Very Objectionable: Supernatural & "Sexy Implications" of Ghost Comics

In June 1953, an organization calling itself The Committee on Evaluation of Comic Books, which claimed to have 84 "trained reviewers", evaluated 418 comic book titles which were then available on the newsstands of America.  These reviewers placed the output of American comic book publishers into one of four categories:  no objection, some objection, objectionable, and very objectionable.  This evaluation subsequently became a part of the 1954 Hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency during the mid-1950s moral panic against comic books.  The 65 comic book titles which were placed in the "very objectionable" category are for the most part fairly familiar to modern readers. EC Comics titles like Haunt of Fear, Shock SuspenStories, and Tales from the Crypt; Fawcett title This Magazine is Haunted; and even enduring Marvel Comics titles like Strange Tales have all transcended the politically-motivated witch hunt stigma of the 1950s to be considered well-crafted classics in the modern day.  But a few of those 65 comic book titles continue to be overlooked, and the short-lived eleven-issue Fiction House title Ghost Comics is chief among those nearly-forgotten mid-1950s gems.  There's a near-complete set of this rare pre-Code horror series available in Heritage Auctions' 2020 December 20-21 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation, Video Games & Art Weekly Online Auction #122051.

Very Objectionable: Supernatural & "Sexy Implications" of Ghost Comics
Ghost Comics #2 cover art by Maurice Whitman, Fiction House.

The "Very Objectionable" category as designated by The Committee on Evaluation of Comic Books was very expansive.  The category could include:

  • Grotesque, fantastic, unnatural creatures.
  • Persons dressed indecently or unduly exposed.
  • Any situation having a sexy implication.
  • Stories and pictures that tend to anything having a sadistic implication or suggesting use of black magic
  • Portrayal of mayhem, acts of assault, or murder.

"Implications" would seem to have been an operative principle for the Committee in the case of Ghost Comics, as the title is a fair bit less horrifically graphic than rivals such as Haunt of Fear or Tales from the Crypt.  One suspects that the Committee drew its conclusions from the spectacular Maurice Whitman covers, which do indeed have "sexy implications".  That said, Ghost Comics featured sophisticated suspense that sometimes surpassed the comics stories of EC Comics and other rivals.  The title manages to convey horror, suspense and sexual situations in a sophisticated way that is underappreciated to this day.

In addition to Maurice Whitman, a premiere Fiction House cover-artist who is deserving of much more credit than he has received, the title features work from notables such as Matt Baker, Jack Abel, Jack Kamen, and Lily Renée,  and perhaps even Will Eisner. There's a near-complete set of this rare pre-Code horror series available in Heritage Auctions' 2020 December 20-21 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation, Video Games & Art Weekly Online Auction #122051.

 

About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.

twitter   facebook square