Friday, November 25, 2016

Number 1977: Ghastly: Two heads are better than none

When it came to the seedy, seamy side of life, Graham “Ghastly” Ingels could be called on by Al Feldstein, his editor at EC Comics, to provide the seediest and the seamiest. In those days traveling carnivals had that reputation. Maybe they still do. I haven’t been to one in years. Regardless, in “Heads-Up,” from Crime Suspenstories #4 (1951) the carnival is a backdrop for a tale of adultery and murder and jars full of human oddities. And why wouldn’t a wife and her lover want to kill a husband for his jars, especially when they can bring in $23.00 on a good day?

Heritage Auctions, from whence these scans of the original art came, sold the complete story in 2009 for $13,145.00...a bit better than 23 bucks.


Brian Barnes said...

Again, there isn't much to say about Ghastly than hasn't been said before, he was head and shoulders (corny, but ha!) above everybody else at horror art. Everything dripped, oozed, and felt grimy.

The story is pretty standard EC; by 1951 Al was turning out tons of these a month (and Ghastly was doing Haunt, and backups in Crime, Vault, and Crypt.)

That is one excellent demon next to the Old Witch. Ghastly really nails the facial expressions in this one, Fred going from sad, to freaked out, to murderous, etc. Whenever you give us Ingels in glorious, high quality B&W you are really doing a service to comic fans!

David Miller said...

Great (choke) story and art. Love Ghastly! Somehow, I knew the ending, though.

Grant said...

The woman who marries an oddball character and ends up regretting it (and usually plotting a murder) seems to be one of the biggest stock characters in horror stories.

My favorite horror comics story about a sideshow has to be "The Prodigy Son" in Eerie # 40, except that it's about a woman who marries a sideshow EXHIBIT (one with a very "normal" look about him) not the OWNER, and ends up regretting that in a big way.

Pappy said...

Brian, you and DEMiller both hit on what is probably the weakest part of the EC classics...they can be annoyingly formulaic. On the one hand within a page or so the reader knows how the story will end, so no big "surprise" ending there. On the other hand it gives the line a sort of continuity. Readers knew what they were going to get and yet they loved these comics, and still do.

Pappy said...

Grant, aha, you are joining in with Brian and DEMiller on a variation of the formula that EC used. It wasn't enough just to have sex, the characters had to be married, so the plot involved adultery. That should have warned readers these stories were not designed for children, although many children read them. That would include me, reading EC Comics for the first time at age 12 and thinking them very grown-up, although I am pretty sure I did not what the word "adultery" meant. Something for adults, maybe?

I have not seen "The Prodigy Son," but in looking it up on the Grand Comics Database I see it is written by Don Glut. I like his work.