Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chatto on Page Publications pocket size comics

I’m no expert on Keith Chatto by any stretch, but I do appreciate his approach to cover illustrations in a series of Page Publications digest or pocket size comics.

In Terror Pocket Library #1 (above) Chatto copies the splash page to the story “Cast a Crooked Shadow”, which of course features just such a creepy hunchbacked shadow lurking in a deserted urban nightscape. Chatto’s improvement is to add dollops of blood on the wall - after all, the cover is in colour – and to promote to the foreground the image of a terrified woman, which amplifies the pulpy terror stakes.

He undertakes a similar renovation for the cover to Nightmare Suspense Library #5 (below) – again adding a close-up of a terrified face on the left side of the frame whilst replaying a scene from the interior, and again, making exquisitely gruesome use of the colour palette.

Nightmare Suspense Library #8 is a bit of a mix of the above two issues. On the one hand it contains a story featuring a British Secret Service agent named Nick Bailey, whose distinguishing physical feature is a single eye patch. This character is also featured in Terror Pocket Library #1, but not in Nightmare Suspense Library #5. And contrary to the pattern established in the previous examples, the cover to NSL #8 is not a rendition of a panel or action in the story – rather, it appears to be based on some other adult-oriented mystery/suspense/horror comic – probably from the UK/European source (see James’site or this site for more detail).

Or it may be something which is even more typical of Chatto – as I say, I’m no Chatto expert, but my antenna is now on alert for other such patterns related to Chatto and the variety of digest/pocket sized thriller/horror/suspense comics which permeated the Australian comics reprint market in the 1960s-1980’s.

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