Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Mansion of Evil - Joseph Millard and George Evans

Having read and enjoyed IT RHYMES WITH LUST, I decided to try this other early graphic novel with a crime plot, MANSION OF EVIL, published by Gold Medal in 1950. It was written by veteran pulp and paperback author Joseph. Millard, who years later as Joe Millard wrote the Man With No Name paperbacks for Award Books, novelizations and original novels based on the Clint Eastwood movies. Those were my introduction to his work. I don’t think the art on MANSION OF EVIL has ever been credited officially to anyone, but the consensus of opinion seems to be that it’s by George Evans.

A newspaperman plays a major part in MANSION OF EVIL, just like in IT RHYMES WITH LUST. In this case, it’s reporter Larry Brennan, who’s engaged to beautiful young Beth Halliday. Beth works at an art gallery that’s about to put on an exhibition of paintings by reclusive artist Maxwell Haimes. When Beth meets Haimes, he kind of goes nuts, thinks her name is Laura, kidnaps her, and takes her to his isolated mansion (which comes complete with sinister housekeeper). It becomes obvious pretty quickly that Haimes isn’t completely insane and has some devious plan in mind that includes murder.

Meanwhile, Larry is convinced that something has happened to Beth and is searching desperately for her despite the fact that nobody else seems to take him seriously. The whole situation, which includes a race against time scenario, reminds me of stories by Cornell Woolrich that I’ve read. It also seems to me that there’s some Bruno Fischer influence at work here, too. Whether or not Millard was familiar with those writers, I don’t know, but in MANSION OF EVIL, he’s crafted a story that has similarities to their work.

The artwork isn’t as good as Matt Baker’s in IT RHYMES WITH LUST, but it gets the job done. So does Millard’s lurid, breathless script, although it sometimes reads like it was adapted from a radio serial. It’s over the top and often driven by coincidences, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Scans of the book are available in various places on the Internet, or you can pick up an actual e-book version on Amazon.

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