Monday, October 10, 2011

"But when he ventured upon insult...": Ghastly meets Poe

 As much as I loves me some Atlas and Warren horror comics, the truth still remains; no other company surpassed EC at it's peak. The company's comics were literate, bold, beautifully drawn, sometimes more topical and enlightened than any prose works that were seeing print, and they helped to define not just a medium, but an entire genre. 

 They were also derivative as all hell, sometimes adapting stories wholesale but uncredited. Most of these were works that had long since fallen into public domain, but still, EC relied more on adapted stories than any other company. I gotta give them credit for always adding a little extra zing though, like this adaptation (Or rip off? I don't have the original comic to tell if Poe received credit) of Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado

 It adds a few twists to the original story, like giving the Montressor figure a motive, and adding a patented EC twist, but what makes this adaption work is the artwork of "Ghastly" Graham Ingels. Ingels work was in a class all by itself, even among the ultra-talented EC bullpen. His work would influence everyone from Berni Wrightson to Stephen Gammel. However, I must add a tone of dissent to my appreciation of his work: I never cared for it when he was asked to "go wild" with stories involving rotting corpses or slimy monsters. I thought he was most effective when drawing stories without any supernatural content, there his style really stood out because of how grotesquely he drew supposedly normal things. Just look at this story! The two leads, both ordinary humans, look like a hunchbacked werewolf and a dessicated corpse, respectively. That alone would be weird, but he also throws in some of the wildest facial expressions I've ever seen. Each little panel is a meme waiting to happen.
 So dig in, and enjoy this odd little mash-up between two masters of the macabre. Whoever the colorist was (likely Marie Severin) also deserves credit for the muted, eerie color palette. This one comes from Crime Suspenstories #3, and is hosted by The Old Witch, although with the green robe and masculine jaw, she could easily be mistaken for The Vault Keeper.



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