Saturday, July 31, 2010

"The Ghoul" & "This Cat is Evil"

With these two stories we have, ripping with our sharp vulture beaks, picked the last shred of fleshy skin from the bones of Weird Vol. 11 No. 1, March 1978. The art for our first story, “The Ghoul,” comes by way of Torre Repiso.

Technically, the subject of this first earthy number isn’t a ghoul; a being who in popular legend eats the dead. No, Horace Vennery is a grave-robber – a tomb raider, a thief of the crypt – an ancient profession that, when practiced on the recent dead, requires no special training or degree. What with the recently bloated costs of sending a child to college, young high-school graduates (and their parents) might give this career a second look as an alternative to military service. I suggest looking at it as being a very swift and efficient archeologist.

I have often heard that prostitution is the oldest profession, and I don’t doubt it. But I am sure robbing the dead must be a very close second. I imagine the practice started with the first homo erectus who died with anything of value on his or her person – be it a stone hammer or a shiny piece of shell. Since man has walked upright, the grim, relentless logic of the living has been the same. So speaks Mr. Vennery: “Why bury wealth? Especially wealth that can do nothing for them? And who is the wiser? The cemetery rats? The cadavers?” Ah, such a elemental thing is Man. Coupling for pleasure and picking over the dead for profit be thy oldest impulse and heritage - thy mark and staff.

Our second course, “The Cat is Evil” has some excellent drawing of cat and woman by Domingo Mandrafina. Table of Contents says: ”A weird flesh-ripping yarn of Bengal tigers that are raised as pets – pets that can rip and kill.”

This little beauty is from the front inside cover. Let those eyeballs feast.

Time to put the carcass of this post (and issue) into a nice bed of earth and worms. Perhaps now the stories within can find some measure of peace. Thank you for joining me in their gentle send-off. Next? Let’s visit some friends with Tales From the Tomb!


Guybell said...

Loved the first story. The artist did a great job rendering the rainy scenes and establishing a creepy mood.

Daniel [] said...

“The Ghoul” is a reworking of “Custodian of the Dead” from Web of Evil #1 (Nov '52); but that, in turn, is really an unacknowledged adaptation of “The Graveyard Rats” by Henry Kuttner which first appeared in Weird Tales v. 27 #3 (Mar '36). If I'm not mistaken, “Rats” was Kuttner's first published story.

Guybell said...

Not sure the link will work but shows original cover art.

Mykal Banta said...

Guybell: Allow me, pal! Original Eerie Pub. Art!

Mykal Banta said...

Guybell: and thanks!

Eric said...

"The Ghoul" is sort of a mash-up. In addition to lifting from Kuttner as Daniel points out, the events on page five of the story, with the ladder of coffins, etc., borrows from H.P. Lovecraft's "In The Vault," a story about an undertaker who cuts corners... among other things.

Kuttner and HPL--hey, if you're going to steal, steal from the best! It really is a nice bit of work.

Thanks for posting these.

Matthew Coniam said...

Yikes! Your posting regularity terrifies me!
Real life has been taking up too much of my time lately, and everytime I look away from this site, a daunting profusion of posts has arisen...
I'm sure I've missed some great stuff but I may as well start at the top.
That first frame of This Cat Is Evil will keep me awake tonight.
Yep, it's good to be back!

Mykal Banta said...

Hey, Matthew! Good to hear from you. Hope all is well across the pond!