Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Possession of Jenny Christopher

The Possession of Jenny Christopher
script by Doug Moench, art by Sonny Trinidad
from The Haunt of Horror (Marvel / Curtis) No. 5, January 1975

Marvel's black and white, horror-themed comic magazines were by and large a mediocre lot. Doug Moench was the [overworked] writer for a lot of these issues during the early- to - mid 70s, and his plots, unsurprisingly, tended to have a perfunctory quality. 

However, every once in a while he would display some offbeat, quirky originality that led to stories that were truly weird - stories that you wouldn't see in the Warren or Skywald magazines.

One such tale is 'The Possession of Jenny Christopher', which appeared in The Haunt of Horror No. 5, which was on stands in the Fall of 1974. At that time the fascination with demonic possession engendered by The Exorcist (1973) was still a major part of pop culture. 

It didn't take long for Blaxploitation cinema to do its own take on The Exorcist, in the form of the 1974 movie Abby, in which a young black woman is possessed by a demon from Nigeria.

It may be that Moench was channeling Abby with 'The Possession of Jenny Christopher', featuring Marvel's 'exorcist' supreme, Gabriel the Devil-Hunter, investigating a case of demonic possession in a black family living in a public housing project in New York City. 

The story has a downbeat, depressing tenor that is reinforced by its opening sequence of the trashed and decrepit confines of the ghetto.

This certainly was an offbeat and unconventional setting for a horror story, but Moench upped the ante with a very politically incorrect depiction of a possessed infant that spews racial vitriol....!

It's hard to imagine any comic at any major publisher getting away with this type of far-out, crazy stuff nowadays......which is why 'The Possession of Jenny Christopher' is a rare gem from the Curtis horror magazine era.

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