The Horror! The Horror! Ghastly Ingels and the Art of Real Yuch

My latest is up at

It begins:

As this volume’s only contributor to have actually read – and suffered the loss of EC comics – as a kid, I feel the weight of a generation – well, a thin, weird slice of a generation – on my shoulders. Like the one alone, you know, escaped to tell you. Like the last surviving veteran of a momentous battle, though this battle’s heart-wrenching outcome, the gutting of EC following the imposition of the Comic Code of 1954, was worth only two square inches in the local press. (I retain the Philadelphia Bulletin’s actual story, preserved behind Scotch tape on blotting paper, as a personally tailored flagellant if you doubt me.)

This Writing Life (con.)

Constant readers with unimpaired memories will recall my invitation a year and a half or so ago to contribute an essay to a book/catalog which would accompany a (at least) two-museum tour of original EC Comic art. My topic was to be EC’s horror comics, with concentration on the genre’s master, Graham “Ghastly” Ingles. The topic appealed; the promised check (by my standards) good; and I jumped on the offer.

I got into it. I reviewed all of EC’s horror books. I checked numerous secondary sources for information, quotes, and color. I found people to interview, who no one in the comic world and ever interviewed. And — kick of all kicks — I discovered what had happened to Ingles, who, comic world legend had it, had seemingly disappeared, reclusive, bitter, after the imposition of the Code in 1954 had wiped horror from the four-color universe.

The first bad news I received from the curator of the exhibit was that he couldn’t pay me right away, after all. The second bad news was, not only had the tour not expanded, one of the museums on board had cancelled. The third was… Well, there was no more news.

Last week I sent him an e-mail. He excitedly reported that the exhibition would open in two weeks. If I cared to come to Oregon — on my own dime — he would comp me to the event. (I declined.) And, oh yeah, there would be no book/catalogue. “Maybe… in a year or two” he would release an anthology. No mention was made of my money (and I was too polite to press him).

I said I did not care to wait. The Comics Journal will be posting my piece on line any day now.

Stay tuned.


I forgot to mention that the most interesting thing I learned at my visit to Dr. Fleur (See Blog of Sept. 24) was that one of my medications, Digoxin, had been invented 600 years ago by a witch.

It seems that people with edema (swelling) would go to witches for relief, and one witch had discovered that fox glove made you pee, so she would brew up pots of tea from the leaves and some of her patients would die from drinking it, but some got better. We came to understand that fox glove contained digitalis, which is, among other things, is a diuretic, so you just have to make sure you get the dosage right.

What makes this fact particularly fascinating to me is that for several weeks I have been engrossed in the works of Graham (“Ghastly”) Ingels (See Blog Aug. 30), who is best known for being the artist behind The Old Witch.

Witches? The Old Witch? Coincidence? I don’t think so.

More strings are being pulled than we are aware of (See Blog of Sept. 25).


I had already planned yesterday’s EC blog when the e-mail arrived. Professors of English are not over-represented among my correspondents, so I paid attention. More surprising was the request for my contribution to a book/catalogue to accompany an art exhibition. Most surprisingly the exhibition was to be of EC art.

The professor, Benjamin Saunders, was complimentary of my work. This was not necessary to have won my assent — just to have been asked was plenty — but to hear “…Most Outrageous deserved to win the National Book Award” didn’t hurt. Then the topic he suggested — Graham “Ghastly” Ingels — sealed the deal. Ingels was “Mr. Horror” at EC, yet I had never considered writing about him until that moment and wondering why I had never had this inclination, given his achievement and distinction (and peculiarity) made me unable to wait to get started.