Editors of these books are Roy Ald (#1 + #2), Mercedes Shull (#3 + #4). B!TT #5 + #6 are edited by someone new: Catherine V. Woods – yet another woman! I am suspecting something fishy going on in the Fawcett offices – possibly white slave trade. It comes as no surprise anymore: Virginia Provisiero again steps in and takes over for issues #7 + #8.

By the way: almost all of the books are available to view and/or download at the Digital Comic Museum. I took care of some missing issues. So enjoy. And I’m working on completing the whole run, of course. Every issue has been freshly indexed (with the fabulous help of art spotting wizard Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr.) on the Grand Comics Database – the link will show you all available data, including cover shots and story descriptions.
Just click the underlined title…

Stories posted on the internet are linked (also marked with an underline). Miniature splash pages tell you that this story has been posted on our horror websites – click to read the whole stories.



The mummy stars as host in this first issue

May 1952
Cover: (Man silhouetted against giant moon is confronted by various demons) – Bernard Baily

“Ghost Hounds Of Trelawney” (Bob Powell) – reprinted in THE THING #17 (Charlton)
“The Nameless Horror” (???)
“Custodian Of The Dead” (Sheldon Moldoff) – reprinted in THIS MAGAZINE IS HAUNTED #18 (Charlton)

This issue is missing on the internet.
According to info on GRAND COMICS DATABASE two of the stories have been reprinted when Charlton took over Fawcett’s line of horror books. Correct!
“Ghost Hounds Of Trelawney” has been retitled “Weird Legend Of Trelawney”; and “Custodian Of The Dead” has been retitled “Caretaker Of The Dead” – clever, eh? You won’t suspect a THING…

So we can only guess who may be the artist for “The Nameless Horror”: McCarty, Evans, Baily? Or some hack cameo artist who didn’t get to be reprinted? A small mystery remains until we can lay eyes upon this issue (it is a rare collector’s item and still missing on the internet).

Horror experts might feel familiar about the title “Custodian Of The Dead”. There’s another story by that name, drawn by the great Jack Cole for Quality’s WEB OF EVIL #1.



Attack of „The Mummy“!

July 1952
Cover: (The Mummy surprises a man and a woman rummaging through a treasure chest) – Bernard Baily

“Eerie Footsteps In The Red Snow” (Bob Powell)
“The Devil’s Creation” (Mike Sekowsky + Vince Alascia ?)
“The Slaying Of Joshua Sprague!” (Ross Andru)

A horror host has never been featured more prominently on a cover! This title page belongs almost entirely to “The Mummy”, Fawcett’s host of their BEWARE! TERROR TALES series. This is the only cover in pre-code horror history where a host is actively involved in the scene.

Can’t shake the feeling that this issue’s artwork look a bit “off” in all the stories. These look like hasty and sloppy jobs by all credited artists; I smell assistance. Sekowsky surely contributed only roughs to his story; Powell looks odd – and Andru will do this story only for FAWCETT HORROR.

And for a first time I have to criticize the writing: “Eerie Footsteps In The Red Snow” is foreseeable and boring. But the other two stories are fine again.
The Devil’s Creation” is an enjoyably ludicrous fictional-fiend-comes-alive tale. And “The Slaying Of Joshua Sprague!” finely blends a time-traveling male witch with some shocking violence. See them both posted in our “Stories” section.


September 1952
Cover: (Giant specter lifting two men up against skyline) – Bernard Baily

“The Dry Doom” (Sheldon Moldoff)
“The Haunting White Shadow” (Bob McCarty)HauntingWhiteShadow1
“Death’s Round Trip” (“Jokerface”)

There’s a very nonsensical kind of “guarantee” on the cover. The Mummy announces: “I am the Mummy! My tales are backed up by 2,000 years of intimate dealings with the supernatural…” – Glad you’re selling horror and not body lotion, you ol’ bag of wrinkles.
But again a nice Baily cover, by the way!
(see it on Grand Comics Database by clicking the underlined issue number)

“The Dry Doom” hits its dry spell very fast. From page 4 on we know in which way the story will drag itself along for another 6 pages. Boring (except for kids, maybe)…

For a moment I feared that “The Haunting White Shadow” would take the exact same story turn as “Dry Doom”, but then it gets quite psychedelic and interesting to follow. Lady Justice in person capturing two thugs in a cave and teasing them with ghost money?! See it posted in our “Stories” section.

