Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Number 1520: Everything I know about cheating spouses I learned from EC Comics

I was sheltered as I was raised, not allowed to make a fist until I was 23 (as actor McLean Stevenson used to say). Well, it wasn’t quite that bad, but up until I entered puberty I had no idea about The Real World Out There, the one where people who are married are sneaking around on each other. Puberty coincided with reading used copies of EC Comics, which I bought mail order (50¢ each!) from Bill Thailing in Cleveland, Ohio. Hoooo boy, did I learn a whole lot from them!

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.


Debbie American Hooray! said...

OMG Ghaslty Grahm's SPOOKERY yo OMG BRRRRR! I drew a spookery comic 2 but its not as sceery as Mr Ingels, Pappy! its calld "Debbie's 1st Manga Hooray!" & I battle Bigfoot in it Hooray! OMG We luv u Pappity! XOXOXOXOXOXO

Pappy said...

Deb, hey thanks for showing us your comic art. Cute stuff, Deb. Keep it up.

Did I ever mention my son saw a large man-like figure early in the morning, standing in the treeline by the rural road where he would drive to college in Western Pennsylvania? I don't think he wanted to stop and see if it wanted a hug.

Brian Barnes said...

One of Feldstein's greatest gifts was being able to pair the right artist with the right story. This one is a rare misstep.

Ghastly (still signing G Ingels at this point) does a great job, but it doesn't play to his strengths. There's lot of machines and talking heads. Like you, Pappy, Ghastly really impresses with his ability to make what he's given spooky, but he would have been better served with a different story.

Still, by far, the best artist at EC, and probably in horror, ever. The Witch with the cone still makes me laugh no matter how many times I see it!

Pappy said...

Brian, I can't think of many artists at EC who Feldstein could have given this to. Krigstein? Or Jack Davis, who did the wonderful carny stuff with the origin of the Crypt Keeper, maybe. This story is really just filler and I'm surprised Ghastly did as good a job as he did considering the tepid story.

Debbie American Hooray! said...

OMG ur sun saw Bigfoot spying on him? He was probly trying 2 get up tha nerve 2 axe 2 borow munny LOL OMG DONT lend Bigfoot cash he's just guna spend it on beef jerky :(

Scott Lahti said...

"I was sheltered as I was raised, not allowed to make a fist until I was 23 (as actor McLean Stevenson used to say)."

Last night, Antenna TV ran the 1973 episode of The Tonight Show on which he made that claim, in discussing his wimpy, unathletic youth, approximately thus:

Stevenson: I was so wimpy I couldn't even make a fist till I was twenty-eight.

Carson, not missing a beat: You missed out on a lot ...

The audience laughter, at first muted then building in delayed knowingness, reminded me of that which greeted this exchange from I Love Lucy, after Fred, while watching the fights on TV one evening with Ricky, had returned with fresh beer from the corner store within the space of a commercial break:

Lucy: Wow, Fred did it all in under a minute!

Ethel: Trust me, Lucy - Fred can do *everything* in under a minute ...

Pappy said...

Scott, ha-ha! I missed all of those...thanks for the update.