Witching Hour 1
Story: Alex Toth
Art: Alex Toth, Neal Adams
Cover: Nick Candy
What I see 50 years later, looking back before I was born, was what can only be called an explosion of horror anthology comics from the major publishers. Initially House of Secrets and House of Mystery were rebranded with horror but shortly after DC demanded more titles. The Witching Hour is what I would consider the 3rd tent pole for the publisher as it was the 1st new series and ran until 1978 with 85 issues. It also introduced its own trio of hosts the three witches Mordred, Mildred, and Cynthia.
There isn’t much information on the premier issue that I can find other than Nick Candy did the cover, Neal Adams did a 2 page epilogue, and Alex Toth did the rest. The cover is fantastic, everything else sure is something. The book feels incredibly rushed. It was like Alex Toth was told he had 3 days to generate an entire issue of content and what he produced was odd, pretty terrible, and definitely entertaining.
The first story is called “Save the Last Dance for me!” and is about Thurgood (Tin Toes) Trapley. A millionare dancer who has used his massive fortune to invest in time travel to the future. His group of hired scientists are able to make great strides in this endeavor, giving him a glimpse into the future where they confirm that old people are able to dance like they are in their prime. This is is fantastic news! He demands they accelerate the work on the time travel machine. One of the scientists warns that they can only use the machine once and to perhaps not waste it on dancing. Thurgood does not hesitate in punching the reasonable man in the face.
The rest of the world is interested in Trapley’s time machine invention and plead with him to use this technology for the benefit of all man kind – a reasonable request. He swings his cane at them and orders them away. His scientists have created the time travel machine and he gets so excited he enters the bubble without concern for his safety. He finds that he is not only able to dance like he could in his youth, but that he has infinite energy and doesn’t need to stop. Until he dances for 5 days straight and keels over dead. Damn what a shame.
Our next tale, “Eternal Hour!” is probably the best of the lot but still a bit of a stretch. It is the story of Terwit the dwarf, who is mocked by the children of his town. He is up on the bell tower and refuses to come down. He swears he will stay up in the tower and that night a scream of pain can be heard by the villagers. From that day forward he comes out and threatens the people below, tossing large rocks and nearly killing them.
A kind villager leaves food near the top of the tower, feeling sorry for the tortured man. Many years pass by and the children who once taunted him have now turned into adults and are quite sick of dealing with this man who puts their lives in danger as they approach the tower. So they form a mob and climb up to the top to confront him. When they reach the inside of the tower though, multiple screams can be heard and none of them return.
The kind elderly villager who provides food for Terwit builds up the courage to go inside and confront him as well after so many of the townspeople did not return. Once he reaches the inside he is horrified to find only rats. For years, his daily food offerings have been consumed by them, not Terwit. He was eaten alive by them when he let out that initial scream so long ago. It was his ghost haunting the town, throwing rocks. When the villager reaches the very top he find brass statues of all the children and Terwit, sitting above them.
The last story is called “The Perfect Surf” and centers around Stanley the surfer obsessed beach boy and his steady girl Carol. Stanley is a simple man, always searching for the perfect wave. He drives by and picks up Carol to head to the beach to have a nice bonfire with some friends.
Stanley’s friends like him about as much as I do after reading two pages. They direct him to an old hag who lives down the coast, but just tell him the surf is absolutely perfect down there at this time of night. Only wanting one thing in life he heads down without question, Carol in hand.
They find the woman who lives on the beach alone who can’t wait to sacrifice the young man. She allows him to borrow her “special” board and he takes off to the water despite the warnings of Carol. He finds his perfect wave, the only problem is that it is going the wrong way! He rides the wave towards the ocean, with a look of insanity on his face. I don’t think the world will miss Stanley. I hope the next issue improves in quality or maintains this level of crazy, either one will be very entertaining.