Thursday, February 28, 2013

Out of this World!

After the comics code crushed the crime and horror genres in '54, many publishers simply changed the name of their titles and toned down the ingredients that made them so popular in the first place. Crime Mysteries was one series, blandifying it's name to Secret Mysteries while applying the sad snooze to their content, and thus died after 4 ho-hum issues (one issue simply being a complete reprint of Red Circle Comics #4 from 1945.) I do like this simple, atmospheric tale of magic and the occult from the March 1954 issue of Secret Mysteries #17 though... see what you think. Also, enjoy Mr. C's entry in the Craig Yoe THOIA birthday contest after the story-- great work, Cavin! You won yourself a copy of Haunted Horror #3 (fyi: in stores NOW!)










8 comments:

Brian Barnes said...

I like it. It's the classic ghost story setup where you discover the item that proves he was a ghost in the last panel (it's a little cheap as it's only introduced on the last page, but I can live with it.)

I know it's a coincidence, but it's not hard to imagine that this story is actually a clever piece of snark aimed at the CCA. They forbid vampires, but that guy dresses like, looks like, and has the same attributes of a vampire (rising from the grave, hypnotic stare.) His name is Master, which is something you hear in vampire tales a lot!

It was almost as if somebody was trying to sneak it in. Again, probably not, but it's fun to think about!

Mestiere said...

On the cover, rather than showing you anything controversial, they just announce they are seeing something awesome. They could only get away with that so many times.

"I had hoped the demonstrations would convince you that if you can control matter now... after you're dead, you can contact the living!" What?

The ending was more of a Believe It or Not than a horror story. After all survival after death could be seen as good news.

Keir said...

Some guy with a silly name wearing a cape trying to convince others of the afterlife by rolling die and playing card games isn't going to convince anyone...

Mr. Cavin said...

Hm. I was also going to call attention to the pretty shaky logic behind the idea that replicating simple slight of hand and con artistry, even using real magic, was some kinda proof that life existed after death. Of course, a full-on ghost version of a close relative dropping by didn't really do the trick, either--not till he uttered the secret password or whatever. Man, that guy's skepticism is a tough nut to crack.

I definitely think there is something to Mr. Barnes theory about why they retasked Dracula to play the fading character here. I don't think this classy subversion was accidental at all--they even pushed the surprise ending to the splash panel so they could underline it.

(Thanks for the contest, Karswell! It's easy to win when nobody else plays. Can't wait to read number three!)

Daniel [oeconomist.com] said...

While I can see how this story has a place in this 'blog, Mestiere is quite right; the tale is not a horror story at all. There's no suggestion of menace from beyond the grave; the thesis of the story is a comforting claim that there is a happy enough life after death, and that all our kith and kin are doing well, just a difficult phone call away.

Mestiere and Keir are surely right that there's no logical proof of life-after-death to be found in precognition nor in psychokinesis, but the story wants to insinuate that there is because such skills are frequently bundled with communication with the deceased by ostensible possessors. In effect, the story is empowering the reader to pretend that some of these folk are neither charlatans nor madmen, and that, thus, personal annihilation is an illusion.

Tim Whitcher said...

As meek as this story is, it still violated the original comics code my mentioning the occult and showing a ghost. Tough times for horror comics!

Jack said...

I think history shows that there is life after death, because the author's imaginative faculties are a condition produced by the brain and the brain is material.

Karswell said...

Thanks for the comments, got some Fawcett horror coming up next