Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Nope.  Not Challengers of the Unknown, which came along over six years later in 1957, but Challenge of the Unknown, an anthology horror comic book from Ace Magazines.  I can't find much about this comic -- in fact, the only issue I can find is this one.  Ace Magazines had a slew of romance comics at the time and Challenge of the Unknown was previously (up through issue #5, I assume) titled Love Experiences, and there may have been no issue #7.

Challenge of the Unknown #6 was a fairly decent horror zine.  Not as gruesome as some of the EC titles or the some of the old terror pulps, but certainly not as namby-pamby as many later titles.  This issue gives us four main stories:

  • "High Priestess of the Snake People"  A cult of snake worshipers with their their snake queen capture a young American.  In the end, the cult is dynamited, ending the threat.  Or does it?
  • "The Ghost in the Portrait"  Drawn by Ken Rice, this story is about an evil ancestor whose ghost is freed by a young couple.  The ghost tries to get the young husband to murder his wife, but ghostly plans gang aft agley.  Happy ending.
  • "Villa of the Vampire"  Drawn by Lin Streeter.  A vampire haunts an Italian villa.  Population of said villa declines rapidly.  Brave husband saves wife and defeats the vampire.  Happy ending.
  • "No Grave to Hold Him"  Drawn by Mike Sekowsky.  A dying professor has his brain transferred into the dead body of a criminal.  The professor becomes evil but manages to regain control of the body.  Happy ending.  (For now!)  BTW, dead criminal has Frankenstein monster-like electrodes in his neck.  Cute.
All four stories were later reprinted in various Ace Magazine titles.  In addition, "Villa of the Vampire" was reworked in the 1970s by Eerie Publications and appeared seven times in various Eerie titles.

Plus two one-pagers covering supposedly true tales of the supernatural and a two-page text story -- "Unburied Dead" -- in which a demon-infested wife explodes.  No happy ending.  Oh, well.


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