Monday, January 6, 2014

Cabinet of the Living Death / Curse of the Witch

Here are the other two traumatizing tales from the June 1951 issue of Mysterious Adventures #2, no artist credits listed at GCD for either story-- though just as we saw in our last post, another entry from this issue gets the 70's Eerie Pub art make-over, this time by Oscar Stepancich and appears in Horror Tales, Weird, and Terror Tales --and thus "The Cabinet of the Living Death" gets mundanely retitled "Body Snatcher." Some of you may have also noticed the issue cover blurb from our last post that mentioned "terror of the ghoul's corpse"...there is no story in this issue with such title.


JMR777 said...

There is a good bit of unintentional humor in the first story

We sail aboard the Ferry Queen
(Is it docked by the Dairy Queen?)

Marcy Merry, I will leave other posters to have fun with that one.

“We don’t sail until midnite. You, me, and my dolls.”
Ed Wood would have been proud of a line like that.

When Jim heard him say “We don’t sail until midnite. You, me, and my dolls.”
shouldn’t Jim have realized that the guy had evil intentions, or at least was a candidate for a straitjacket?

“I’m in until the end”
Prophetic words for Jim.

In the second story, how was it she was proclaimed an innocent witch by the spirits?
Wouldn’t falsely accused witch have been more accurate? It is hard to figure out the logic of spirits sometimes.

These two tales had the right mix of scary and roll your eyes humor. They were a bit like the horror movies of the thirties and forties where the main characters are dull witted until a key clue is discovered and all of a sudden they become Sherlock Holmes and solved the mystery in time.

“We don’t sail until midnite. You, me, and my dolls.”
That is just too good a line to overlook so I will quote it one more time. It makes me laugh each time I read it.

Brian Barnes said...

A woman named Abigail, who was cursed and returned from the grave to destroy, and people being turned into living dolls ...

Did a young King Diamond have this issue?

OK, two perfectly goofy tales, but the art ... oh the art. On the second story, it has workman like quality. One the first, it's a class in how not to do art. Just for fun, quickly, on the first page:

The man looks like a women
The woman is supposed to be scared but looks pissed at the man
The perspective is so goof ball that I can tell if they are all supposed to be dolls or not
The cemetery, in the jungle of South Africa, looks like a cemetery in Illinois, and is built on the least flat land I've ever seen
The gravestones in panel 2 are comically big
The man in panel 3 is reading the note with his eyes closed

Heck, the text "cabinet of the" and "living death" have different perspectives!

Sorry, but man, I love that first story. It's the Plan 9 of horror comics! It's nearly impossible to follow, the art is bad, the writing is run-on, it's nearly perfect!

Mr. Cavin said...

See, the name of the boat is a rather clever pun on the title "Fairy Queen", a ferry being, well, a boat. Dairy Queen is also a pun on that title. I think that's a case of pretty intentional humor, actually.

I spent all last Wednesday afternoon listening to a toddler and a seven-year-old telling scary stories around a campfire. Those stories all had much of the same breathless, headlong, made-up as it goes quality that the first story here has. I like its pitched lunacy: they are shrunk but then the lady bites him and he is also shrunk and then they are saved by a revenging zombie but then the zombie makes them into dolls anyway and then..." Last Saturday the stories all had a lot more to do with My Little Pony characters, but the timbre was the same.

I thought the second story today was just great, though. Totally excellent. Page two (at least) had magnificent art, and the plot--while perhaps slightly more pregnant with potential than it ultimately gives birth to--was a really clever idea. It might have been another page longer and a bit less neatly ended than it was, and like the previous commenter I was confused as to Abigail's witch status (or lack thereof), but overall I really dug it. I think it would make an excellent Barbara Steele movie.

Mestiere said...

This stories show how difficult it is to write a coherent story. See the many ways you can screw up.

In the first one the narrator changes from an unnamed ghoul host to Marcy Merry without a warning, then back to the ghoul and then to Jim Bixon.

On page two Marcy and Jim are introduced for the first time, but by page three they are on a first name basis, as if they knew each other, maybe like they are an item.

Doctor Sharon hypnotizes people, injects them with something that will regress them to "pre-birth size" (that could be anything from a nine month old fetus to a fertilized egg) paralyzes them and passes them for dolls. Apparently, he can also "regress" their clothes. But then, why did he make actual dolls of Jim and Marcy? There they are, on panel one page six. We had earlier seen one of Jim Bixon (with different clothes) on page four. How are the dolls going to be their "coffins"? Are Jim and Marcy going to be put inside the dolls? And what was Sharon's motivation? He said something about proving a theory. What theory was that?

Later zombie Frank Chapman appears in that same cemetery. Let's ignore the fact that no explanation is given for Chapman to be a zombie. Sharon said that Chapman died in Tibet. His ashes are supposed to have been buried in the states in the first page of the story. But actually he had been buried on a cemetery in a South American jungle. Wouldn't people know that you didn't come back from Tibet?

"In the graveyard the dolls lay for years until another expedition from Argentina came along..." There was a first expedition from Argentina? Is it the one with Jim Bixon, Dr. Sharon and Marcy Merry? So all along they came from Argentina? There is a mention in the next panel of a Santos Museum. Did they pay for the first expedition? No, the ad on the first page says that Dr. Sharon was paying. And what was the point of the first expedition, what were they looking for? They never said! The ad on the first page asks for people to come on an expedition, but doesn't say why. They just end up in the doctor's laboratory.

And what about that graveyard? You have to wait years for an expedition to find it but people have been burying their dead there.

The second story is not much more coherent. "The house, the caretaker's wife, and brother, had been reduced to ashes" we learn on page five, panel two. Only that in the very next panel the bodies of the caretaker's wife and brother appear intact.

Fire is supposed to burn witches, but here the witch is immune to fire; in fact, she causes them. But why was she cursed if she was innocent? And what about the innocent people she killed? Why should they suffer because Abigail was cursed?

You can't easily blame lack of effort. The stories are really wordy and the art is not undetailed. It's not like the creators were in a terrible rush. I blame either lack of practice or lack of appropriate feedback. Hopefully these people got better with time.

Mr. Karswell said...

I have a few more of these early wonky Mysterious Adventures issues if anyone's interested, I can pull them out and post them another time... up next I have a cool Frank Robbins story for the people like me that love Frank Robbins, all others can just sit it out until the post after.

Thanks for the incredibly lengthy comments, haha

Grant said...

When it comes to "The Cabinet," I definitely expected a happier ending, along the same lines as the movie ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE.