Startling Terror Tales 4, 1953

Startling Terror Tales 4

One of my favorite L.B. Cole covers! This is a seriously freaked-out comic cover, and typical of Cole's horror covers. Lawrence Watt-Evans has a good take on L.B. Cole and Star comics on his The Other Guys: Pre-Code Horror Comics webpage:
Star Comics was run by L.B. Cole, a man who put great faith in bright colors and striking cover designs as a sales device, and didn't worry very much about what he was selling with them. A typical Star issue would have an eye-catching surreal cover in swirling black and orange and green, one pretty decent horror story by Jay Disbrow, and a bunch of reprints from old jungle comics to fill out the rest of the pages. Numbering was erratic, and titles sometimes didn't have much to do with contents.

Star didn't imitate E.C.; Cole had his own ideas.

The titles were Startling Terror Tales, Terrors of the Jungle (a hybrid, at least in theory, but mostly a jungle title), Shocking Mystery Cases, Terrifying Tales, Spook, Horrors of Mystery (a one-shot in a series called The Horrors; this one, #13, was the only actual horror comic in the series), and the confusing Blue Bolt Weird Tales and its successors. Blue Bolt Weird Tales took over from a superhero called Blue Bolt, then became Weird Tales (despite the existence of the pulp with that name), and wound up as Ghostly Weird Stories (probably because the publishers of the pulp Weird Tales protested).

One interesting point about this cover is that it actually illustrates a story in the comic, in which a criminal kills a circus cashier in the course of a robbery and flees into the circus funhouse while being pursued by police.