DigestCast #7 – Dark Mansions of Forbidden Love

It’s Halloween time, so Shag and Rob exhume DC SPECIAL BLUE RIBBON DIGEST #20: DARK MANSIONS OF FORBIDDEN LOVE, featuring two creepy tales of horror and romance: “To Wed The Devil” by Joe Orlando, Len Wein, and Tony DeZuniga, “Bride of the Falcon” by Frank Robbins, Alex Toth, and Frank Giacoia, plus Madame Xanadu’s debut from DOORWAY TO NIGHTMARE! Plus your Listener Feedback, and the announcement of our digest contest winners!

Part of the Fire and Water Network’s month-long DARK PODCASTS OF FORBIDDEN LOVE crossover event!

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13 responses to “DigestCast #7 – Dark Mansions of Forbidden Love

  1. Another great episode!

    The love both of you have for the two Sinister House stories reprinted here was more than evident! I agree that the artwork on the Toth story is phenomenal, although the DeZuniga artwork definitely has more of a creepy, gothic look than the beautiful stylized Toth visuals.

    For those fans who are subscribed to the DC Universe streaming service you can read both ‘Dark Mansion Of Forbidden Love’ and ‘Forbidden Tales Of Dark Mansion’ series right now!

    DC Special was always the more ‘courageous’ digest when it came to reprinting non-superhero stories. Of its 24 issues, 11 featured concepts that were not hero related. (I’m including Strange Sports Stories even though it does have 1 superhero story in that issue). Sure, Best Of DC had some issues with Sugar & Spike, Binky and Funny Stuff, but excepting PLOP! all of those were pretty safe choices.

    I can’t wait to find out what the next two episodes/issues will be covering! I’m guessing December will be Best Of DC #’s 22 and/or 58!

  2. Wow, the art in those stories is just gorgeous. But of course it is! I would have never bought this off the stands, as Rob pointed out. In fact, I may have passed this one up. I didn’t buy every DC Digest, especially after they went to so many Binky and Funny Stuff issues.

    One thing I didn’t really put into words before…maybe DC was just trying to hang with Gothic Romance novels? There was a paperback spinner rack right next to the magazine rack at the drugstore where I bought most of my comics. The rack was FULL of gothic romances, so maybe DC thought there may be a market in this similarly-sized format?

    Toth’s DC work was spotty during this period, but he did draw a lot of Golden Age material for DC including Green Lantern and the JSA, and western features like Johnny Thunder. I know you guys know this, just pointing it out to folks who may not be familiar with his earlier work.

    Fun episode as always guys! As much as I love the digests, and still have a shelf full of them, I don’t own them all, and this series just rekindles my affection for them every time. Oh, and great stinger!!!


  3. Another hugely enjoyable show, thanks chaps. I’m not sure if I’ve read the Bride of the Falcon chiller or think I have, having read it at Jacque’s Sequential Crush blog. Either way, I love it. I wouldn’t call the art spotty so much as a slightly different Toth, more ‘romantic’ – the vibe reminds me of the DC romance work of better-known-as-a-colourist illustrator Liz Berube. And Kathy makes me think of the Witching Hour’s Cynthia… she was designed by Toth, yes?

    I can’t recommend Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love highly enough – beautiful art, satisfying story… the perfect Christmas gift. Well done for recommending it, Shagg. (Which reminds me, you always say the shows are ‘partly sponsored by…’. Are there secret sponsors?)

    I’ve been assuming our buddy Gothos Mansion is a fab of Batman #227, published around the time of DC’s gothic romance books.

  4. It’s always a special treat when I see that a new digest cast has dropped, but this one was extra-special because it’s the first one you’ve done featuring a digest I currently have in my possession (well, not counting the new Marvel digests). As I promised in the comments to the last show, I re-read this one recently so I would be all caught-up before listening.
    Glad you both liked these stories so much, as I thoroughly agree that they are quite excellent – and my only criticism of them echoes something you mentioned, i.e., the 100% mortality rate for the poor house pets.
    One thing I found particularly interesting about the first story, “To Wed the Devil,” is that Sarah and her family are Jewish, which seems to me kind of unusual for the main characters in romance comics (or really romance stories in general). I also did not know that her rabbi uncle and his priest buddy made appearances in other comics. Very interesting.
    Anyway, hoping that Shagg’s optimistic announcement of back-to-back digest casts in November and December come true…

  5. First off, let me apologize to Rob and Shag. I remember listening to a podcast where someone didn’t like JLA 100-102, and I thought it was on the Digest Cast. It was something else. My only excuse is…hey, I’m old and falling apart at the seems. Cut me some some slack.

