The Enduring Horror of Adventures into the Unknown, Up for Auction
Adventures into the Unknown from publisher ACG (American Comics Group) is a vastly underrated comic book series. Regarded as the first ongoing American comic book horror series, the title lasted 174 issues from Fall 1948 to August 1967 — several months before other publishers began to ease into horror-focused titles, and about a year and a half before EC Comics' horror titles began in earnest. Adventures into the Unknown is underrated from a creative standpoint as well. The series maintained a high standard for stories and art throughout, under the editorship of industry pioneer Richard E. Hughes. And most of the debut issue and some other early issue stories were written by horror and science fiction legend Frank Belknap Long. There's a nice group of the Pre-Code Horror era of Adventures of the Unknown, including an Adventures Into The Unknown #1 (ACG, 1948) up for auction in the 2022 March 31 The Black Cat Collection and Pre-Code Horror Comics & Comic Art Showcase Auction #40186 at Heritage Auctions.
Frank Belknap Long began writing for pulps in 1924 with Weird Tales. He became a close friend of H.P. Lovecraft and made early contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos. Long had expanded his range to science fiction by the 1930s, in pulp titles such as Astounding Science Fiction and others. By the late 1940s, Long was also writing comic books and contributed the scripts for most of the stories of the first two issues of Adventures into the Unknown, as well as stories for several other early issues. Long's stories for Adventures into the Unknown #1 include a fascinating mix of horror tales from historical to modern. One interesting choice for this issue is his brief but effective adaptation of Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto:
The Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole, is generally viewed as the first Gothic novel. Its first edition, published in 1764, claimed to be a translation of a work printed in Naples in 1529 and newly discovered in the library of 'an ancient Catholic family in the north of England'. It tells the story of Manfred, the prince of Otranto, who is keen to secure the castle for his descendants in the face of a mysterious curse.
The early issues by the likes of Long, Fred Guardineer, Edvard Moritz, Max Elkan, King Ward, Al Ulmer, and others would set the tone for Adventures into the Unknown to become the first successful comic book horror series — and its blend of horror and suspense with dashes of science fiction would prove effective in helping ACG transition through the Comics Code era that halted most other series of this nature. A successful, quality, and historically important horror series, there's a nice group of the Pre-Code Horror era of Adventures of the Unknown, including an Adventures Into The Unknown #1 (ACG, 1948) up for auction in the 2022 March 31 The Black Cat Collection and Pre-Code Horror Comics & Comic Art Showcase Auction #40186 at Heritage Auctions.