Friday, September 15, 2023

The Wax Museum

I have nine, weird wax museum stories in the THOIA Archive-- the last one added back in 2019. So let's make it an even odd tenth terrifyin'  tale today, and this time with Don Rico turning up the hellacious, haunting heat! From the February 1951 issue of Marvel Tales #99!


Brian Barnes said...

So the ending is pretty obvious from the splash, but ... man ... it's still so freaky! You know it's coming, you know our sculptor is going to get a fate worse than death and yet the thing rolls on. It's really creepy!

I will ding it a bit for being so text heavy, but if I claim to love EC then I can't really be that harsh on text heavy stories.

It is a talking head story, but like most of the wax museum stories, they always get in a good collection of monster and/or killer statues.

Again, creepy!

JMR777 said...

Albert should have known better, no one likes to hear criticism, especially artists, especially artists who seem a little off kilter.

Mr. Cavin said...

This story shows a lot of chutzpah, not only by turning on an already deeply cliche reveal--"Gasp! The wax dummies are all real people!"--but also by teasing that reveal dozens of times in language like "It was true! I had felt all along that I was in the presence of human beings whose hearts beat beneath that hard wax exterior[.]" In a way, it sets up the reader conditioned to expect a twist; the big surprise here being there is no twist. Turns out, we're conditioned to expect just exactly what did happened, but the characters themselves wouldn't be, right? Like Brian, I feel like the real terror derives from watching these people discover what we knew all along: That they were trapped in a horror comic.

I love it when they get funky with the splash. Obviously, when I first saw those disembodied lips Science Fiction / Double Feature began playing my head. And it's too bad there isn't a Brad and Janet tucked into this tale, stuck between insane sculptor and obsessive sculptee, their innocent consciousness dilated through depraved circumstance, and left to suffer the consequences of learning they are trapped in a horror story. just like we knew all along.

JMR777 said...

After rereading this comic, it makes me realize that the mouth could have been used as a horror comic narrator, the mouth of the nameless void or the whispers of the beyond. It could still work if anyone wants to reboot horror comics.

バーンズ エリック said...

I wouldn't say this story gives away the ending in that the doom--if not the form--is outright stated. It's a pretty common trope at that, with Sunset Boulevard being a prominent example. What is weird is the telepathy introduced at the end. Oh, yes, I can see it ties into the whole 'they look as if they could speak' thing, but I don't think it's really needed to sell it. The mental communication between the victims would work better if they were real wax figures & ersatz people rather than the other way around, and in fact has been used like that, with the Twilight Zone having a prominent example.

I also don't think the enmity between the two is sold enough or that the way the plot is set in motion can bear any thinking about, but I do like the art, of course especially because of the Mort Meskin/Steve Ditko/Jim Starlin-esque disembodied floating lips.

Swinging back to the story, I will say I kinda admire the chutzpah with which the writer does not care about the mechanics of the transformation. Magic? Science? It doesn't say, does it? It doesn't really matter which it is for the story, so it doesn't really matter to the writer, I guess. Fair enough.

Grant said...

It's interesting when a horror story gives you a character who isn't all that sympathetic, but makes you sympathize with him (like WEREWOLF OF LONDON).
Maybe that isn't all that true of Bert Simms, but he is sort of egotistical when it comes to his art (even if it makes him an overachiever instead of a boaster).