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The Scariest Comic Books of All Time! – Foul Play

A reader named Chris S. suggested that I devote October to the scariest comic books of all-time, as suggested by you readers out there! Sounds like a plan to me! So all October-long, I’ll be featuring 31 comic book tales of terror, based on YOUR suggestions! So e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com your scary suggestions! Here is an archive of all the comics featured so far!

Today we look at a terrifying game of revenge (stress the word “game”) in the classic EC Comics story, “Foul Play,” by Al Feldstein and Jack Davis in Haunt of Fear #19. This was a comic that was a major part of the case against comic books that led to the Comics Code.

Enjoy!

The story opens with the Crypt-Keeper telling us about a mysterious midnight baseball game. We go back in time, then, to a heated pennant race between two teams in the Bush League. A player oddly attempts to steal second base and in the process, cuts the second baseman with his spikes as he is thrown out easily. His manager questions the tactic (as he had not called for a steal) but the player tells him that he has a plan. The second baseman is also the opposing team’s best player, and he is out of sorts after the play…

Recalling seeing those end panels (the same ones that Fredric Wertham spotlighted in his book, Seduction of the Innocent) as a pre-teen, comic book writer Will Pfeifer stated, “I was upset for weeks. No kidding. Now that’s a comic!”

You said it, Will!

12 Comments

Wow, I’ve heard of this for years, but I’m not sure if I’ve actually seen the panels before. Whoo!

To go Church Lady for a second, “could it be…Satten?!”

It’s amazing how well Jack Davis can do that out there Mad magazine type cariacature style art, but also nail this style for the more “realistic” story here.

Was Davis the artist for that one early Mad feature where Kurtzman did a short “EC twist” horror tale and then used the same art but rescripted the piece for that goofy Mad feel? It’s the one with the guys out in the boat on the lake…

And, uh, is Jack Davis still alive?

Jack Davis is, indeed, still with us. Hell, so is Al Feldstein, for that matter!

Fuuuuuck. Now *that’s* a horror comic.

I have a feeling LOTS more EC stories should be in this feature, but I can’t help you out since I have just begun my EC collection!

And when you put it in the context of 1953… Wow.
This one really did let the Genie out of the bottle for horror comics, as much as the Code tried to push it back in.

I remember my Mom describing this comic to me when I was in my early teens. She said she typically read Bugs Bunny, but one of the neighbor boys had this really horrifying comic with baseball being played with body parts. Her description fit Jack Davis’s art exactly, her spoilers making it no less powerful.

What the hell conversation happened after the “This is a job for the police!” panel?

“This is a job for the police!”
“Or, how about if we all play baseball with his guts?”
“Whatever, either way.” “Yep, sounds good” “Ok, I think we all agree midnight guts-ball is the smart way to go here.”

I was waiting for this one to show up. For me, EC had many other comics that were way more frightening. In Shock SuspenStories, they used to run “preachy” tales. One memorable one featured a corrupt Southern sheriff shooting an innocent, unarmed black man in the back. He gets away with it; the story ends with a note from the editors warning that our rights are fragile and protecting them requires constant vigilance. It was a lot scarier than some guts on a ball field, because it was real horror. Also, it took guts (pun intended) to write such stuff in ’52.

Wow, that’s awesome that Jack Davis, Al Feldstein, and, last I knew, John Severin (and his sister Marie, too, right?) are still with us. Considering the pinnacle of EC stuff was almost 60 years ago, it’s amazing that there’s at least 3 or 4 of those people still kickin’ (and at least in John Severin’s case, still producing comics).

The EC people must have been pretty young then, huh? Maybe that’s why they were so willing to push things as much as they did…

Travis: yeah most of the EC staff were early-mid 20s in the early 50s.
The Gladstone reprints reproduced some of the original artist profiles. IIRC: Orlando born c. 1927, Wood, Davis, Craig about the same, Davis perhaps a little older, Ingels was the oldest I think, by about 10 years. But Williamson (b. ’31 I think – the ‘baby’) & Frazetta were younger still.
What a stable of talent…

Good Lord!
(*Choke*)

[...] seems like Jack Davis drew for everything. We all know his Mad work, and his movie posters, and his awesome EC Comics stories, and his video game ads, and his Sesame Street drawings, and his TV Guide covers, and his album [...]

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