Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Haunted Tales #6: Censoring "The Gossips!"

When I was a kid I loved the in-house K.G. Murray ads. Over the last few years it’s been a pleasure to identify the original sources for certain images which had, by increments usually reserved for water tortures, embedded themselves in my brain.

These days I still find them to be welcome, relatively unobtrusive space fillers which can occasionally and quite unexpectedly kick-start a short nostalgic revery.

They are, of course, not nearly as distracting as the full-colour full-page advertisements which pad out (pollute!) so much of the modern comics pamphlet. And I still think of them when I see trade paperbacks or other reprints of DC’s 1950’s and 1960’s material with logos or mastheads placed at the ends of chapters, mimicking the style of these old Australian editions.

Well, that was pretty much my take on them – unobtrusive and still charming – until I was alerted to the page above from Haunted Tales #6 by Dillon Naylor. As Dillon pointed out this was a conscious exercise in censoring a horrific end panel (is “punch-line panel” a suitable phrase…?).

The story “The Gossips!” originally appeared in Mister Mystery #13, 1953, and there is a complete scan of the story here, including the final panel.

So, apart from anything else, I will probably never be able to look at another advertisement for Superman Supacomic (or similar) in a K.G. Murray horror comic without wondering whether it might have been strategically placed for the purposes of censorship.

It begs further questions regarding the A and M classifications on the Australian horror reprints from the early 1970s. I understand there was some change circa 1969-1971 which led to the sudden surge in horror comics from K.G. Murray, Page and Gredown. I expect it’s somehow related to the relaxation of the Comics Code in this period, but I think there’s a story to be teased out about the Australian context.

And I must say that, gory as it is, it does surprise me that the panel omitted from Haunted Tales #6 didn’t qualify as suitable for a “Mature” book circa 1973.

Note also that at least two other stories (if not all of them) from Mister Mystery #13 have been reprinted in Australian editions – certainly “Vampire” appears in Haunted Tales #12 (and, I believe, in Chilling Tales of Horror NN (TBC)), and “Picnic” is reprinted at least once.

Update: https://notesfromthejunkyard.blogspot.com/2008/07/restoring-gossips.html

1 comment:

Dillon Naylor said...

I probably wouldn't have even known that story was censored myself, except that I recognised the gruesome last page from the inside cover of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HORROR (1981,Octopus. Edited by Richard Davis) which I bought as a kid.