Do you remember the 1990 movie “Flatliners”? That’s what “Death’s Round Trip” is about. A young doctor drugging himself controlled to death – and to be revived after some minutes. Dr. Carlton takes a tourist trip into the realm of death. Out of sheer curiosity. But what did curiosity to the cat?! (rhetorical question, yes)


Fawcett artist: „Jokerface“

New artist in line – and we don’t know who he is (yet). I christened him “Jokerface”, because he loves to draw sketchy, elongated faces like the Joker’s (from BATMAN, of course); not so much in this, his first job for FAWCETT HORROR.
Jokerface” is responsible for doing the “Ibis the Invincible” feature in the last issues of Fawcett’s WHIZ COMICS (going back from WHIZ #155 I hunted him down to #139, but never a signature).

BTT #3 is certainly Fawcett’s horror psychedelia issue!
Very nice! If only the artwork’s been better!
McCarty’s okay, but imagine Bob Powell contributing here… too bad.


November 1952
Cover: (Green slime escapes from test tube and engulfs two scientists) – Bernard Baily

“Revolt Of The Fingers” (Bob McCarty + ?)
“The Black Candle Of Life” (Sheldon Moldoff + ?)
“The Crawling Horror” (Maurice Gutwirth)

BTT#4coverGreat attack-of-living-slime cover by Baily – have a look at that. Quite funny. Is that porridge?

Artwork is strangely “off” in this issue. These ARE McCarty and Moldoff, but possibly inked by someone else. Last story looks like a solo effort by new FAWCETT HORROR recruit Maurice Gutwirth; that guy is a mystery. Veteran artist for Standard, Prize and Quality from 1940-46, re-emerges for a stint at ACE HORROR in 1951, appears shortly at Fawcett and Fiction House in 1952, then vanishes from the face of the earth.

Canadian piano legend Glenn Gould seems to be the model for the character of pianist Antonini Bellt in “Revolt Of The Fingers”, a musician talking to and coaching his fingers while playing, though Gould did not become a household name in the US before the year 1954/55…
Anyway: very strange story about a man with no control over his left hand (he calls “Dividi”) – no reason for that is ever given.

To me “The Black Candle Of Life” was a bland ghost story with a happy ending. But read it on Karswell’s blog and please study the comments there! You will be surprised how much SEXUAL SYMBOLISM can be read into this tale. And they didn’t even mention “Marjorie reaching the summit…” on page 6. Tee hee…


You don’t have to be Dr. Freud to get funny thoughts looking at these pictures…

“The Crawling Horror” is the living slime story promoted on the cover, a wildly nonsensical story about mad science. A flesh eating protoplasmic blob powered and aided by an electronical brain! Pity that the artwork chores lie with Maurice Gutwirth who can’t even draw a cat (see page 6)!
The story sadly does not fulfill my high hopes for unleashed insanity, either. Still, it’s fun to contemplate; thought about posting it in our “Stories” section, but then again the artwork is sooo terrible…

Discovered something while researching this particular issue on the internet: Whole issue is posted at FODAL (the Free Online Digital Archive Library): Many of Fawcett’s horror books (none else) are to be found here. And a lot of classic Golden Age comic books. Fun to browse!
I prefer my good ol’ Digital Comic Museum (after all I’m a member of staff there), but want to point out every other source.


January 1953
Cover: (Group of demons harassing a man) – Bernard Baily

“The Horrors Of The 13th Stroke” (Sheldon Moldoff)
“The Lonely One!” (Maurice Gutwirth)
“The Ghoul At Eldritch Manor!” (“Jokerface”)
“Return Of The Dead!” (Bob McCarty)

Editorial change in FAWCETT HORROR: All books now feature four, not three stories. About time. They were getting tedious. And they have to keep up with the growing competition. The pre-code horror craze cranks into high gear in 1953, offering fast paced madness.

The Horrors Of The 13th Stroke” (scroll down to second story to read it on Pappy’s delightful Golden Age Blogzine) is about a fantastic parallel world, a “gateway of horrors” where fiendish ghouls prey on human victims. This could have been something, but the writer serves us only threats – and strives for a happy ending. Too bad.
I must confess – at this point – that FAWCETT HORROR really got to me. And not in a good way. After that Moldoff lead story I couldn’t muster the strength and discipline to read a story illustrated by Gutwirth. Took a break, went shopping, ate something, drank a beer and paused for a day in my horror research.
I still hold my ground and say that the writing at Fawcett is above average, but their horror artwork… yucch! Sometimes I had to force myself to read on.

