on the run from the Sinister House of Secret Love
So far most of my purchases have been of the mid-grade affordable variety (lots of 8.0s and up to some more affordable 9.4s). When I saw this high grade puppy I had to bite.
There are two main gothic horror titles Sinister House of Secret Love and Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love. Each title lasted 4 issues. Dark Mansion turned into "Forbidden tales of the Dark Mansion" while Sinister House turned into "Secrets of Sinister House" with both titles losing the "love" component of their title and focusing back on the more typical horror elements of the stories.
The Sinister House of Secret Love #4 had art and cover work done by Tony DeZuniga, with his wife contributing story work inside the issue. Tony was part of the Filipino group of artists that came to prominence in the 70s at DC. One of his first works was a story he penciled and inked in House of Mystery 188. One of his greatest contributions to DC was co-creating Jonah Hex with John Albano.
With that background lets look at the cover elements in Sinister House of Secret Love #4.
- Our cover revolves around the iconic Lady in White, who is on the run from a shadowy thread.
- We have the standard architectural component. It is a more amorphous structure, there is a tower, and some stone staircase but the building is not quite obvious.
- Our damsel is facing many threats on the cover. There is of course the hooded, caped figure running towards her, but the statuary our damsel is running thru also has a threatening feel to it. Whether the snake and goblin (in green in the foreground) are real or stone is less certain.
- We have our lit doorway helping to outline the threat, as well as to add some additional color to the cover.
- This is one of the most comic-booky covers in term of the line the artist uses and the coloring used. It is not painted, nor is it as "hashy/sketchy" as some other covers (most notably Neal Adams).
- The title itself "The Sinister House" has a mod feel to it, very 70s in design. Lacking any sort of "creepiness" a'la a House of Secrets or House of Mystery.
- Our damsels white gown (possibly a night gown? is flowing behind her, the motion of the moment being helped by the flowing shawl/cape she has wrapped around her shoulders.
- We have green mist circling our scene adding to the sinister atmosphere.
- One thing I did not realize until I got my issue in hands is that the cover background is not white. I always assumed I was seeing either a yellowing with age, or an artifact of the scanning. But in fact the outside edge of the book is cream colored intentionally as far as I can tell. If someone has a pure white copy that proves otherwise I would love to hear about it.
- The final element I wanted to touch on was this framing done around the image (the rounded corner frame) which encapsulates our scene, save for the jutting out steeple of the "mansion". The design adds to the slightly more "pop" nature of the cover, along with the 70s styled font of the title at the top.
The last thing I will point out is less about the elements of the cover, and more about the impact of the design on the comics "presentability". Having the large frame running so closely along three of the four edges (left right and bottom) makes it difficult to find a perfectly centered, non slanted copy. Even the slightest angle is amazingly apparent when viewed because of this frame. Also with the placement of the "DC" at tht top left, and the "52 Big pages" circle at right top edge leaves almost zero room for error in centering. A centimeter to the left and you cut off the D, a centimeter to the right and you've cut into the 25 cent circle. Even this issue has the right edge barely cutting into the outer rim of the circle. I cant imagine there is an example out there with a complete price circle that does not cut off part of the D in DC.
Because of the difficulty finding a well centered version of this book (after buying this copy I did stumble across another one for sale at 8.5 condition, but the centering was far more problematic) I jumped at this one. I have seen a high grade example of this book with both the full circle and the full DC, but it actually looks like the cover has to be slightly larger (otherwise how did they both fit?) or the wrap left more paper for the front cover than the back cover.
Either way, I am loving this book, and can't wait to add more from the two core gothic horror DC titles as they become available!