Haunted Love #8 Charlton Comics Gothic Romance

Haunted Love #8, March 1975

An eerie Don Newton painting graces the cover of this anthology consisting of three romantic tales with a Gothic flavour. By this time, Charlton was well and truly on its own in its pursuit of this niche genre.

The first story, “Killer Wolves” by Pete Morisi, is aptly named, as it concerns the strange goings on following the deaths of three German villagers. Wolves are blamed, and the stolid Karl Wogner is dispatched to track down the pack. He finds a nightie-clad young lady being harassed by wolves and shoos them away. The girl is hysterical and amnesiac, but over the coming weeks a bond develops between her and Wogner as she recovers. However, the mysterious circumstances of her arrival have aroused suspicions amongst the villagers, and some of them determine to kill her. She flees with Wogner into the night, where, in the icy snow, she remembers who she is. The wolves weren’t attacking her; they were protecting her. The truth dawns: she is a werewolf, and as she’s scratched Wogner, he is too! He accepts this happily, and, as wolves, the pair wander off together.

“A Date With Yesterday” concerns Lilian, a young woman out of step with modern life. Having grown up with spinster aunts she has no true notion of how the world works, and views everything with trepidation. One day she is mugged, but a policeman appears to help her. He’s garbed in a very old-fashioned manner, and reveals himself to be a ghost of some kind. Lilian is pleased to have such a protector. Later she dreams about life in simpler times, where she meets Officer Boland—the same policeman she saw earlier. Over the next few days she researches the past, and finds a photo of Boland in front of her house in 1901. The next evening she is attacked again, and, once more, the ghost of Boland protects her. He instructs her to wish very hard, and, as she does so, she is transported back to 1901, where she can live the rest of her life with the handsome—and very real—Officer Boland. This whimsy was by Joe Gill and Sanho Kim.

Finally, Joe Gill, Charles Nicholas and Wayne Howard tell how “A Woman Cries”. Calvin Robb has promised never to love again after being betrayed. He lives alone in a big house on a cliff top, where he suddenly comes across a young lady crying in his living room. He demands to know why she’s in his house, but she turns the question back at him: why is he in her house? At first he dismisses her as a dream, but Calvin comes to realise that the woman is Edith Atherton, who lost her fiance at sea in 1798—hence the crying. His investigations reveal that Edith’s lover was actually a cheat, and as he reads the scoundrel’s diary, Edith appears in ghostly form. Calvin is unafraid, and, as she realises that her tears have been wasted on a bigamist, Edith becomes real. She and Calvin kiss, and the the betrayed lovers finally find peace in each other’s arms.

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Some nice stuff here. Pete Morisi—who was a full-time policeman by day, drawing comics in his “spare” time—had a somewhat dated style, but it was extremely solid and came from the same newspaper strip tradition as Milton Caniff and Frank Robbins. He was a good story-teller and had an unusual touch with panel layouts. The werewolf story he provides here is a bit silly—the girl never gets a name: she’s just referred to as “Girl” throughout, even when people are addressing her!—but just about works thanks to the art.

You’ll have noticed that the other two tales have essentially the same story: a girl moves through time to find romance: Lilian goes back to 1901, while Edith moves forward in time by casting off her ghostly form. Richard Matheson’s novel Bid Time Return was published in early 1975 (later filmed as Somewhere in Time), and, as it too features a romance that spans the centuries and a hero who wishes himself back in time, something must’ve been in the air. Still, it’s all diverting fare for the soppy ol’ romantics amongst us.

The target audience for these comics was very definitely female, as shown by the ads if nothing else:

Pursettes tampons ad Charlton

You didn’t get ads for sanitary products in Superman comics, oh no. Alas for poor Brian there: doing his best proto-John Travolta impression blissfully unaware that he ain’t getting lucky tonight!

Image ©2012 the copyright holder