Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Coffin Maker!

IN COLOR! A terrific terror tale full of satanic suspense, also illustrated by Sheldon Moldoff (see our last post), and this time from the October 1951, debut issue of This Magazine is Haunted #1. This would've made a good old 1940's RKO horror mystery movie (starring Joan Bennett and Donald Meek), and I was actually tempted to repost it here in black and white to see if it would still work, but as some of you can see I'm running a bit behind schedule this October. Moldoff also created the wonderfully creepy cover art.

















CLICK HERE for the black and white version!

5 comments:

Brian Barnes said...

Not a fan of the ending (it's OK), but it's a wonderful story regardless.

I always liked deals with the devil when the devil wasn't just a dude in a speedo. It's a bit more otherworldly and less human. There is a real mounting of suspense in this one, though Carlotta was a strange character. She seemed to be the kind of predictable gold digger type, but was also the hero, and also had some humanity. All this, frankly, makes her more interesting.

The art: coloring is great all over. Solid coloring used well (last panel page 5) and the shadowing was lovely in places (most of page 6.) Great facial expressions, just an overall excellent job.

I felt for sure an angel was about to show up on the last page. I might have edited that differently.

JBM said...

The menace depicted on page six is terrorific. Especially the last panel of said page, it grabs you. Hiram broke the pact, he loses life. Thank you Mr.K. those of us who religiously read your blog know how hard you work and appreciate your existence. Boo!

Grant said...

Speaking of "some humanity," Hiram begging Carlotta to forgive him for blowing up at her - even though she directly went against her promise - really comes out of left field.

And speaking of non-traditional versions of the Devil, he's so far from infallible that two different times he doesn't know Carlotta is watching them! And the second time he can actually be conned by Hiram about it. In most horror stories he's supposed to be fallible, but that's almost taking it to extremes.

Mr. Cavin said...

I always like this story for its atmospheric verve. All those moody shadows moving along the stone walls. The dark webbed-up corners. The obvious loving care Moldoff put into the character art. I don't mind the end too much, but when people are critical I can see their point. Beyond being kind of conveniently speedy, in an otherwise slow-cooker of a story, it feels a little like Sheldon ran out of time, too. All those carefully foreboding panes give way to some big blank canvases in the middle of the final page. Not that I'm complaining about a panel or two. If this story had stopped cold in the middle of page six--all those hands reaching out toward the shrinking Carlotta!--this would have still been an artistic masterpiece. This Sheldon Moldoff week has been a real treat, and I'd love to see even more in the future.

The last time you posted this, you posted a black and white reprint. At the time I was convinced that I would like the color version better. The high contrast of the amazing art lacked some coherence in black and white, the subjects collapsed into the backgrounds a little, the elements were less connected. It felt too designed for color to work as well any other way. And even eroded some over time, on worse paper, with cheaper printing, this version was more beautiful in my eyes. It would be a neat project to apply the color here to the crisper printing on that reprint copy. Tedious and uncompensated, but neat!

Mestiere said...

"Isn't it remarkable that he should invariably be the first one upon the scene of a death!" Why would getting first to the scene of a death mean the family has to buy his coffin? Is he in a competition with other undertakers? Maybe the Devil got the other undertakers to take a bet. "Whoever gets first to the dead guy gets the contract!"

"Y-you made a pact with the Devil!" Did he? Because we never saw the Devil, only the statue. Even on page two, lower left panel, I think that's the statue. It's like, rather than being the Devil it was an evil genie that lived in the statue like it was Aladdin's lamp. If the statue didn't have horns and a beard people wouldn't have thought of the devil.

How careless of Hiram to leave that presumably expensive red jade statue on the floor like that. We know he didn't have to leave it there since Carlotta took it to her room and suffered no consequences from the "Devil", only from Hiram. But once you leave it on the floor wouldn't you make a point of not stomping on it?

So now Carlotta will inherit all the money her evil husband made from his deal with the Devil and suffer no consequences. A happy ending!