Third installment from EC Archives.
Vault of Horror
20 was yet another plateau for Craig, as he decided to upgrade his art with a
new approach. The front cover of mob frenzy ranks alongside #15 as the best of
his early Vault covers,
and like #15, it could have dispensed with the unnecessary speech balloon. Jack
Davis’ “The Reluctant Vampire!” was chosen as the cover story, and Craig
offered his interpretation of Davis’ closing page. Yet the cover is imbued with
Wally Wood atmospherics, as Craig explained to John Benson, “I think of Wood
when I see the cover of #20. He inspired that cover, probably, by his ability
to handle that type of situation. It’s another example of spotting something an
artist does and trying to see if it works for you. I think that in “About
Face!” I was trying to change my technique a bit. I was trying to become more
illustrative, with a thinner line. My girls were starting to improve, too.”
Is the Nuts’!” and “The Reluctant Vampire!” were both adapted for HBO’s Tales
from the Crypt
series. In the sixth season, “Revenge Is the Nuts” was telecast 16 November 1994 with a cast of Anthony Zerbe, Teri Polo
and John Savage. In the third
season, “The Reluctant Vampire” was telecast 10
July 1991 with a cast of Malcolm McDowell, Sandra Dickinson and George Wendt.
short story “Mr. George” by August Derleth (1909-1971), writing under the
pseudonym Stephen Grendon, provided the inspiration for the ghostly bodyguard
of “Grandma’s Ghost!!” (again with two exclamation points), illustrated by Jack
Kamen for another in his “widdle kid” series. It borrows the major plot
elements of Derleth’s “Mr. George”. (Coincidentally, “Craig” is George’s surname.)
story was published in the March 1947 issue of Weird Tales. Because the
prolific Derleth had so many stories in Weird Tales (a total of 137),
he used his Grendon pseudonym, but the pen name seemed pointless since the
front cover of the March 1947 issue proclaimed, “Mr. George by August Derleth”.
The contents page carried a deceptive disclamer: "Through a regrettable
error, this story is announced on our cover as by August Derleth. Mr. Derleth
acted as agent for Mr. Grendon's story, and someone in our office confused the
agent's name for the author's. The error was discovered too late to stop
printing of the cover." To make matters more confusing, Derleth used
Grendon as both a pseudonym and a character name.
his introduction to the collection Mr. George and Other Odd Persons (Arkham House,
1963), Derleth wrote, 'The tales in this book were written all in one month 20
years ago specifically to swell the log of Weird Tales… All these stories
appear here as they were first written down--for time did not permit revision
and re-typing in those hectic days; each story was put down on paper ready for
the printer, and went off next day in the mail.”
day, Derleth was working on a novel, so he wrote the stories late at night amid
interruptions from visitors and students: “Never earlier than nine o'clock, and on, frequently, to two
o'clock in the morning… These narratives were written under conditions in which
the average writer could not have begun to function.”
often employed plots with a “revenge from beyond the grave” premise. Darrell
Schweitzer described the story in Discovering Classic Horror Fiction 1 (Borgo Press,
1992): “It was in the 1940s and 1950s, however, that Derleth matured as a
writer of weird fiction. This is shown by the high percentage of original and
impressive work from this period in Lonesome Place (1962) and Mr.
George and Other Odd Persons (1963). Appropriately, the stories in the
latter—his best collection—were published under the pseudonym of Stephen
Grendon, the name of the autobiographical character in the Sac Prairie saga.
For in many of them the contributor toWeird Tales merges with the
mainstream author. In the story “Mr. George” itself, for example, the working
out of a vengeance from beyond the grave is given conviction by the
matter-of-factness of the style, and still more by the vivid characterizations,
the realistic texture of the background, and the touching depiction of the
relationship between a child and her father, which continues even when he is dead.”
George” was adapted twice to television, first for a telefilm by Revue in 1953.
hosted by Boris Karloff, carried an adaptation on May 9, 1961. Directed by Ida
Lupino, it starred Gina Gillespie as the child, along with Virginia Gregg,
Howard Freeman and Lillian Bronson.
Masquerade of the albino axolotls