Publication Dates: November-December 1956 – September-October 1966
Number of Issues Published: 80 (#1 – #80)
Dimensions: standard Silver Age US
Paper Stock: newsprint
Publishing Format: was ongoing series
Publication Type: magazine
Numbering continues with House of Secrets (DC, 1969 series) #81
Publication Dates: August-September 1969 – October-November 1978
Number of Issues Published: 74 (#81 – #154)
Dimensions: Standard Modern Age US
Paper Stock: Glossy cover; Newsprint interior
Publishing Format: Was Ongoing Series
Numbering continues from House of Secrets (DC, 1956 series) #80
This title was merged into The Unexpected (DC, 1968 series) for issues 189-214 and 218.
Publishing hiatus between #140 (February-March 1976) and #141 (August-September 1976).
Information thanks to the Grand Comic Database
The House of Secrets is the name of several mystery, fantasy, and horror anthology comic book series published by DC Comics. It is notable for being the title that introduced the character Swamp Thing. It had a companion series titled House of Mystery.
The original Silver Age series ran 80 issues, from November/December 1956 to September/October 1966. In addition to short, “one-off” stories, several issues featured the adventures of modern-dress sorcerer Mark Merlin who first appeared in issue #23 (August 1959). The dual-personality super villain Eclipso (“Hero and Villain in One Man!”) was created by Bob Haney and Lee Elias and was introduced in issue #61 (August 1963) and continued to the series’ end. Prince Ra-Man the Mind-Master bowed in #73 (July–August 1965) and was a Doctor Strange-style “replacement” for Mark Merlin. Prince Ra-Man twice battled Eclipso. The “Prince Ra-Man” feature ended in House of Secrets #80 (September–October 1966), the final issue of the series. Other, lesser continuing features included “Peter Puptent, Explorer”; “Dolly and the Professor”; “Doctor Rocket”; and “Moolah the Mystic”.
The series was revived three years later with a definite article as The House of Secrets, beginning with issue #81 (Aug.-Sept. 1969). Now its horror and suspense tales were introduced by a host named Abel, who would also host the satirical comic Plop!. His brother Cain hosted House of Mystery. Swamp Thing first appeared in House of Secrets #92 (July 1971) in a stand-alone horror story set in the early 20th century written by Len Wein and drawn by Bernie Wrightson. The woman appearing on the cover of this issue was modeled after future comics writer Louise Simonson.
This revival, sporting many covers by Neal Adams, Bernie Wrightson, and Michael Kaluta, ran through issue #154 (Nov. 1978), with three months passing between #140 (April 1976) and #141 (July 1976). It was then ‘merged’ into The Unexpected with issue #189, through issue #199. The series was 68 ad-free pages, allowing all three portions to be full-length issues.
The House of Secrets also came to be the name of the actual edifice in which Abel lives. Writer Mike Friedrich and artist Jerry Grandenetti introduced the house and explained its origins. The Sandman series revealed it exists both in the real world of the DC Universe and in the Dreaming, as a repository for secrets of all kinds.
The building itself was constructed for a Senator Sanderson using only materials from Kentucky, and went under the enchantment that only pure-blood Kentuckians would be able to live there. Later, Sanderson’s wife went insane in the upper floors, leading the Senator to sell the house. The next four owners, none of them pure Kentuckians, found themselves driven away for various reasons. The following owner attempted to move the home from its original location, but the house tore itself free from its trailer, ran its owner over a cliff to his death, and settled less than 200 yards from the Kentucky state line in a graveyard. Whether by fate or some mystical alignment, the companion House of Mystery stands at the other end of the graveyard. Shortly after this, Abel was driven to the house and entrusted as its caretaker by a man who revealed himself to be an aspect of the House’s existence, but making vague references to an employer. Abel was showing living in the House of Mystery in the quarterly DC Special #4, published one month earlier (July-Sept. 1969).
The character of Abel would later, in the 1980s and 1990s, become a recurring character in The Sandman and related series such as The Dreaming.