Monday, May 21, 2018

Number 2183: The Dead and the Living and the Dead

As a reader of horror stories I have read many stories of dead people returning from their graves to be among the living. In EC Comics it was usually because the dead had been wronged and were back for revenge. In “The Dead,” from Atlas Comics’ Adventures Into Weird Worlds #26 (1954), deceased relatives come out of their graves for an unknown purpose. Maybe they simply want a family reunion, but since they didn’t bring the potato salad the still-living family members are none too happy to see them. Dick Ayers did the artwork, working around an unwieldy script.  Too many words. A good editor would have cut the verbiage down by at least 50% or even more.

“The Living and the Dead” is a supernatural story about a writer for the very comics carrying the same type of horror stories we are reading today. This story is from Mystic #26, 1954. Writer and artist unknown. I have heard that horror stories often articulate unspoken fears. I had a lot of fears when young: ghosts, monsters in the closet...all the usual scary stuff kids worry about. Little did I know that when we become adults there are a lot more fears to worry about: earning a living, mortgages, car payments, raising children...I was more terrified by them than by any dead people


Brian Barnes said...

I really like that first tale, it's got an interesting ending and it's relatively unique, and the art is good. That said, yup, boy is it wordy. So much of that could have been cut out without changing the story one bit.

The second one is also fun, but unfair horror story (nothing is really announced and just *happens.*) Still it's pretty decent, and the art -- especially the ghosts -- is wonderful. I'd be interested in more work from this unknown artist.

Daniel [] said...

My principal problem with the second story is that the incentive system is perverse; the central character sufferred not because he swiped stories but exactly because he refused to do something wrong. My secondary issue is that the Devil doesn't seem to see where his interests clearly lie (but this defect is inherited from a loopy mythology in which the Devil punishes those who work towards his ends).

I wonder to what extent the various wordy stories that one encounters in comic books result from their writers really wanting to write short works of prose as such, rather than scripting sequential visual story-telling augmented by words.

Pappy said...

Brian, Daniel, Al Feldstein described a writing class he took with Bill Gaines, taught by Theodore Sturgeon. They quit the class because Sturgeon praised a story they submitted. I think Feldstein's EC stories were thought of as more literary by some fans (still are, I suppose), because they had more words. That was the problem with Charles Biro's comic books...too talky.

Once again, anything too talky or overly captioned with information we should be seeing in the drawings, should have been cut by an editor. Apparently the editor here (presumably Stan Lee) was perhaps too busy to do the cutting. And in the cases of Feldstein and Biro, they were the editors.