But I didn't care...if the comic I was looking at had the potential for some interesting horror fiction and art, I was game. Weird War Tales was one of the earliest of horror comics I was able to purchase, and when compared, as I would soon see, to the other DC horror titles it seemed to deliver the horror goods far more often than the traditional horror titles they had. The twist endings the stories tended to have would've been (and are) a bit obvious to more sophisticated reader, but even when they were telegraphed even for me as an 8yo, I tended to enjoy them. (And as one can see below, the "Weird" tag seemed to do well for DC in the recessionary '70s, and thus the creation of Weird Western, the first home of Jonah Hex--I borrowed friends' copies to read that one--and the shortlived addition of Weird Mystery as a title to the DC stable...and, even weirder, of the word Weird to the title of the venerable Adventure Comics for some issues headlined by the supernatural quasi/antihero character the Spectre--also please see below). The ferociously antiwar attitude the writers and artists were allowed to express in WWT didn't hurt my feelings (and between the three popcult prongs of WWT and the television series The World at War [the Granada documentary series was first being syndicated to US stations then] and M*A*S*H, my sympathy for the pacifist position was no doubt bolstered).
Meanwhile, Ghost Manor as a Charlton "book" looked (and as many commenters note, smelled) different (they used an odd sort of press and inks, apparently more appropriate for stamping the likes of cereal boxes), but they did some interesting things at Charlton...they let their artists have more leeway, for less pay, and perhaps most importantly were apparently the first to import Japanese horror manga stories, in translation of course, for US readers, in issues just before and perhaps even including this one. Note that both Ghost Manor and The House of Mystery (below) double dog dare you to knock the battery off their...eaves. (Old popcult advertising reference/joke.)
And if you wanted evidence of how much better the early '50s DC horror stories had been, simply dip into this issue of The Witching Hour, which supplemented its relatively bland new stories with several 1950s reprints, which have a certain vigor missing from the (almost literally as well as utterly figuratively) bloodless new work. One model-esque and two haggish witches were the "hosts" in this "book"--the reprinted demon in the mirror story involved a psychic investigator sort who probably would've gotten his own book in less censorious circumstances back when, and it was, as I recall, very good fun.
Marvel, for its part, wasn't even trying to present new horror stories per se in their "standard" color comics in the 1970s, choosing instead to reprint the Atlas and Timely EC-imitation horror comics from those two ancestors of Marvel, and in new work concentrating on outre heroes/antiheroes, such as their version of Dracula and a rather Peter Parkeresque fellow (with a bit less pointless self-pity) who began turning into a werewolf at the appropriate phases of the Moon, mostly in his "book" Werewolf-by-Night...Dracula or, as in this first issue I bought, Frankenstein's behemoth might make a crossover/guest appearance. (Marvel had published in 1973 two issues of a digest-sized fiction magazine called The Haunt of Horror, edited by Gerry Conway [who's since made a fairly prominent Hollywood career], but discontinued that and took the title for a black and white, 8.5 x 11" horror comics magazine they published for some years, in imitation of Warren's Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella b&w comics magazines...the latter for their part [not!] the first sustained effort to reach out to the horror comics audience, starting at the turn of the '60s, which had been abandoned by the other comics publishers.)(Correction: The Warren horror comics magazines began publishing in 1964; Dell Comics had stepped into the void first, with the initial issues of Twilight Zone in 1961, and Ghost Stories in 1962--founded after Whitman decided not to co-publish with Dell, and started their own Gold Key line, which took TZ among many other licensed properties away from Dell Comics...Gold Key added Boris Karloff's Thriller and Ripley's Believe It or Not: True Ghost Stories to their line later. Dell also added more horror titles in the '60s.)
The House of Secrets was another title DC had launched in the early '50s to catch the horror wave, and which had been returned to its roots (with a "host" added) in the late '60s...otherwise very much like HOM, as well, in its bland competence in the 1970s (the bits presented about and featuring the host, Abel, brother to Cain and rather bullied by him, unsurprisingly, were rather more memorable than most of the stories offered...another host was Eve, who was not their mother, but I'm sure was just as gleefully meant to tweak the reactionaries among the Old Testament religions as the brothers were).
Meanwhile, Weird Mystery Tales, a relatively shortlived "book," did introduce the one "host" who was less cartoonish than actually in the spirit of horror, "Destiny," who somewhat suggested Death the Reaper, as he wore a monk's habit with hood that always obscured his face, and carried the book of, well, destiny with him at all times...the other, more comic-relief hosts were portrayed as resentful of and a bit intimidated by him. Given that "mystery" in these titles always meant horror, at least in this period, the notion that it was weird horror seemed a bit redundant...particularly when compared with DC's much weirder humor, with a horrorish edge, comic, Plop! (another title of which I read others' copies, including those at a barbershop I was brought to by my parents).
Tomb of Darkness, a successor title to the very similar Beware!, was easily my favorite Marvel reprint "book" devoted to the Atlas/Timely EC-style horror comics of the early '50s...and as with the reprints featured in The Witching Hour and other DC books the stories had a punch and a vigor that the new stories, including in Marvel's outre hero books, tended to lack. It is because of TOD that I was first able to see what ghostly skeletons passionately kissing looked like, and for that I am grateful. (Teeth rubbing together, as you might guess.)
Whitman/Gold Key's The Twilight Zone was the only horror/outre (with a bit of cod sf) title from them I would see (even the Boris Karloff title, originally a spinoff from the television series Thriller, didn't show up on my primary newsstand)..and if Dell had any such titles at the time, I (and my local drugstore, thanks to the lousy distribution comics were getting in the early 1970s) missed them entirely...I was lucky when I'd find two successive issues of Batman or Hulk/Submariner comics at their newsstand (I'll not quite consider Harvey's Caspar the Ghost or Archie's Sabrina the Teenaged Witch comics relevant here...I certainly didn't then). Rather as with the Weird DC titles, the scripting of TZ comics was rather less bland (not vastly so, but somewhat) than that of the Houses' new stuff, even if the art was often rather perfunctory in the Gold Key comic.