Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Vault of Living Death!

As promised, the next crawling handful of posts this week will all be devoted to THOIA's favorite Harvey Comics series, Chamber of Chills. Join us as we scream along with an unholy cryptload of ghosts, mummies, demons, and damsels in distress (and yes, dudes in distress too.) Why, check out the disasterous fate of this poor fella... maybe you'll learn what to do if this should ever happen to you! And wow, how about the title of this tale? Look familiar?

From the August 1951 issue of Chamber of Chills #22 (first series)











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Vintage Screwdriver AD
(also good for popping lids off coffins!)

12 comments:

Tamfos said...

Wow! This was a lotta fun. I like the fact that the story went on a lot longer than most such tales would have at the time, and that it focused on the less than fantastic facets of the human condition, like greed, and guilt, and remorse, and even compassion -- if you consider the grave diggers' final assessment.

My only complaint would be the writer's obsession with similes that became increasingly tortured and outlandish as the story progressed. In a more ridiculous story, they'd be right at home, but they soiled an otherwise well told (and well drawn) piece here.

Anonymous said...

REALLY GOOD STORY THAT IS KIND OF WEIRD AND SAD BUT SUPER CREEPY TOO LIKE HOW POE USED TO WRITE THEM. LOOKING FORWARD TO MORE STORIES FROM THIS SERIES, ITS ONE OF MY FAVORITES TOO. THANKS!

Trevor M said...

I also agree it's a good story -- unusually psychologically complex for the pre-code horror comic genre.

I also agree with Tamfos that the stumbling block was the endless similes. I really enjoyed ones like "...the air, with a gush like the sigh of a lost demon, rushes in..." on page 2, but then got annoyed as the writer kept piling them on. He had an interesting story and premise here and didn't need to "Feldstein it up" to try and make it read more like an EC.

Karswell said...

>to try and make it read more like an EC.

And the writer is already branding himself GUILTY by simply calling the story "Vault of" anything, and with the lettering style in the title splash that appears almost too close for comfort. No wonder Gaines was always flipping his wig about the other pre-code pubs.

prof. grewbeard said...

i like the fact they re-used the art from the last panel on page one for the very last panel on the very last page, it seems almost deliberate but maybe they ran out of time after spending all day with the similepedia...

sfdoomed said...

Good eye, Professor!

I can't believe what a fantastic story this turned out to be. Like others have already mentioned, the tale is well told and superbly illustrated. Aside from the similes, which I actually kind of liked, the only other flaw is the fact that a pen and note pad just happened to by buried with the esteemed professor. I suppose it would have been rather difficult for him to have scratched his confession on the ground with his fingernails.

I'm looking forward to more Chamber of Chills!

goblin said...

Another great one. The tale evoked the horror of being buried alive very effectively and it was nice that, for once, a pre-code villain was able to achieve at least some kind of redemption. I do agree about the similes, however. They became more and more irritating and distracting as the story progressed.

Anonymous said...

Being buried alive has to be the worst fate ever, although if I had to choose I'd prefer it in a roomy above ground crypt like the good doctor here over a cramped coffin 6 feet under the ground. A real good story Karswell, thank you for making my October extra chilly!

Karswell said...

>Being buried alive has to be the worst fate ever

Possibly, how's everyone feel about being embalmed alive? Or cremated alive? Or similed alive??!! AIEEEE!

And speaking of embalming, who's ready for another Mummy Monday? It's next!

8thRay said...

I, too, noticed and vastly enjoyed the amazing similes.

We should have a competition for the most forced, awkward simile possible. "...as helpless as a vampire whose arms had been surgically removed and later had himself fitted with prosthetic arms, only to have them stolen immediately by ghoulish thieves..."

noel troll said...

Wow! that was a great one. Blew me away. I can't get over the grave digger's line "I used to sit on that knee...when there was flesh upon it..." that is such a fucked up thing to say. I love the panels showing the doc's body turn into bones, so brutal, I love it. the similes are great, no shame!

Karswell said...

>We should have a competition for the most forced, awkward simile possible.

Haha, sounds fun 8th Ray! Who's up for THOIA's first annual Forced Awkward Simile Challenge?

"...she was as tall and leggy as a woman with much more height than usual from her slender waist down to where her feet touched the ground below her soles."