Tales from the Crypt, “Television Terror” Comic Book Cover Drawing

original production artwork

“Tonights twisted tale, my dear couch potatoes, is filed under T for television... or should that be... terror?”


This original 11.5” x 17” pen and ink cover by Emmy-winning comic and storyboard artist Mike “Voz” Vosburg was made for the “Television Terror” episode of the HBO horror anthology series Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996).


The final colored version later resurfaced in 1996 on a Crypt Keeper Candelabra Halloween decoration manufactured by Trendmasters.


According to Vosburg, fellow comic book veteran Howard Chaykin recommended him to producers of the show. His first assignment saw him concept designing the intricate sets for the spine-tingling trademark opening sequence as well as storyboarding all of the action when the camera pans through a lightening-lit macabre mansion and down a secret spiral staircase into a cob-webbed catacomb where the Crypt Keeper creeps.


Producer Joel Silver, who had procured the screen rights to the pre-code EC Comics of the 1950s, then tasked Vosburg with creating the prop comic book covers that the Crypt Keeper turns to at the start of each tale.


“I would do several roughs for each cover, and they would pick one,” the artist recalled on his blog, Vozwords. “I do remember that Joel was the final say on all of them.  Whichever rough was chosen, I would do a traditional pen and ink drawing. We’d get a stat shot of the cover and a negative and create a blue-line version on a board, which Richard Ory colored. It was much more illustration than just doing a comic book cover.”


By the second season, Vosburg frequented the working sets on a weekly basis, snapping reference photographs of the revolving big-name Hollywood guest stars, including Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Tim Curry, Joe Pesci, and John Lithgow.


In the case of “Television Terror,” Morton Downey Jr. stars as tawdry tabloid hack Horton Rivers in an unflinching send-up of the real-life shock talk-show host and Geraldo Riveria’s disastrous 1986 publicity stunt surrounding the (empty) vaults of Al Capone. Based in part on the story of the same name by Harvey Kurtzman, published in The Haunt of Fear #17, the craven correspondent aims to exploit a purportedly haunted house, where at least a dozen murders took place, in a cheap ploy for ratings, but he soon finds out just how break-neck live—“or is it dead?”—TV can be.


The actual Queen Anne Victorian style manor, known to locals as the Higgins/Verbeck/Hirsch Mansion, has been designated as a Los Angeles Cultural-Historic Monument after serving as the filming location for several other spooky shoots over the years, including The Night Walker (1964), Willard (1971), Ben (1972), Halloween with the New Addams Family (1977), Witchboard (1986), Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988), Waxwork (1988), the “Funhouse” episode of Freddys Nightmares (1988-1990), and the “Halloween” episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990–2000).

item: collector:
category: original / screen-used
type: production artwork
celebrity: Morton Downey Jr. (1)
movie: Tales from the Crypt (TV) (1989)
original (31)  |  replica (2)
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