Bubonic, one of my recent Wacky Package gags.
Labels: topps, wacky
Vault of Horror
22 (December 1951-January 1952) featured an Al Feldstein story with a plot
borrowed from Ray Bradbury and another in which Feldstein developed a tale from
his own premise. Interviewed by John Benson, Feldstein explained the origin of
“Gone…Fishing!”: “I got the idea for that while I was surfcasting. Living on
Long Island, one of my hobbies on the weekends was going out to Jones Beach or
Fire Island and surfcasting, early mornings, late evenings. And I got this idea
while I was surfcasting, and I came to Bill with it, and I said, ‘You always
bring springboards. I’ve got a springboard.’ And he said, ‘Go write it.’ And I
wrote it, and much later it was adapted into that short movie, which they did a
pretty good job on.”
film Feldstein mentioned is a French-produced short, The Fisherman, which he happened
to see at a Manhattan art theater in 1966. He called Bill Gaines and said,
“Hey, Bill, we’ve been ripped off.” Gaines contacted the producers and secured
both an on-screen credit (“adapted from EC Comics”) and copies of the film for
both himself and Feldstein. In 1972, this film was shown during the EC Comics
convention at New York’s Hotel McAlpin.
(Arkham House, 1947) exerted a powerful influence on Feldstein, who commented,
“Our plots came from a conglomeration of sources, movies we’d seen, books we’d
read. I wasn’t doing very much reading in those days. I was letting Bill give
us the springboards, so I would be free in my mind to enter into the more
original areas, if possible, because we weren’t really intending on stealing
stuff. We were looking just for inspiration to give us ideas to come up with
something original. My function was to kind of take the springboards with Bill
out into a new area… Not only borrowings in terms of plot, but borrowings in
terms of writing style. I was very impressed with Ray Bradbury. I read Dark
The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man and whatever else I
could get of Bradbury’s at the time. I was very impressed with his writing
style, and I tried to emulate it, I think, in the comic style. We didn’t
consciously steal from him, you know, but again, we might have been pretty
With a print run of 3,112 copies, Dark
was Bradbury's first published book. It contained 27 stories, and 21 of those
were reprinted from Dime Mystery Magazine, Harper’s, Mademoiselle and Weird Tales. The six non-reprints
were “The Maiden”, “The Emissary”, “Jack-in-the-Box”, “Uncle Einar”, “The Night
Sets” and “The Next in Line”. Weird Tales was the major source, with 16 of the
stories from the pages of that magazine as published between 1943 and 1948.
Thus, the influence of Weird Tales on EC was considerable.
life of Bill Delaney (1892-1986), publisher of Weird Tales, Short Stories and World
parallels the history of popular fiction during the 20th Century. During the
years Delaney published Weird Tales (1938-54), with Farnsworth Wright and Dorothy
McIlwraith as his editors, the magazine printed six Bradbury stories which
later became memorable EC adaptations, illustrated by Jack Davis, George Evans,
Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen and Joe Orlando: "There Was an Old Woman" (Tales
from the Crypt
34 from the July 1944 issue of Weird Tales); "The Lake" (Vault of
31 from the May 1944 Weird Tales); "Let's Play Poison" (Vault 29 from Weird
November 1946); "The Handler" (Crypt 36 from Weird
January 1947); "The October Game" (Shock SuspenStories 9 from Weird
March 1948); "The Black Ferris" (Haunt of Fear 18 from Weird
the early 1950s, when the 279-issue continuous run of Weird Tales was winding down, a
glance at a newsstand revealed the magazine's strong influence on comic books.
In a 1980 paperback revival of Weird Tales, Lin Carter wrote, "I can think
of no other magazine in history which exerted quite the same sort of influence
which Weird Tales exerted
over the genre it shaped and perfected, and the authors who contributed to it
so devotedly over the years... And there can have been very few fiction
magazines in the history of publishing which have had as many of their stories
dramatized on radio, television and in the movies."
Fifteen of the 27 Dark Carnival stories were later
reprinted in The October Country (1955), some with revisions. Bradbury did
an extensive rewrite of "The Emissary" for The October Country. When Feldstein
wrote “What the Dog Dragged In!” he borrowed the premise of the Dark
version, changing the central character of a boy to a young woman.
