Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bill Molno at Gold Key!

I vividly remember the December, 1968, no. 24 issue of Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery from back in the day, if only because the final story ("The Guardians") had obviously been intended for Gold Key's The Twilight Zone.  Two things indicate as much: 1) The science-fiction nature of the story, atypical for the TOM series (at that time, anyway), and 2) the opening and closing narrations by the cartoon Karloff, both of which mention The Twilight Zone.  Kind of a dead giveaway, there.  At least they thought to replace cartoon Rod Serling with cartoon Boris, even if they forgot to alter the text.

I always thought "The Guardians" felt much more like The Outer Limits than TZ, but Dell had the rights to the former show, so we got it as a TZ entry, albeit reassigned to TOM.  There must be an interesting story behind that.

At any rate, the story is wonderfully illogical, with the intrepid reporter instantly recognizing the three brain-zapped scientists now wandering the alleys as bums ("Of course!  Dr. Stroller, the Nobel Prize winner in biochemistry!").  Highly fun, and with plenty of space (twelve pages) in which to tell it.  Here's the cover, title page, and two sample panels:

The Grand Comics Database credits pencils and inks to Sal Trapani, but the pencils sure look like Bill Molno to me.  This is one of those instances in which my level of certainty is complete.  Below I've positioned "Guardian" panels above and/or next to Charlton Molno panels, to hopefully demonstrate that we're looking at the same penciller:

Above: "The Guardians"

Above: Molno/Alascia--"The Negative View," Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds #17, March, 1960.

Above: "The Guardians"

Above: Molno/Trapani ("Moltra")--"The Sixth Moon of Saturn," Space War #8, Dec., 1960

Above: "The Guardians"

Above: Molno/Mastroserio--"The Time Cap," Unusual Tales #20, Jan., 1960

Above: Same

Above: "The Guardians"

Above: Molno/Trapani--"The Incredible Walking Stick," Unusual Tales #18, Sep., 1959

Above: three-panel layout from "The Guardians"

Above: Very similar three-panel layout from "The Comfort Crystal!"--Molno/Trapani, Unusual Tales #13, Sep., 1958

Above: "The Guardians"

Above: Molno--"The Last Will and Testament," Haunted #29, Sep., 1976.

Above: "The Guardians"

Above: Molno/Alascia, "The Snail from Uranus," Space War #13, Oct., 1961

Above: "The Guardians"

Above: Molno--"Chicken," Fightin' Marines #127, Jan., 1976

At the moment, I'm looking at three other Tales of Mystery stories that I suspect to be Molno/Trapani combos.  Stay tuned!



  1. Lee,

    I wasn't sure of the Molno attribution when I looked at the splash, but the other examples you showed look like Molno to my eye as well. I'll add the Molno credit to the GCD and credit you and your post.

  2. Nick--Many thanks! I was eager to get your verdict.

    I agree that the splash isn't very Molno-ish, save for the set-up in the second panel--the legs in the foreground, the cramped, kinetic composition. Scanning through it, I spotted many other Molno-style arrangements, and of course the faces clinched it. I spent a few days locating comparison panels, and I was amazed at how nearly identical some of these turned out to be--the stairway panel, the profiles, the running scenes.

    Depending upon the assignment, Molno's compositions could be angular and long-limbed in a flowing, Jack Davis sort of style, or cramped and stiff. He did both, and that makes him a fun challenge to i.d. His panels could look like a series of stilted camera poses, or they could flow across a page. Two distinct styles, one artist....