Monday, March 2, 2009

The Vampire

Story #2 this week from the February 1953 issue of Mystic #17, written by Stan Lee, with fun art from Ed Winiarski. Atlas pre-code issues from any one of their great 50's series usually contained a varied group of stories with multiple themes… the curious thing about this week’s featured issue of Mystic is that this one contains THREE great vampire tales, as you shall see tomorrow and on Wednesday too.






TOMORROW: Blood Drinkin’!

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Vintage AD

20 comments:

AndyDecker said...

Wow, sometimes Lee didn´t even pretend to care, or? I don´t mean the plot - which read a lot like a post-code story, btw -, which was kind of a groaner but okay, I am talking about the narrative.

It is morning, the boy enjoys the thought of a school free saturday, so it is safe to assume it is friday morning. An hour later he is send to bed at home - still morning, school is forgotten - without supper - where did the day go? - and goes to sleep in broad daylight.

And then vampire parents go to bed? Huh? In the afternoon? Evening?

I know I am overly picky, but this is just lazy, careless writing.

Mr. Cavin said...

I came to much the same conclusion as Mr. Decker on this one. Trying to figure out the chain of events, and what time they happened on Friday, is a real head-scratcher. Mom asks where have you been? What, has junior been out all night? And what's with being sent to your room without supper in the middle morning?

Of course, I just read it as a creepy ass vampire family who have already started training their son to stay up all night, skip school, drink dinner first thing in the morning, and then sleep all day in a dark, scary room.

Just like me.

Anonymous said...

OH WHO CARES PEOPLE??? THIS IS FUN STUFF..... THESE STORIES ARE SUPPOSED TO BE BIZARRE, IF YOU CAN'T JUST ENJOY THE WEIRDO FACTOR OF A FAMILY OF VAMPIRES RAISING A NORMAL KID WITHOUT NITPICKING OVER THE DETAILS THEN MAYBE YOU SHOULDNT BE READING COMIC BOOKS. I LOVE THESE KINDS OF STAN LEE STORIES, THIS IS THE STUFF I GREW UP ON IN THE 70S REPRINTS.

Wings said...

I took it as sort of a kid-approach to a horror tale. Almost something my youngest would write, jumping from time and place without much thought.

sfdoomed said...

Maybe it was supposed to be "go to bed without your breakfast"? And wouldn't Junior have sunlight issues being the spawn of two vampires?

But, like Anonymous said, we can't get too logical on these things or the fun can get ruined. Wonderful art, as always.

Mr. Cavin said...

"OH WHO CARES PEOPLE???"

What? Is this directed at me? In what way does discussing the interesting quirks of a story signal that I haven't enjoyed it? That maybe I "SHOULDNT [sic] BE READING COMIC BOOKS." I thought I was just coming up with something funny to say.

But yeah, maybe you have a point. Maybe comics are just a less-intelligent medium, unable to withstand the rigors of narrative logic as we generally expect to see it applied in mature literature. Dopey kids stuff. I don't really agree, but that's basically what you're saying, right?

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Stan, he was cranking out like a dozen stories a month for these titles (frequently more). Hard to always be original, or even thoughtful.

But judging this story on its own merits (as we always must) it's pretty awful. You can come up with as many rationalizations as you want to make it seem better, but when there's all that padding in a four page story, that's a bad sign (never mind the weird "tomorrow's Saturday" business).

Patrick said...

Getting duped by vampire parents. I guess that makes the kid a true "blood sucker"?

Karswell said...

Mr C on the defense, haha. I don't think ANON's comment is aimed at anyone in particular, in fact I feel the exact same way as both sides do sometimes... I mean, after spending time preparing a post I want everyone to just have fun and enjoy the story, but the fact is that some stories are simply just asking for it, like today's story for example. I do not agree it's "awful", it's simply what it is, 4 pages about a goofy vampire family.

But whatever your reaction is as a cherished THOIA commentor, at least a positive or negative comment exists here, which is better than no comments at all... and yeah, I'm talking to the silent lurkers now.

goblin said...

It's a four page horror comic from the early 50's – are you really expecting it to make sense? I'd say, the inconsistencies are what makes these tales so charming in the first place and there's absolutley no use in getting all worked up about them, IMHO. Just like the comic for what it is – or don't.

Anyway. My problem with the story wasn't that it didn't add up, but that the ending was utterly predictable. Nice art, though.

Anonymous said...

Karswell does us all a great service by presenting these stories, and especially full issues like this. It's the closest most of us will ever get to actually owning a copy to read at leisure, and it helps us appreciate the full context of each story (and ad). It gives us a better sense of the time, and circumstances under which they saw publication. Winiarski did all he could with this story, and that part I like. My comments about Stan's writing filler material here (which God knows he had to do a lot of the time) is a testament to Karswell's efforts. We've all been given a lucid look into the what it's like to put these books together month after month. From a purely creative/commercial standpoint, it seemed appropriate to comment in the way that I did. Certainly, I never intended to inhibit anyone else's appreciation of this (or any other) story. If that's the case, my apologies.

Mr. Cavin said...

"...areyou really expecting it to make sense?"

I'm hearing this a lot today. I feel like you are doing the medium some kind of disservice. Yes, I really expect it to make some kind of sense. And why not? Plenty other stories included here make perfect sense. Maybe wonky, otherworldly sense, but they indeed follow some internal logic. It is the deal literature makes with us, it tries to hold us within a story. That's what supports our suspension of disbelief.

