Monday, June 22, 2015

Number 1751: “The world’s finest clues are often taken from a waste basket.”

Graham Ingels drew this tale of an embezzler, a gambler and a hapless millionaire for Exposed #6 (1949). It is a crime story, but adds a detective who carries a cat.

The detective is Ephraim Gilpin, “independently wealthy, and very independent in his methods.” Well, yes, I should say bringing one’s kitty cat to a crime scene is probably not the usual detective method.

In the late forties, before settling into a regular gig with EC Comics (and cementing his reputation as one of the greatest horror artists), Ingels did like many other artists were doing, freelancing. I have shown his work before during this same era with stories from EC, Fiction House, and crime comics like Exposed. In this story the artwork is not up to the usual Ghastly standards of the horror comics, but the thing about Ingels is his style, no matter the genre, is instantly recognizable.

 I am a sucker for Sucker Bait and Other Stories Illustrated by Graham Ingels

Fantagraphics Books keeps the history of EC alive and vibrant with their series of books highlighting a different artist in each. The stories are shown in black line, which is perfect for this book of stories by Graham Ingels. Of all of the EC artists, I believe Ingels’ stark and noirish panels benefit most from not having comic book colors covering his carefully detailed work.

There are 26 stories from the EC horror comics, Tales From the Crypt, Vault of Horror and Haunt of Fear. What I miss are Ingels’ covers, which are moody and nightmarish.

The stories about Ingels are that he was alcoholic, and had trouble with deadlines. He must have caused his bosses some consternation, but in Bill Mason’s introduction for Sucker Bait, he quotes publisher Bill Gaines as saying “. . . we just stuck Ingels into the horror books and it didn’t take us very long to realize what had happened — that Ingels was Mr. Horror himself.” Al Feldstein, editor and writer of all of the 26 stories in Sucker Bait, said: “Graham Ingels’ work stands out because of his technique, which was a product of his total makeup — his physical, psychological, emotional makeup.” You don’t see the word “alcohol” in there. Maybe Feldstein just wanted to avoid mentioning that problem of one of his former stars.

If it was part of his makeup, then at least we have what we do of what came out of pencil and brush, and that is shown very effectively in this book.
 Drenched in black ink and mood, and yet often with a playful sense of humor...the best of Ingels is represented.

Like the others in this series, beautiful printing, tightly bound, made for permanence. Retail price is $28.99. Available from Fantagraphics or your usual book store or comic store. Highly recommended.


Not included in the book is this, “A Sucker For a Spider” is from Tales From the Crypt #29, shown in scans of the original art. Just click on the thumbnail to see it.


J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Gaines was right, Ingels' art is fine in this story, but there's definitely no hint of the forthcoming wizardry he will display at E.C. Ingels and Horror were just bound to meet.

"If you haven't heard of Gilpin the great detective, I am" ... Bighead! And I thought Holmes was arrogant... I'd rather think that Socrates is the real detective, a mutant cat with incredible I.Q. and telepathic abilities. It is the cat who solves the mysteries and hypnotically tricks Gilpin into believing he's the Genius.
I could kill for those Fantagraphic books. Have to find a Mr. MacAdams or something...

Anonymous said...

The old "both twins evil" trick! Fortunately the detective and his cat were up to the challenge. Rather well done. I liked the "Sucker for a Spider" story even more for the artwork. Wow and thanks.

Alicia American said...

OMG Pappy u say alcohalic as tho it culd B a bad thing yo omg

Pappy said...

Alicia, tsk tsk. I wonder if I should start asking for identification cards from you young readers, for age appropriateness.

Pappy said...

J D, I like your idea of the mutant cat with incredible I.Q. and telepathy. It actually makes more sense than the story as presented.

Pappy said...

7f7, as I mentioned, I just love looking at Ingels' ink-drenched artwork in black line, and original art is even better.

I think his panels would make incredible storyboards for horror movies.