Thursday, December 18, 2014

Horror at the Lighthouse!

Another story from the March 1953 issue of Beware! Terror Tales #6, art by Sheldon Moldoff. According to GCD, this tale was later reprinted in the 70's in a series called Super Giant, a K. G. Murray mish-mash of precode and silver age Marvel stories that ran 21 issues, with each issue being  100 pages long and a cover price of 40 cents. I've never seen these before, anyone else? If you're interested, click HERE for more info after the story...











14 comments:

Mestiere said...

Can you use a lighthouse to sink a ship by manipulating the light? I always thought that the whole point was for the light to stay on so as to mark a safe route for the ship. Turning it off is what could cause a wreck. At least that's what happens in movies and TV shows. But it's probably more complicated than that.

How come all the shipwrecks caused by the first lighthouse keeper didn't cause an investigation? And who delivered the paper? Could it be that the second keeper was a psychotic and everything was happening in his head? There is certainly a crescendo of insanity, where the Lovecraftian monster is first seen, then it abducts him underwater and speaks to him in English(!), and by the end is communicating with him through telepathy. If the monster was real then it clearly couldn't get out of the water, nor could it sink anything bigger than a rowboat under his own power, or it wouldn't have needed the help of the lighthouse keeper. Perhaps Lester could have hitched a ride back to the mainland in whatever boat was used to bring him that newspaper.

Dr. Theda said...

We kind of wondered "Who" delivered the paper....
entertaining tale Mr. Karswell... Thanks for posting it.... we always enjoy tentacled horrors as the "monster" in stories and films....

Karswell said...

Perhaps it was Dr. Who.

Let's see if the remaining comments on this post can mention positive stuff about a story for once... surely we can do more at this blog than be nitpicky over minor details

Brian Barnes said...

Well, I was going to say I liked it and be positive without being told :)

I like the length, this story works on dread and it needed the length to achieve that, and while a little stretched, his previous affliction -- whatever it was -- was a good enough setup to make it believable that he keep deluding himself that the horror wasn't happening.

It ends with the "what would you do." Which makes me wonder -- I know what I would, I'll tell the monster to stuff it and might as well kill me now, but I wonder in that instance how clever I'd be with the dialog. "I hope you choke on me!" probably wouldn't suffice!

Karswell said...

Maybe you could block his bowel and cause some serious damage from the rear... being a real pain in the ass seems more your style, Brian!

Grant said...

When I saw the first picture, with the "grizzled" lighthouse keeper and the younger one, I kind of expected a version of THE FOGHORN by Bradbury (only with a tentacle creature instead of a plesiosaur).

The one thing that bothers me about liking Lester isn't the obvious thing - the fact that he goes along with "ITS" conditions - since it's meant to be such a sad story. It's something a little smaller, and that's how rough he is with the other keeper, even before he knows his secret and feels disgusted by it. The caption says that he overpowers him by being more fit, but the picture shows him using that rifle butt to do it!

Mr. Cavin said...

Okay, I thought the splash was really crappy, but then the rest of the art was great. Coloring too. At first they seemed a little uninspired--workaday--but by the end I really thought the colors were complementing the inks very nicely, making for pages rather better then the sum of their parts. Good stuff.

The set-up happily reminded me a little of SH! THE OCTOPUS or maybe DAGON.

JMR777 said...

The sea monster was quite a creature, not quite an octopus or an enlarged eel but a cross between the two. Was the monster the only one of its kind, or were their others in the depths? Maybe their main lair is in the Bermuda Triangle while this one left for virgin feeding grounds.

I can only guess where the newspaper in the last page came from, either the lighthouse tender traveled to the mainland and bought supplies, or a supply ship dropped off the paper with the monthly supplies. Maybe the sea serpent leaves the supply ship alone so as not to attract undue attention, or maybe the captain of the supply ship is in cahoots with he creature and dumps a dead victim overboard now and then to keep the creature fed. The old lighthouse keeper said the creature had a way of keeping humans alive, maybe it has more than one human slave working for it, who knows?

It seems like spooky stories that deal with lighthouses or the sea have an extra layer of dread to them, the sea or oceans being so mysterious to man, even today strange looking creatures are found in the deep. Consider the fish macropinna microstoma, which has a transparent head and eyes inside its own head! Who knows what other deep sea beastie is waiting to be discovered.

