Friday, October 11, 2019

Gravestone for Gratis

A wonderfully creepy, kookball classic from Farrell, and a tale that many of you might recognize from the half dozen or so Eerie Pub reprints and reworking / retitlings as "The Ghoul" in the 60's and 70's. Originally appearing in the Jan - Feb '55 issue of Fantastic Comics #11, and being the last story in the final issue of this very short-lived series, it in fact actually kind of helped end things on a howling high note instead of a sad sax whimper like most brink of code days horror.


JBM said...

Thank you Mr.K. for another wonderful Halloween treat. I get a silver age DC feel with a little Eisner's Spirit tossed into the art. Wow, what an ending twist. Not expected in the least. Was this story a comment on animal testing?

Mestiere said...

That's one way of surprising your readers, by withholding a vital piece of information until the very last page: Doctor Ted Lawrence was an epileptic.

Since the ghoul was obviously a guy, not a supernatural being, he must have been a mentally ill person. He was wearing pants and a shirt. The green color can simply be green sickness, also called hypochromic anemia. He must have been malnourished waiting for a fresh body to be buried, not an embalmed one. The strange hair on his arms could be starvation lanugo. The woman in the picture lost close to 70 pounds in eleven months. That kind of starvation can activate genes that cause the growth of a type of hair that usually covers fetuses. Anorexics often develop that weird hair growth. It was seen on many people during the Irish Famine. It can also be caused by hormones generated by a tumor. There is a mystery, though. Who shaved the ghoul's face, cut what was left of his hair and trimmed his little Zorro mustache?

JBM said...

I too thought of a Latin type when looking at the ghoul. Gomez? I've lost 80 pounds over ten months myself but that was my decision. Diet and exercise, everyone knows it. I've also had a beard my entire life. Shaving hurts!

JBM said...

and no I was not born with a beard.

Brian Barnes said...

That was a long walk off a short pier!

I love how the artist manages to draw a pretty girl (a dead one with surprisingly life-like skin!) even though there's hardly a female in the story. I'm surprised they didn't make the lady that owns the house hot (another weird side road of this story that could have been cut without changing anything.)

Things that could have been cut: newspaper buying (thoughts could explain this on the train), renting a room, the "having to get the car", the church scene could have been cut but that had good atmosphere.

This is not the most economical story telling ever! But I'm being nit picky.

I like the ghoul. He's not scary, furry arms or not. He's more like the guy that runs the deli counter!

Kooky is the right word for this. It was a fast-paced read (filler or not) -- totally unfair with the ecliptic fit -- but still entertaining.

Guy Callaway said...

"Even if you're not a ghoul,you're still the craziest looking thing I've ever seen!": Jeez, give the little guy a break.
Ghoul-boy reminds me of the beloved 'Shock-Monster' mask.

Glowworm said...

That ghoul really isn't that scary looking to me--It's the little Gomez pencil mustache and middle aged baldness that make me laugh.
I love how the ghoul just gets shoved inside the trunk of the car like that.
What's not fair? A pretty girl as a victim in the splash page, and not one in sight in this story. Also not fair, pulling on us at the last minute the whammy that Dr. Laurence has epileptic fits. Come on! That's not a twist, that's just lazy!

Mr. Cavin said...

Out of all the kooky elements included herein--flying cats, blue lightning, anthropophagous weeping--my favorite is the fact that Dr. Lawrence very often seems to look me dead in the eye while he's thinking. See the first panel on page two, but that's not the only example. Lawrence's study of the occult must be pretty advanced indeed if he's able to perceive the reader so easily. I mean, I can't do it yet.

JMR777 said...

If the ghoul only appears once a century, why is everyone trying to leave town? Why not go on vacation until the week or month of the ghoul has passed?

If the doctor knows he has epilepsy, why doesn't he have an assistant to help him in case it happens at a bad time?

Why doesn't the doctor carry a gun? If nothing else, it will scare the ghoul away.

So many unanswered questions, it reminds me of that GEICO commercial how people make bad decisions in horror movies- “Let’s hide in the attic.” “No, in the basement.” “Why can’t we just get in the running car?!” “Are you crazy?! Let’s hide behind the chainsaws.”

Maybe fear shuts down the rational part of our brain.

BTX said...

An out of nowhere epileptic seizure.... random endings seem to be the norm for pre code tales...

Todd said...

This was stupid, but it kept me guessing every step of the way!

I'm not convinced the ghoul was the bad guy.