The Daily Comic Book Coffee, number 33: The Haunt of Fear #21

The Daily Comic Book Coffee, number 33: Today’s art comes from “Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone” in The Haunt of Fear #21, drawn by Jack Davis, written by Al Feldstein & Bill Gaines, lettered by Jim Wroten, and colored by Marie Severin, published by EC Comics with a Sept-Oct 1953 cover date.

When I was a kid I preferred the sci-fi stories from Weird Science and Weird Fantasy, but as I got older I developed a taste for EC’s horror titles. I guess my dry, offbeat sense of humor came to align more closely with EC’s macabre pun-cracking horror hosts.

“Dig That Cat… He’s Real Gone” is the story of Ulric the Undying, who makes his fortune staging very public, very violent deaths from which he miraculously recovers each time. In a flashback, we see that Ulric was previously a nameless bum on skid row who was approached by Dr. Emil Manfred. Over a cup of coffee, Manfred claimed that he had discovered the secret of a cat’s nine lives, and offered to surgically transplant that ability into the bum, with the end goal of gaining wealth & fame. Manfred is successful and “Ulric the Undying” is created, but this being an EC horror story, of course things eventually take a very nasty turn for all involved.

Jack Davis was a frequent contributor to EC’s horror anthologies, illustrating many of their most famous, or perhaps infamous, stories. Davis was certainly adept at creating grim, moody atmospheres perfectly suited to Al Feldstein’s scripts. His artwork also appeared regularly in EC’s satirical comic books Mad and Panic. Following the demise of EC’s comic book line he drew trading cards for Topps. From the 1960s onward Davis, who was renowned for his caricatures, did a great deal of advertising work, movie posters and magazine covers. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 91.

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