Monday, December 1, 2008

The Secret of the Walking Dead

December kicks off with a real zombie zinger from the August 1952 issue of This Magazine is Haunted #6. This might be one of my favorite Fawcett stories ever… but in typical Fawcett fashion one can only imagine how much better it would be if the coloring had been a bit more inspired.

TOMORROW: A vampire legend celebrates his 84th birthday!
Vintage Fawcett AD


Anonymous said...

"An empty ladle dipped into Eternity". Hilarious. From now on i'm talking like that in everyday speech, see you tommorow everone, just keep your ladels undipped!.

AndyDecker said...

Those cemetary keepers just have too much time on their hands :-)

A well-written tale. I really liked the introduction, which set the mood. Some good artwork too.

They credited the editors, but not the writer and the artists? They treated their creators like dirt, did they?

Hi Def Porn said...

Your blog is so scary!

Mr. Cavin said...

Starring Dennis Farina as Stan Lee. Lit by Cosmic Bowling.

Rex Parker said...

"Your work is but an empty ladle dipped into eternity!" - THAT is RICH. I am going to write that in the margins of the next student paper I grade.

I also like the multiple spellings of CEMETARY/ERY.


Anonymous said...

You're right, the coloring all but ruins the artwork. It makes it difficult to even guess who the illustrator was. Still, this is a hell of an atmospheric story. When we see Thomas waiting like a dog on the wrong tombstone, it's so un-comicbook-like. And I love the caption panels (the devil, the skeletal hand). Great, great stuff.

Mr. Karswell said...

Yeah, Fawcett were pretty lazy in the coloring department. I have no real problems with an effective one-color overlay to dynamically enhance the mood. But maybe using a less obnoxious, subtle color is better, or does anyone out there like Looney Lime, Sassy Strawberry or Spongebob Yellow in their zombie tales? Mmmm, "Tomby Frooti."

sfdoomed said...

What a wonderful way to start December! Some of the best undead art I've seen in pre-code horror. I even like the bad coloring, as it adds an eerie atmosphere at times.

And the "empty ladle dipped into eternity" line was untouchable!

Question: Why raise the dead who've been rotting for over 40 years? The tombstone was 1910. You'd think he'd go for something a little bit more...I don't know...fresh?

Anonymous said...


Mr. Cavin said...

Like Karswell, I tend to forgive this sort of coloring style (hell, sometimes I even love it). And I do sort of like the effect in this story here--up to a point. If there is a problem, it's that this is probably a bad coloring strategy for these kind of panels, with their light lines and sort of textural spaces. Also, I feel these sorts of color choices (which I think of as "collage color", by the way) work better over really contrasty inks. If someone had gone over all the skies socking in blacks instead of Carolina blues, for instance, the whole thing might look a little better.

But I, for one, didn't feel the color ruined the art here. I don't particularly look for any realism in this area. The middle row of page six was especially lovely to me.

Tim Tylor said...

"Oh noes I has resurrected a maniac!" That's mad science for you - terrible searing brilliance alternating with utter gormlessness.

I love the art on this one too, and personally I don't mind the colors too much - at least, the monochrome panels look suitably dramatic, and there's none of the dratted "night-scenes looking like dimmed-down daylight" syndrome.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I'm surprised to read a few people here saying they didn't mind the coloring. Really? Look at page two. You can barely see the art -- at all. In fact, in that last panel, you actually can't see it. When you can see it, you can appreciate the delicate line work the artist/inker put into his illustrations. I can only imagine the guy flipping out when he saw this story printed, because he obviously cared enough to do a good job.

I'm not saying the color ruins the story, but it does really spoil the art, and it's a crime against a professional who deserved much, much better.

Mr. Cavin said...

Anonymous: Your post prompts the following, differnet reactions.

One. I am not so enthusiastic about nimble penwork in comics. At least not here. You seem to assume the tiny details and thin lines are evidence of high craftsmanship. I never thought of that. Actually, I assumed the exact opposite. Look again at page two. Those middle panels. I find the lack of depth and contrast to be tell-tale signs of the artist's (or maybe just the inker's) apathy. That kind of filling up the frame with outlines is doodling, the sort of thing I do while I'm talking on the phone. I'm not saying it isn't good. I'm saying it doesn't seem all that engaged to me. And it also doesn't seem all that appropriate for storytelling.

I like more blacks, more shadows and light, more objects and weight; tied together in mise-en-scene. That's the sort of stuff that makes me feel like time and energy has gone into something. Look at that last panel on page two. That's not the only example in this story of the colorist's doing whatever he could to correct the artist's attention to light.

Two. I looked at the scratchy looking blacks and assumed some of the deleterious effect on the artist's line work were artifacts of the comic's age or the crappy print presses (and acidic ink being used to make it all those years ago). I did not attribute the loss of line to the coloring. I might not have understood your point, though, about the colors making it difficult to see the work. If you just meant it was hard to key off the diminished illusions in day-glow two-color Kool-aid panels, I'd say that was a problem inherent in the work itself.

Either way, I can see how the sheer parting with certain representational norms, when it comes to cartooning reality, can rankle in a graphic narrative. I wouldn't put up with this sort of thing either if the worst offenders were over ten pages long. At least I don't think so.

Dane said...

Fun story, Chief. I laughed at both the zombie sitting on the tombstone, and the scientific genius from whom - as ever, it seems - simple logic and common sense escaped.

Anonymous said...

Don't know 'bout the rest of you, but I'm a sucker for coloring like this.
probably comes from reading the Pocket Book collections of Fantastic Four and Spider-Man from the public library when I was a young'un.

Prof. Grewbeard said...

i liked the crazy colors, even though it made the revived maniac look like he was wearing the "Shock Monster" mask in one panel!

by the way, your blog IS so scary...

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Cavin:

My mistake, I meant to say Page Three, which is terribly, terribly colored! The last panel on Page Three is just plain gone. And what is the possible justification for the lighting there? It totally defies everything else we see on the rest of the page, lighting-wise. Sorry, it's just bad.

But as for Page Two, that is also poorly colored. Whatever your problems with the artist/inker's work might be, I think the colorist did a lousy job. Yes, the weak colors create a differentiation of depth, but a better colorist would have made better choices. The colors in yesterday's THOIA installment are a good example. They create greater contrast by far to achieve the desired effect of depth, etc. Obviously, this story demanded a different palette, but that doesn't mean the colorist can just be lazy. And there WERE a lot of good colorists back then, but Fawcett was too cheap to use them on the horror titles.

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, but as a collaborative professional myself, I can sympathize with the poor artist here who must have been hopping mad at the newsstand. If those sympathies... color my own opinion, well, so be it.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not saying the color ruins the story, but it does really spoil the art, and it's a crime against a professional who deserved much, much better."

In my opinion coloring usually ruins any comic artwork! Some exceptions for me would be the Acme Novelty Library and Litle Nemo.

In a perfect world, all my comics would be in b&w if I wanted to truly get to the heart of admiring the art! And even then, reproduced artwork never looks as good as the real thing. Hmph.

So I'll take the bad coloring with the era and nostalgia of these stories.