Saturday, October 24, 2009

Table-Top Diorama (House of Mystery, 1973)

From the rear cover of the oversized Halloween edition of House of Mystery (C-23, 1973) comic book, here's a diorama featuring a gargoyle in a graveyard.

Below is a dazzling computer simulation of how the final product might look once its all taped together.

If you're wondering who "Cain", the devilish figure leading the gargoyle on a string is, he's the mascot and host of the House of Mystery. If you don't find him particularly scary, that's because this is a cutified rendition by cartoonist Sergio Aragones (Mad marginals, Groo).

This oversise (10" x 14") special Halloween edition features not only the usual scary stories with their ironic twist endings, but pages of games and activities. Aragones provides the artwork for all the fun activity pages.

Like this "Page 13" fortune-teller, which you use as a dartboard, dropping a pencil from above to receive humorous (and slightly subversive) predictions. Suggestive entries like "This TRIP Will Cost You", "Your Parents Will Find Out the Truth", "Don't Trust Your Steady" and "You Will Be Drafted" (topical!) make it clear the intended audience is older teenagers (or little kids that wanted to feel older!)

Here's another page that might raise parents' eyebrows... a "groovy" game that encourages you to kick and hit your friends, give away your stuff, and generally act like an idiot. I can just imagine the parental interventions this game must have caused. Fun stuff!


senski said...

I still have my copy of this, and I thought the same thing now when I saw this post that I did 36 years ago; it's not just "His Gargoyle," it's Gregory! Shame on DC. He deserves his shout-out.

I think your level of eventual life-time Horror fandom could be measured by whether or not you left your diorama uncut and intact.

Brother Bill said...


But who is considered the bigger horror fan: the kid who kept the diorama in mint condition, or the one who actually cut it out and proudly displayed it?

senski said...

As soon as I posted that, the same thought came to me. I'll go with the preservationist - they can still put their diorama together, while for the artsy types, their display is probably a misty memory after three and a half decades!

If it's assembled and pristine, however, they win.

David W. said...

Hey Brother Bill...

Thank you for adding my humble blog to your blog list. Gee, I didn't even have to beg or bribe you.

I've looked over your posts, and you've got a lot of fun nostalgic stuff here. I was going to give you a list of some of my favorite posts, but it was far too many.

I did want to comment on this post because I just noticed that the art for cover of the House of Mystery was ripped off by the Castle Dracula haunted attraction in Niagara Falls for their brochure which I recently blogged about.

Brother Bill said...

David W:

Thanks for stopping by! No need to beg or bribe for a link to a great treasure trove of a blog like yours.

And yes, that Dracula flyer looks suspiciously familiar... good catch!


Shiverbones said...

Great to see the Diorama put together! I wanted to BE Cain When I was a kid!

Bivouac said...

Ha Ha! So glad I ran across this blog! I too LOVED the House of Mystery and House of Secrets back in the early seventies. I also bought, and still have that oversized House of Mystery comic, including it's original heavy cardboard mailing envelope! I wanted to build the Argones diorama on the back of the book, but I also did NOT want to cut up and ruin the book. So, being a bit of an artist, I COPIED the artwork on heavy drawing paper, colored it with markers, and then cut it out and assembled it! So I had the best of BOTH worlds!

Tektonten said...

Brother Bill,
I saw your wonderful post and couldn't resist building the diorama! I took your scans and put all the pieces in a PDF file for easy printing. Should anyone else want to build the diorama, my PDF file is available here: