Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Reluctant Ghost

A seance leads to doom and disaster, as usual, in this spooky Ken Rice illustrated tale from the January 1955 issue of The Beyond #30, --the very last issue from this great Ace Magazines series.


Mestiere said...

An eerie story with effective art.

Interesting that the protagonists would take the trouble to contact the beyond and instead of asking about the meaning of life, the existence of God or anything transcendent they just wanted beauty, power and money in this life.

Brian Barnes said...

Spectacular art in this one, and some truly spooky ghosts.

Interestingly, while it's hard to ever know because no real accurate evidence exists, it seems to historians at the time that Cleopatra wasn't necessarily a beauty queen, but instead had ample wits and charm and that's what made her beautiful. The ghost should have taught Marsha -- who wasn't that bad looking -- how to handle herself at a party!

Also, for Marsha, why would you go to bed if you knew ghosts were coming at midnight?

A great, fun tale.

@Mestiere -- nobody needed to asks questions about transcendence, while more remain, the ghost basically spilled what happens to you after death (and his very existence proves life after death) without anybody asking.

Mestiere said...

"nobody needed to asks questions about transcendence, while more remain, the ghost basically spilled what happens to you after death (and his very existence proves life after death) without anybody asking."

Transcendence means "going beyond" and it implies an ultimate goal for human existence. The ghost said something about "reward and peace" after paying for his crimes, but that is awfully vague. He certainly did not say anything about God or the meaning of life. Instead the summoners used him to make wishes, like he was a genie.

If you had the immense oportunity to talk to a spirit, would you ask him to make you pretty?

Mr. Cavin said...

Hey, some neat, clean-line art here. I really liked the swirly smokey atmospheres and the crisply technical house drawings--and especially the dead people and Andrew's eyes behind those coke-bottle glasses (maybe the nice clean lines were a little too antiseptic for the swamp scene, but what're ya gonna do?). Speaking of the houses, check out the Amityville horror house at the top of page three. I always knew it was Cleopatra haunting that place.

Have I mentioned the rainbow sarcophagus on the cover here before? I love that picture.

Brian Barnes said...


If you had the immense oportunity to talk to a spirit, would you ask him to make you pretty?

Would you trust the answer? :)

Karswell said...

And all of this being under the assumption that the "spirits" are even given access to these answers and / or allowed to even fulfill such requests from whatever rules over them, being gods or devils...

Mestiere said...

"And all of this being under the assumption that the "spirits" are even given access to these answers and / or allowed to even fulfill such requests from whatever rules over them, being gods or devils..."

That's the assumption under which the protagonists operated, that it was all real and the ghost could be trusted. They clearly did believe that that transparent image of a walking rotting corpse really was a spirit who could answer questions and grant favors. You and I might have had our doubts but the characters in the story did not. They believed it. And still they chose to ask for money, beauty and advantageous information about the future.

Brian Barnes said...

In the end, I'd just wish Karswell has a long blogging life and not killed by trees and/or wasps, and then Karswell drags my blogging up with his major blogging celebrity :)

Karswell said...

You did not just say blogging celebrity. For every cool blog follower you manage to acquire, you also get 10 uncool, demanding, greedy asshole commenters who assume you somehow owe them the world just because they say "post this for me." ----you wouldn't believe the amount of lame hate comments I get that I refuse to publish because yes, people suck.

Brian Barnes said...

What are you talking about? You are just trying to distract from the fact that you still haven't published my 1,567 requests or managed to track down and scan that rare 1950s comic "Spooky Skeletons of the Grisly Tomb" and "The Somewhat Scary Vault of As It Turns Out Tales." Geesh. All we demand is that you put your life on hold and dance for us! DANCE!

JMR777 said...

These uncool, demanding, greedy asshole commenters sound like the three victims in this tale, not realizing they shouldn't mess with forces beyond mortal ken. If there is any justice in this world (or the netherworld/beyond) these demanding commenters deserve their comeuppance, and the sooner the better.

