Thursday, September 16, 2010

Revelations in Black

I was having another one of many great classic horror literature chats recently with Happy Undertaker artist / extraordinaire Drazen Kozjan, when the name of Weird Tales pulp writer Carl Jacobi came up. This in turn reminded Drazen of some incredible scans he had of a gorgeously inked, and possibly unpublished Frank Robbins story based on Jacobi's puzzling vampire vixen tale "Revelations in Black." The odd lay-out format of this complete story had us both wondering where this tale was intended for eventual publishing, reminding us both of Pyramid Books "Christopher Lee's Treasury of Terror" paperback from 1966 (check the THOIA Archive for examples.) Somebody got billed for it, so why wasn't it ever used? Or was it? Does anyone have information about this wonderfully atmospheric adaptation? Let us know!

Thanks again to Drazen for the scans, and of course tune into Strange Kid's Club every Friday for a brand new Happy Undertaker tale!

18 comments:

Guybell said...

Im a huge Frank Robbins fan, even though he seemed to use the same faces over and over. He was an amazing inker and his "Shadow" work still looks incredible. Thanks for posting this, as I'd never come across it before.

The Vicar of VHS said...

What a neat story! And a THOIA exclusive to boot! Excellent find and post, Karswell!

Though it does partake of a certain cliche that often pops up in horror stories and movies and always confuses me--the "item not for sale." This fellow runs an antique shop--has these books of huge sentimental value that he's never read, books he would never think of selling--and yet he keeps them on display, not even behind the counter, but in the "horror" section of his shop! I mean, if you're not going to sell them, why not put them in a vault somewhere? What's the point?

I know, asking for logic is asking too much. Still a great story!

Mr. Cavin said...

Well I'm never lending that guy anything. This is a great story! And I love the Mickey ears on the end bat.

Pappy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pappy said...

Amazing! Not the story, but that he billed $613.00, which "includes art and lettering." For 16 pages that works out to a little over $38/page. He sold himself cheap.

It was intended for a horizontal format of some sort, perhaps as you suggest, a paperback book. I'm surprised we haven't seen it published, unless it was published in Europe or somewhere other than the U.S.

Eric said...

@The Vicar of VHS: In the original Jacobi short story, the proprietor is puzzled as to how the book got onto the shelf at all (with the implication being that the book is somehow being used as a honeypot by the vamps or is cursed to seek out victims for them). I assume that was cut from the Robbins adaptation to keep the dialogue concise (if it had been included, it would appear on page two in the fourth panel). (Also, I think Robbins takes Jacobi a bit too literally here in drawing a shelf labeled "horror": Jacobi's line is "I drew then from the shelf the first book of horror," i.e. the horror the narrator experiences, not that the shelf is organized by the horror genre; the shelf in the story is simply a shelf full of antique books.)

@Karswell: I didn't remember reading the original until midway through, which prompted me to go over to the bookshelf and find the Jacobi tale. It's a classic story, and Robbins really does it justice here, plus it gave me an excuse to thumb through Jacobi's original again. Thank you for posting this and pass similar thanks along to Mr. Kozjan.

Mykal Banta said...

Karswell: As you say - the inking is really something in this one. Wow.

Karswell said...

I'm totally wondering: whoever this tale was for was it to be published in black and white as is, or if it was meant to be in color, and if so did it ever get that far? Hopefully someone someday can give us some answers.

Thanks for the comments, got a cool sideshow freak tale up next from Brown & Gantz... have a great weekend!

Chuck Wells said...

Man, Karswell! That is a cool story by Robbins. He's an artist that I've grown to apprciate much more than I did in my youth. His non-superhero stuff is always topnotch.

I have no idea where this tale was intended to "light", but I sure wish that I could help.

Chuck Wells said...
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Patrick Owsley said...

Someone once mentioned to me that Frank Robbins never used a straight-edge when inking (buildings, table edges, etc.)...it was all freehand brush work. Beautiful work here! Thanks for posting, Karswell!

Balakrishna said...

Carl Jacobi's "Revelations in Black" is from 'Weird Tales'. Carl Jacobi. 1933. Popular Fiction Publishing Co. The story is a clever, suspenseful one, which skilfully effects a transference of vampire activity from its center of power in the Old World to the New. The failure of the vampires to show up on a photographic plate makes sense in terms of the mirror legend. I do have the book with me Pappy in the anthology "THE UN-DEAD" edited by James Dickie. The ISBN is: 0 330 23797 7

Karswell said...

>His non-superhero stuff is always topnotch.

Totally Chuck... the work he did on Morbius the Living Vampire is great too!

>it was all freehand brush work.

That's awesome to know Patrick, further proof how good Robbins was!

>Carl Jacobi's "Revelations in Black" is from 'Weird Tales'.

We're still looking for the name of a possible publisher for this illustrated version... if word ever comes in I will definitely update this post with the information. Thanks again for the comments!

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Wow!

James LeMay said...

Thank you so much for posting this story by one of my all-time favorite artists. I've been a huge fan of Robbins' artwork ever since it appeared in the pages of The Shadow and Detective Comics back in the 70's.

This tale is Robbins at his very best. His wonderful brush work never ceases to amazes me.

What a great find!

william wray said...

I'm the lucky guy who bought this job. My guess this was for a proposed paper back back in the day when they were doing those comic book paperback horror collections for a short time. In the mid- sixties that page rate was acceptable. Better that they got at Creepy.

Unknown said...

Hey, there, Karswell,
Isn't it possible this story was actually meant for a full size MAGAZINE, but was never published?...There are only 4 scenes per page, which leads me to believe, Robbins drew his art for this tale...large, ala Bill Ward....
If you put the pages together, it follows a normal 8-page story...Look at the FIRST two...It's a splash, & 4 more scenes...Splice it together, & it's one regular page...Everyone has been commenting on the inking, being SO good, which would also explain why it is THAT good....The art was LARGER...Inking is a bit easier, if the art is LARGER....just a thought...

Unknown said...

Hey, there, Karswell,
Isn't it possible this story was actually meant for a full size MAGAZINE, but was never published?...There are only 4 scenes per page, which leads me to believe, Robbins drew his art for this tale...large, ala Bill Ward....
If you put the pages together, it follows a normal 8-page story...Look at the FIRST two...It's a splash, & 4 more scenes...Splice it together, & it's one regular page...Everyone has been commenting on the inking, being SO good, which would also explain why it is THAT good....The art was LARGER...Inking is easier, if the art is LARGER....just a thought...