Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Number 1520: Everything I know about cheating spouses I learned from EC Comics
First and foremost I learned that when a wife or husband is cheating they will either kill their spouse or be killed by their spouse. Then they will return from the grave to wreak revenge. I believed the first, but not the second. No, revenge could not be that easy. In that era, as I later found out, many places, including New York where most comic book people lived and worked, had very tough divorce laws. So you couldn’t say, “Why don’t these wronged people just get a divorce?” Actually they could, because before divorce laws were liberalized, proving adultery was the one surefire way to obtain a divorce. Then, as now, some people try to get around any kind of divorce by just murdering their spouse. Seems awfully extreme to me, but it is bread-and-butter to writers of horror, mystery fiction and true crime books.
These pages by Ghastly Graham Ingels are scans of original art from EC’s Crime Suspenstories #7 I found a few years ago on Heritage Auctions. What impresses me isn’t the shopworn triangle love/revenge plot, but Ghastly’s treatment. His gothic style made even something like the circus look creepy. His characters can be unattractive, causing one to wonder how they could be involved in an affair. But then, as I emerged from my cocoon of naïvete thanks to EC Comics, I found that adultery is more a crime of opportunity and less about meeting some good-looker who sweeps you off your feet.