Forbidden Worlds #124 (1964)
Though not frequently referenced these days, American Comics Group (better known as ACG) published many titles over their thirty year history. The company holds the distinction of publishing the first ongoing comic book horror anthology, Adventures into the Unknown, and used that format in many other genres. Perhaps the company’s best known title was Forbidden Worlds, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy anthology beginning in 1951 and ending its run with 145 issues in 1967. Over its tenure, Forbidden Worlds featured many tales, including some of ACG’s signature characters like Herbie, but today I’ve chosen one about someone very special.
This one is about a Resort Engineer.
That’s exactly what it sounds like.
Yes, Ted Scott, Resort Engineer is portrayed on that gorgeous Kurt Schaffenberger cover you see above, but his adventure is last, so we’ll get back to him. Also, that image does actually occur in the comic. Eventually I’ll hit one that doesn’t, I just know it.
First up in this anthology is My Girl’s a Ghost, a story where a guy falls in love with a ghost. Sure, the title is a little on the nose, but don’t think you’re getting a Tales from the Crypt style feature here. After some creepy stuff, it actually ends on a positive note. New Jersey’s living cartooning legend (and creator of Bluto) Hy Eisman provides the art for this one and that is the undisputed highlight of the short story. The mysterious Pierce Rand is credited as the writer, which is entirely possible, but ACG Editor Richard E. Hughes was notorious for pen names so there is a good shot this was him.
After an interruption from a one page Herbie strip and some letters to the editor, we’re back with the uncredited Atoms Over Alaska – a ‘Magic Agent’ Guest Feature. Magic Agent was a short-lived title from the company featuring Secret Agent John Force. Force was an American spy who would go on adventures not terribly dissimilar from James Bond, but with one big difference. Force had a magic medallion! Yeah! Expect exactly what I described here, which should absolutely get you interested. I did a little digging and though it is uncredited, I would suspect that Richard E. Hughes did the writing (he also wrote the short lived Magic Agent series) and the art looks enough like John Force co-creator Paul Reinman’s work for me to guess it was. Reinman had also worked on Forbidden Worlds #123, so it is a solid theory. That said, Comic Book DB also credits Chic Stone and Ogden Whitney, so perhaps it was one of them.
Research: It’s part of the job.
Finally, we make it to our cover feature, The Strange Forest!, brought to us by Bob Standish (Probably Reinman too) and Sid Lazarus, who is totally a real guy and did some cool Doll Man stuff in the golden age. The story goes that, as a child, our hero Ted Scott was with his lumber tycoon uncle looking for a forest to cut down. Uncle Will sees a weird forest and totally has to have it. Through some chicanery, he gets it, but soon disappears. This whole thing has been haunting Ted Scott, now a successful Resort Engineer and he has to go check this place out. And, you know, maybe build a resort if his engineering mind can see an opportunity.
So, this feature is short. Like, “weird that it’s the cover story when the first two were kind of better” short. Ted eventually makes it to the now sunken forest, sees some scary crap and bails.
But hey, he totally encounters that tree Native American for a panel! No false advertising here folks!
Forbidden Worlds #124 could set you back between $4 and $50 depending on condition. A recent ACG Comics website offers some nice looking hardcovers of other issues, but they did not make it to this particular one.