DC Comics’ "Showcase Presents" series reproduces many of their older comics from the 1950s-1970s in large, black-and-white digests. It’s a way to introduce older series in an economical format to a new generation of readers. While many of the series focus on DC’s most iconic superheroes, like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, several volumes focus on more obscure series that influenced modern comics writers like Neil Gaiman and Bill Willingham.
Today, I want to look at one of these lesser-known series, "Ghosts", an anthology of tales of hauntings and paranormal sightings. The first volume contains the first eighteen issues, which ran from 1971-1973. Some of the stories are instantly familiar: ghostly brides, phantom hitchhikers, and other figures straight from folklore and urban legends. Each tale tends to be quite short – only six to ten pages each – which makes it easy to breeze through a half dozen or more in a single sitting. Whether you want to hear stories of exotic curses, ghost ships, bodies hidden in secret passages or spectral protectors of soldiers – well, there’s a ghost story in here somewhere that’s sure to please.
The stories in "Ghosts" have a very timeless appeal. They follow the format of campfire tales and classic ghost stories, so they resonate with something very primal and essential to the human love of storytelling. But that isn’t to say they always age well. Each comic challenges readers to read “true tales” of the weird and supernatural, and then asks at the end of every issue a question along the lines of “Now do you believe in GHOSTS”? I’ve no doubt that this was campy then, and it continues to be so now. One story in particular strikes of an imagination sparked by Cold War fears: after Rasputin was murdered, his eyes were given to a blind girl, through the power of her gaze the Russian leader is slain. (True tales, indeed?)
The reproductions of the original comics look great. Although black and white, which some readers may find disappointing, the panels are very clear and really showcase the talent of the artists. If you’re a fan of old comics from this era, it’s a great way to check out some of DC’s more unusual stories without spending a lot of money or hunting down individual issues.