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Friday, September 25, 2015

Number 1792: Revenge of the hunchback

“The Horror of Gaul” is an oddball story; published in a crime comic, it has some crime at the center of it, but mainly it is about the “crime” of being ugly. Quartrino, who according to the splash panel, “ . . . could very well have served as the model upon which [Victor] Hugo penned his famous classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” is a hunchback, bullied and insulted by his master. It takes place in 1527 in France. Crime comics often used historical settings for crimes. I have no idea whether this is based on truth or not.

It wasn’t uncommon for comics to have stories about pathetic characters who are ugly and treated horribly because of it. It evokes emotion in the reader, leading to a revenge ending. (“Hop-Frog” by Poe springs to mind as one of the best examples.*) There is a lesson in tolerance in there, somewhere, or at least a warning. If you are a bully and ridicule someone you may end up thrown off the battlement. You would deserve it, in my opinion.

From Atlas Comics’ Crime Can’t Win #43 (actual #3), 1951. Signed by Myron Fass.






*Henry Kujawa has been doing an exceptional job collecting all of the comic book versions of Poe stories, either direct adaptations or swipes, for his blog. Here is “Hop-Frog”.

5 comments:

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

1) "Quartrino" is a wonderful name. Sounds very italian. Maybe they thought of a name fit for a "shorty" character because:
Quartino = 1 quarter of a wine flask
Quattrino = an ancient coin (was he compared to "one dime"?)
The guy deserved a better fate. Why all the ugly hunchbacks have to die? This one wasn't even desperately in love with the Gal, so why not letting him kill the Highwayman and live?

2) It is amazing to me how comic books influenced TV and movies. Horror comics from the 50's influenced greatly horror flichs in the 80's, and looking at this one I can't help thinking about some 60's TV shows like "Ivanhoe" or the french "Thierry la fronde". It's like deja-vu.

3) Don't know if this actually IS a true story, but Crime comics often used historical settings indeed. For instance, think about "Demons dance on Galloway Moor" by Jack Cole. With historical settings, we're always on the verge of entering Horror. Wonder if there are Golden Age comics about Gilles de Rais.

4) My compliments for your excellent choice of stories and your fine sensibility in presenting them. This isn't something to be taken for granted.

5) Myron Fass is an irritating character. He is responsible for some of the BEST and WORST comics I read...

Ryan Anthony said...

In Tome of Terror), the horror comic I've been writing for a while and still hope to have illustrated and published, I include many stories set in other eras. I know those are probably not as scary as stories set in modern times, since the horror is not so immediate, but the gambit was used often in the old horror comics of the 50s-70s, and I rather enjoy those.

You know what always seems a little silly to me? Including foreign phrases in dialogue that is written in English to stand in for the original language. I suppose it's to add "flavor."

Thanks for the link to the Poe stories. It looks neat!

Pappy said...

Ryan, I think if it is possible to get into the mind of a person who lives in the past, things could seem very scary. Especially during a time when an invisible world of demons and devils was thought of as real as furniture in peoples' lives. I've been reading recently of the Salem witch trials, and the mentality that went behind such superstition, leading to the hangings of people whose main crime was that they were suspected of being in league with Satan by the marks on their bodies or by being ugly. Now that to me is scary stuff! Not the so-called witches, but the religious fervor and intolerance that led to persecution based on nothing but superstition. I find stories of real people and their mental states leading to murder much scarier than any supernatural elements (ghosts, vampires, werewolves), which I find about as scary as a Grimm's fairy tale (some of those were pretty scary also, I think, but in their way of teaching children lessons). In other words, the world is a pretty damn scary place just the way it is, and could only have seemed worse in those long ago days.

Pappy said...

J D, I don't know if the writer was using quartino in the way you describe, but it sounds very credible to me. So, thanks for that information.

Even though Myron Fass is credited with the story, Fass' artwork changes from story to story, so I believe he subcontracted others to draw the stories he signed.

In the mid-seventies to early eighties I worked for a bookstore, and at one point we took a whole bunch of Myron Fass magazines and made a window display of them. He published some of the best of the worst magazines ever (if that makes sense). Naturally we had customers complaining about magazines with stories about Elvis clones rampaging, or his title Violent World or those incredible gory black-and-white horror comics, considering it shameful to display such things, but we all loved reading them.

Years later I did something similar on a much smaller scale when I showed a Fass horror story in Pappy's #1418.

Pappy said...

J D, I don't know if the writer was using quartino in the way you describe, but it sounds very credible to me. So, thanks for that information.

Even though Myron Fass is credited with the story, Fass' artwork changes from story to story, so I believe he subcontracted others to draw the stories he signed.

In the mid-seventies to early eighties I worked for a bookstore, and at one point we took a whole bunch of Myron Fass magazines and made a window display of them. He published some of the best of the worst magazines ever (if that makes sense). Naturally we had customers complaining about magazines with stories about Elvis clones rampaging, or his title Violent World or those incredible gory black-and-white horror comics, considering it shameful to display such things, but we all loved reading them.

Years later I did something similar on a much smaller scale when I showed a Fass horror story in Pappy's #1418.