Mark Cannon said...

Gidday, Karswell - I've been loving this blog for years!

Supr Girant ALbum was one of a range of B&W anthology comics that Australian publisher KG Murray produced from roughly the late 1950s through to the early 1980s. These mostly reprinted a wide range of DC material (DC comics were very sparsely distributed here through all this time) but a few oddities, such as Super Giant, reprinted a much wider range of material. Particularly interesting are a couple of titles, "Doomsday" and "Haunted Tales", which in the early to mid 1970s reprinted large amounts of Pre-Code horror from several publishers, including ACG, Charlton and Fawcett. They introduced a generation of Aussie comics fans - including me - to Pre-Code horror. I haven't checked, but I wouldn't be surprised if this story also appeared in one of those issues.

There's an excellent website on these and other Australian reprint comics at http://www.ausreprints.com

mcannon

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Well not much to say about this one, aside from the fact that splash panel is quite misleading, showing the hero and the old guy figthing the monster side by side. Luckily, the story turns out to be completely different.
I don't like the monster's "design", but his figure turns out to be very intriguing. Who is he? (I don't write "what is it?" on purpose for he's an higly intelligent creature, maybe my English's not quite correct but that's the meaning)
Where does he come from? Is he really a "scientist" and where did he get those glass cages?
Visually, the artist reaches his peak in showing the hero's emotions (astonishment, fear), and the story's "theme" is a classic: each lighthouse keeper is trapped into a "wheel" situation, to serve the creature turning into a murderer until one of them will have the strenght to refuse and be eaten (this won't change anything anyway) or to fight somehow. Surely the creature's game will have to end sooner or later. Cool story.

Mestiere said...

Had this been written by a better known writer it would be considered a study in madness, where an unreliable narrator gives a subjective, disjointed account of his condition:

The old man

Was he ever there? Lighthouses operate under the authority of the US Coast Guard. Would they continue to pay the salary of a keeper who was allowing all those shipwrecks? And if the old man had really been there it still might not have been him the one who returned that night. Notice his disappearing eye patch on page five, panel five. He might have been Lester's hallucination!

Lester goes fishing

On panel three, page six we see Lester fishing while thinking "This is the life!" This is after he saw the monster and the returned old man. Does Lester fall into fugue states where he temporarily forgets what happened before?

The monster

This one-eyed creature that changes size wildly from panel to panel (last panel on page six versus last panel on page seven) and who hungers for the flesh of men seems awfully Freudian. "It's not me who desires the flesh of those men," says Lester. "It's the monster!"

The paper

Who brought the paper? It was Lester! He was never isolated in that lighthouse but could go to the mainland every day and then would forget about it.

"They wouldn't believe the truth even if I told them! They'd think I was insane!"

Why? Does Lester believe the monster wouldn't appear if the authorities came for him? Then he is not really trapped in that lighthouse, is he? That kind of incoherent thinking, plus hearing voices (the monster talks to him in his head) is characteristic of schizophrenia.

Had this story been written by Alan Moore or directed by Stanley Kubrick we would all give it the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps we should do it anyway.

Karswell said...

Thanks for the info Mark... going through each GCD Super Giant issue and story listing, (though hardly complete), I'm guessing you meant Marvel, and not DC, as it seems that Murray possibly had a reprint licensing agreement with Marvel, as well as Fawcett and Charlton for Super Giant --unless you meant a different title under this publication?

Grant said...

The creature's appearance mixed with his very proper way of speaking makes me think of the creature in THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE (which I never saw till a few years ago). That one has a "cyclopean" creature with tentacles (?) carrying on a whole conversation with a human being. It might even be by telepathy as in this story (I forget).

Mark Cannon said...

Hard to say exactly what K G Murray's agreement with Marvel was, Karswell - they reprinted very little Marvel material (basically in Super Giant and a couple of other minor titles, like Climax Adventure Comic), but the company's main anthology comics, like Mighty Comic, Wonder Comic, All Favourites, Superman Supacomic and many others reprinted masses of DC material for several decades. The history of Australian reprints of American comics is a fascinating but murky field, with only a limited amount of solid information, despite the valiant efforts of a few local researchers in recent years.