Welcome, horror hounds, to another chilling chapter of ‘Fridays in the Crypt!’, our weekly exploration of EC Comics’ timeless horror tales. Today, we set off on a fear-fraught trip through the macabre masterpiece known as “Wish You Were Here,” brought to life by the incomparable Graham Ingels. But before we get to the story in question, let’s shed some light on the man behind the monsters.
Graham The Ghastly
When it comes to the roster of exceptional artists who graced the pages of EC Comics, Graham Ingels undoubtedly occupies a prominent place. Known by his pseudonym “Ghastly”, he carved out a niche for himself as a master of horror illustration, captivating readers with his distinctive style and an unparalleled knack for the grotesque. The Longbox of Darkness ranks him as our second favorite EC Comics artist, right after the legendary Jack Davis! Ingels left quite a legacy – his style went on to influence future masters like Bernie Wrightson, Tom Sutton, Richard Corben, and Mike Ploog, so he’s undoubtedly an integral part of the early horror comics landscape.
Here’s a short profile of the man himself:
Graham Ingels was born on June 7, 1915, in Cincinnati, Ohio. From an early age, his artistic talents were evident, and he pursued his passion by attending the Cleveland School of Art. Following his studies, Ingels found work as an illustrator for pulp magazines, honing his skills in the realms of crime, mystery, and horror. However, it was his fateful encounter with EC Comics in the early 1950s that truly set his career ablaze.
Ingels’ tenure with EC Comics commenced in 1950, and he quickly made his mark on the horror genre, illustrating stories for titles such as Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear. With his atmospheric and meticulously detailed artwork, Ingels had an uncanny ability to plunge readers into the heart of terror, making every panel a window into a nightmare.
Throughout his career, Ingels collaborated with several gifted writers, including Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines, who provided the twisted narratives that fueled his nightmarish illustrations. This synergy between artist and writer allowed Ingels to give life to the darkest recesses of the human psyche, leaving an indelible mark on the history of horror comics.
Regrettably, as the 1950s progressed and the Comics Code Authority tightened its grip, EC Comics fell victim to censorship and the decline of the horror genre. In 1955, the horror titles were discontinued, marking the end of an era. Ingels, like his fellow EC artists, faced the challenge of transitioning to other genres, but his indomitable talent remained evident in his subsequent work.
Graham Ingels continued to contribute to the field of comic art, even venturing into the realm of science fiction with stories in EC’s Weird Science and Weird Fantasy titles. However, it is the legacy of his horror tales that continues to captivate fans to this day. His distinct visual style, characterized by meticulously rendered grotesqueries and hauntingly realistic depictions, solidified his place as one of the true masters of the genre.
Now on to our very first Ingels story, the classic “Wish You Were Here.” We’ll dissect its horrifying plot twists and wallow in Ingels’ atmospheric artistry. Brace yourselves for a descent into darkness that will leave your psyche broken, ruined, and possibly chopped to dripping bits!
Be Careful What You Wish For, or Jade Statues > Monkey Paws
“Wish You Were Here” stands as a testament to Ingels’ artistic prowess. Originally published in The Haunt of Fear #22 in 1954 (written by horror-scribe supreme Al Feldstein), this spine-chilling tale showcases his unique ability to blend horror and tragedy seamlessly. Ingels’ command over light and shadow creates an eerie atmosphere, while his attention to facial expressions and intricate linework conveys the characters’ emotions with haunting intensity.
The tale begins with a once wealthy couple, Jason and Enid Logan, who are now stone broke and at their wits’ end. The creditors are calling for Jason’s head, and Enid, still very much in love with her despondent shell of a husband, frantically searches for something, anything, that could buy them some time before all their precious possessions are repossessed.
A life spent traveling the globe has yielded the Logans remarkable souvenirs and treasures. Enid happens upon a jade statue that they purchased years ago in the Orient; a statue purported to grant the owner three wishes, a la The Monkey’s Paw, the old horror tale by W.W. Jacobs, which the couple is familiar with.
Despite being aware of the horrific events in the aforementioned classic horror story, the desperate Enid, who is slightly more superstitious than her husband, decides to throw caution to the wind and wishes for a fortune. It is then that Jason receives a call from his lawyer, who requests a meeting, ostensibly to discuss a financial matter. Hoping things might turn in their favor, Jason gets in his sports car and drives to the city.
It is then that tragedy strikes, and it strikes hard. As hard as a vehicle impacting the cold stone at the bottom of a gorge, one might say.
Her husband now mangled in a car wreck, Enid is soon informed by Jason’s lawyers that with his death, the insurance payout now makes her a rich woman once more. She is distraught, as she only cares about Jason. Believing that all this misery is because of the power of the jade statuette, she decided to make a second wish, but to be more specific than the characters in the tale by W.W. Jacobs.
She wishes Jason back exactly the way he was before the car wreck. Unfortunately, the morticians who deliver Jason’s body and coffin to Enid’s mansion inform her that the autopsy revealed that he died of a heart attack before the accident. So Jason is still very much a corpse, albeit no longer mangled.
Wracked with grief, Enid makes her final wish. She wants him alive. Alive! ALIVE!
The jade statue works its magic, and Jason returns from the dead. There is, however, another snag that Enid did not foresee…
That’s right. Jason’s body has been embalmed and through his veins runs formaldehyde. Unable to die because of his wife’s last magical wish, he exists in perpetual agony! Enid tries to end his suffering, but when a gun doesn’t do the trick, she resorts to more extreme measures. And that, dear readers, is when things take a truly ghastly turn…
Enid would spend the rest of her days in an asylum, her mind broken by her husband’s unending suffering. And somewhere out there, the bits and pieces that were once her beloved Jason are still twitching… quivering… PULSATING…
Whew! Well, we hope you enjoyed this brief but horrifying jaunt into the Crypt on this fear-filled Friday, folks. Thanks for reading, and remember to subscribe to the blog for more morbid madness in that inimitable EC-style. Until next we meet, stay safe out there, drive carefully, and for heaven’s sake lock away your oriental keepsakes!
This has been Herm, in the Crypt, signing off. Pleasant screams!
If you would like to read this tale and others like it, the Longbox of Darkness recommends the following tome, which contains the best of EC Comics. A worthy purchase indeed! Click on the image to learn more…
All images are owned by their respective copyright owners unless stated and are used for promotional and review purposes only.
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means that The Longbox of Darkness will earn an affiliate commission at zero cost to you if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.