Witchcraft #5 and its Pre-Code Horror Kelly Freas Cover, at Auction

Kelly Freas (1922 – 2005) is best known as a science fiction and fantasy artist on pulp covers for titles like Astounding Science Fiction, Planet Stories, and Weird Tales, and paperback covers for publishers including Signet, Ballantine Books, Ace Books, and Avon Publications.  Famously, he reworked his October 1953 cover painting for Astounding Science Fiction at the behest of the band Queen for the cover of their 1977 album News of the World.  He was also a longtime contributor to Mad Magazine among others. But it's his work for Avon Publications that interests us here, because in addition to being a paperback and pulp publisher, that company also got into the comics book business. According to GCD data, they published Kelly Freas' very first work in comics, and it's a doozy.  There's a nice copy of the Pre-Code Horror gem which features that classic Kelly Freas painted good girl cover on Witchcraft #5 (Avon, 1953) CGC VG/FN 5.0 Off-white to white pages 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.

Witchcraft #5 cover by Kelly Freas (Avon, 1953)
Witchcraft #5 cover by Kelly Freas (Avon, 1953)

Freas painted this Witchcraft #5 cover in 1952 and followed up with a cover for Fiction House's The First Christmas a few months later.  His subsequent work for Mad Magazine was the only art he did for comics for nearly 15 years (again, per GCD data) until his covers for Marvel Comics magazines, Warren Publishing magazines, and National Lampoon beginning in the 1970s.  The Witchcraft #5 cover may be loosely based on the feature story for this issue, which is about a witch kidnapping a young girl and giving her over to the devil.  Years later, she returns to the world as an adult and finds love — but can't quite escape her haunted past.

For all of those covers over an accomplished and prolific career, the Witchcraft #5 cover stands out as unique among his comics work, and there's a copy of Witchcraft #5 (Avon, 1953) CGC VG/FN 5.0 Off-white to white pages 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.

Witchcraft #5 cover by Kelly Freas (Avon, 1953)
Witchcraft #5 cover by Kelly Freas (Avon, 1953)

Witchcraft #5 (Avon, 1953) CGC VG/FN 5.0 Off-white to white pages. An incredible "classic" painted good girl, skull cover by Kelly Freas. Everett Raymond Kinstler, Vince Alascia, Gene Fawcette, and Al Hollingsworth art. Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $258; FN 6.0 value = $387. CGC census 3/22: 14 in 5.0, 33 higher.

View the certification for CGC Certification ID 1444080009 and purchase grader's notes if available.

Heritage Sponsored
Affiliates of Bleeding Cool buy from and/or consign to Heritage Auctions.

Enjoyed this? Please share on social media!

Mark SeifertAbout 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.
twitterfacebook
Comments will load 8 seconds after page. Click here to load them now.