“The Vampire Goes West!” (1954)

I stumbled upon this story on the internet. It is a 6-page story within a 36-page magazine (Tales of Horror, issue 13 (October 1954); by Toby Press/Minoan Magazine). The story is credited to Medio Iorio and Sal Trapani, but I am not sure if they were the graphic artists only or if they were also involved with the plot itself:

Sheriff Sam Morrow is the pride of the town. Ever since he cleaned the area of bandits two decades earlier, the town has been peaceful and prosperous. And despite his age, Sam is still standing guard, watching carefully over new arrivals to the town. And it turns out that one such new arrival, Rudolf Sevarian, is up to no good: finding being a vampire in Hungary increasingly difficult (what with everyone there knowing about vampires’ weaknesses and how to kill them, etc. [sunlight, by the way, apparently not being one them]), Sevarian has decided to relocate to the American West. Cue bitten necks and all sorts of trouble.

“The Vampire Goes West!” is one of those baffling old time comic book stories. You know, one of the ones that are so bad that you have a hard time imagining that even 7-year-olds would at one time in the ‘50s have been intrigued by it. The story is too short to give us any other characters apart from Sam and Sevarian, both of whom are barely “characters”. Even the term “2-dimensional character” would be a compliment for them; they are more like cogs within the story-machine.

Neither Sam nor anyone else in town starts to suspect the stranger once the killing spree starts immediately after his arrival. That’s no oversight by the author (whoever he may be): it is essential for the forced half-twist ending he had been aiming for, so he bent and twisted the story and Sam’s (in)actions accordingly. The ending itself is ludicrously bad, with Sam having to deliver a post-fact-exposition to explain it, and involving a prop that, helpfully, has previously been bashed around the reader’s face a whooping four times over the course of this 6-page story.

Bad comic book stories are an amusing read as long as they are short – which this one thankfully is. And it is always interesting to see how comic books have picked up vampire lore and imagery in the years after 1931’s film version of Dracula. More intriguing, as far as this story goes, is the genre mix of Western and vampires – this is 1954 after all, and this must have been quite a novelty.

Still, despite its mere six pages, this is a story no-one really needs to waste their time reading….

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