Mansion of Evil by Joseph Millard (1950)
As an experiment, Gold Medal Books published a comic book/graphic novel called Mansion of Evil in 1950. It was written by Joseph Millard (1908-1989), a paperback and pulp writer whose works were usually routine. Erroneously claimed to be the first graphic novel, Mansion of Evil was released in the normal paperback format (Gold Medal #129) and printed in full color. The cover shows a man with slicked back hair, an evil mustache, and arcching eybrows, along with a blonde in a low-cut see-through negligee and a slightly less see-through nightgown. She's holding a lamd with a wide solid base. Lying below her is an unconscious (?) dead(?) with a blue outfit and clunky, obviously high fashion, shoes. In the background is an old mansion with two long towers being approached at night by a long, black car. Emblazoned along the cover art is a banner proclaiming, "SOMETHING NEW! A COMPLETE NOVEL IN WORDS AND PICTURES, A THRILL ON EVERY PAGE" (someone didn't bother to punctuate the last sentence).
Although the book was a flop and Gold Medal did not rpet the format, Mansion of Evil has become a collector's prize. AbeBooks currently lists only four available copies, with prices ranging from $150 to $300, plus shipping.
The plot, such as it is, concerns an artist who kidnaps a young woman who looks like his wife -- a woman the artist had accidentally killed. The prose is passable, notwithstanding the overuse of coincidence, slang, and anachronisms. The unsigned artwork appears to be by George Evans. Evans was respected in the field and had a long list of credits from Fawcett, EC, Atlas, Classics Illustrated, DC, Marvel, and The National Lampoon. He ghosted the comic strip Terry and the Pirates and took over the final years of Secret Agent Corrigan (originally X-9). Classically trained, Evans was noted for his aviation art.
Millard was a journeyman writer and retired educator who published a number of tie-in novels, including sevven of the eight Clint Eastwood/"The Man with No Name" westerns, Cahill: US Marshal, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, and a Hec Ramsey novelization. His one science fiction novel, the routine The Gods Hate Kansas was badly filmed as They Came from Beyond Space in 1967. He also wrote the quicky paperback biographies The Wickedest Man: The Extraordinary Story of the "Gentleman from Hell" and Edgar Cayce: Mystery Man of Miracles.
Let go of yur critical sensibilities and enjoy the 195 pages of trashy thrills in Mansion of Evil.
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