Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Zombie's Doom

Here's another one from the August 1952 issue of Forbidden Worlds #8, (see our last post too), art this time by Harry Lazarus who we have featured here at THOIA many many times over the years. And yeah, if anyone is curious, it was indeed a zombie that took a giant bite out of my cover,--thus forever sealing this issue's DOOM! More from this crazy issue in our next post too!


Morbid said...

Geez, this was kind of touching. Some nice art in places, lots of melodrama. It almost seemed to be a metaphor for the woman who loves the hopeless alcoholic or drug addict or something -- except in this case it's some kind of weird necrophilia zombie-master thing. It's a shame he doesn't get to dance around with all those rotting corpses he wanted to raise, and get the girl, too. Poor zombie-master. A tear in my eye.

Mestiere said...

Oh my God! This might be the most tortured, incoherent prose I've ever read! I might have PTSD after reading that! What can we even say!

This has to be the same writer who wrote the last one, because we can see his fondness for the word "tom-toms". Plus the huge number of words. If somebody came to me with this tale and said "look at what I wrote" I wouldn't just think he was incompetent, I would think he was mentally ill! I wish I knew who he was and what was going on in his head. Was he the editor? What was it like working with this guy?

I'll try to do some analysis, but it won't be easy:

• He's trying to bring some zombies to "life" but they seem to have trouble digging themselves out of the ground. Of course! They're six feet under! If they buried you alive could you dig yourself out?

• Why does he want to bring the dead to "life" (unlife?). Supposedly he will die when there is a moon eclipse. How will the zombies prevent that eclipse? We were never told in any those hundreds of words!

• What's the point of going to Haiti? Aren't there more dead people in the US? Will he bring the zombies back to the US in his ship?

• An eclipse is not visible everywhere. He could have gone somewhere where the eclipse wouldn't be visible, but Haiti was clearly not one of those places!

"Dr. Esproc! But that horrible thing with the white face-- did it leave?" How about asking "Dr Esproc, what are you doing in my room and how did you find out where I live?"

I'll stop now because there is entirely too much wrong with the writing to say it all. Some comments about the art:

Page 2, panel 4: Susan is smuggling a grapefruit or had a mastectomy.

Page 7, panel 4: Is Susan jamming her thumb inside her skull?

Page 7, panel 5: A white, medieval street musician playing a lute in Haiti. Interesting!

I have to admit that I was entertained in a train wreck sort of way. Imagine everything that has to go wrong for a story like this to get published!

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

I knew a Living Vampire, but never heard of a living Zombie!
"Dr. Esproc"...
"What a fine looking CORPSE she'd make!"...
There's a mexican mariachi with a mandolino in the "small haitian village", what's he doing there?
Yes, the story is somehow melodramatic and touching, but also incredibly funny.
No, I wouldn't say the writer is "mentally ill"... I'd say he's Ed Wood... could well be.

aldi said...

Aw,I liked it despite its many faults. The ending surprised me. I was expecting one of two endings: she had zombie connections herself, maybe Mistress of the Zombie Hordes, or alternatively the power of her love and innocence would save the guy. The actual resolution took me by surprise and I found it quite touching, although I still half-expected a zombie to spring from the shadows and tear her to pieces!

Mestiere said...

"...I still half-expected a zombie to spring from the shadows and tear her to pieces!"

Of course you did. We were all expecting to see some zombies, it's in the title. And yet there are no zombies in this story at all, other than Dr. Esproc himself! The story begins with him failing to raise some zombies, and ends exactly the same way! In between those two pages absolutely nothing happens, no terror, no suspense, no action. Nine pages, over two thousand words.

So I'll try something different. I'll pretend that the story was written like this on purpose. I will try to show that this is not a horror story or a love story but a view into somebody undergoing a psychotic episode: Susan Wright.

"My car got a flat over on the turnpike -- and I was taking a short cut home!" Obviously there were no people who could help her with her flat at the turnpike so she abandoned her car and took a shortcut through the cemetery. Logical. And she was coming back home at the break of dawn.

• As I mentioned before, she finds Dr. Esproc in her darkened bedroom and reacts like that is normal. Just like a sane person.

"I--I'm Going away tomorrow night! To Haiti! It's a scientific trip--to study an eclipse of the moon!" So that's the kind of doctor he is, an astronomer! What was he doing in the cemetery then, Susan? Or in your room! Anyway, this is an example of the size of the area where a total lunar eclipse could be visible. Dr. Esproc didn't have to go to Haiti to study it.

• Susan looks up Dr. Esproc's address (wait, zombies have addresses?) at which point he offers her a job (zombies have money?) saying "I'll need someone to take notes and handle the correspondence during the trip!" You know, all that correspondence that Dr. Esproc the astronomer would get while on the ship and in Haiti. Is at this moment that we realize that Susan—on top of having no husband or boyfriend, no friends and no family—apparently has no job, either. But she has a car! In 1952! Or does she? Maybe that is part of her hallucination! We certainly never saw her do any work. Or driving!

• As an astronomer, Dr. Esproc goes to observe the eclipse at an observatory. No he doesn't, he goes to the jungle! Don't you think that is peculiar, Susan? Or the fact that the "fiend" from the cemetery and your bedroom was also on the ship?

