Friday, July 14, 2017

Number 2075: Gloom and doom in the tomb

When Heritage Auctions sold the original art for “Tomb's-Day” in 2011, they said: “This shocker showcases art by Jack Davis at the peak of his career at EC. The bold ink work and attention to gritty detail that Davis put into every panel contrasted nicely with his signature cartoony style, perfect for the insanely hysterical faces of his ill-fated characters. The peerless portraits of the Crypt-Keeper are original art and not stats.”

As a fan of the late Jack Davis, it has always been fun for me to look at Davis’s early career — the foundation for his later success as a cartoonist and illustrator — through the pages of EC Comics. He came quickly to his mature style. He showed in the horror comics he could provide mood and suspense as well as laughs, as he did in Mad and Panic.

Thanks to Heritage for the scans I have appropriated from their site for the purposes of this post. The pages sold at auction in 2011 for $10,157.50. I showed them before, in 2012.

The story appeared in Vault of Horror #35 (1954). Script is credited to Jack Oleck.


Brian Barnes said...

Of course, Davis does a wonderful job here, and it's a suspenseful tale. Wordy beyond belief, and by Oleck not Al this time. There was a letter page in one of EC's sci-fi mags that talked about how upset the editor (really just Al and Bill) were that some kids didn't understand their stories, and they explained that their stories were "compressed" and so "had to have a lot of captions" of which "you need to read them all carefully."

I suspect Al wrote that :)

As much as I love EC, they were a bit coasting by 54 (this is one of those stories), and about ready to unleash a FOUR mag at the stands (The rebirth of Crypt of Terror, but those pages ended up being used for the final issue of Tales from the Crypt.) I can't imagine how thin some of the stories might have been in a year or two!

rnigma said...

I think it was Don Thompson who wrote, "Jack Davis drew dirty, ugly people who came to dirty, ugly ends (in his EC horror stories)."
Count me as another Davis fan.
When he was a UGA student he drew for the "Bullsheet," the campus humor magazine. Jack was a Dawg fan throughout his life and drew Georgia Bulldog mascots (hiding the names of his kids in the Dawg's armbands, Hirschfeld-style).

Pappy said...

Brian, but when and if the horror comics had lost their coolness (say if they had been allowed to publish, and distributors would carry them and newsstand owners would put them out for sale), would the New Direction comics, Piracy, Aces High, Extra, et al., satisfy EC fans who wanted those visceral horror thrills? I think the whole enterprise was just doomed from the start, and Gaines is really fortunate to have had Mad to continue his publishing business.

Gaines and Feldstein were wrong in insisting on such wordy stories, but that was their style. A lot of their early fans liked that, because they thought of them as being more mature. Of course, I think the average age of EC readers was about 13 to 16, with some adults thrown in. So maybe they weren't the best judges, but that's all hindsight. I wish they would have used less description and left more room for the artwork, which should be used to carry the tale.

Pappy said...

rnigma, my good friend Eddie Hunter, who is a Davis/Mad fan still, and started reading them in the Mad comic book days, would find you a soulmate. He is a native Georgian and loves Davis's connection to the state and the Dawgs.