As a six-year-old, I was unable to trawl newsagents looking for it, and anyway, distribution of American comics in the UK back then was spotty at best - random issues came over as ballast on ships.
Lack of copies at the time meant there was little chance of finding this issue as a back issue, so it's only now, with the first 19 issues of The Witching Hour available as a chunky black and white Showcase Presents paperback, that I can read the story behind the image.
The issue opens with 'The True Picture of the Servant Problem at the Witching Hour', a short framing sequence by two greats, writer Sergio Arigones and artist Neal Adams (alternating his own style with that of the witches' founding father, Alex Toth, to fascinating effect). A hapless photographer is escorted to the ladies' castle by Egor, the servant whose face is ever-unseen, to take a portrait of the weird sisters (click on my snapshots, to enlarge). Before the snapper can begin, though, a tale from Mildred ...
The freakish noises drive Emily half-mad, and she finally passes out. Next day she's awoken by Cousin Elmer and Doctor Buchanan, who find a note from the departed Winifred: 'Dear Miss Emily. I thank you for the use of your lovely home! It made our annual meeting a great success. You really must learn to relax more! Get well! Love Winnie. PS We hope to see you again next year ... that is, if we don't find a BETTER place!' And on the doorknob we see scratched, 'Friday 13th'.
So on the one hand, the status quo is restored; on the other, there's that kicker - the threat that Winifred and her weirdos will be back. Somehow I don't think Emily will be hanging around to find out.
It's a marvellous little tale from the prolific pen of Arigones, with art from the masterful Nick Cardy. Over the course of the story's six pages, the pair ratchet up the tension with a sharp, sly script, and art whose mood veers between claustrophobic and all-out madness - below, within two panels. Cardy manages to make the monsters ridiculous - check out the gorilla in bib and tea - while unsettling. Quite the trick.
But that's not all. There comes a knock at the door. The police. Rod's car's been in an accident and, at the scene, the broken body of Kipp. She was a robot, too!
Well, that's what happens when you rely on a computer to sort out your love life, or so Toth reckoned four decades ago. And while his story is dark fantasy, a fair few horrific matches have been made in the interim. It's a smart little script, lushly illustrated by Toth, who doubles the number of panels you might expect to find on a page to produce a primitive computer-tape effect. The emotions are big, and I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the lonely Ferencz in this Twilight Zone-style fable. And while a sci-fi horror might seem out of place in The Witching Hour, Cynthia was one hip young witch.
And then it's back to the framing sequence. Poor Renay has been petrified by the spooky stories - literally. Egor tosses him into the swamp and vanishes into the night, and the sisters despair of ever showing his face to us. Then, a banging at the door, assumed to be readers, annoyed at being denied a look at Egor. In fact, it's a little girl, with a present for the three ... a photograph of her with Egor. Such a shame his face is masked by the trees' shadow. Unusually, maybe uniquely, these framing stories were a serial, so the mysterious tyke returns in #9. I can't wait.
After a one-page text story - to recreate the authentic Seventies experience I've not bothered to read it - a bonus 'Twice-told Tale'. It seems the comic was educating readers in urban legends long before Supernatural and the like. This is the tale of young lovers, a sports car and an unattached hook. It's an efficient two-page chiller from writer Ron Whyte and illustrator Jack Sparling. Cynthia presents the tale as an anachronism from the Fifties ... who knew it'd still be scaring teenagers today?
After reading this issue, I'm even more sorry that the 1970 me missed it - it would have fed my nightmares for years. I'd read some more issues, but not right now. After all, it's 12 O'Clock ... The Witching Hour!