ISSUE #68: The Ones We Skip

 

Welcome back to a fresh issue of Cover Tunes, everyone. This week has been a little less eventful than last week with the aftermath of SDCC still sinking in for everyone. I hope you all hit those back issue bins hard and found some spec gems on the cheap that you’ve flipped (or will soon flip) in order to get that key you’ve always wanted. Prices are insane right now on everything Blade and She-Thor. There is a lot of money to be made there and “FOMO be real.” Thank you all for the overwhelming support for my last two issues which focused very much on the speculation of female characters mentioned in Hall H at SDCC.  

I know that I focus quite often on girly covers in this column and it’s because I really like them. As such, I am stepping away from female-centric covers this week and heading back into some horror, which is another love of mine. Much has been talked about dealing with Bronze Age DC horror and Pre-Code horror as of late. Both segments of the hobby are white hot at the moment. While I’m absolutely addicted to both of those, I have also become very intrigued with another “brand” of horror: Bronze age Charlton horror.

These are the books we always seem to skip over when we sift through bins. It used to be Atlas titles, but not anymore on those. Between these Charlton titles and maybe Illustrated Classics, they always seem to be the fodder of the longboxes. However, I encourage you to stop for a second and looked at some of the covers on these bad boys. There are some incredible gems amongst them.

NOTE: Many Charlton covers were re-used, especially the better ones. Often, they were recolored or redrawn. Sometimes they appear later within the same title and other times, they appear on a different title altogether. Thus, don’t be surprised if, while you’re hunting, you see duplicate covers across multiple titles or issue numbers. I won’t cross reference every one of them since it is nearly impossible to do so, but it is worth noting. Where I do know them off the top of my head, I will mention them.

Let’s take a look at a few of my favorites…

 

Beyond the Grave #1 (1975 Series)

PUBLISHED: Charlton – July, 1975

ARTIST: Tom F. Sutton

 

A beautifully intricate and fully painted composition, this one rivals even the best DC Bronze Age cover. As you read through this week’s article, you will note that Sutton’s name comes up frequently. He was one of the recurring “spotlight” artists for Charlton and worked across many titles. His work is among the best of the Bronze Age and this cover ought to show us why. This is a no-joke, fully rendered macabre cover with an outstanding attention to detail, palette and layout. There is a grace in the linework that lends to fluidity and mood, here, and aside from Charlton’s awful “clip art” trade dress elements, this is one of my all-time favorite covers. If you can find one, this is a dollar bin grab. However, don’t expect it to be in amazing condition.

 

Creepy Things #5 (1975 Series)

PUBLISHED: Charlton – April, 1976

ARTIST: Rich Larson

 

This one has a very “Wrightson-esque feel to it and with the success of Bernie, it’s no wonder he had many disciples. With that said, though, Larson deserves credit for an incredibly terrifying cover which depicts fantastic feeling and action. I particularly love the lighting implemented on this cover as well as the superb use of line and shadow which provide fantastic depth and allow the image to pop. Again, this is not a book that appears often, but like the rest of this week’s selections, it can be had dirt cheap. Well worth the search, I highly recommend snatching this one up, especially if you find a upper-grade copy.

 

Ghostly Tales #113 (1966 Series)

PUBLISHED: Charlton – February, 1975

ARTIST: Tom F. Sutton

 

Yeah, this one is weird and a little psychedelic but it is REALLY cool. Another one by Sutton, but a bit different in that it’s much looser in focus. There is an enigmatic feel to the layers of this one in that where one leaves off, another begins or overlaps. This gives the feeling of infinite space and an other-worldliness. One second, it appears to be set under water. In the next, it appears to be in outer space. Pay attention to the little details on this cover as there is a ton going on in the fringes and in the negative space. This is a masterfully complex composition.  

NOTE: I have already featured a cover from this series, recently, in Cover Tunes #63: All Over the Map . It was the cover to #108 which was also reused for the cover of #139. Another one of my favorites. Click the link to see a full description.

 

Haunted #17 (1971 Series)

PUBLISHED: Charlton – July, 1974

ARTIST: Tom F. Sutton

 

This cover is bonkers! This is one of the single most creepy covers I’ve ever seen and it is on a worthless book. Again, superb lighting and depth and a really twisted and haunting tone. I feel like this is what a bad trip must look like. Not a whole lot else to say about Sutton that I haven’t already said, but another one of my favorite all-time covers.

