Friday, October 3, 2014

The Demon of the Deep / Ghosts of History

I've said it before-- I love King Ward! From his cinematic, moody lighting, and atmospheric angles, to his bizarro monsters, and interesting character posing, Ward's scratchy, warped, and highly detailed style is very suited to horror. And on top of all that, his stories are just flat-out wild fun! I'd kill to see his pencil versions, as occasionally things can get a bit lost 'n murky in the inks and colors, but even that only adds to the brooding mystery he infuses into each unique panel (keyword his name in the THOIA archive for tons more.) The April 1952 issue of Adventures into the Unknown #30 benefits from having not only one especially weird, full-length King Ward tale, but also a cool 3-page "Ghosts of History" filler story. Enjoy!


Brian Barnes said...

This is one of those "horror" stories that's really an adventure story with horror elements strapped on. Replace the mad wizard with nazis, and it's basically the same story.

I love how completely nonchalant everybody is in this story. "Hey, I think they are corpses, but we've got our scuba tanks, let's go!" "Hey, let's follow the demon and corpses!" "Hey, let's go into the cave of death!" I wouldn't want to be a passenger in that guy's car!

Finally, they decide to move in land, but don't get a nice house in the suburb, no, they get the house next to the spooky cave which, as convenient script writing would have it, is the entrance to the air bubble and filled with just enough explosive vapors to finish this story.

I love the wizard flying through the air!

Mestiere said...

This was a good one, with an entertaining story and interesting, idiosyncratic art.

I was intrigued by the nature of Ken and Brenda's relationship. They never refer to each other as husband and wife, wear no rings, apparently have no children (or jobs) and might not even sleep together (Brenda is alone in a bed for one when she appears sleeping). They never kiss. Ken does call her "honey", but that could just be a guy being patronizing. I'm reminded of the horror movie The Uninvited with Ray Milland. It begins with him and a beautiful young woman buying a house where they can live together. They're brother and sister!

I was amused by the characters referring to their scuba gear as oxygen masks, like it was medical equipment. If you tried to breath pure oxygen underwater you would get oxygen toxicity syndrome and could die. Excess oygen kills cells.

Seeing the wizard blasted to hell like that made the story for me.

The story about Napoleon is true. He did believe himself to be under the advise of a supernatural being called The Little Red Man of Destiny. Hitler also believed himself guided by supernatural forces. After being temporarily blinded by gas during World War I he had a vision in the hospital of a supernatural woman he called Providence. And, of course, Muhammad was visited by the Archangel Gabriel. Within a hundred years of his death Islam had conquered everything between Spain and Pakistan.

Grant said...

As spooky as the first half is, Ken is such an amateur detective type that I half expected a "Scooby Doo" type ending where everything is explained away. As Brian Barnes says, there are so many non-supernatural counterparts to what goes on, and they could be thrown in at the last minute.

This is also yet another early story where the female character not only isn't helpless (which is something you're always told to expect in these early ones), but on top of that is the "voice of reason." Over and over Brenda is against exploring the mystery, not in a panicky way but in a "common sense" way.

Karswell said...

thanks for the comments

Mr. Cavin said...

My, my, I tried to hold you back but you were stronger / Oh yeah, and now it seems my only chance is giving up the fight / And how could I ever refuse / I feel like I win when I lose...

I also love King Ward's stuff here. I really dig the loose, brushy environments that look like Beto Hernandez or Paul Pope stuff, but in contrast with slightly stiff, much more formal figures (unlike Pope but still quite like Hernandez). It definitely shines through the old age and bad printing (and what may be uninspired color, who know?). The originals really must be groovy and spectacular.