Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Sleepers in the Crypt

One more from Fiction House's uniquely odd Ghost Comics series, (you guys seem to be having a love/hate with these stories, so we'll move on to other stuff in our next post.) But this is a pretty decent tale-- not unlike one of our previous entries about ghosts vs. gangsters-- to round things out on a lazy Sunday morning. From the Spring 1953 issue of Ghost Stories #6. Waaaake up!













7 comments:

glowworm2 said...

This one is still confusing regardless of the straightforward story. At first, I thought Aunt Jessica was a ghost, especially because Jeffrey kept seeing and hearing things nobody else was, and his aunt really seemed to be expecting him. Yet how was she still alive while all of his cousins were dead? What the heck was up with the great grandfather randomly possessing Jeffrey so suddenly?

JMR777 said...

With a bit of rework this would be a great psychological thriller.
Instead of a spirit, the aunt would haunt his dreams, along with his victims.

I liked the art in this one, it has that scratchy style of art that worked so well in ghost/horror tales.

Mestiere said...

"you guys seem to be having a love/hate with these stories..."
That's good, right? It's hate/hate that we should watch for!

Telling a story out of order is a legitimate way to tell a story, as the movie Memento and any number of Tarantino movies will demonstrate. Can it be done in an effective way in just seven pages? I don't know. Why dont we put the story in chronological order?

The Channel Islands are the only part of England to be occupied by the Nazis (this picture of Nazi soldiers in an English town is real). It looks like during the occupation of those islands the Nazis planned to bomb the Tweedsmere Castle. The protagonist, Jeffery, and his cousins decided to bury the family's jewels— accumulated by their evil grandfather Bartram—under the castle's cellar floor. Convinced his cousins were going to cheat him of his share Jeffery kills all four of them with his grandfather's two single shot pistols. The Nazis bomb the castle and Jeffery seals the bodies and the jewels in the cellar, planning to come back in twenty years.

But just ten years later Jeffery seems consumed by guilt, "haunted" by his still living aunt Jessica Bartram. He confuses the tapping of a blind man's cane with that of his aunt and thinks a personal ad in the paper comes from her even though the ad says it comes from "Mrs. MacGregor". He decides to hire two thugs to recover the jewels for him. Meanwhile, we see that Lady Jessica had come back to the castle from France. She sees a boat from a widow and her servant calls the police thinking it might be Jeffery. Her Ladyship predicts the police will find her nephew dead.

The thugs find the jewels and the cousins ghosts, meet Lady Jessica while escaping and later kill Jeffery—who meantime had been possessed by grandfather Bartram's spirit—with the same pistols he had used to kill his cousins. The police, previously called by Jessica's servant, capture the thugs. In the final panel it is revealed that aunt Jessica blamed grandfather Bartram for Jeffery's evil and had wanted the death of all his descendants.

Is the story better now? Here are some questions. Was aunt Jessica a ghost? I say no since she mentioned coming back from France and her servant really called the cops. How did she know the police would find Jeffery dead? I don't know. How did Jeffery manage to kill four cousins with two shots? He had to kill two cousins with each shot. That's some badass shooting. How is that possible? I think I know. Look at Jeffery in the second panel of page four. Looks familiar? He looks like James Bond ("Shaken, not stirred"). This whole story was happening in a parallel universe where Jeffery would have been James Bond if things were just a little different!

You see, Karswell? It's not so much love/hate but rather love/hate/love!

Mr. Karswell said...

haha, we’ll have to take your word for it!

Brian Barnes said...

I love/love the previous stories. Sure, they have consistency and narrative problems, some value a kitchen sink approach over a more precise approach, but they are fun. They are light reads and the people who were making them "knew" they were disposable, but still put the time in.

This one, I still love, but the narrative is nearly impossible to read. Page 3 and 4 stopped me in my tracks and it didn't help that the introduction of our two thugs was by somebody else just introduced (and then disappeared!)

It's fun to look at structure of things that were really meant to be gotten out quickly and make a buck while moving onto the next issue.

Also some really good placement in the art. The splash is fun, and page 3, panel 3 is like a scratchy Scooby-doo background.

Todd said...

I can't tell if I'm just tired, but I read this beginning to end and have no idea who or what any of the characters are. I'm not sure I've ever read anything before in English and come away so unenlightened.

Mr. Cavin said...

Oh there are excellent details in this story. I like to think that the aunt is very much still alive, and that she's been attended by Parkins, the dead butler from ten years ago, the whole time she's been in France. There's a sit-com for you; Mr. Belvedere meets the Ghost and Mr. Chicken in La Ville Lumière! I love the way he seems to be serving her a whole glazed ham at family's heirloom electric organ.

The story is neat in the way the very real haunting is also leavened by Jeffery's own guilt, to the point where the personal and literal demons make a kind of feedback loop. Between the poor boy's frequent psychotic fugues and that act three introduction of the concretely paranormal, it's hard to really tell what's what isn't it? Jeffery's loosening grasp on reality is reflected nicely in the schizophrenic narrative tone.

Also, the cover rocks. It's hard to foreshorten the human body like that. Hats off!