Monday, January 04, 2016

Number 1836: Man with a lion’s head, and lion with a man’s head

A few days ago I featured two similar horror stories, one directly swiping from the other. The more recent of today’s stories doesn’t swipe from the first, but both have somewhat similar themes. They were also published five years apart in ACG’s Adventures Into the Unknown. The first is pre-Comics Code, from 1952, in issue #31, and the second is from a Comics Code-approved issue, #86 published in 1957. “The Curse of Ukpong” is drawn by Lou Cameron, and “Lion With a Man’s Head” is signed by longtime ACG artist Harry Lazarus.


Daniel [] said...

I've more than once encountered a story in which a wicked Westerner kills one of the indigenous people of a low-technology culture, and the hero seeks to protect the Westerner as if he has done something not so awful as to kill a person. The implication seems to me to be that the victim were not, after all, a person, because of his ethnicity.

In “The Curse of the Ukpong”, the hero doesn't quite propose to let the killer go unpunished, but to take him back for judgment and punishment by, well, other Westerners. Imagine the active outrage if the killing had been by a non-Westerner in territory held by Westerners, but someone of the the killer's culture had insisted that the justice system of Westerners did not have proper jurisdiction.

Setting aside the racialist sense of justice, from 7:7,the story hangs upon Ferris suddenly behaving as a disbeliever in the magick of these people, after earlier warnign of its efficacy and then witnessing some of its effects.

Also, Ferris's renewed involvement is because Craven and the lion having been killing the people of some third-party village, which strongly suggests that the supernatural justice visited upon Craven is actually a supernatural injustice visited upon others. (One would at least like to have read of a second witch doctor preparing a punishment for the first.)

I suppose the principal thing to note about “Lion with a Man's Head” is that it grossly violates a rule that you've advocated for comic books — to show rather than narrate wherever possible. Here, the resultof the violation is that the story, which would have been weak in any case, is an abject failure.

Brian Barnes said...

A nice job by Cameron on that first one, and a entertaining curse story. Why our guide does anything to save our heel I don't know, even going so far as to say he doesn't "deserve" that fate. He shot a man in cold blood! A little 50s racism sneaking in there?

Did they forget how to write stories between 52 and 57? That's not the code, you could still have a pretty decent yarn within the code, but the second story is just boring. They don't even end it with the skeleton, just people *looking* at the skeleton! Yeesh!

Pappy said...

Brian, Daniel, both of you noticed the racist component, that non-whites were somehow not human. My brother showed me an American high school textbook, published circa 1900, that showed the "races" of man classed as civilized, semi-civilized, or savages. Civilized were those of Northern European extraction, semi-civilized were Eastern Europeans, and savages were black and Asian groups. In that world you couldn't blame a civilized man for killing a savage. We are aware of those attitudes now, but in those days they were just part of the storytelling and I doubt anyone gave it a second thought. At least in retrospect we can point them out.