Monday, April 28, 2014

The Practical Joker

I'm glad I dug out these Black Magic issues because I've been looking for this story to post for a long time now. Having forgot the title, I did remember it being really funny and sort of chilling at the same time, but for some reason I remembered it being an Atlas tale (which it of course feels a lot like!) Super art from Bill Draut as well-- and hey, don't let all those word balloons scare ya off, this one is definitely worth your "time!" haha...

From the February 1953 issue of Black Magic Vol. 3 #3 (21.)


JMR777 said...

An interesting twist on the time travel story. The epilogue of this story is up to the imagination of the reader, maybe the machine overshot the time co-ordinance and the joker ended up

In ancient Egypt as unwilling slave labor to help build the pyramids

In ancient China as an unwilling participant to help build the great wall of China

Appear suddenly in the middle of the Salem witch trials or the Spanish Inquisition

End up in the time of the Cave men

Or end up in the time of the dinosaurs. (Great heavens Professor, how do you explain the fact that in the remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex was the skeleton of a human being?)

The possibilities are endless.

Mestiere said...
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Brian Barnes said...

Fun, but a bit wordy. Reads like an Atlas tale mostly because of the introduction text and the more ironic just deserts (though, everybody ended up in an insane asylum, a weird coda to this story that doesn't really add anything!)

The notes trick is a little strange; the notes didn't come out of nowhere, he created the notes from the original book, which I assume still exists in another copy somewhere, and he just spent a lot of time building it, he has to understand the function and mechanics of the piece (he even instantly knows why it blows up.)

That said, at least now I can finally talk sports with people! And I hate sports!

Mr. Karswell said...

I love the dialog in this one, I actually wouldn't mind more of it but then there'd be no room for the art, haha

Pik-Cor said...

Could you answer a query for me? My cousin used to have all the horror comics in the world and I would spend hours, when visiting, reading them. One story in particular never left my memory. It was a about a fat man who ate frogs legs? And the legless frogs, on crutches, and little wheely things, that come pouring through a door (of a restaurant kitchen?) to get him in the last frame.

Ring a bell?

Mr. Karswell said...

It's called THE GOURMET, I posted it back in 2009 here:

Mr. Cavin said...

Man I really love the art in this one. Especially, for some reason, the second-to-last panel of page three. All this guy's faces are just great.

That's an excellent comment Mestiere! Added to those insightful, scientific observations, let me add that I'm never sure how it is these types of characters think they will be able to bring someone back from a remote location in time (and space) without a remote time machine to do it? Not that any of these considerations have an impact on this story, mind. Odds are the guinea pig really did appear out in space, five hundred years behind the trajectory of the Milky Way, spiraling off in the wrong direction at a thousand miles an hour. Bet he wished he'd taken a second time machine with him, too.

Mestiere said...
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Mr. Cavin said...

Another trope that frequently has me slapping my forehead in time travel plots is the assumption by the operators that an equal amount of time must be passing on both sides of the transaction:

"Golly, Professor Jones must be worried that we haven't returned to the future yet, but dinosaurs have infested the mouth of the time cave."

"You chrononauts must synchronize your pocketwatches because I will be pulling the callback level in one day's time and that's your one chance to come back to nineteen fifty-eight!"

But, of course, everything in one time line has already happened by the other one, so the passing time on either side is moot (assuming, obviously, the ability to bridge the gap between the two in the first place). This is exactly the same reason that an open video feed wouldn't really work, either.

Mestiere said...
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Grant said...

"I watched Phil's cheeks puff out in the preliminary stages of a horselaugh."

Even if this story weren't entertaining in general (which it is), it would be worth reading for that phrase.