended at issue number 4. But was that the end of it? Why, no, no, it was not, and you should have guessed that just from the very existence of this post.


Cover of Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #5 (May-June 1972), pencils and inks by Nick Cardy




Published precisely on bi-monthly schedule two months after the final Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love, there's no answer given for the title change in this new, boldly-logoed Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion. But I'm gonna hazard a guess: America was not ready for a newsstand funnybook supposedly about "forbidden love." So we get forbidden tales instead. Also: a guy who doesn't know not to track in mud when he's hanging his young women. Darn you, we just swept that floor!

Forbidden Tales featured, at least for its first issue, the same format of gothic romance and supernatural chills as Dark Mansion:



Panels from "They All Came To Die!" in Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #5 (May-June 1972), script by Jack Oleck, pencils and inks by Don Heck

But by ish #6 the one-story per double-sized book format had broken down. The formerly 52-page book became 36 pages, and Forbidden Tales began presenting several short stories per issue...including this uncredited tale that certainly is mysterious and chilling, but definitely breaks away from the gothic format. There's no credits in the book for the story, but I bet you, being an informed comics fan with a keen eye and excellent taste, can ID the artist before you get down to my credits, right?




Panels from "The Psychic Blood-Hound" in Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #6 (July-August 1972); script and layouts by Jack Kirby; finishes and letters by Mike Royer

Yep, that's The King right there, Jack Kirby himself, in a story that was originally intended for the second, never-published issue of Kirby's Spirit World. A letter and answer from Forbidden Tales #9:


However, not everyone was pleased with the format change, which fundamentally turned Dark Mansion/Forbidden Tales into a chiller anthology much like others at DC like House of Mystery/Secrets and Unexpected:


Still, there was the same focus on ESP and other balderdash mysterious unexplained phenomena:


But the days of young beautiful heroines in trouble at crumbling gothic mansions was pretty much a thing of the past, once guys like these came stampeding along into Forbidden Tales' pages:


The only page of "Balan the Terrible" from Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #7 (September-October 1972), pencils and inks by Jack Sparling

I'm not certain what was the point of this one-page...pin-up? story?...but hey, check out this (alert, Mike Sterling, alert!) not-quite-Swamp Thing story that was published a few months after Swampy's debut in House of Secrets. I smell a Legion of Muck Monsters story in teh making! Oh no, sorry, that's just something I've trod in from outside. Sorry. (scuffing my hooves on the welcome mat nervously)



Panels from "The Monster" in Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #10 (March-April 1973); script by Jack Oleck; pencils, inks, and letters by Alfredo Alcala

Hey, check it out...the muck-monster skeleton's a fanboy!:


Forbidden Tales: the only magazine that already knows you are guilty!


Panel from (groan) "The Man Who Waxed and Waned!" (I warned you) in Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #13 (October-November 1973); script by Michael Fleisher and Russell Carley; pencils, inks, and letters by Alfredo Alcala

And any round-up of or discussion about stories in Forbidden Tales would not be complete without this, THE GREATEST COMIC BOOK STORY IN THE WORLD:




Panels from "Generation Gap!" in Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #11 (June-July 1973), pencils and inks by Win Mortimer

After reading that story, NASA astronaut George Taylor was heard to declare, "I should have landed on that planet instead!"

Forbidden Tales came to an end with #15, an finale so abrupt there's even promises of what to expect in the following issues. It had evolved from its very original begins but quickly became another redundant chiller title in DC's stable. By 1974 DC was publishing several other titles in this (no pun intended) vein: Black Magic, Ghosts, House of Mystery, House of Secrets, House of Pancakes, and The Witching Hour. Another chiller anthology, Secrets of Sinister House, would also be cancelled in '74, and DC's long-running Weird Mystery Tales went away the following year. Still, it wasn't the end of the genre: Tales of Ghost Castle and Secrets of Haunted House would premiere the following year, and several of the DC chillers would run through the 1980s. What had made this title different went away quickly, and some of the readers weren't happy. So DC gleefully insulted their readership in one of the most condescending LoC replies ever:


OUCH. Take that, comics readers!

Tomorrow! I'll discuss an element of Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion that I've not yet mentioned at all, and I'll give you only this clue: if you take the subject of tomorrow's post literally, I could claim it on my taxes. Sweet dreams, boys and ghouls!

1 comment:

Smurfswacker said...

What was it about the dialogue that told me that SCRIPT WAS BY JACK KIRBY--?? SOME UNDEFINABLE THEME--SOME SINISTER UNDERCURRENT RUNNING THROUGH THOSE BALLOONS--COULD THEY HAVE SUGGESTED HIS HAND AT WORK???!!!