Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fatal Scalpel: Spot the difference....

The first is a scan of the first page of “Fatal Scalpel” as it appears in Gredown’s Horror Experience # 1, c. 1976. The second scan is of the same splash page as it appears in Eternity Comics’ Fifties Terror: Classic Pre-Code Horror #4, 1989.

Close inspection reveals the first scan to have far more pencil and ink detail compared to the second one, with more shading and, of course, blood on the face of the victim. Given the order of publication one would assume the second scan had been cleaned up, but that is not the case. This is an example of a pre-Code horror story which was reprinted for horror magazines (such as those published by Eerie Publications) with altered art work to increase the gore factor, and which found their way into Gredown’s titles.

“Fatal Scalpel” originally appeared in Haunted Thrills #5, January 1953, and it’s a truly deranged pre-Code horror story which I highly recommend to anyone who appreciates grisly revenge stories. I don’t know who the artist is but I understand from another collector that it is likely an Iger shop artist who did not do a lot of work for Iger and thus may be identifiable (TBA).


mcannon said...

Interesting to actually see one of these comparisons, Spiros, after reading various descriptions of the Eerie Pubs modifications. While I can understand the reasons for such changes (added gore content to increase the shock factor, and additonal shading to compensate for the B&W printing), I'm still puzzled at the seemingly random and blobby nature of some of the heavy blacks in some of the Eerie material that Gredown reprinted. Was the printing really that crappy in the US originals, or is it due to sub-standard printing in the Gredown reprints?


spiros xenos said...

Yeah, the disadvantage of this comparative example is that each sample is itself a reprint.

As for the heavy crude shading you refer to, it's a good question, and I've tended to believe it's a result of hack artists crudely modifying the original inventory for black and white reproduction... after all, plenty of other material (such as ACG reprints) come up bold and clean and sharp. But I would like to see original prints of the reprints to satisfy our curiosity.