Wednesday, February 8, 2017

True Haunted Houses & Ghosts

Will Eisner's Spirit Casebook #1 (paperback, 1976) contains over 20 illustrated "true" tales of the supernatural, compiled by master Eisner himself in 160 glorious black and white pages of atmospheric eeriness. Eisner's most famous creation, The Spirit himself even takes on the role of Rod Serling Crypt Keeper Karswell, introducing each tale with background information and spooky set up / wrap ups. It's a surprisingly chilling (even shocking at times) collection of unexplained occult events, ghostly visitations, and actual documented hauntings, and below are just 3 of my most fright-filled favorites-- believe 'em or not!


Morbid said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm inking five pages of pencils this weekend and have always admired Eisner's fluid inking. These little stories and illustrations are really nice. Although Jules Feiffer prefers the pre-war Spirit, I like how Eisner really loosened up with his figures and became a real virtuoso with a brush after he came back from the war.

Morbid said...

Wow, that last story is brutal! Just like you warned!

Mestiere said...

I'm familiar with the last story from the book Mysteries of the Unexplained published by Reader's Digest in 1982. The date given for the story is 1681, not 1636, the location is County Durham, not Lancashire, the name of the haunted man is Graeme, not Graham, and the killer, Mark Sharp, was acting on the instructions of a relative of Anne Walker, also named Walker. It was that relative who made her pregnant. So as brutal as the story is the "real" story is even worse, since it includes incest and a conspiracy of two killers. You can read more about it here.

Regardless of how accurate a ghost story is—and many people believe they can never be accurate because ghost don't exist—this book looks really entertaining with pretty nice art.

Brian Barnes said...

In that last tale, I hope the authorities investigated the guy that lead them right to the body, described the wounds, and said a ghost told him where to look!

Fun stuff, good ghost stories. The look of the art reminds me of Ploog in places, who evidently picked up a lot of his style from Eisner. The lengths Eisner went to not show the actual stumps in that first story is a bit hilarious. I don't know if Eisner was also responsible for the lettering, but I love every dripping or gothic story title (one of Eisner's genius addition to comic art was his integration of titles into splashes; I don't know if he was first but his work was certainly one of the lync pins.)

glowworm2 said...

The last tale is the best of the lot--I really love the artwork--especially the one of Mark Sharp stomping sadistically on Anna Walker.

JMR777 said...

Who doesn't like a good ghost story, especially if it is based on fact, or muddled facts as the case may be with legends and such.

These ghost stories wouldn't have been out of place in Ripley's Believe it or Not Ghost stories, with the violence toned down of course.

On the last page of the tale with The Spirit pointing towards Scotland, it made me think of "The Mysterious Traveler" since they both wore fedoras and trench coats.

Thanks for this post, these were some fine chillers indeed!

Mr. Cavin said...

Wow, neat book. I've never even heard of this.

I am certainly not the biggest Eisner fan among us--I'm often put off by conceits that seem to overshadow the rest of the work--but I really dig the super loosey, almost rough draft look to the illustration here. Is it possible he just put brush to blank paper and turned out finished stuff, off the cuff, right out of the sketchbook? That's not likely (and would be impossible for most), and yet the energy here far exceeds the usual inertial pitfalls of the pencil and inking double process.

Love the splash image on the Handless Ghost, and the "I will curse you" panel of Ghostly Justice. I wish there were more quarter-tone black panels like the ones that featuring the Spirit at the end of each tale (I especially like the first one with the map). Used judiciously here, that grayscale effect is dynamite, even if the art is rather closer to the usual Eisner look.

Bill Smiley said...

Holy cow! When I was a little kid back in the 80's, my local library had a copy of this that I checked out repeatedly. Plenty of images stuck with me for years --especially the cover image-- and I can say that it was a formative thing in terms of learning about how powerful comic imagery can be and the kind of stories I loved to read but I could never remember what it was. Lo and behold, I check twitter this afternoon and somebody posted a picture of some of Eisner's more obscure / weird projects and there it was staring back at me. Googled it, found this blog post. Thanks for posting the excerpts. Great little trip down memory lane.