Monday, January 29, 2007

Comics: Dream a little scream of me.

Back in the day - "the day" here being defined as the late 1960s and early 1970s - fans of the DC horror antho title House of Mystery could find the work of legendary cartoonist Sergio Aragonés on page 13. First, he drew single splash-page gags cooked up by series editor Joe Orlando. These page 13 gags included such things a game board for a game players couldn't win and a cut-and-post "do not disturb" sign, perfect for the sort of lonely, moody, malcontent that would read House of Mystery. Later Aragonés was given greater freedom to write and illustrate his own stuff. This lead to the on-going "Cain's Game Room" feature: a page with a couple of goofy, gallows humor strips.

For me, "Cain's Game Room" is a standout feature of the series. Aragonés knobby, quirky style was a joy and, with his funny grim punchlines, he comes off like the rowdy relation of Chas Addams, master of the comic macabre.

For the curious, several of these pieces are collected in DC's excellent Showcase Presents House of Mystery collection.

I bring this up because, these days, you can find Aragonés working the splash-page gag format again, though in a showcase a bit removed from the comics mainstream. Sergio is now doing splash-page style "Weird Picture Search" in that venerable gray dame of journalism: The Weekly World News. This week's picture find, featured above, is worthy of his most twisted House of Mystery work – a sleeping girl about to be attacked by nightmare versions of her own escaped dreams!



Anonymous said...

I had to check google to make sure, but yeah, that's the guy from MAD Magazine as well.

Was cleaning out my old bedroom while visiting parents last weekend, and there's a huge stack of MAD from late 70s throughout the 80s if anyone is interested.. Very poor condition, but the quality humor is still there.

CRwM said...

That's the guy. He was also behind the long-running Epic, then Marvel series Groo.

Let's give some of the other readers a chance to bite; but if nobody else comes forward, then I'm interested.

spacejack said...

Strange that all the characters in her dream seem fairly benign, it's only the ones that have escaped that look like trouble.

I too know of Aragoné from his tiny illustrations in the corners of the pages of Mad magazine.

The funny thing I remember best from Mad is reading so many parodies there before seeing the movies they were based on. That would include:
The Godfather
"The Poopsidedown Adventure"
The French Connection
"Airplot 77" (before Airplane, which was the first movie I ever snuck into underage)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Amityville Horror
... and more.

I remember the horse head scene in the Mad parody of Godfather creeped me out more than it did when I finally saw the movie.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the MAD movie parodies, Mort Drucker SO totally kicks ass! I'm glad they've put out some trade paperbacks that have collected some of these parodies.

CRwM, I think the neatest thing about this post is the revelation to me that Aragones had this regular feature in the original HOUSE OF MYSTERY. That's pretty cool.