Thursday, September 11, 2014

Forbidden Room!

Another Joe Certa story for ya today, this time from the May 1952 issue of Black Cat Mystery #35... looks like he might've got an assistant from Bob Powell in a few places here too-- the last panel on page two for example, maybe it's just me but she looks very much like a Powell babe.






8 comments:

Brian Barnes said...

What a dope Tom was, I mean, Elsa was drawn evil and hateful and greedy, I don't think there is a panel in this story where she doesn't look bad to the core!

A fun story with some great art. The splash is good, a little over reliant on big teeth but good, there's some interesting angles (especially page 4, panel 5.) Last page is laid out really well, how the eye follows the action.

This is another story that depends on people just not talking for no good reason. "Hey son, grandpa is in there as a vampire, and he'll steal some blood for his jewels." There, DONE! Easy! "Hey, Elsa, there's a vampire in there. Want some jewels? He'll trade you for them." Done!

Mestiere said...

Those are some huge key and keyhole. Everything must be happening in a planet of dolls.

Old Manfred van Dorn managed to extend his life by sucking the blood of a descendant in exchange for treasure. Which immediately raises a few questions:

■ What's the point of a really long life if you have to spend it in the same room?

■ What would happen when Manfred ran out of treasure? I know he described it as "boundless" but I assume it's an expression. Wouldn't it have been better to invest?

■ Why is it that Manfred didn't simply stalk the night looking for more victims? Was he a special kind of vampire who only sucked the blood of volunteers? But Elsa didn't volunteer. And he said: "I need it... all of it" referring to her blood, implying he intended to kill her. Since he couldn't leave that room (or he would have escaped the fire) who would feed him after he killed Elsa?

■ Since Tom had been knocked out by Elsa before he had a chance to burn the mansion, who set the fire? Are we to assume that Tom woke up and set the mansion on fire between panels knowing that Elsa was in there?

■ Since the final panel strongly implied that the vampire was dead, was it okay know to go for some of that "boundless treasure" that must have remained in the ruins?

Mr. Cavin said...

I like the set up of this one. The metaphor describing fusty old family duties and traditions is pretty acute. It might make a nice long-form story in which the scion, himself the first truly corrupt family member since the vampire himself, gets the big idea to toss surrogates into the cellar instead of offering his own blood--perhaps he's anemic and just doesn't have enough to spare? Either this will work all too well, and Tom will represent the psychosis of one trapped within the helplessly curdling restrictions of a name and a lineage as the nearby population is depleted of those he can easily lift; or it will be revealed that the Vampire Van Dorn can only live on family blood after all, and Tom will become a cautionary tale of abandoned family duty and kids these days. Either way, the vamp, maddened by hunger, really must emerge for a feral and helpless killing spree during the final act, something only his descendent can ultimately be blamed for.

Man, that bottom row on page three is magnificent. Total unmannered verve.

Grant said...

It's interesting that Mr. Cavin uses the word "vamp," because that describes Elsa too. In fact, for a time, the entire word "vampire" was often used in the same way as "vamp."

The bottom of Page 4 is a little comical. I've heard of platinum blonde hair, but Elsa's literally glows in the dark!

JMR777 said...

This was an interesting take on the vampire lore.
A little extra background information if added to the story would have been helpful, such as:
-The original Van Dorn selling his soul to become immortal and gain unlimited wealth, but not finding out that to do this he has to become a vampire.
-Each Van Dorn the original Van Dorn bites slowly wastes away and when they die become property of old scratch (unlimited life for Van Dorn, unlimited souls for the devil)
-The bite of the Van Dorn vampire instills an overwhelming feeling of greed forcing the descendants to return willingly or otherwise.

I vaguely recall reading somewhere that legend had it that when a vampire returned from the grave, it would feed on its relatives first. This story follows along the lines of that legend.

Karswell said...

You guys consistsntly leave the most interesting comments, thanks for the continual participation and contributing with worthwhile thoughts and information-- another post coming up!

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Hi everybody. This is a very interesting vault... I mean Blog.
Someone noticed the similarity between this story and a segment of the great 1974 british flick "From beyond the grave", an Amicus gem starring the ever-lovable Mr. Peter Cushing?
Seriously, this blog is great. Makes me think about my long gone days as a Mr. Monster reader (1986, no less). Those Eclipse guys gave me a good taste of pre-code horrors. Think I'll stick around, if you forgive my bad English.
Roberto

Karswell said...

Definitely stick around, Robert... lots more on the way, and of course the archive contains over 1700 posts so you have lots of catching up to do :)

Enjoy!