Jellyfish!” in The Vault of Horror 19 was suggested by Bradbury’s
“Skeleton”. The idea for
“Skeleton” came to Bradbury when a “strangely sore larynx” prompted him to
visit his family doctor, who said, “That’s all perfectly normal. You’ve just
never bothered to feel the tissues, muscles, or tendons in your neck or, for
that matter, your body. Consider the medulla oblongata.” Recalling the incident,
Bradbury wrote, “Consider the medulla oblongata! Migawd, I could hardly
pronounce it! I went home feeling my bones—my kneecaps, my floating ribs, my
elbows, all those hidden Gothic symbols of darkness—and wrote “Skeleton”.” It
was published in the September1945 issue of Weird Tales and reprinted in Dark
Above: Joe Mugnaini illustration for "Skeleton".
Labels: ec, vault
After Seduction of the Innocent
was printed, these pages were razored out due to fears. Thus, surviving copies are rare collectibles.
For many scans from the book, go to My Comic Art
W. Watts Biggers died 2/10, as noted in this AP obit.
ART of "The Man Inside" by W. Watts Biggers
from One Brick Films
Bamberger Books did a reprint in 1999: "Fiction. THE MAN INSIDE was first published in 1968, and has long been unavailable. Bamberger Books and SPD are proud to make this thought-provoking, emotionally rich novel available once again. Caro, as the hero comes to be called, is found to be living in a state of 'continuing amnesia' -- not only has he no memory of the past, he also forgets each moment as soon as it passes. While trying to read his way through a world full of possible signs (as well as an entire library), in search of his elusive purpose, Caro is ensnared by the machinations of those insidious characters who surround him."
Labels: bamberger, biggers, burk, man inside
Vault of Horror
21 (October-November 1951) is notable for the introduction of artist Howard
Larsen and the absence of Graham Ingels. Other than this exception, the Vault
lineup was standardized with Johnny Craig, Jack Davis, Graham Ingels and
Ingels returned in issue #22, he started signing his work “Ghastly”. Prior to
that, as evident in #19, he used “G. Ingels” as his signature. The
nickname began in the letters pages (see #18 and #19) where Gaines and
Feldstein gave him the “Ghastly Graham Ingels” label. He obviously had no
objection, because all of his Old Witch stories soon displayed the “Ghastly”
signature. While Feldstein’s version of the Old Witch remained on the front
covers of #18 through #29, Ingels’ depiction of the Old Witch was evolving
inside, possibly influenced by two 1937 witches: Horrit, the Witch in Hal
Foster’s Prince Valiant, and the Witch in Walt Disney’s Snow White and the
Seven Dwarfs. The
Old Witch's origin story is "A Little Stranger!" in The Haunt of
#14. The Old Witch was inspired by Gaines’ memory of hearing Old Nancy, the
witch of Salem, who was the host of Alonzo Deen Cole's The Witch's Tale, broadcast from
1931 to 1938 on the Mutual Broadcasting System. (Miriam Wolfe was 13 years old
when she began portraying Old Nancy in 1935; she died September 29, 2000.)
Larsen dished out a sinister meal in the shadowy nightmarish zoo of “That’s a
‘Croc’!”, while Craig’s gator aid to this tale is a rainswept front cover that
diverged from the interior storyline to present a more fantastic situation.
work brings to mind the phrases “darkness at noon” and “day for night”. Note
that the night scenes on page four do not look that much different from his
daylight depictions in other panels.
the 1940s, Larsen mainly specialized in crime and Western stories while drawing
for a variety of publishers, including American (Spy-Hunters), Avon (Romantic
Love, Slave Girl, Wild Bill Hickok), Charlton (Marvels of Science), Et-Es-Go (Suspense), Fiction House (Jungle,
Novelty (Blue Bolt),
St. John (The Texan) and Victory (X-Venture). For EC he contributed to Crime
#12 (“The Hanged Man’s Revenge”) and returned with “The Borrowed Body” in Tales
from the Crypt
Play” is another in Kamen’s “widdle kid” series. EC later did a different story
titled “Child’s Play”, illustrated by Joe Orlando, in the fifth and final issue
(December 1955-January 1956).
illustrated by Jack Davis, is based on the simple premise that it’s not easy to
handle flypaper. Such a situation was used most famously by the animator Norm
Ferguson in Walt Disney’s “Playful Pluto” (1934), a cartoon viewed by prisoners
in Sullivan’s Travels (1940). Pluto trapped in Tanglefoot flypaper is
regarded as an important milestone in the history of character animation
because Ferguson illustrated thought processes through pure pantomime. Pluto
was seen not just as a dog but as a thinking character.
has a number of inconsistencies and unanswered questions. Why is Marty King
“ridin’ hobo style” on a freight train when he has a bag full of cash? Why not
just buy a ticket? Perhaps he stole the money, but there is no mention of such.