“The Lonely One!” is the first horror “short” (only 5 pages) and a clear misfire. Story has an EC-ish feel about it and is somehow dissatisfying. Engineered around a twist for a twist’s sake. Hollow. What about the next shorts?
O no, they don’t know how to go about it. “The Ghoul At Eldritch Manor!” shows (5 pages again) the exact same mistakes.

Truly fantastic fun, however, presents “Return Of The Dead!”, wherein a gypsy girl named “Cantina” (that’s Spanish for “kitchen”, folks!) performs wondrous séances. A cloud forms over her head – and the deceased climb out of it back into the world of the living!
Another hilarious reg’lar Fawcett 10-pager.
See it posted in our „Stories“ section, click on miniature splash.


March 1953
Cover: (Close-Up of a man’s frightened face touching skeleton’s head) – ???

“Horror At The Lighthouse!” (Sheldon Moldoff)
“The Tattooed Heart!” (Harry Harrison ?)
“The House Of Death” (??? – “Facet-o’-Fawcett”)
“Search Into The Unknown!” (Maurice Gutwirth)

Unidentified cover artwork on the last three issues of BTT. Starting with this one. Although I like to think this might be a last one by Baily…
It’s a wild one: a yellow skeleton up close scaring a green (!) man whose hair stands up grotesquely on end and seems to have turned white!

“Horror At The Lighthouse!” feels a bit like a variation of that George Evans classic, “The Metamorphosis Of The Gkmloooms”, from WORLDS OF FEAR #3. A man getting sucked to the bottom of the sea by alien underwater creatures and having to succumb to their wishes. It’s a rather poor copy, trying to spice up a conventional lighthouse keeper-encounters-sea-monster tale.

And it’s another déjà-vu with “The Tattooed Heart!”, a Nazi atrocity story which brings back fond memories of “The Devil’s Due” from THIS MAGAZINE IS HAUNTED #2. In both stories, the commander of a concentration camp can escape justice (for the time being), but is hunted down by the ghosts/zombies of his victims and put to death in a cruel fashion.
I have to resent a highly unbelievable plot point, though: the Nazi beast stands trial, but they let him go, because they can’t PROVE anything!? He was caught running a concentration camp bloody-red-handed!

Let’s take a moment to ponder over Fawcett’s prose. Their horror writing is very good. It’s dark and ominous – without ever drifting into the zany kind of prose you’ll find in other books. They walk a thin line here; and they never fall.

BTT#6Have a look at that caption from “The House Of Death” (sorry for the bad scan, but it’s the only one available, by the way). The story features mystery artwork as well as an entertaining contemplation of death, stop: about the residence of death. See it posted in our “Stories” section (and sorry again for that scan).

“Search Into The Unknown!” is enjoyable as well. Two Americans get in the way of Indian fakirs – and are getting licked, boy! After reading this story, pause for a moment and consider the story logic: If all of the fakirs’ feats are just tricks, why aren’t they? I mean they DO work as we are shown panel by panel – and like hell.
If you care to look up the other stories, you’ll find them posted on the above mentioned FODAL blog website.


May 1953
Cover: (Woman fleeing from ghost standing at tree with lots of skulls on the ground) – ???

BTT#7cover“The Man Who Defeated Death!” (Maurice Gutwirth)
“Dripping Terror” (Anthony Cataldo ?, hidden signature ?)
“Last Express!” (Sheldon Moldoff)
“The Walking Cadaver” (Bob McCarty)

That’s a great cover; in my opinion. But also singular. No other FAWCETT HORROR cover looked like this. Unidentified artist.

“Death always wins” is the morale of the falsely (trickily) titled “The Man Who Defeated Death!” (he does not, of course). Entertaining yarn about a chess master playing chess with Death himself – and trying to drive some bargains…

A cameo artist contributes “Dripping Terror” (a weak curse/revenge story) – this might be one Anthony Cataldo, who is rumored to have worked for Fawcett’s WHIZ COMICS in the early 50s (possibly drawing the “Golden Arrow” feature). Also a bottle on the table in the splash wears the label “AC”, Anthony Cataldo. That we call a “hidden signature”.

