Hey there, horror comic connoisseurs! Welcome back to another spine-tingling edition of “Fridays in The Crypt.” Although I’ve skipped a few Fridays over the last few months, I truly relish this wickedly wonderful day when we unpack the grotesque and the macabre found in the hallowed pages of EC Horror Comics. You know, the kind of yarn that gives you the heebie-jeebies but you just can’t look away? That’s the stuff.
Today, the Longbox has regurgitated something truly special for you to sink your teeth into—Jack Kamen’s classic tale “Daddy Lost His Head.” Now, if you’re not familiar with Kamen, let me just say, you’re missing out. Kamen is a virtuoso when it comes to blending the ghastly with the gorgeous. His art style has the uncanny ability to make you feel charmed and disturbed, all at the same time. The story itself? A twisted tale of domesticity gone horribly, horribly wrong!
So, grab your flashlight and maybe a security blanket (don’t worry, no judgment here), and get ready to be thrilled and chilled. Jack Kamen’s “Daddy Lost His Head” is not just a story; it’s a jaunt through the deepest, darkest corners of human psychology, wrapped in ink and paper. But don’t say I didn’t warn you—this one’s a decapitating doozy!
So as the Vault-Keeper might say, stay tuned, boils and ghouls, because we’re about to dissect this story panel by panel, leaving no headstone unturned. Trust me, you’ll want to stick around—losing your head over this story is practically guaranteed.
Part 1: Kathy in a Pickle
Beaten and abused by her sadistic stepfather, poor little Kathy’s life is a non-stop travail of terror. Not only must she deal with daily whippings (and worse), but she also constantly frets over her ailing mother, who has had a series of mild heart attacks, and is almost permanently bedridden.
As the story unfolds, the root of her stepfather’s insane hatred of her is uncovered by the narrative (as told by an inappropriately guffawing Vault-Keeper). It turns out that the insecure child-beater is jealous of Kathy’s biological father because he suspects the mother still loves him, even in death. Kathy reminds him too much of his rival, and so he takes out his rage on her whenever he gets the chance.
Part 2: Enter Mrs. Thaumaturge
Next door to Kathy’s house lives a gnarled old crone named Mrs. Thaumaturge (wink, wink). Kathy’s stepfather has told her repeatedly not to go near the woman, but Kathy finds her fascinating. Only the threat of her stepfather’s violence keeps her from getting too friendly with her neighbor.
Then the moment Kathy has dreaded arrives. Her beloved mother finally succumbs to a fatal heart attack, and Kathy is left at the mercy of her sole parent. Seeking solace from someone, anyone, she overhears Mrs. Thaumaturge calling her name while in the yard, and she heads over there.
The old woman turns out to be remarkably grandmotherly, and they strike up a fast friendship. It isn’t long before Kathy pours her heart out to her new surrogate grandmother. Mrs. Thaumaturge decides to soothe Kathy with a gift, made with her special ‘talents.’ The ingredients? Candy, a healthy appreciation of a kid’s penchant for fairytales, and a dash of voodoo to round it off.
Telling Kathy that the candy figure is delicious and can be consumed anytime she feels like it, Mrs. Thaumaturge sends the girl on her way. Unfortunately for poor hapless Kathy, her incensed stepfather sees her coming from the forbidden neighbor’s house, and whips her mercilessly. To top it off, he sends her to her room without supper, even though she hasn’t had a decent meal in days. And you thought Part 1 was bleak.
Part 3: A Heady Confection
Despondent and starving, Kathy succumbs to temptation and turns to her only source of food – the candy figurine gifted to her by Mrs. Thamaturge, the figurine that bears an uncanny resemblance to her evil stepfather.
As Kathy munches on a candy limb, a horrid scream echoes from the barn below, where her stepfather has been doing carpentry. It turns out that, due to a freak accident, he somehow managed to sever his left arm with a buzzsaw, a horrendous and bloody comeuppance. But that’s just the start for Kathy’s tormentor – sadistically, in true EC fashion, there’s more to come!
Visiting her stepdad as he’s convalescing, Kathy is dismayed when her now mutilated ‘daddy’ spots the little candy figure that she clutches tightly in her small hands. He demands that she give it to him, as he senses that it emanates a sinister power. Kathy, desperate not to lose her only source of food, tries to prove to the maimed man that it‘s merely a snack. How does she do this? Well, by promptly biting off its head.
Later that day, Kathy heads over to Mrs. Thaumaturge’s house, and tells the old lady of the strange but welcome result of her actions. She is now free and need not worry about the violent intentions of her vile stepfather any longer.
And so the tale ends with a happily ever after, as Mrs. Thaumaturge promptly adopts Kathy, and proceeds to (pay attention now) “give her flying lessons on a broom!” as the Vaultkeeper intones with a maniacal chuckle. One for the books, wouldn’t you agree, fear friends?
And so we’ve come to the end of yet another Friday in the Crypt. Hope you enjoyed it! And if you’re in the mood for more EC Comics discussion, check out our previous posts, and subscribe to the blog to be notified of new ones. Feel free to leave some comments below as well. They are always welcome.
And with that, I bid you adieu, horror hounds. May your nights be long, and your dreams be filled with the tangy taste of voodoo candy. So until next time, this is the Longbox of Darkness, signing off. Pleasant screams!
Oh, and before I forget, check out the following delectable collection, in which Jack Kamen’s classic “Daddy Lost His Head” may be found.
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