Why does he kill the friendly old man? The reader is given not even a hint,
other than the unconvincing notion that a ”cursed place” could trigger such a
sudden unmotivated action. With this weak explanation, the plot pieces come
unglued, and the story collapses despite the vigorous art treatment by Davis.
1919 Boston Molasses Disaster
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.
Next installment of my EC Archives
article. Much of this segment was edited out by Grant Geissman and Russ Cochran, but here it is as I wrote it.
front cover for The Vault of Horror 19 (June-July 1951) illustrates Graham
Ingels’ story “Reunion!”, but it echoes the rural elements found in the Craig
cover for #18. The cover situation comes across as lightweight when compared to
the horrific closing page of “Reunion!”, and the character name is changed from
Roger to Ralph for no apparent reason.
Kamen’s “Daddy Lost His Head!!” (with two exclamation points in the title)
introduced to Vault what Gaines called EC’s “widdle kid” stories, and two
more by Kamen appeared in issues #20 and #21.
“Southern Hospitality!” Craig managed to create an interesting cast of Southern
characters for this melodramatic tale, but it curiously carries absolutely no
hint of a Southern setting. Completely blank backgrounds are conspicuous in 17
panels. Later, the magnolia murders, mossy horror and decaying mansions of EC’s
Southern Gothic tales became closely identified with Ingels.
Hospitality!” is notable as a turning point in Craig’s writing with the use of
far fewer captions. Compared to Feldstein's writing, Craig chose to tell
more of the story visually. This continued to evolve in later issues, but this
issue is where it began. Leroy lettering often crowded Feldstein’s stories, but
Craig’s minimal use of the Leroy lettering gave his stories a distinctive look.
Vault of Horror
and other EC Comics used Leroy lettering by the husband-and-wife team of Jim
and Margaret Wroten. On the Feldstein-edited titles the artists received pages
minus layouts but with the Wrotens’ inked lettering already down on the boards.
lettering requires a collection of templates and a small handheld instrument,
the scriber. An inked letter is produced by the penholder on one side of the
scriber as the metal stylus on the other side follows the grooves in the
template positioned an inch below.
extensive use of Leroy lettering, one suspects, derives as much from Bill
Gaines‘ compulsion for neatness as it did from the reasons he offered in The
#81 (May 1983): “My father, when he did Wonder Woman, and I have no idea
why, used Leroy lettering… The older Wonder Womans were Leroy
lettered by Jimmy Wroten, who started out as a salesman for Keuffel &
Esser, who made, among other things, my slide rule. They were the big company
for slide rules, for templates, for Leroy lettering. Leroy lettering mostly was
used for lettering charts, engineering charts and so on, which it is beautiful
for. How the hell it got involved in comics I don’t know, but it suited us very
well because Al was a script-oriented person. Although he is an artist, and a
pretty good one, when he started writing, he was more interested in the script
than the art… Because Al used so many words, we found we could do it more
clearly with Leroy lettering. If we had wanted a hand-letterer to work that
small, to get all that copy in, it would have been very difficult for him.
You’ll notice Kurtzman’s stuff has very light copy. He never liked Leroy
lettering; he wanted the feel of the hand-lettering, so we used Ben Oda, a fine
Japanese hand-letterer, who still works for DC and occasionally does something
scripting directly on the boards used for the finished art, Feldstein penciled
in the copy in a system advantageous for Wroten, as Gaines explained: “He would
take his six, seven or eight sheets of paper, because we had a formula—it was
either an eight, seven or six-page story. He’d take a ruler, rule out the
panels, he’d letter right into the panels, he’d hold his lettering three lines
down so the letterer could read what he was lettering, because he used Leroy
lettering with templates, and he had to leave room for the template.”
all Feldstein-edited books, over a period of years, featured Leroy lettering,
readers assumed Feldstein chose to use Leroy lettering as the ideal adjunct to
his clean, crisp art technique, but in 1975, he told interviewer Ed Spiegel (Fanfare
Spring 1977) that this choice was not his preference: “I inherited that. When I
joined Bill, they were already using it. I think it was a mistake. Harvey
didn’t want any part of Leroy. But the fellow who did it for us, Jim Wroten,
had this whole family arrangement, and we didn’t have the heart to take it away
from them. Jim and his wife did it. We published all those years with it, and I
think it made the books appear a bit static. But there’s another angle to
examine, and that’s whether the heavy captions I did would have been harder to
read without it. It’s not easy to sustain good lettering over a whole
and Margaret Wroten’s studio, Wroten Lettering, remained in operation for
decades until Jim Wroten’s death in 1980. The couple, who first met in
elementary school, grew up together in Baltimore. When I interviewed Margaret
Wroten in 1986, she talked about the mid-1930s when Jim’s uncle helped him land
a job at Keuffel & Esser in Morristown, New Jersey, leaving her in
Baltimore. A year later, in 1937, they married. “Remember, it was the pit of
the Depression,” she recalled. “You couldn’t get jobs. I had worked for the gas
and electric company when he worked for Keuffel & Esser. I was just a
housewife. He had been with them for about 18 months when we were married. Jim
was about the best Leroy letterer around. He taught me how to do it. He
demonstrated for Keuffel & Esser at different trade shows; that’s how he
started doing it.”
