Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Bell Witch: Believe It or Not!

I've written here before about how Ripley's Believe It or Not! True Demons and Monsters comics freaked me out when I was a little kid. Issue #25 (April 1971) was a particularly scary one and I was happy to get a copy at the Heroes Con last summer in Charlotte NC. "The Black Demon of Devon" and "The Horror Called Spring-Heel Jack" were enough to keep me awake (I was eight when this thing came out), but it was"John Bell's Devil Witch" that really pushed me over the edge and terrified me.

There is no credit given to the artist of the story (any Gold Key comic fans out there that can tell me?) but he or she showed a certain twisted genius in their depiction of the witch. She is some kind of a hybrid bat lizard-beaked harpy abomination. For some reason the panel of her coming through the window on page five is a particularly vivid memory for me. The witch's appearance it what really terrified me as a little kid, plus the fact she kills the protagonist at the end of the story. Also, I believed everything I read in these comics. It says they are true right there on the cover.

Here's the six page story "John Bell's Devil Witch" from the April 1971 issue of Ripley's Believe It or Not! True Demons and Monsters. Artist and writer unknown.

The story of The Bell Witch is well represented online. Pat Fitzhugh seems to be doing some real research in old records and trying to ascertain whatever facts he can glean from the old records.

This page offers up the full text of An Authenticated History of the Famous Bell Witch. This 1894 book by Martin Van Buren Ingram, also known as "The Red Book," is the earliest account of the legend.

Here's the official site of the Bell home site and the Bell Witch Cave. There's even a historical marker.


~D.Puck' said...

The script for that issue may have been either Donald Anderson or Arnold Drake, and the artwork "appears" to be by Joe Certa.

B Smith said...

Not Joe Certa (he was responsible for the artwork on Gold Key's "Dark Shadows" comic, among others) but Gold Key mainstay John Celardo.

And yep, as a kid, that portrayal of the witch (especially when in flight) was downright unsettling.