Saturday, March 2, 2019

Who Called Us Back?

Awesomely atmospheric art from the great Johnny Bell highlights this super spook spectacular from Ghost Comics #7 (1953), as we kick off a monstrous month of March Madness 'n Murder 'n Mayhem and many more things that might make you midwich cuckoos really go over the edge!


Mestiere said...

Steven and Ellen, a young couple, are cataloging old documents from an old castle apparently requisitioned by the local municipal government. The old owner believes the couple will find the ransom for a kidnapped French prince that had been paid but later disappeared. Instead, Steven and Ellen find documents indicating that earlier owners of the castle—sir Terrence Brooke and his evil Gypsy wife—had been buried alive by the local villagers for practicing human sacrifice and Devil worship. The master of the castle and his goons capture the couple and the documents. He mistakes the location of the earlier owners' tombs for the location of the missing ransom. When the bad guys open the coffins the spirits of sir Terrence and his Gypsy wife go Ark-of-the-Covenant on the bad guys and turn them into skeletons.

Notice that the story is fairly straightforward and self-consistent and yet it's told in an awkward, confusing way. Here are a few things that would have made it clearer:

• Eliminate those three ghost at the beginning. Unless they are regular horror hosts. They did nothing useful nor were they ever even identified.

• Make it clearer that Steven and Ellen work for the town.

• It would also have been useful to say why the castle was requisitioned. If the master of the castle was in debt that would have given him more of a motivation.

• It would have been nice if the missing ransom had been found, perhaps in a surprising or ironic way.

glowworm2 said...

Those three ghosts that leave cryptic warnings everywhere really weren't necessary for this story and make it more confusing. At first I thought that maybe they were relevant to the story--perhaps what was long buried and forgotten--but there's three of them and when the evil spirits are unknowingly dug back up, there are only two of them. So who the heck are these guys? No one can see or hear them, and we already know that whatever Ellen and Steven have discovered isn't very good,and that the three dolts trying to find it are the bad guys.
Also, how the heck does one misread "amoral" as "Emeralds?"

Finally, did they have to name the hunched over creepy looking caretaker Jamie? That's my name.

JBM said...

For me the three ghosts helped to create a mood of dread. I thought the art and story on this one were excellent. Enjoyed it right up to the unresolved ending. That cover! What a great kitchen sinker. Thank you Mr. K.

Brian Barnes said...

I just assumed the ghosts were the ghosts of the either (1) their earlier victims or (2) the villagers that burned them.

Page 2, panel 3, that woman would make me take up witchcraft, too! I can't blame Mr. Brooke!

The art is super heavy handed and it's great for the exterior castle scenes and the scratchy ghost. I see a bit of Gene Colan in some panels (middle of page 2, for sure.)

Page 3, panel 3 somebody is having way to much fun drawing!

I like how our evil pair seems to spring out of the ground like giants, but next panel they are regular decaying zombies who I assume just ... walked off?

Mr. Cavin said...

I don't mind the nontraditional narrative structure either, especially since this story is kind of slight, and nothing all that surprising happens (to be fair, that's two more things I don't mind much). It didsn't seem particularly confusing to me, and I like how the information unfolds as our POV characters discover it, instead of being trotted out as some dry info dump. It isn't as if our young couple have all that much else to do, besides observe.

What I really liked about the story was at the sentence level, though. I thought the writing was effectively moody.

I was on the fence about the scratchy art till page three. That's mostly because bad printing always leaves me wondering just what those fine lines were initially meant to look like. The look definitely advances the mood! But by the third page, that corrupted-looking fineness had given way to a chunky and angular dynamism that reminds me of George Bellows (with a bit of added futurism), and I liked that quite a lot.