Monday, April 4, 2016
CHILLING TALES OF HORROR NO. 1 (PART 1)
CHILLING TALES OF HORROR
Vol. 1 No. 1
Publisher: Stanley Publications
Editor: Theodore S. Hecht
Cover Price: 35 cents
In his book, The Ten-Cent Plague, author David Hajdu quotes 1950s horror comics publisher, Stanley P. Morse as saying, "Nobody complained, so we gave the people what they wanted until they started complaining about it." The loudest complaint came from holier-than-thou head-shrinker, Dr. Fredric Wertham (1895-1981) who lamented, "Horror, crime, sadism, monsters, corpses dead and alive -- in short, real freedom of expression. All this in comic books addressed to and sold to children." Wertham's tireless crusade did not end until the comic book industry caved in and capitulated to his incessant demands that horror, blood, gore and sex be summarily removed from every comic book on the newsstands. In effect, he brought the industry to its knees, and if not for the resiliency of the publishing houses to adjust accordingly, would have wiped the comic book off the face of the earth.
Wiki's entry for Fredric Wertham includes a section that refutes the accusation that comic books lead young readers into juvenile delinquency and all manners of bedrock social perversions: Wertham's original research materials for Seduction of the Innocent became available in 2010. Carol Tilley, Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, investigated his research and found he played "fast and loose" with his largely baseless conclusions. In her essay from Information and Culture entitled, "Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications That Helped Condemn Comics", Carol Tilley asserts that, "Wertham manipulated, overstated, compromised, and fabricated evidence—especially that evidence he attributed to personal clinical research with young people—for rhetorical gain." The section goes on to explain: "Among the criticisms leveled at Seduction of the Innocent are that Wertham used a non-representative sample of young people who were already mentally troubled, that he misrepresented stories from colleagues as being his own, and that Wertham manipulated statements from adolescents by deliberately neglecting some passage while rephrasing others such that they better suited his thesis." So much for the scientific process.
A decade later, after the legal debacle had faded, but was still hanging on by it's gore-soaked claws, James Warren thumbed his nose and gave the one-finger salute to the industry by publishing the first issue of CREEPY. Soon after, the walls came tumbling down and there was a rush to the newsstand from magazine-sized comic books that were not affected by the limitations enumerated by the Comics Code Authority (lead by John Goldwater, publisher of Archie Comics, ironically a non-horror line of comic books!).
One of Warren's leading competitors was the Eerie Publications line of black and white horror comic magazines. Another, generally less-notable line was published by Stanley P. Morse, who re-entered the field after having his 1950s horror comics line neutered by the aforementioned Dr. Wertham. All were influenced by and imitated in one form or another by the legendary EC horror comics.
Shown here is part one of the first issue of Stanley Publications' CHILLING TALES OF HORROR. It's reprints from the glory days of MISTER MYSTERY and WEIRD MYSTERIES later led to lukewarm reprints from ACG. As a result, Stanley Publications remain largely a footnote in the vast canon of black and white horror comic magazines. Nevertheless, consideration must be given to its contribution to monster magazine history.