Saturday, October 10, 2015

COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN (Day 10): HAUNT OF FEAR



These days it's that shriveled up old Crypt-Keeper who gets all of the press, but back in the heyday of Entertaining Comics, it was attention divided between three hosts and the other two were The Vault-Keeper and The Old Witch!  EC Comics horror stable consisted of three magazines.  It was almost competitive in that multiple hosts would appear in each of the three mags—a professional rivalry that played to comic effect.



The Old Witch was created by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein and inspired by Old Nancy, the witch of Salem, host of Alonzo Deen Cole’s radio series, The Witch’s Tale, that aired from 1931-1938 on WOR and Mutual.



The Old Witch was the last of EC’s Horror Hosts to make her appearance—in THE HAUNT OF FEAR’s second issue debuted The Witch’s Cauldron feature, with her introducing herself in a story drawn by Jack Kamen.  The third issue launched the letter column, “The Old Witch’s Niche”.  And so she presided over each issue thereafter, dropping in pun-filled commentary to make up for the horrific fates of the poor souls in the tales she told.



She would go on to be the most visible of the GhoulLunatics (the other two being the Crypt-Keeper and the Vault-Keeper) in their initial run as hosts.  Not only was she in nearly every issue of The Haunt of Fear, Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror, she also appeared in the final story of Crime SuspenStories which ran from #3 through #16.



Her origin appears in THE HAUNT OF FEAR #14 in a tale that recalls her birth entitled “A Little Stranger!”.  In it, a vampire named Elicia and a werewolf named Zorgo were resurrected by other monsters using Satanic rites after a mob slew them.   And when the two awoke, they celebrated by having sex, which left Elicia pregnant.  The misshapen child she gave birth to would one day grow to become The Old Witch who delighted in frightening listeners with her tales of the macabre!


Very humble beginnings--we all have to start somewhere...


1 comment:

Guillaume said...

I really need to read these. There seems to be a lot of dark humour in it.