Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Mark of the Beast (Johnny Craig)

No, you're not seeing double... oh wait, yes you are. Yeah, it's the same story as our last post, but this time from Christopher Lee's Treasury of Terror paperback (Pyramid Books) and featuring stunning art from the great Johnny Craig! In Lee's own words from the introduction: "...The Mark of the Beast couples the age-old savagery of the East with unnameable suggestions of the power of evil." So let's consider this a comparison post, which comic book adaptation version do you like best? And for god's sake, someone please tell me what Strickland did to the poor leper with that red hot gun barrel already-- my imagination's running overboard!














13 comments:

Guybell said...

Man, I never would have thought this, but I actually prefer the first story to Craig's version. The leper was a lot creepier. There really aren't any memorable panels in Craig's story.
Also, from everything I've read about how slow he worked, this must have taken him three months to produce.

Mykal Banta said...

I have to go with the Craig version! For me, Craig is one of the great unsung virtuosos of the EC catalog. No one could to anxiety like Johnny Craig!

prof. grewbeard said...

well, it's no contest. better art here and more Kipling-esque. as for the gun barrel, he probably "laid it about his wretched form", or something Britishy like that...

brandiweed said...

Somehow Craig's people still look very... American to me. Also very 1950s. It's interesting that he chose not to make Strickland actually start looking bestial as opposed to sickly and deranged.

It's also interesting that somehow Craig's leper looks worse despite his cleaner line-style (or perhaps because of it).

Anonymous said...

AWESOME TO SEE SOME JOHNNY CRAIG HERE AT THOIA! ITS NOT CRAIGS BEST WORK BUT ITS HANDS DOWN BETTER THAN THE OTHER VERSION FOR SURE.I WANT TO READ THE ORIGINAL STORY NOW.

todd said...

I far prefer the former, except the scene where the coroner returns and everyone else laughs.

Just partial to pre-code, I guess. This is sweet and clean and innocuous.

Mr. Cavin said...

Well, this is a tricky one. But I really think that, the stronger artist notwithstanding, I prefer the former version of the story, too. There are several times where I feel like the Craig version, while amazingly well drawn--and certainly retaining more of that British colonial feel--plays a little choppily across the panels and pages. I mean, is there supposed to something between pages two and three? That's a mighty big tonal shift from one panel to the next. Also, the scene where the monkey priest sics his leprous minion to infect Fleete, probably the first story's money shot, is so undervalued here as to fit with room on one anorexic page.

Lastly, I think the leper himself is, like, twice as scary in version number one (probably because he had no feet).

Mr. Cavin said...

PS, here's the original story.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this version. I am hoping you post more stories from this paperback. Thank you!

Karswell said...

Looks like we have a split on the favorited version here. I kind of think both have their charms (and faults) so I have to give them each props. While Craig's version is technically cleaner and an easier read (ie: more in line with how a giant mass consumer publisher like Pyramid Books would likely require a story to be), the Chilling Tales version is much grittier and atmospheric, and it tells the same story just as well as Craig's with less panels, less leper feet, and bushier British moustaches. Johnny Craig is still an illustrative god in my book though.

And yes--- more stories from Christopher Lee's Treasury of Terror coming up... in fact, Russ Jones is on deck with his adaptation of Wentworth's Day by H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth! See you in a few...

8thRay said...

I liked the first one a little better. As to what they did with the red-hot gun barrel, Kipling dealt with it in admirably Victorian fashion:

"Strickland shaded his eyes with his hands for a moment - and we got to work. This part is not to be printed."

"...I've done enough to ensure my dismissal from the service, besides permanent quarters in a
lunatic asylum.."

"Then it struck me that we had fought for Fleete's soul with the Silver Man in that room,
and had disgraced ourselves as Englishmen for ever..."

Guybell said...

I'm a big Craig fan, also. He did, however, seem to use the same faces frequently. If you look at all the Vault of Horror covers he did, you'll see that leper several times.

Pappy said...

I saw this story in the paperback when it came out. I hadn't yet read the story nor seen the Chilling Tales version, but my favorite will always be Johnny Craig. The reason is sentiment for his EC work, and has nothing to do with the quality of his artwork in this story, or anything else he did in his post-EC career.