Thursday, April 6, 2017

Molno-Trapani: The Medium (Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery #20, Gold Key, Dec., 1967)

Possibly my favorite issue of Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery, on account of two superior entries--"The Medium" and "The Death Bell."  The former boasts art by Sal Trapani, with ghost-penciling by my favorite Charlton talent, Bill Molno.  I loved this story as a child of 10, mainly because of such audacious, genuinely creepy images as this:

Sort of Steve Ditko lite in its loose lines and unbridled strangeness.  It's also a classic left-to-right action panel of the type Molno specialized in, and which show up in the majority of his stories.  "The Medium" boasts four more of these, all nicely done (even if the first two are virtual clones).  They're models of efficiency:


Now, let's compare some of the Gold Key faces to Charlton Molno-Trapani mugs.  We start with "The Medium":

Then we jump to this very similar visage from Charlton's Tex Ritter Western #44, "How the Feud Ended" (Jan., 1959).  The same expression, even!:

And how about these two guys?  First, from "The Medium" (see man in the center):

Then Charlton, where we see the same individual, a little balder and grayer and stockier ("How the Feud Ended," Molno-Trapani):

Then we have the gullible old lady from the start of "The Medium":

...who turns up in a younger version in Molno's Charlton entry, "Funeral Wreath" (The Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves #59, October 1976).  (Image reversed for purposes of matching).

Best of all, we have vastly similar closing panels, design-wise, to "The Medium" and "Funeral Wreath."  Both are classic l-to-r compositions:

And so I think we have another Molno-Trapani Gold Key entry.

More to come!



  1. Hi Lee,

    Nice-looking story by Molno-Trapani, and I'd agree Ditkoesque is places. I'm not quite sure if Karloff's face is by Molno-Trapani, or if Trapani himself provided alterations. What are your thoughts?

    And since I'm such a stickler for credits I'll add that the lettering is by John Duffy.

  2. I've added the Molno pencil credit to the GCD and credited you (linking to your blog).

  3. Thanks, Nick! Re Karloff's face, my guess is that it's a stock image. Is that feasible? An image to be used with any given story.

    Happy you see the Ditko feel, too, which occurs mainly in the ghost panels. Growing up, I LOVED this story.

  4. Hi Lee,Yes, its entirely possible that Karloff is a stock image. If I recall correctly this happened in other stories from time to time.