Haunted Love #1, April 1973

Charlton was hardly the most with-it publisher and rarely afraid to let a bandwagon pass by before jumping on it. So, a year after DC had thrown in the towel on its range of Gothic Romance comics (Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love and Sinister House of Secret Love — see the Gothic Romance catagory for more), the Connecticut-based publisher launched its own. Subtitled “Tales of Gothic Romance”, just to be sure, Haunted Love ran its merry course for a couple of years, but is mostly noteworthy for its covers. The fine example here is from hand of Tom Sutton, who also contributed one of the interior stories.

“A Kiss to Save Him from the Grave!” is a pretty ropey piece of work by Sutton, showing almost none of the panache of that cover, and it’s possible he wrote it too. It tells the story of Lucille, a young nurse who goes to look after the medical needs of Trevor Galt, a wizened old man living in a creepy mansion. It transpires that he is an evil warlock who remains essentially immortal by taking over the dead bodies of young men. Under the mental control of Galt Lucille attempts the poison the hunky young medic who has uncovered Galt’s secret, but Galt dies before he can invade the younger man’s body. Sutton here displays an odd tendency to draw Lucille with a wild stare, her eyes about six inches apart. Most odd.

The other story in this premiere issue is “Eternal Teacher”, which sees a young tutor discovering the horrific truth about the young woman he’s come to teach. A genuinely unsettling tale, with a tragic ending, it reminds me of the stories in those portmanteau movies of the late-60s/early-70s, such as Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors. Charlton stalwart Nicola Cuti scripts, with art by a young Joe Staton.

Not a great comic by any means, but solid entertainment — if sometimes for the wrong reasons.

Image ©2010 the respective copyright holder