continued as a Keuffel & Esser salesman during World War II, exempt from
military service because of his “confidential work for the government,” as she
put it. Wroten Lettering began at the end of WWII when the couple, in 1945,
joined William Moulton Marston (1893-1947) and others on the Wonder Woman team at 331 Madison
quit Keuffel & Esser when we got our studio; he thought it would be a nice
little business for the two of us to do together. Our studio was Doc Marston’s
office. We were on the 12th floor. The art studio where Harry G. Peter worked
was upstairs, right over us on the 13th floor. They had another
artist, a girl named Arlene, who did backgrounds for him. Harry G. Peter was a
nice old gentleman; he was just a nice person. We went out to Doc’s home
several times, but after Doc died we never kept in touch with the rest of the
family. He had an assistant who helped him write stories; her name was Joye
Hummel. She married, and I think she’s down in Florida someplace.
how we started. We got started doing Wonder Woman, and through that
we met Mr. Gaines [Max Gaines] and did work for him—because Doc Marston and Mr.
Gaines were good friends. For Mr. Gaines we did Picture Stories from Science, the books on
history and the story of The Bible. We worked on all of those.”
Lettering’s list of clients boomed in the post-WWII years. “We worked on EC
Comics. We worked on Hillman Comics. And Victor Fox—we worked on some of his
too. We did charts, and we did lettering on some romance magazines at 500
Fifth. At one time we had some help, but mostly it was just my husband and
myself. I liked working with him, and I happened to like Leroy lettering. I
think it’s a very fine kind of lettering. In addition to the comic books, the
Wrotens also lettered for comic strips—Bert Whitman’s syndicated Debbie Dean
and Stan MacGovern’s antic angle on human behavior, Silly Milly (1939-50), which
had little syndication but appeared in the featured slot at the top of the New
York Post’s comics
page. In Sinclair Lewis’ novel Bethel Merriday (1940) a character
leaving New York remarks that they won’t miss the city except for Silly
Once toasted in a “Stan MacGovern Night” at Leon & Eddie’s nightclub, the
talented MacGovern became one of the more curiously neglected cartoonists of
the 20th Century because his popular Silly Milly was never seen
nationally. He abandoned cartooning in the 1950s, opened an unsuccessful East
Rockaway, Long Island gift shop, and then worked at a Long Island furniture
store. He was 72 when he committed suicide in 1975.
the advent of EC’s New Trend, the Wrotens often worked evenings and weekends to
keep pace with the ever-increasing number of words per page. “When we went into
the horror comics, heck, the lettering on the horror comics practically took up
half the panels. All you were getting was heads, a lot of heads. When we first
got into the business, a survey was taken that said the concentration span of a
child was very limited—and they said 35 to 40 words a page. Those you could
turn out in 15 or 20 minutes. Bill Gaines was paying $2.50 a page. I’d count
the words sometimes and find 400 to 500 words on a page. That’s a lot of words.
The average way it used to be when comics were first done was with 35, 40 or 50
words a page, and you could do a page in 15 to 25 minutes or half an hour, depending
on the words.; 400 to 500 words a page would take an hour or so. When it got so
terribly heavy, I think we just reduced the size of the template. We had to go
down to a #140 template, I think, because you couldn’t use a #175 with all
those words on a page.
got it done. We always got it done. We worked night and day on those things.
Many nights we stayed until nine o’clock to get something out that they needed
the next day. We delivered and picked up our own work. This way we knew it got
there; I don’t believe in that messenger stuff. Whenever they would finish the
stories, they would give us a call; we would come down, pick up the work, do
the lettering and take it back to them when it was done. We tried to proof
everything before we sent it down. If Bill found a mistake or made a change, he
would mark it off in blue in the margin, and then we would just correct it.
