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.