Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, October 26, 2019



At least, that's what the cover of this comic book promises and who am I to argue?

Skeleton Hand in The Secrets of the Supernatural was a bi-monthly anthology horror publication from American Comics Group (ACG) that ran for six issues in 1952 to 1953.  The editor (and presumably writer) was Richard Hughes; artwork for issue #1 was provided by Ken Bald, Pete Riss, Charles Sultan, John Blummer, and Frank Simienski.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this issue is that there is no Skeleton Hand.  True, the cover does have a shrouded skeleton (Death, I gather) playing the violin at what appears to be a monster's ball, but the contents show no skeleton, no skeleton hand, no bony narrator or host...nothing to indicate who or what Skeleton Hand is.  Go figure.

The tales themselves are typical pre-code horror.  "Deathless Mortal" is a black magic story; Largo the Magician is actually a wizard who has made a deal with "the spirits of evil old" (winged evil imps) to become young again by stealing youth from his lovely assistant.  In "Sea of Retribution" James Simon is  imprisoned for sabotaging the Merchant Marine by selling defective steel plates to shipyards.  It turns out that even the penitentiary is not  safe from from the ghost of John Paul Jones (founder of the Navy) and the dead sailors drowned because of Simon.  "Death for Hire" has executed hired killer Cracker Schultz but a mad professor has used the "secret from the witch doctors in the jungles of Haiti" to bring Cracker back as a zombie to continue his role as a hit man.  Leo Groman, the crimeboss who used Cracker while he was alive, is about to regret using Cracker after he is dead.  Scylla, the mythical "Monster of the Deep" who haunts the Straits of Messina rises to destroy the enemies of Italy -- in this case, evil Russians.  Turns out Scylla is a pretty ugly woman with a bare, flat-chested torso whose breasts (if she has any) are hidden by her flailing tentacles and she has an additional six terrible dog-like heads that can bark loudly.  Neat.  The issue closes with a one-pager, "The Corpse Under the Carpet," in which a man kills his nagging wife and places her body under a carpet nailed to the floor; over the following hundred years no occupant of the house has stayed for more than a couple of days because of the ghost under the carpet crying, "Let me out you old skinflint.  LET ME OUT!"  Must be one of those very long-lasting carpets.

Check it out.  And if you can find a Skeleton Hand, you're better than I am.

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