• At the end Susan ends alone in the middle of a Haitian jungle in the dark (it's a lunar eclipse after all), with the sound of the "tom-toms" that Haitians are so fond of pounding in the middle of the night, with no explanation of what happened to her companion who, by the way, was paying for the trip. What will she tell the authorities? Unless she is not really there. Neither she nor Dr. Esproc were dressed as if they were in the tropics. Dr. Esproc was wearing a suit in the jungle!

I say she hallucinated the whole thing and I look forward to more stories about her and her next imaginary boyfriend, perhaps a mummy!

Karswell said...

good lord...

Mestiere said...

"good lord..."

Can you tell I have a little too much time available on MLK day?!

Liz D-M said...

"I say she hallucinated the whole thing and I look forward to more stories about her and her next imaginary boyfriend, perhaps a mummy!"

Noo, not a mummy's boy!

Morbid said...

I am always left stunned when I glance over all the analysis Mestiere does critiquing these stories! Probably this story was written in a half-hour while downing a few bourbons.

But nonetheless, somebody who spends as much time and effort as Mestiere does critiquing these things so thoroughly, must have written a few themselves. Have you? If you have any, or one in mind (6 to 7 pages) packed full of the stuff we all really like here on THOIA, maybe you might share it with me and be interested in my drawing it up just for fun? I'm drawing an adaptation of a short story by Aleister Crowley right now, but that's a lot different than drawing a story actually written for comics by somebody else. I am eager for the experience. My email is on the top of the first page of TRIPLE THREAT! below.

Mestiere said...

You are right Morbid, I do go over the top with my analyses, and for that I apologize. Sometimes I feel I might be taking too much of people's time. As for writing comics, since you put me on the spot, no, my training is in electrical engineering and architecture. I just enjoy comics! I'm sorry that I gave you the wrong impression, friend!

JMR777 said...

I like what J D La Rue 67 said, if this was made into a movie, it could only have been made by Ed Wood and ended up as a disaterpiece as only he could create.

A few holes in the logic-

If the corpses had a hard time of digging themselves out of the ground, why didn't the good doctor help them by digging them up?
Why couldn't Dr. Esproc take a trip to New Orleans Louisiana where the cemeteries are all above ground? If he had money to take a trip to Haiti he could have more easily traveled to the big easy and rise some Gumbo zombos before the eclipse. Better yet, why didn't he just bump off the girl and rise her as a zombie? He kept thinking what a good looking corpse she would have made, so why not go through with it?
This is one more comic tale where the idea had great promise, but a rewrite or two would have made for a more sensible tale.
Still, it was a good tale, grade B horror that it was.

Brian Barnes said...

Hey @Morbid, I tried my hand at writing a couple EC-style horror stories, if you want some, I'll drop you a line.

OK, this story: Yes, the Macguffin is silly; but it's there to drive the story. For every part of this story that is bonkers, I kept being drawn back that I *wanted* the relationship to work. They were characters -- even though their motivations were constantly suspect and turn-of-heel -- that I actually cared about.

And the ending made me sad.

Not as sad as the coloring!

I especially enjoyed the split personality being shown as two being tearing away from each other.

@Karswell; Strangely, the cover is torn right where the woman's bust would be. Have you gone all puritan on us?

Karswell said...

Would a Puritan bite the 2D boobs off the cover? I think not!

I love how this post sent everyone on a high speed descent into Crazy Town... hopefully the next post produces the same affect.

JMR777 said...

A quick look through past postings on this great blog led me to the story "Cabinet of the Living Death" posted back on January 6, 2014. While this story isn't as bizzaro as Cabinet was, it had more than its share of logic holes and plot potholes. At least the art is much better in this tale than Cabinet had.

Morbid said...

Oh, Mestiere, I don't want to put you on the spot, I just thought you were so into these things (more than the writers were, sometimes!) that maybe you might be working away on something. Don't have any contact info for you, so I left a message here. Please, keep critique! Don't let me critique you, critiquing!

Brian, by all means. Send me whatever you think is your best. Take your time, polish it if you want, a fully scripted comic book story, page for page, even panel for panel if you do it that way, and then I can draw it up just as you wrote it. That would be a great experience for me.

Karswell said...

I'm looking forward to this collaboration :)

Mr. Cavin said...

Frankly, I am pretty sure this is the best story I have ever read or seen in my entire life. Seriously. Also, I would pay *good money* for a hardback coffee table volume wherein thirty different artists illustrated this one story over and over. Sergio? Bernie? Corben? Watterson? Bode? I can't imagine any interpretation being a waste of my time. Morbid, I do not understand why you need to cast your net any further than this very post. This is the story for you! Hell, even I want to take a crack at it myself. Pages from this story should be in those art school ads in the back of magazines: "draw this scene and blah blah blah." This should be the litmus by which all publishing companies measure interviewing prospects. Every professional since the fifties should have a unique copy of this very story in their portfolios.

Karswell said...


Grant said...

Even though it isn't literally a vampire story, in a way it looks ahead to those "vampire as a tragic figure" stories, like DARK SHADOWS (and obviously countless current ones).