“Are ye gluttons for punishment?”

§ February 25th, 2022 § Filed under golden age § 4 Comments

A little bit of interesting comics trivia, via a copy of Yellowjacket #9 (Charlton Comics, 1946) provided by Customer Sean. Along with stories featuring the title character, and a story with the somewhat Wonder Woman-inspired “Diana the Huntress,” was an installment of “Tales of Terror.” Your host introducing said story: the Witch:

Not to be confused, of course, with the Old Witch introducing stories at EC Comics a few short years later:

The Overstreet Price Guide is on it, with describing the Witch and the “Tales of Terror” debut in Yellowjacket #7 in terms that make it fairly clear that the later EC Comics version was…inspired heavily by its Charlton Comics cousin:

“…Narrated by the Ancient Witch, wearing a red cloak, stirring her bubbling cauldron at beginning and end of the story, just like E.C.’s Old Witch 5 years later; tells story ‘The Avenging Hand’ similar to ‘The Maestros’s Hand’ in Crypt of Terror #18”

Sounds like this old Charlton may have introduced (or at least used previously) the story format that EC Comics would lean hard upon for their popular horror comics line. Overstreet credits the initial story to Alan Mandel, a person I don’t believe worked for EC later, so it’s not like he brought the concept to him. And perhaps the format and host character are broad enough to have been a wild coincidence, but however it happened, it remains a fun bit of comics history.

4 Responses to ““Are ye gluttons for punishment?””

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    “perhaps the format and host character are broad enough to have been a wild coincidence”

    I wonder if there any pulp antecedents with a host character?

    I’m trying to think of movies at the time, and the closest I can come is Mary Shelley actually introducing the story in Universal’s Bride of Frankenstein.

    Of course the witches’ character designs both are presumably inspired by the witches in Macbeth.

    And perhaps the idea of a witch as a host originates from the idea of the Fates/Norns in Greek/Norse mythology, who somehow spin or watch over men’s lives?

    Or maybe Alan Mandel just thought it’d be cool to have a witch introduce a story.

  • Thom H. says:

    Clearly they’re sisters working for competing brands.

    I love the early days of comics when creators would just swipe ideas from each other with no worries about long-term legal ramifications. These things were just for kids, and they weren’t going to last very long anyway, right? Make a few bucks while you can, and if you get in trouble just shut down and then start another comics company.

  • James Kosmicki says:

    or more likely, both were inspired by The Witches’ Tale – a relatively popular radio horror anthology from the 30’s

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    Yeah, they’re both definitely descended from “Old Nancy,” the host of The Witch’s Tale (reputedly the first horror radio series). Some of the Yellowjacket Witch’s dialogue is almost directly lifted from TWT.

    (Just like the Crypt Keeper is essentially a rip off of the Host of the Inner Sanctum…)