Get aboard the “Last Express!” – this story is a train wreck. More precisely about a train wreck. I skipped through the pages, actually, because you see where this is going right from the start. A moody piece of Moldoff, though, with hints and homage to Graham Ingels…

And it’s a wrap for this issue with a wonderfully nonsensical pre-code horror story: “The Walking Cadaver” is a purely insane tale about a man renting out youthful bodies of dead people to rich old men (not to fool around with, good heavens, no, but to “transmigrate” the soul into them and feel young again). The story’s first victim is logic, of course. What about the processes of bodily decomposition? Do not start asking questions; go read it on Karswell’s fantastic blog “The Horrors Of It All”.

Whole issue is also posted at FODAL (the Free Online Digital Archive Library).


July 1953
Cover: (Two witches boiling skeleton in cauldron) – ??? (“Facet-o’-Fawcett”)

“The Man Who Could Fly!” (Bob Powell)
“Prophecy Of Doom” (Anthony Cataldo ?) – one-pager
“Tomorrow Is Today” (Sheldon Moldoff ?/ Ed Moline ?)
“Strange Fears” (Anthony Cataldo ?) – one-pager
“Black Tunnel Of Mesa Verde!” (Steve Kirkel ? / Bill Discount ?)

One of the outstanding Fawcett horror covers. Who did this?
I like to think it may be Baily, Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. sees traces of Joe Certa… I’ll leave it a question mark.
Postscript June 2015:
Ach, I know who this is! Just getting the right vibe by coincidentally looking at this again. This is our mystery artist, whom I christened “Facet-o’-Fawcett”! See above, notes to issue #6. We still have no name for this person, but I’m sure it’s him (or her). The overall look, the eyes… I wonder if our mysterious illustrator might be responsible for the two other uncredited covers (#6 and #7).
That gorgeous #7 could be his (or her) work – inked by someone else, of course!

The scan does not reflect the beauty of this title page. I had the chance to hold it in my hands. As mentionend otherwhere, most FAWCETT HORROR covers (not the ones by Saunders, mind you!; they were beautiful enough in itself) sported a kind of metallic glimmer effect. Tilt this one slightly into the light – and the reddish stew of the cauldron will emanate a stylish glow. Absolutely… delicious!

BlackTunnel1Last issue by the way – and we’re back to three long stories (plus two one-page fillers). Again this issue is posted at FODAL (but just the first two stories plus first filler) – click on underlined titles.
Issue leads off with a touching text story (“Place of Death”) about an American soldier finding his way into Valhalla.

Followed by a nice, but rather bland Bob Powell 12-pager: “The Man Who Could Fly!”. Then we encounter a neat, but foreseeable tale of self-fulfilling prophesy (“Tomorrow Is Today”), done in Moldoff style, but possibly ghosted by Ed Moline.

Most interesting is the last contribution, executed in unusual panels. “Black Tunnel Of Mesa Verde!” is about the ghost of an Indian warrior sabotaging a railroad line. It’s beautiful art the likes FAWCETT HORROR hasn’t seen before. There’s an Alex Toth feel to it as if the (unknown) artist has been studying the horror books from STANDARD.
I was thinking this could be Steve Kirkel (who did two crime stories for Fawcett this summer), but Jim pointed me to Bill Discount, who had demonstrated his ability for swiping Toth half a year before in “Terror Stalked The Secret City” (ACE’s WEB OF MYSTERY #16).
Kirkel however returns to contribute work for CHARLTON HORROR. Since I don’t want to rule him out, I put both names down here.
Maybe it was someone else altogether… We’ll never know.

A very “so la la” last issue, you won’t miss a book like this.


Let’s conclude our findings with the usual Who-did-What and how much listing:

Sheldon Moldoff 7 (with possible assistance by Ed Moline in 2 cases)
Bob Powell 3
Bob McCarty 4
Maurice Gutwirth 4
„Jokerface“ 2

Each 1: Mike Sekowsky + Vince Alascia, Harry Harrison, Ross Andru, Anthony Cataldo.

Artwork in 3 stories remains unidentified.

No George Evans, Bernard Baily (except covers, of course) or Ed Waldman in this series!