Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bill Molno's demons: 1953-1976

Good grief--it's been five months since I last comic-blogged.  I didn't realize it had been that long, but the post dates don't lie.  Well, not unless the blogger changes them after the fact.  Anyway, time flies when you're doing umpteen things.  I think there's an Einstein quote to that effect.

So, with no time to snooze, let's go straight to some astoundingly good 1953 Bill Molno art.  It's from "The Sorcerer's Spectacles" (Ace's Hand of Fate, issue #17), and I scanned the panels from my own slightly fragile copy.  Inks are unknown, but the pencils are sheer, pure Bill, even if they're pretty much the antithesis of his simpler circa-1963 work for Charlton Comics (which I love just as much).  Spectacles is a typically violent pre-Code affair, in which the plot essentially exists to set up gruesome situations,  The guy who goes on an unfettered spree of evil, only to turn everything on himself in the last few panels, is a theme that would have made billions for anyone with the foresight to patent it:

The complete "Sorcerer's Spectacles" can be seen at the Ace Horror! blog: Link.

Luckily, when Bill joined Charlton, he brought his demons with him.  Here are some of his best-conceived imps and giants, most of them starring as space aliens, in designs ranging from reptilian to cyclopean.  Molno's monster faces always provide a fascinating counterpoint to his (usually) bland human mugs.

From "Terms of Surrender" (Space War #22, May 1963):

Puny pool-table inhabitants from "Behind the Eight Ball" (Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds #2, January 1957):

Not-so-little green men, from "When the Day Comes" (Space Adventures #45, May 1962):

Enemy creatures with freeze guns on Titan ("The Six Moon of Saturn," Space War #8, December 1960).  And I've always wanted to type "Enemy creatures with freeze guns on Titan":

Another reptilian bad guy, this time on Earth ("The Missionary," Scary Tales #6, July 1976);

"Eyeless" blue aliens with eyes ("The Eyes of Doom," Strange Suspense Stories #61, October, 1962):

From 1964, one of Molno's coolest fiends: urbane gargoyles with antennae for horns ("The Primitives," Space War #26, June 1964).  Images from Comic Book Plus:

Red E.T.s on a red planet, light-sensitive and unable to endure heat.  Or to see in stereo.  It takes the Earth heroes all of five pages (plus ad) to defeat them.  ("Red as Blood," Space War #7, October 1960):

Finally, turquoise invaders in Dracula get-ups.  This time, it takes Earth six pages to foil their plans.  We're getting a little rusty in our responses....  ("The Sleep Rain," Space Adventures #55, January 1964):




  1. Lee,

    Welcome back. You've been missed! Molno drew an array of offbeat, unusual and creepy aliens and you've posted some exceptionally bizarre ones here.

  2. Thanks, Nick! I didn't realize, until I made this post, the degree to which space aliens (at least in Molno's art) look like demons, and vice versa. At Charlton, space monsters tend to be rehashes of mythological creatures, except for the E.T.s who happen to look just like us (until an extra eye or arm pops into view!).