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Sucker Bait and Other Stories
Even sixty years after their original release, in a post-Saw-and-Hostel era of explicit horror, EC Comics superstar Graham "Ghastly" Ingels's grisly pages retain the power to shock.
His loving depictions of the endless corruption of flesh and nature made him the go-to guy for stories involving swamps, maniacs, and dismemberment — and all three combined to best effect in one of the standouts of this collection of his stories: "Horror We? How’s Bayou?" — considered the single most spectacularly drawn of all of EC’s horror stories, with a climax that would give body-horror king David Cronenberg nightmares.
Ingels specialized in depicting the unimaginable. If you ever wondered what the vengeful, decaying corpse of an elephant stomping a woman to death would look like, it's in here ("Squash...Anyone?"). Or living rats sewn into the bodies of a tyrannical king and queen ("A Grim Fairy Tale")... or the results of injecting
a "poison-pen" letter writer with literal poison and reducing him to, in the words of Al Feldstein's script, a "foul-smelling, oozing pool of putrescence" ("Notes to You!"). One of the two Ray Bradbury adaptations in the book, "There Was an Old Woman" (about a deceased crone who simply refuses to stay dead) provides the closest thing to a
note of sweetness that you'll find here — perhaps with the exception of the genuinely romantic "A Little Stranger!" and its loving marriage between a dead vampire and a dead werewolf.
Sucker Bait and Other Stories features 25 classic stories from Tales from the Crypt, Shock SuspenStories, Vault of Horror, and Ingels and his "Old Witch" character's special showcase Haunt of Fear — plus the usual fascinating historical, critical, and biographical material.
Zero Hour and Other Stories
With his wholesome approach, Jack Kamen stood out amongst the grand-guignol grunge, gritty realism, or futuristic dazzle of his fellow EC cartoonists — but his brilliant editor/writer Al Feldstein found a way to exploit the surface innocence of his style with seemingly nice stories of romance gone horribly wrong, or future fantasies with an unexpectedly brutal twist. And nowhere did Kamen's clean-but-lush graphics work better than in the stories he created for EC's science-fiction comics.
The title story, "Zero Hour" (one of three in this book adapted from works by Ray Bradbury), set in a Spielbergian suburban idyll, is particularly well served by Kamen's surface innocence; "A Lesson in Anatomy" works similar
magic, with its Mayberry-esque setting veering into alien-invasion terror.
If there was any devil in Kamen, it came out in his loving depiction of the female face and form, and you could see
why his hapless heroes were often fatally entranced with them — as in "Punishment Without Crime" (Bradbury again), "He Who Waits!" (a scientist finds an extreme way of rejoining his eight-inch-tall inamorata), and "Miscalculation!" (the lucky recipient of a package from the future literally brews his own harem); even the supercomputer in "Only Human!" proves vulnerable to a beautiful woman's charms.
Zero Hour and Other Stories contains 22 classic EC yarns — plus the usual all-new biographical, historical, and critical essays that have made Fantagraphics' EC Library series the ultimate version of these classics.