(Off topic a bit, I'm trying to find a recipe to make magician's flash paper that bursts into flames from only the heat of a someones hands. Such a paper would be very useful, especially when they have runes written on them and are sent to unwanted commenters. Any suggestions anyone?)

Karswell said...

Or disappearing ink! When declaring "times allowed" sometimes it's best to also give the victim a limited, fair warning time frame before said message disappears, or self destructs

Mestiere said...

I think you are doing the right thing, Karswell. People complain about "censorship" when trollish, racist, offensive, inflammatory comments disappear. I fundamentally disagree. Moderating and censoring are not the same thing. Words have more than one use. They can be a means for transmiting information and ideas. But they can also be used as a weapon. By poisoning a conversation they can actually interfere with the free exchange of ideas. You can see many message boards were an interesting exchange can devolve into angry name-calling after a single nasty, mean-spirited comment is allowed to remain.

I remember reading that the men who invented the world wide web were all potheads and a little paranoid. They were afraid that their own invention could be used against them. That is the reason why the web was designed so you could comment anonymously. That was a terrible mistake.

Mr. Cavin said...

Whoa, Mestiere is your real name? Awesome!

Not to veer us too much further from topic, but I think the grand cultural experiment we've seen over the last half decade or so has made it pretty evident that nobody acts much more responsible under their verified, real names than they do anonymously. The problem is that, culturally, people still operate the internet as a video game or a television--basically interacting with it as an unreal space created for their amusement. In practice, people have a lot of trouble believing in invisible strangers. This is because people are, by and large, solipsists. Many people have trouble crediting the opinions, interior lives, and motivations of their best friends. They are poorly equipped to personify typing on a computer screen; a place, in any event, they've become conditioned to consider a fantasy playground. The fact that they are having conversations with unseen strangers has more to do with their conduct than the signature on their message.

I do believe in anonymity, even without having ever been a pothead. I also kind of disagree about your idea of "poisoning the well." I see that happen as often as anyone, but I don't care. I don't think it's inevitable, I don't think it relates to anonymity, and I don't think it's all that harmful. We have to learn to protect ourselves from mean internet people somehow, right?

All that said, I want to make sure I've not confused the issue. None of that has anything to do with this. This is Karswell's magazine, he can edit his letters page however he likes. I'm all for the elimination of overseas porn site ads and constant requests for this and that, hate mail, etc., because this isn't a community space. It's Karswell's space.

Karswell said...

Appreciate the support, fellows! All I really have to say is that if someone does NOTHING to contribute to this blog in terms of commenting or donating, then DO NOT ask me for anything-- especially by way of repetitive, broken record demands. The more you bother me, the less likely it is that you're ever going to get what you want.


DO NOT ask me to promote your friends crappily illustrated, homemade zine or online web comic (that is what the Ghastly Awards are for-- submit it YOURSELF!)

DO NOT instruct me on how you would scan pages for posts, and how you would "maintain that dirty ass old page feel to keep it real" or some shit. If you have a better eye than I do, then start your own fucking blog.

DO NOT email me and critique the stories we have chosen for HAUNTED HORROR or The Chilling Archives books. If you have such wonderful ideas, then start publishing your own fucking books.

DO NOT ask me to spend more time on THOIA and to ditch AEET just because your narrow little brain only likes horror comics, --the chances of me ditching either blog would likely result in the ditching of THOIA first anyway, as I clearly have other fucking interests than just horror comics.

I guess I could on and on all day, seriously, if you guys only knew the headache of asshole comments that I have to moderate DAILY. It's almost worse than spam. The handful of you that actually bother to comment and donate are really the only reason why this blog still exists, and I thank each and every one of you.

Thanks for listening.

Karswell said...

Comments on this post are CLOSED.

Grant said...

Brian Barnes is right about Marsha. She reminds me of the expression "Hollywood Homely," because they wrote a character who "wanted beauty," without drawing her anything like truly unattractive!