The Intriguing History of Spook Show
There has been continual debate among classic horror film fans as to which magazine was the first "monster mag." The general consensus is that FAMOUS MONSTERS, premiering in February 1958, holds the coveted title, though some place emphasis on a British publication, SCREEN CHILLS, that may, or may not, have been published in 1957. In my research into the horror genre of the past, I started to come across references in dusty libraries, haunted house estate sales, and annoying microfiches of something called SPOOK SHOW. Intrigued, I pursued a new line of research into what was this SPOOK SHOW publication. After diligent searches and contacting numerous collectors, some of whom insist on not being identified, I uncovered the astounding fact that SPOOK SHOW was a publication that existed well back into classic horror film history, possibly as early as the silent era, up to the days of the explosion of monster kid-om that occurred in the late 1950s. As I began to collect whatever material I could on this publication, including actual copies (my collection is still, alas, nowhere near complete), I realized that SPOOK SHOW was clearly the first monster magazine, covering not only traditional spook shows, but also supernatural literature and, primarily, the horror film! More details will be provided in this blog, as SPOOK SHOW lives again!
Monday, June 20, 2011
Having seen the GREEN LANTERN movie the other day, I recollected that a couple of issues of SPOOK SHOW did mention the character--the original character in the comics, who first appeared in the Golden Age ALL-AMERICAN COMICS #16, July 1940. This "Green Lantern" was not the Hal Jordan of the 2011 film or the "Silver Age" era, but Alan Scott, railroad engineer.
SPOOK SHOW kept a vigilant watch on the comic book scene, hoping to see the emergence of the supernatural and macabre in them. Their hope would be answered eventually in the 1950s, but early on there was very little of horror in comic books.
The 1st issue of the Green Lantern's own comic contained this introduction, which summarized the incidents in the 16th issue of ALL-AMERICAN COMICS:
"Into the humdrum reality of everyday life, into a world harassed by crime, there comes a fantastic being with strange supernatural powers.... A being determined to stamp out evil and bring justice where it has never been before.... This is the man called -- GREEN LANTERN!"
"Strange supernatural powers" contained much potential to the staff of SPOOK SHOW, particularly as the lantern itself was fashioned from a green lamp by a lunatic! Yes, a madman found the green genii-type lamp that had been fashioned in earlier times in China (from a meteor containing a weird green flame). This lunatic, in turn, made a lantern, of the type used by railwaymen, and it was this magical lantern that saved Alan Scott when the train he was riding met with sabotage. The lantern then tells Scott the story of its progression on earth, from meteor flame to lamp to lantern, and the power that now will reside with Scott, who is told to fashion a ring from the lantern and activate the power of this ring by touching it to the lantern every twenty-four hours.
To SPOOK SHOW's disappointment, however, the series appears to never have genuinely ventured into the supernatural zone, and it certainly did not investigate the fantastical plot possibilities of a lantern being crafted by a madman. Instead, the Green Lantern character fought crime and, understandably for the time, the Axis powers of the Second World War.
Posted by Mirek at 8:54 AM