While thinking about what I might contribute to this blogathon, I tried to recall the moment at which I first became aware of Boris Karloff and his reputation.
My earliest introduction was not through his films. That came later. Nor was it through his television appearances. I can't recall ever seeing one of those. Instead, my introduction to Boris Karloff came after a shopping trip to K-Mart with my parents in the early 1970's.
Growing up in rural Cape Breton, Saturdays were significant as the day that we went into town. Town being the burgeoning metropolis of Sydney. These weekly excursions always included a stop at one of the city's major department stores - Woolco, Zellers, or K-Mart. The choice of retailer was likely determined by the weekly sales flyers. But that's not what concerned me. What concerned me, at age 8 or 9, was what I would get that day. Because on each shopping trip, I was allowed to make one purchase. Sometimes it was a new Nancy Drew book. Sometimes it was a Hot Wheels car (I was never a girly-girl). Sometimes it was a comic book. Or more accurately, a package of comic books.
At K-Mart in Sydney in the 1970's, comics were sold in packages of three. Three different comics sealed in a clear plastic bag. This made it a bit of a gamble. The book titles were not listed on the bag, and only two were visible. One cover through the front of the package and one through the back. I'd make my choice based upon those two covers, and hope for the best with the one in the middle.
I don't recall what I chose that Saturday at K-Mart. It was likely Uncle Scrooge. Or Scooby-Doo. Or Archie. Or maybe Superman. What I recall is pulling out the middle comic and seeing, in the upper right-hand corner, a small black-and-white photo of a creepy old guy. And beside the photo, the title: Boris Karloff's Tales of Mystery. With a creepy cover image under the title. And creepy stories inside. I loved it.
Calling my parents' attention to this new comic book discovery, I was amazed to learn that they were already familiar with Boris Karloff. Amazed indeed, since they didn't read comic books. Apparently, however, Mr. Karloff's reputation extended beyond the book in my hands and into other realms of horror.
But at that moment, all I knew was that Boris Karloff was a truly great comic book creator.
(Cover image via Grand Comic Book Database)