    I really appreciate you guys covering something out-of-the-mainstream, like this digest. I’ve picked up the 4 issues of Dark Mansions of Forbidden Love and Secrets of Sinister House in pretty cheap lots on eBay. If memory serves (and it rarely does these days) the two Sinister House issues featured in the digest were better than the four issues of Dark Mansions. I did enjoy the issues enough that I picked up the Showcase, but it was released under “Secrets of Sinister House” the title “Secret Love” morphed into. It didn’t have any “Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love” issues. While I greatly enjoyed the book, I really thought art in the text piece at the end of “Bride of the Devil” lost something in black & white.

    As Chris said, I probably would have hated this as a young kid, but I would have loved it in college.

    Martin is right that my screen name derives from Batman 227. I was trying to come up with a screen name and I had a framed copy of Batman 227 hanging in view of my computer. Obviously, Batman was already taken. I didn’t want to be Elder Heathrow, since he was the leader of a coven, or Daphne Pennyworth….you know, since I’m a dude. Batman 227 was released before I was born. I first discovered it in the Batman’s Strangest Cases treasury.

    1. Bang on comment right here — Sinister House of Secret Love became Secrets of Sinister House. and Dark Mansions of Forbidden Love became Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion, both of which were standard DC Mystery books. Sinister House was hosted by Eve (Cain and Abel’s cousin) , and Dark Mansion was hosted by Charity. Both of these characters would eventually become part of the DC Universe in the 1990s, with Eve in the Vertigo Sandman and Charity in the Jack Knight Starman.

  6. Another great episode of Digest-Cast. I never got this one so I can’t speak about the content but with Toth and Dezuniga art, you can’t go wrong. Whether it was the spotty newstand distribution of the day or the me of the early 80’s not wanting to read “girl comics” I can’t remember why I didn’t get this one.

    Does anyone else have issues with their posts disappearing on this site? I know I posted a quick note talking about my love of the Green Arrow Digest but it isn’t there any more. It’s no big deal, my post wasn’t witty or insightful, I just wanted to interact with my fellow listeners.

    1. Steve – So sorry if you are having a problem with comments disappearing. We haven’t heard of anyone else. Let us know if it continues. I know if someone includes some links, it puts the comment in temporary moderation to avoid possible SPAM. But that’s all I can think of. Again, sorry for any trouble.

  7. Great episode guys! I first discovered the DC Gothic Romance books in about 2007 or so, as I was first really learning about DC’s history of genre books. I have the Showcase of Secrets of Sinister House, and I can confirm that these stories look suitably moody and creepy in black and white.

    Noteworthy to me is the length — I don’t believe any of DC’s genre books had features which were 32 pages long at this point, whether Horror, Mystery, Romance, War, etc. That helps makes these comics unique and memorable.

  8. Part of my love for DC Comics comes from the fact that it once pushed all of the genres instead of focusing just on the super-heroes. Don’t get me wrong; super-heroes are my bread and butter but looking back and reading stories from their western and science fiction and horror and war books is always a joy. They don’t all lend themselves to binge reading. The romance stories are best read in small doses but the fact that DC not only put out stories in those genres but managed to cultivate ongoing characters is something I will always respect.

    The stories you discussed during this episode sounded like a lot of fun. I recently sold my copy of this digest but I’m sure I can find a way to read them for myself.

    Great job as always and I look forward to whatever Shag has planned for the next few episodes.

  9. Sox being in the World Series has meant baseball and sports radio. So I’m just catching up on older podcasts.

    Another great show gents. I suppose I would have skipped this one as a kid (although I LOVED the DC horror anthology books) but now I feel like I should be scouring cons for it.

  10. Great podcast but you missed a little cross promoting in that the Lonely Hearts Romance crew covered the “Bride of the Falcon” story in their podcast – they even did a Romance Comics Theatre with it!


    Hopefully Siskoid & Co was not too peeved with the lack of mention in the podcast!

    Otherwise I enjoyed the discussion of the digest. Great job Rob and Shagg!

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