But look. It would be easy to go back and change a handful of words in two or three panels and then even this story would make sense. That's certainly telling of the slipshod attention paid to the writing here. I suspect it happened somewhere in the editing. Realizing they had, what, two six-pagers in this is issue already, and with nothing to substitute here, they had to shorten this by a page, maybe--cramming information to the sides and cutting some stuff that looked extraneous. At four pages it fit fine, but made less sense, Or maybe, as one of the Anonymouses has said, Mr. Lee was just mercilessly overworked.

But I think comics are a valuable enough art form to expect a certain level of competence, maybe excellence, from professionals. I do not think comics are some halfwit amusement. I didn't think people here thought so, either, so I'm a little surprised that I keep hearing "what do you expect--it's just a comic book" in the comments section today.

"...on the defense..."

Nah. Usually, we all come on here and only interact with the post. I'm actually thrilled that we are interacting with one another, this time. It makes me think more. But I do want to keep stressing that none of this limits my enjoyment of this story (or any story). I love wonky oddball shit with no internal logic. If only real life were so well illustrated.

goblin said...

'But I think comics are a valuable enough art form to expect a certain level of competence, maybe excellence, from professionals. I do not think comics are some halfwit amusement.

Neither do I (comics are my favorite entertainment medium next to films), but you're not doing yourself a favor when you put too much thought into what's happening in these stories. That kind of kills the whole experience. Plus, you have to remember that this comic is from the 50's – it's over half a century old now. Granted, I wasn't around back then, but I'm pretty sure the people from that decade viewed comic books differently and had different expectations in terms of content and quality than we do nowadays. The medium was still relatively young back then, too. I can't imagine a whole lot of kids who bought this comic in 1953 complained about it not making any sense after reading it.

AndyDecker said...

I know I am always bitching about things not making sense :-) But the thing is like Mr. Cavin said: there is a certain level of craftmanship which I also take for granted. If you establish exterior: night, you can´t write exterior:day in the same scene just because you don´t remember where you stopped before went to the bar at the evening and don´t care. This is just shoddy work.

This should be valid for tv, for movies, for books and also for comics. I don´t care if the idea or the plot is lame; what I don´t like the next reader with another taste just thinks is the best story since Homer. And this is 100% okay :-) But don´t give me sloppy work where you destroy the suspense of disbelief every other panel because you are just lazy.

Fredric Wertham said...

HaHa! You see, you see!

Your stupid comic books! Stupid! Stupid!.

Horror pariah said...

If i may.....
First i would like to be thankful that this discussion is so far civil and hasn't resorted to personal attacks; and that it is not being had on the Anti-Comics Journal message board or some such place where no one would be allowed to have an opinion. I agree that horror comics(especially comics of any kinds, especially Horror literature of any kind, especially horror of any kind and ESPECIALLY literature of any and all kinds)should be taken with a grain of salt; some with a bigger grain than others.

Let's dissect the story first; the first page is flawless, it woyld be admirable in any horror film. The second page has a very nice set-up; a child runs after his ball into an alley and stumbles upon a corpse! flawless, so far....

That's when it all falls apart... I agree the characterization's are so stock they are embarrasing, and the twist could have been better handled; Lee turned out better under worse conditions than this. The school schedule is indeed a flaw, but as for the kid not being a vampire; easy enough to explain: 1) It's a hereditary thing where he won't become a vampire till adolescence.
2) Gruff 'n Abusive But Loveable Dad & Complacent 'n Understanding But Stupid And Innefectual June Cleaver Mom became vampires after the kid was born and they haven't vamped him yet.

So other than the time-frame issues, bad characterizations and pointless red-herring clues, it's not so bad for '50's hack work if you use your imagination to fill in the plot cavities, certainly not worth busting anyone's balls over......don't make me put up another demotivaor saying.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Sixteen comments (well, 17 now). I agree with Mr. Cavin. It's great when folks interact. This is not TV after all; the internet was meant to be interactive. Be nice if there were more of it here, in my opinion.

Karswell said...

Dear Lard! I come back today and the comments on this post have evolved into something much different than originally planned... even goddamn Fredric Wertham showed up! (haha, very funny.) Whatever everyone actually thinks the thing is this: yer getting this entire issue of Mystic, and as I've always said from the beginning, most pre-code comics do not consistantly contain all winning stories from front cover to back. There are a few exceptions, but take the good and the bad.

I do appreciate the kudos and time you guys take to even come by, some of you even multiple times throughout the day w/ follow-up comments. These "interactive discussions" are the reason I started this blog and we've built a pretty good habit out of it. If any of you silent lurkers out there ever care to join in we'd all be happy to hear from you too. Nuff said...

TOMORROW: Carrabotta!

todd said...

1) It's a hereditary thing where he won't become a vampire till adolescence.
2) Gruff 'n Abusive But Loveable Dad & Complacent 'n Understanding But Stupid And Innefectual June Cleaver Mom became vampires after the kid was born and they haven't vamped him yet.


3) Maybe he's adopted?

I side with those who politely point out this one sort of sucks. Glad I read it, even enjoyed it, but not everything can be above average. The vampiress even says "good night" as she lies down. Rank amateur vampiress!

Joe S. Walker said...

I wonder what Stan would have said if he'd been told that people would be dissecting this story's (considerable) failures in logic 56 years later? But that's the appeal of true pulp fiction: nobody knew.