Monday, September 12, 2016


Vol. 4 No. 3 (Whole #15)

Gothic Castle Publishing Company
Created, Edited and Published by Calvin T. Beck
Associate Publisher: Helen Beck

Publisher Emeritus: Charles F. Kane
Editorial Associate: Philip B. Moshcovitz
Layout Assistant: Frank Brunner
Cover: Frank Brunner
Pages: 68

Calvin "Charles Foster Kane" Beck's magazine entered a new decade with a return from photo to painted covers. As mentioned in last week's post of CoF #5 there was a 10-issue gap between covers that featured photographs and covers that were done by artists. Hence, the decision to jump ahead 10 issues and continue the run with #15. We'll return to earlier issues later.

The always changing staff continued with a lineup of assistant editors that included Jon Davidson, future fear film maker Joe Dante, Jr., Buddy Weiss, and a curious character going by the name of "The Marmoset". The ubiquitous Charles F. Kane was still present, listed now as "Publisher Emeritus".

Now, one would think that seeing the name Helen Beck as Associate Publisher, one would come to the conclusion that this was probably Calvin's spouse. In reality, she was his mother! Without going into details here (that will be a story all of its own), Helen Beck is infamous for not only lording over her son's business dealings, but the rest of his life as well. It is claimed that their relationship was so bizarre and claustrophobic that they were the inspiration for Norman Bates and his mother in the Robert Bloch novel, Psycho. As a result of this close family "arrangement", Bhob Stewart was long gone as art director and layout designer because he just couldn't take the micromanaging of the magazine by Helen, who'd been Associate Publisher since issue #8. Consequently, up and coming comic book artist Frank Brunner assumed the new duties and forthwith seized the opportunity to promote himself (I briefly met Brunner at San Diego ComicCon in the early seventies and, at the time, he was affecting a bit of artistic pretention).

Brunner's cover art on CoF #15 is moody, atmospheric, and portends the theme of the issue, "Witches and Demons". Inside, readers are treated to material that includes the film BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, Hammer's TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, Veronica Carlson: CoF's "Slaymate of the Month", Peter John Dyer's second installment of "All Manner of Fantasies" his overview of the history of the horror film, a LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND comic strip, MAROONED, THE OBLONG BOX, and two Brunner pieces -- his comic strip "Smash Gordon" and an article, "The Men Behind the Comics". Along with other reviews, author and columnist Lin Carter reviews almost two dozen books.

A curious addition is a piece entitled, "Witch's Brew", and is introduced by Beck with the following: "Beginning with this issue, CoF will be running a series of articles concerned with various areas of the nearly lost art of healing." He then launches into a virtual Materia Medica of salves, ointments and other healing balms from Medieval Times. Along with his love of fantasy and horror films, Beck had an underlying interest in the occult, which was enjoying a renaissance in the 1960s counterculture. Consequently, elements of the occult appeared regularly in the pages of CoF, but this proposed series died on the deadly nightshade vine after issue #15.

Beck's social soapbox could be read in his "Headitorial" (a title that couldn't have been more perfect in the current pot-smoking culture). Subtitled, "Psyche it to Me", this is where he unleashed his thoughts and philosophies on a variety of topics and maintained his panoply of personal commentary. In this issue he discussed the current findings by "The Establishment" that marijuana could be used medically for high blood pressure!


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