Everybody likes to extol the virtues of unsung literary heroes, and I have a personal dilly: it’s Richard Hughes, the workhorse editor of the fondly remembered comics line, ACG. And if you want to know the reason why I sing the praises of this forgotten master at every opportunity (whether people like it or not), I suggest you pick up the latest volume in the excellent series (curated by Peter Crowther of PS Artbooks) collecting the runs of Hughes’ two tentpole titles, Forbidden Worlds; the other, of course, is Adventures into the Unknown. At this point in that reissue trajectory, we’re up to volume 10, and this handsome hardback collects issues 59 – 64 from 1957 to 1958, when Hughes was absolutely at his peak as writer/editor, as was his stable of ace illustrators, notably his star penman Ogden Whitney.
It’s a Whitney cover that adorns this volume: the story is ‘The Old and the New’; it shows a man in a party hat raising a glass to fellow guests. We don’t see the guests, but only their hands which are raised in alarm – they’ve witnessed (as he hasn’t) a plane in flames plunging towards the window, which is clearly going to kill them all. Who could resist picking up a comic like that? Not this excited 12-year-old, when I saw a British reprint of the book in my boyhood, and the tale – along with everything else here (some misfires apart) — delivers handsomely with gentle, resolutely non-horrific fantasy tales. Ironically, when one thinks about this cover, there’s nothing supernatural about it – but that element is certainly in the tale itself. Earlier issues of this title and its companion were part of the much-censored horror comics phenomenon and they have a gruesome charm, but Richard Hughes was really it is best in this kind of material. It gets my highest recommendation.
Forbidden Worlds #10 is published by PS Artbooks