Sunday, March 18, 2012

Number 1124

The Crypt of Three Dimensions, with bonus from Boys’ Life: “How To Make and Use Your Own 3-D Glasses!”

This eye-popping 3-D posting is the last from our week of monster postings. If you just joined us, scroll down to the former posts for more monster fun.

"The Strange Couple," written and drawn by Al Feldstein for the third issue of The Vault Of Horror (#15) in 1950, was turned into a 3-D story for EC Comics' second attempt at cashing in on the 3-D craze of the '50s, Three Dimensional Tales from the Crypt (cover title: Three Dimensional Tales from the Crypt of Terror). It was redrawn by—of all people—Mad comics' Will Elder, who did a very moody and effective job on the story.

Drawing 3-D comics was a lot of work for the artists. Various articles over the years have explained how many different overlays the artist had to use, so it was time consuming and the artist had to be compensated for extra work. About the only 3-D comic that made money was the first, Mighty Mouse from St. John, and all the rest came out just about when the novelty had faded. Readers were paying 25¢ for the same page content as a 10¢ comic, with a couple of pairs of 3-D glasses, and the eyestrain that went with trying to read the blurry images.

Here's the original story by Feldstein. I scanned it from Russ Cochran's 1993 reprint of The Vault of Horror #3:

Here's the 3-D version by Elder:

The 3-D fad was effectively over by the time this magazine appeared, but Boys' Life magazine for December 1954 had an article with illustrations on how to make your own 3-D glasses. If you don't have glasses and want to read the above story, now you can do it yourself.

In the late '70s I bought a handmade pair of 3-D glasses from an ad in The Buyer's Guide for Comics Fandom. The person who made them did a good job. I'm still using them over 30 years later. The cardboard has started to yellow, but the colored cellophane is still bright. (Keep them out of sunlight.) You can buy colored cellophane in crafts stores. Good luck!


Weird WWII said...

Great stuff!


Gumba G Gadwa said...

Thank you for posting this! I'm a big EC fan, and while it's easy to collect everything else, it's never seen the 3D stories.

Elder did a fantastic job on this -- as much as I loved Feldstein, he sometimes didn't have the best "camera angles" on his art, and felt a bit static at times.

Elder's version is just gorgeous, he would have made a great addition to the EC bullpen had they lasted. I'm so happy to finally see this!

Pappy said...

I always felt that Elder could draw anything—witness his ability to draw in virtually anyone else's style—but he he didn't do much horror. He did the notorious "Strop! You're Killing Me!" in Tales From the Crypt #37. I feel the "Strange Couple" is much superior. I felt that way when I first saw it in the early '60s, also, when my eyesight was stronger and could hold out for more than a few pages of reading from my stack of 3D comic books.