Tuesday 25 August 2015

TOMB OF THE TRUMPS #05 - Devil Priest Pack Part V

Welcome once again dear fiends to the Tomb of the Trumps! Yes, it's time to draw another pair of cards from the infamous 1980s' Horror Top Trumps game and discover where they were ripped off from... I mean, what they were inspired by.... So then, without further a-do, let's get the ball rolling with a very devilishly tricky customer!

And no, that wasn't just an ideal pun, for I mus confess that this one has very nearly beaten me! While there is something familiar about this demonic character, so far I've been unable to find a satisfactory match for him. Now the received wisdom on the matter is that this here Diablo character is actually a very loose drawing of the titular fiend from the classic Night of the Demon (or Curse of the Demon if you are in the US of A),  the horrible fire demon summoned by a runic charm as seen here -  

However I'm not entirely convinced about this claim. For our unknown artist usually copied his sources far more faithfully, and hence, despite similar nostrils and pose, these two devils are just a bit too different for me to buy the Night of the Demon theory. Furthermore, knowing how much our mysterious artist did copy, the style Diablo is rendered in suggests to me an alternative source, namely 1970s comics. Now as we saw in Part IV, Marvel horror mags did influence other cards, and that scratchy, sketchy shading on Diablo reminds me very much of the black white art in horror comics of that era. But despite hunting to high Heaven and low Hell, it does't look like Diablo is one of the recurring demon characters in '70s horror, and I'm not been able to find  a matching one-off devil or demon yet either... So then, unless you know better, the hunt for the real Diablo continues...

Now then, thankfully our next card is a lot easier to identify, albeit perhaps at little confusing. Here we have a great example of the scatter-brained approach the Horror Top Trumps creators took, for as we will discover as we make our way through the packs, quite often we get an image clearly of one character but given the name of something entirely different!   

Now Dr Syn was actually a character created back in 1915 by novelist Russel Thorndike - a clergyman who lead a double life as a smuggler called The Scarecrow. Thorndike penned several books detailing his swashbuckling adventures, and later his tales were adapted in feature films, radio plays and comics. However despite the slightly spooky edge to the good Doctor's smuggling disguises, and one of the movie version being made by Hammer and starring Peter Cushing, Dr Syn is actually not a horror character.

Actually the same could be said of the sinister fellow pictured on the card, but ironically he would have been found next to the Dr Syn novels in the bookshops. For this card depicts a contemporary character who also appeared in a string of adventure novels, and later appeared in movies, on the radio, and in comics too. For the Horror Top trumps 'Dr Syn' is none other than the villainous Fu Manchu invented by Sax Rohmer. To be specific, the image on the card is a fairly faithful recreation of this still shown below from Brides of Fu Manchu (1966), which was the late great Sir Christopher Lee's second appearance as the Lord of Strange Deaths. Alright. the artist has changed the colour of his robe and added a scar over one eye but he's fooling no one! I'm guessing the additional chained body is stolen from somewhere less too but sadly it's too short of detail to make a definitive identification. If you recognise this chained fella, concerned relatives are urged to contact Denis Nayland Smith, of Scotland Yard circa 1930.


Anonymous said...

MR Syn was the homunculous in the Dr Who story Talons Of Weng Chiang, which had a character called Li H'sen Chang... whose image was used for the Fu Manchu card.

You can almost see the artist's thinking.

Nigel Baker said...
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