Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Number 1882: A well staked-out tale

“Vampire Moon,” from Suspense Comics #2 (1944), has a familiar ring. You have probably heard the story on which it is based, that of the young girl who goes to the grave of a recently deceased girl. To prove she has been there she drives a stake into the grave. (You can read it on this page of urban legend synopses as “Graveyard Wager”.)

The story in its original version may be the first so-called urban legend I remember hearing. It is fun for me to identify the basis of any fiction, urban legend or not.

Artwork is by John Giunta, a comic book journeyman from the forties who worked into the sixties.


J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

I've checked Giunta's career because looking at the splash page I suspected a connection with Eisner, but apparently he didn't work for his studio.
But he did Cisco Kid before Salinas, created a crime fighting super-heroine one year before Wonder Woman's appearance (for the strip "Magician of Mars"), and had Frank Frazetta as an assistant:

And he also worked for the pulps, including Weird Tales:

So, thanks for showing another interesting artist, not a creator of everlasting masterpieces maybe, but one of those guys who made the industry go round.

I never heard about that girl-and-grave urban legend.
The transylvanian story is quite a simple one. Cute, but I guess for fans of supernatural horror it may be a letdown of sorts.

Daniel [] said...

Y'know, it's an old story, but as well as having once offered a surprise twist-ending, it also provides a lesson applicable to real life.

In times of stress, most people are impaired, and make amazing mistakes. As the situation evolves, they may not recognize the consequences of those mistakes for what they are, and may compound the problem terribly.

(Automobiles and personal computers have increased our experiences of these situations!)

Ramos needed to go into the situation bearing Murphy's Law in mind. Properly understood, it's not fatalistic, but instead advice to plan and to act to minimize the things that could go wrong. When something did go wrong, Ramos needed to avoid a hasty judgment.

It's harder to pull-off this story in a comic-book or comic-strip form than when the presentation is primarily prose; and whoever scripted it perhaps threw-up his or her hands. The pacing is off, and it isn't very suspenseful, in spite of having appeared in Suspense Comics #2. Nor do I think that anything like an ordinary sense of justice would cause one to feel satisfied at the thought of Ramos dying of fright; Ramos might have been made a braggart, or someone whose fearfulness had caused injury to others, but here he's just a harmless, timid soul.

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Brian Barnes said...

Not a bad retelling, but if you knew the urban legend (and I wouldn't even have needed you to remind me, it was pretty obvious with the setup) it kind of drains it of all suspense.

Now, if they would have found a hook stuck in the gravestone, and choking doberman, and a message scrawled in blood "aren't you glad you didn't wake up?" then that would be a surprise!

Pappy said...

J D, I remembered my old friend Postino shared a Weird Tales tale with us, with an illustration by Giunta. I am not as impressed by the illustration as I am by the story by one of my favorite writers, Fredric Brown.

Pappy said...

Alicia, I don't have iTunes, but good luck with this.

Pappy said...

Brian, or stopping at a gas station and finding out there is a guy hiding in the back seat, or picking up a girl standing by the road and finding out later she's a ghost...or a guy getting a load of cement in the back of his Caddy convertible because he's sleeping with the cement truck driver's wife...

Pappy said...

Daniel, I hope I don't stumble onto one of those stressful situations. I am one who would make a bad split second decision. I sleep on a problem, then figure it out after several hours. No good if someone falls over in front of me from a heart attack.

Daniel [] said...

Well, see, Pappy, if Ramos had just slept on the problem of finding himself caught, then he might have lived through the experience.

And what seem to be snap judgments are best made by people who have thought about problems in advance, so that emergencies are less conceptually extraordinary.