Graphic Content – Shock SuspenStories

List Item:  Read half of the 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
27/501Title: Shock SuspenStories
Creator: William Gaines and Al Feldstein
Year: 1952-1955
Country: USA

Man, it has been too long since I last read something for the comics list. We’re talking about 5-6 months here since my last one (Promethea). Thanks to some long-term engineering works on my train line, I don’t usually have the space to bring out a tablet… since I would have to balance it on some fellow commuter’s head as I am pressed against the wall.

I’ve moved carriages in the morning which means that I am more likely to get a seat, ergo my first comic entry in ages: the anthology series Shock SuspenStories.

In each issue of Shock SuspenStories you get 4 standalone stories united under the umbrella of having a shock or twist ending. There are broad categories of story within the 18 issues such as crime, science-fiction and horror. Many of them feature a moral lesson against racism, drugs or adultery (although it’s always women cheating on their husbands in these comics and that started to bug me after a while).

Being a collection of stories by a smattering of authors there is a variation in the quality. Some of the moralistic stories read more like scaremongering. Then again, this was the 1950s and they were not at all ready to accept the idea that marijuana may not be the gateway to hell.

Still, you had some cracking stories within this collection. Some of them are as close as to shocking as you can conceivably get after 5-6 pages of panels. Since a lot of these do hinge on the twist I’m just going to give the titles and encourage you to find these panels for yourself. They aren’t a bad way to spend 5 minutes, so here are 10 that are really worth a go:

  • The Neat Job (Issue 1)
  • Yellow (Issue 1)
  • Halloween! (Issue 2)
  • Under Cover (Issue 6)
  • The October Game (Issue 9)
  • …So Shall Ye Reap (Issue 10)
  • …Three’s A Crowd (Issue 11)
  • The Kidnapper (Issue 12)
  • Raw Deal (Issue 15)
  • …My Brother’s Keeper (Issue 16)

After the steaming pile of colonial racism that was Robinson Crusoe I think I am going to be sticking with comics for a while before I want to get back to prose. The next comic I’m going for was one of the things that ended up inspiring the Kill Bill films – so I have to say I am looking forward to this one.


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