Hello, fellow ghouls and gals. Today, the Longbox of Darkness introduces you all to a brand-new segment of our blog that I’ve lovingly dubbed “Fridays in the Crypt.” Starting this week, every Friday, we’ll be embarking on a spine-tingling expedition into the grotesque yet intriguing world of EC Comics. So, make sure you’ve bolted your doors and dimmed your lights because things are about to get ghastly!
EC Comics – the powerhouse of horror, crime, and science fiction – has sculpted nightmarish landscapes and weaved eerie narratives in their iconic series Tales From The Crypt, Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear. Together, we’ll dissect some of these chilling tales, stumble into their dark corners, and appreciate the masterful scripting and artwork that went into crafting these uncanny yarns of dread.
Each week, LOD will select a random ‘terrorrific’ tale from the EC stable and fawn shamelessly at its gruesome beauty, analyze its monstrous characters, and dissect the fears it exploits. But more importantly, we’ll explore the timeless lessons that these stories, wrapped in their grotesque facades, whisper to us. After all, isn’t that what EC Comics were all about – morality tales dressed in the rags of the macabre?
A Brief Interlude
But before we launch headfirst into our frightful Fridays, I think it’s only fair to share my own journey with EC Comics. It was a rainy night, the perfect setting to stumble upon Tales from the Crypt, not in its original comic form, but as a TV series. My younger self was equally terrified and captivated, each episode serving a cocktail of horror, suspense, and, of course, that dark humor – all helmed by our dear Crypt Keeper.
Fast forward to the mid-1990s. While rummaging through a local comic shop, I discovered the Russ Cochran reprints of these EC classics. Flipping through their pages was like unearthing buried treasure. The vibrant colors, the inky shadows, and the lurid details – it was horror and artistry intertwined flawlessly. I was hooked. And ever since, my love for EC Comics has only grown, shaping my perception of horror and storytelling.
So, here I am, hoping to share my passion for EC Comics with all of you. And what better way than to dedicate our Fridays to dissecting these masterpieces? So, mark your calendars, for every week, we’ll plunge into the heart of horror, where cryptic tales await us.
Fridays will never be the same again. Welcome… to Fridays in the Crypt!
Under The Horrorscope: The Crypt of Terror’s “While The Cat’s Away…”
Our tale starts with the perfect racket – two travel agents, John Younger and Frank Weston – who moonlight as burglars.
It’s real simple and real sweet. Whenever they make travel arrangements for a wealthy client, they ask a few basic questions “for their files” – the most important questions being the address and whether or not the client lives alone. If the latter is indeed the case, they wait until the hapless victim embarks on the trip, and then they ransack his or her residence.
Life is pretty peachy for old Frank and John; that is, until one day when they receive a call from a client with the initials ‘T.C.K.’ When pressed for a name in order to make the reservations, the client responds that he is “T. Charles Kingman,” and wishes to holiday in Ecuador for two weeks. The arrangements are made, and Frank and John start preparing for their latest score – cleaning out the Kingman residence.
When they are sure Mr. Kingman has departed for Ecuador, they head over to the address they were given to relieve the gentleman of his possessions. However, they are dismayed to find that it is a decrepit old mansion in the back woods, probably filled with nothing but junk.
They decide to make the most of it, and break in. To their surprise, most of the rooms are empty. While they search they happen upon a massive vault door made of metal and theorize that there must be something valuable hidden behind it.
They manage to pry it open but find only a musty old library filled with ancient and rotting books, tomes unlike any they have ever laid eyes on before. They decide to explore deeper and head down some basement steps. And that, dear readers, is when the terror begins.
Poor Frank and John soon find themselves lost in a maze of catacombs. Close to panic, they eventually come to a section containing thick wooden doors. Thinking these must lead to freedom, they open them, and release the monstrosities inside!
A plethora of old-world monsters run rampant in the catacombs, hunting for the two humans who strayed into their midst. Frank and John, through sheer luck, manage to elude them but remain trapped in the mazelike corridors for two weeks with the monsters.
They finally find their way back to the staircase that leads up to the library. They emerge, white-haired, insane, ruined. As they crawl away into the surrounding woods, they pass by the newly returned owner of the house. Having enjoyed his trip to Ecuador, the mysterious ‘T.C.K.’ chuckles at these two strange and broken souls who have departed his home in such a state.
It is then that we learn the identity of Frank and John’s mysterious client – it is none other than The Crypt Keeper himself! That’s right, folks. The burglars spent two weeks in The Crypt of Terror!!
What a tale! What I love most about this story is the twist ending and the fact that the Crypt Keeper himself plays a part in one of his own horror stories. The art by Jack Davis is, of course, superb. Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein clearly enjoyed writing this story, and it remains one of my favorites.
Would you survive two weeks in the Crypt of Terror, readers? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading, fright fans. Tune in again next week for another installment of Fridays in the Crypt. Remember to subscribe to the blog to be notified of new posts. If you would like to read the tale we discussed above, you can find it in The EC Archives The Vault of Horror Vol. 4. And if you want to read along with The Longbox of Darkness every Friday, check out the following collected editions:
And that’s it for the first installment of Fridays in the Crypt. Until we meet again, keep it creepy, and pleasant screams!
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