If the Creeping Death of our last post wasn't enough, here's another gruesomely bloody / sweaty Rudy Palais classic, this time from the Dec '51 issue of Black Cat Mystery #32. I'm not sure if I've ever seen another comic book story that featured the 'ol thumbscrew torture method, but it certainly adds a horrific touch to an already bonkers terror tale! The kookoo cover of this issue is exceptionally wacko too! Who's the artist?
I think I would have asked for edits on the second to last and last page, I assume the curator killed himself somehow with the sword? I'd have that clean up a bit.
Other than that, this is great fun. It makes no sense in a lot of places, mixes up ghosts/zombies, gives the worst punishment to a guy who did nothing, and then, the best panel of the whole thing, where the Baron is considering the offer, after being a mute killing machine!
The thumbscrew panels on page 4 and 5 are staged wonderful, especially the shadows on page 5.
I like how the colorist avoiding coloring the blood on the thumbscrews on the last page -- lazy, or worried? We will never know!
I'd like to give special props to the writer who went all out on his flower-ly writing. "Like ghastly fingers to clutch the barren throat of the sky", and that's just the first page!
What a surprisingly reasonable avatar of death Baron von Mort turned out to be. "Just let me put you back!" "Well, hmm, that sounds okay."
Well, if there's one thing a thousand venomous, dripping fangs are renowned for it's their remorse. Poor fangs.
So on the last page, Miss Johnson concocts a plan to avoid the curse by returning the Baron to his old grave, and then she must lie down in a fake swoon to await the coming cops. Okay. But she needs to come up with a plausible explanation for just how Mr. Wilson met his fate (which is more than the writer did), and she just makes something up (see it's easy). But... wasn't there a whole assembly of fools there to witness this event unfold? Did Von Mort kill them all, stuffing bods in every convenient torture machine in the building? "Honestly officers, they all just slipped!" I mean, I like this wrinkle, but I want somebody to draw it.
Actually, I would very much like Rudy to draw it. Man, I love this stuff. His art style is as cursed as the stories themselves. I love every dank, mustard-colored cranny of the splash page. I love every portrait of Miss Johnson that's close enough to see the details of her eyeglasses. And most of all I love the non-Euclidian warp of poor Andrews, hanging by his thumbs at the top of page six. We're looking up at the ceiling and down at the body. That's some Lovecraftian perspective woo-woo old H.P. himself would have boggled over.
Editor: "How much purple prose do you think you can fit in?"
I think this is the craziest story I've seen here in a long time. Especially the writer obviously forgetting about the audience who saw the ghost (?) zombie (?) vampire(?) appear to kill our (?) hero.
Also, I agree with the curator about the headstone: a German nobleman's spiky headstone covered with faux Shakespearean English carrying an overwrought threat would belong in a museum, yes.
In Panel 4 of Page 4, Ruth has almost a New Wave look.
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