Book of the Day - 6/01/04

Chilling Adventures in Sorcery #3 Oct 1973

- Overstreet 2006 (9.2) NM- Price: $16 -



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In previous Books of the Day, I've discussed DC's and Marvel's attempts at producing typical comic book format horror anthologies in the 1970s.  They weren't the only companies that gave the format a try.  An unlikely company jumped into the fray and produced what could arguably be the second best quality horror run after DC.  Archie Comics.

Chilling Adventures in Sorcery (later shortened to Red Circle Sorcery) was Archie's attempt to enter the horror arena in the early 1970s.  The first issue, cover dated October 1972, offered horror stories with art in the typical Archie house style.  To carry on the Archie theme, the "narrator" was none other than Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.  A second issue of the same was released the following month before the title disappeared from the comic racks.  Roughly a year later, #3 appeared but bared no resemblance to the previous two issues.  The title dropped the "Archie Series" notation and was replaced with the new Red Circle imprint.  Also, the tone of the title had changed remarkably.  Gone was Sabrina and the Archie house art.  In it's place, was a darker, more realistic writing and art style.  This new direction was a result of Archie hiring Gray Morrow, a veteran of sci-fi and fantasy art and at the time a frequent contributor to the Warren horror magazine line, to oversee the title.  Issue #3 is a perfect example of Morrow's influence as he provides all the art and most of the writing in this issue.  Included in this issue:.    

"Cat" with story and art by Gray Morrow.  A recent released from prison cat burglar gets more than he bargained for when he tries to make a big score in the Caribbean.

"Missing Link" with story and art by Gray Morrow.  A scientist become part of history when he builds a time machine and goes back to the Paleolithic Age.

"Immortality Factor" with story and art by Gray Morrow.  A brother tries to find out the truth about his sister's death and her doctor's involvement.  

"Haunted Gallery" with story and art by Gray Morrow.  A lawyer schemes and murders his way into controlling a family's fortunes.  Seems like the dead patriarch's portrait has other ideas....

"Essays into the Supernatural" written by Phil Sueling (could it be that Phil, the godfather of the Direct Market?) with art by Gray Morrow.  One page spread outlining the evolution of the witch mythos.

This issue is a very good example of horror comics in general and while some stories seem a tad cliché, "Cat" for example, it provides other great stories to more than compensate for any shortcomings.  The true highlight is the art.  Morrow is a wonderful artist whose style fits horror quite nicely.  Overall, a great start in the horror arena.

Sadly, the title would only last 11 issues but would include contributions by Berni Wrightson, Howard Chaykin, Jeff Jones, and Michael Kaluta.  I suspect that in addition to getting into the horror genre late, the Archie pedigree may have hurt this title's credibility among collectors.  A real shame because in some respects it produced stories on par with the heavyweights.  A noble effort indeed....