 

Baron Weirwulf’s Haunted Library #21 (1971 Series)

PUBLISHED: Charlton – April, 1975

ARTIST: Don Newton

 

This gorgeous thing is an exquisite launching-off cover for the newly retitled series. What was just titled “Haunted,” prior to this issue is, as of this #21, rebranded as “Baron Weirwulf’s Haunted Library.” In order to introduce the host of this title, Baron Weirwulf, himself, we get this incredible composition. It is one of those covers that when I see it, I can’t believe it’s on a comic book. Moreover, I can’t believe it’s on a Charlton comic book. There is a level of mastery with the medium displayed here that we rarely see. From the sense of depth and lighting to the amazing contrast, this feels like a top-notch Warren cover for a title like Creepy or Eerie. Alas, it is not. It is merely another Charlton dollar bin book. Sad.  

Baron Weirwulf’s Haunted Library #25 (1971 Series)

PUBLISHED: Charlton – January, 1976

ARTIST: Tom F. Sutton

 

I know, I know… I’m beginning to look like a Sutton fanboy. I guess I actually have become one while doing the research for this article. The only title I’m featuring two covers from this week, and it’s because there were a lot of amazing choices; I couldn’t choose just one. This cover rivals even the best pre-code horror cover and it may be my favorite Sutton cover. The subject matter is wholly horrifying. While lighting is important on this cover, it is really the central thematic idea that makes this one stand out. An unsung classic, in my opinion.

 

Monster Hunters #1 (1975 Series)

PUBLISHED: Charlton – August, 1975

ARTIST: Don Newton

 

The menace of this cover is ridiculous. From perspective and depth to action and suspense, this one has it all. I’m not sure everyone would put this squarely into the “horror” category, but I think it fits. Newton, like Sutton, was a staple in the stable of Charlton artists. His work spans many titles and all of his examples are incredible. I absolutely love the treatment of the water on this cover; tempestuous and angry which adds to the overall frantic mood of the composition. Overall, just a brilliant cover that can be gotten on the cheap if you can locate one.

 

Scary Tales #33 (1975 Series)

PUBLISHED: Charlton – July, 1982

ARTIST: Enrique Nieto

 

I really love this cover as it is quite different from the others I’ve featured this week. This cover actually appeared on Charlton’s “Haunted Love” #7 in January, 1975, but I like the subtle coloring differences on this later version better. Also, I refrained from choosing yet two more Tom F. Sutton covers from this series. However, stay tuned as I will be using both of them next time. This cover has more of a Mondo/mid-century print style to it which gives it a unique dimensional look. The simplistic and reserved use of positive and negative space add greatly to the impact of the cover.  

 

*****

 

Since I found about twice this many Charlton covers that I really loved, there will be a second part to this at some point. For now, though, I hope there was a little something in this segment for everyone. Please, drop a comment and let me know your thoughts. Until next time, be well, thanks for reading as always and happy hunting.

 

 

10 comments

  • Walker

    Fantastic covers. I need more horror in my life!

  • Dell18

    I’ve been snagging Charlton stuff since a few Overstreet Advisors began hyping how undervalued they were in the early 2000’s. I’ve actually acquired some real high-grade stuff for cheap. Haven’t really gone up much though. I’m a big fan of Staton and Newton’s work. Theres some cheap Ditko stuff too. Haunted Love has some great art and is one of my fav’s. If pre-code (EC’s mainly for me) and Bronze-Age DC horror are on the rise I might have to focus on filling in some holes before I can only afford the Charlton stuff. Another great article, usually my favorite on the site.

    • Mike Morello

      Thanks, Dell. I really, really appreciate the kind words. I agree especially about bronze DC horror. Now is the time to fill in those holes particularly as higher grades get scarcer and prices rise out of control. Pre-code is already out of reach for many classic covers, but there are still deals to be had in low and mid grades. Happy hunting, bud.

  • Ben C

    Wow, some real choice covers in there Mike, gotta say that Haunted 17 is AMAZING!!

    Thanks for hipping me to some cool covers!

  • Avatar

    Those Sutton covers are insanely awesome! Well done of finding some great obscure covers that not many know about. Can’t wait to see what you pick for Part 2.

  • Avatar

    Great picks, not really my thing but I like when you cover topics that are out of my scope because I always learn a few new things. Thanks and keep writing.

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