Monday, October 31, 2011

Charlton Gothic Romance Comic Story - "Sleep, My Love..." Haunted Love #6 (October 1974)

Happy Halloween, everyone! Since Friday's Gothic romance story was such a hit, I thought I would post another! For a Halloween evening treat, I present "Sleep, My Love..." from Charlton's Haunted Love #6 (October 1974). As per the splash page, the story was edited by George Wildman, written by Joe Gill, and rendered (cover as well) by Tom Sutton.

Our story takes place in Paris in 1906. The young and handsome Dr. Henri Duval has just set up practice and makes a house call to his first patient -- an elderly Madame Maleure who resides in a crumbling mansion. The resilient Madame is taken care of by a beautiful young woman, Madeleine Beauvois.

During his examination of the frail woman, the Madame requests that he send Madeleine out of the room so they can speak privately. While Madeleine fetches fresh water, Madame Maleure tells Henri that Madeleine is so stressed out over taking care of her that the young woman stays awake day and night. The doctor and the elderly woman come to the conclusion that a tonic laced with a sleeping potion will be best for Madeleine.

Henri checks in on his elderly patient twice a week. While there on a visit one day, he finally decides to ask Madeleine out for dinner which greatly pleases Madame Maleure. The two fall in love, which pleases the old woman even more.

While out with the doctor, the old woman sneaks into Madeleine's bedroom and pours an extra sleeping aid into the prescribed tonic. That night after sipping the medicine, Madeleine falls into a deep sleep. Taking advantage of Madeleine's vulnerable state, the old woman casts a spell on her and infiltrates her body -- transforming her into the young and beautiful Madeleine.

The old Madame wastes no time, and heads out into the Paris night. Just as dawn breaks, she heads back -- in time to leave Madeleine's waking body. When Madeleine wakes, she doesn't feel quite right... and rightfully so!

While serving Madame Maleure her breakfast that morning, Madeleine is noticeably exhausted. The old woman suggests that she take a swig of the tonic and take a nap after lunch. Madeleine heeds her advice and falls into another coma-like sleep, giving Madame Maleure another chance to inhabit the young woman's body. But this time, instead of strolling the streets of Paris alone, the Madame takes Madeleine's body out on a date with Henri -- the next step in her ultimate evil plan.

Suddenly, Madeleine awakens -- much to her surprise. The last thing she remembers was going down for a nap. Henri chalks the strange occurrence up to a bad reaction to the tonic and advises Madeleine to stop taking it.

That night, Madeleine forgoes the tonic as recommended. Madame Maleure obviously has a problem as she is unable to penetrate Madeleine's body for her own use. But the old witch isn't willing to give up...

"I've learned what I must do to remain eternally young...
if I can assume Madeleine's identity while she sleeps...
and if my own body dies while I possess her youth
I will be young again!

The next day during tea time, Madame Maleure pours a potion into Madeleine's drink to pursue her goal of eternal youth and beauty. The unsuspecting young woman falls asleep. But she is not the only one to rest... the Madame has given herself a lethal dosage so that her transformation may be achieved.

Feeling that Madeleine is in danger, Henri bursts on the scene. He attempts to save the old woman with all of his being.

Henri revives the old woman's body which causes the essence of Madeleine to assume her own youthful body once more. Henri explains to a baffled Madeleine that he had a feeling that evil was afoot. Together, the two young lovers leave the house of horrors and the devious witch inside... forever!

So, what do you think? How does "Sleep, My Love..." stack up to the DC Gothic romance stories in your opinion? Here's to hoping you and yours have a wonderful and spooky Halloween!

Happy Halloween from yours truly!



  1. Nice Twilight-Zoneseque story and great art by Sutton (and that cover is absolutely fantastic). Charlton really produced some great stuff, especially in the '70s, and it's quite sad that most of these treasures are pretty much all but forgotten now.

  2. Holy crap, that has got to be one of the most psychedelic covers I've seen. A shame the art inside wasn't anywhere near as crazy (the DC story below puts it to shame).-Fraser

  3. I've always enjoyed Tom Sutton's quirky style. I don't think he draws the prettiest women, but this mixture of horror with romance works well.

    I agree with Ed that Charlton is very much neglected, although they had a diverse blend of talent, such as Sutton, Ditko, Staton and Newton, to name a few, in this period. I look forward to seeing more gems such as this one.

  4. Aw, for my money, Haunted Love was *the* Gothic Romance comic of the early to mid-70s. I found DC's stuff in the subgenre kinda underwhelming, with the exception of Frank Robbins and Alex Toth's "Bride of the Falcon" and the odd Sekowski/Giordano art job. The rest of the stuff I found, uh, too..polite and traditional.

    I mean, was there ever anything as subtly demented in DC's gothic romance output as Joe Gill and Steve Ditko's “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!”? (From Haunted Love #4) I'll grant that it doesn't, at first glance, score that highly in the romance department, but when you think a bit about the moral to be drawn from that tale, someone at the Comic Code Authority was asleep at the switch.

    I just love Sutton's bold use of solid blacks, negative space and patterns in this tale. Haunted Love differs from the other Charlton ghost books by its greater emphasis on clothing and decorative elemments. Enrique Nieto especially went all out in that department, but then he always did give his all.

  5. Out of the few Haunted Love issues that I have, I think this is my favorite story. The 6th and 7th images down that I posted are superb! The witch is quite frightening and contrasts well to beautiful Madeleine. I agree with you folks... Charlton romances get slammed a lot, but there are some really great stories out there! Hopefully by Halloween next year I will have some more Haunted Love in my collection to share!