Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mansion of Evil -- Joseph Millard

What was the first graphic novel? I don't have a clue. Here's one from 1950. It's a Gold Medal Book, written by Joseph Millard. There's no credit for the art. Maybe he did that, too.

I'm not sure what prompted GM to publish this. Maybe no one was sure who the audience for paperback originals was, and someone had the idea that maybe comic book readers would find the new format appealing. Anyway, what we have here is a full-color comic book with about the same number of pages as a Gold Medal novel.

Maxwell Haimes, a famous artist, happens to see Beth, who's a double for the wife he's recently murdered. Since no one knows the murder's taken place, Haimes believes that if Beth has an "accident," he can cover up the murder. So he kidnaps her and takes her to the Mansion of Evil. After that it's a race against time for Beth's fiance and the cops. Can they save her? Sure.

Along the way we're treated to a portrait of Laura (the dead wife), which of course shows the dead woman's startling resemblance to Beth. (Where do these writers get their ideas?) We see the secret room in the basement where Laura is buried. We get car wrecks and near escapes. It's not V for Vedetta, that's for sure, but it's kind of fun it its dated way. I even like the art.

After looking this one up on abebooks.com, I can't recommend that you check it out. Way too pricey.


Unknown said...

Good question, Bill. This one also lays claim to being the first:


Unknown said...

Same year, so I guess it's a tie.

Juri said...

Manison? (On the subject header.)

As you're most surely aware, Joe Millard wrote some pretty tough westerns later on in his career. (Duane might like them.) Didn't he start out writing for comics in the thirties?

Unknown said...

He did the "Man with No Name" novels for Award Books, among other things. Don't know how he got his start.

Juri said...

Sorry, I checked my notes again and found out that I hadn't liked his Man with No Name books very much. There's a sense of absurd in the books, though. (I think I confused him with Peter McCurtin.)

But yes, he wrote comics in the thirties. I notice that he scripted Plastic Man, Dale Evans and Captain Marvel Jr. Carmine Enfantino drew "Flying Saucers from Mars" in 1958, so he was in the comics business quite late.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the info, Juri.

Darci said...

Hi Bill,
Indexer Jim Walls at the GCD credits George Evans with chapter 2 art, at least.
Hope this helps!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Darci!