Sometimes when there would be changes or he would want to do something else, we
would put them on little strips, cut them to fit and put them on with rubber
cement.” (This created a problem for reprints many years later when the rubber
cement dried, and the tiny strips fell off.)
exchange of pick-ups and deliveries kept the Wrotens actively involved with EC,
since the procedure often necessitated traveling downtown to EC’s office three
or four times a week. The Wrotens saw the EC artists not only at the annual EC
Christmas parties but also in the course of their work, since the deadline pace
occasionally required the artists to go to 331 Madison. “We just had one big
room. It was a small office, but it was large enough for three boards. If they
didn’t finish something, or if they wanted to make a last-minute correction,
they could do that. Once in a while they would stop in and pick up work from
us. If they needed to make a correction, we had pens and ink they could use.
This didn’t go on all the time. This was just if they wanted to to do something
quick or change something. Lots of time they would even bring up the work. Jack
Davis used to come in, and Wood came in. We always had an extra drawing board,
and they could sit down and do whatever they wanted to do.
had very good artists. We always got comic books. I had loads and loads of
them. I gave them away. I shouldn’t have, should I? The last comic books we did
were for EC, and then Jimmy just got out of it. He went into doing charts,
badge cards, formulas for chemical houses and floor plans for trade shows all
over the country. We sublet part of the studio during the 1960s. I gave up the
studio after he passed on six years ago.”
Beginning of my article for EC Archives: The Vault of Horror
The Vault of Horror 18 (April-May 1951) and the half-dozen issues that
followed, the EC artists were evolving and experimenting.
The Film Noir Encyclopedia was published by Overlook Press in 1979, it
became clear that Cornell Woolrich stories and novels had provided the source
material for more 1940s film noir screenplays than any other writer. Dozens
of Woolrich stories were dramatized on Suspense and other radio
anthology programs during the 1940s.
Craig had a fascination with fiction by Woolrich, and “Sink-hole!” offers an
opening seemingly suggested by the femme fatale of Woolrich’s Waltz into
published in 1947 under Woolrich’s pseudonym, William Irish. The novel was
filmed by François Truffaut as Mississippi
(1969) and remade 32 years later by director Michael Cristofer as Original
narrative, set in post-Civil War New Orleans, wealthy
coffeehouse owner Louis Durand has been corresponding and planning marriage
with Julia, a woman he does not know. When he waits at the steamboat dock to
meet her for the first time, he expects a plain-looking, middle-aged woman but
is surprised by the arrival of an attractive younger woman. He ignores her
suspicious behavior and is stunned by her betrayal when she vanishes with his
money. Seeking revenge, he stalks women who resemble Julia, hires a private
detective and chases a masked girl through the streets during Mardi Gras.
Truffaut’s film adaptation, wealthy tobacco plantation owner Louis Mahé (Jean-Paul Belmondo) lives on exotic Reunion
Island (off the coast of Madagascar) during the 1960s. At the docks, he awaits
his mail-order bride, Julie Roussel (Catherine Deneuve), whom he met
through personal ads. When she arrives on a
French ocean liner, the Mississippi, he does not recognize her because she
looks unlike the photographs he had received in the mail. After they marry, she
cleans out their joint bank account and disappears into the night.
changed the setting yet again, this time to late 19th century Cuba, with both parties deceptive: Julia
(Angelina Jolie) explains that she mailed an advance photo of a plain-faced
woman because she has been searching for a man interested in more than just an
attractive female, while wealthy coffee company owner Luis Vargas (Antonio
Banderas) had Julia believing he lived in poverty.
the beginning of Waltz into Darkness for his “Sink-hole!” set-up, Craig employed
a gender twist and then took his tale in a totally different direction, one
“full of passion, grief… and hate,” as the Vault-Keeper notes in his
introduction. These emotions erupt “with shocking force” when Shirley swings
the frying pan on page five. The
climax of “Sink-hole!” is telegraphed on page seven, perhaps even page six.
Oddly, the front cover completely reveals the story’s conclusion.
did a nice job of visualizing the “parched, sunbaked earth” and the dusty
farmland. The reader is given no clue as to the state where this farm is
located, but sinkholes are prominent in Florida and Michigan.
“ramshackle farmhouse” is rundown and dilapidated, but the farm machinery is
state-of-the-art, indicating Craig had access to 1950-51 farm machinery
journals or brochures. “Intercontinental Diesel” is an obvious reference to
International Harvester, and the tractor depicted resembles the 1951
International TD-6 tractor crawler, which had the words “Diesel International”
on the hood. (Go to YouTube to see a TD-6 crawler in operation.)
Adapted from Shirley Jackson's The Bird's Nest
Labels: haas, shirley jackson