Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Eerie Bones

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
"Eerie Bones" from Tales from the Tomb magazine #2, April 1970
(Click on images to enlarge)

The dialog may be simple, but the underlying meaning is full of layered subtexts.
As covers go, this particular issue of TFTT was pretty tame compared to some of the others, which were literally dripping with grue and violence. I had come into the world of the graphic gore and horror of these mags around 1972 and they blew my little mind. I suspect they blew my mother's mind also because my issue disappeared shortly after I bought it. I didn't start getting them again until years later when I was able to pick up some back issues in comic shops, like this one.

"A woman's place is in the tomb," explains the husband vampire.

Here's a skeletally-oriented story that is fun, and illustrates the level of art and writing that was standard for these mags. Nothing truly spectacular, or deep, but good enough to send chills down the spine of the pre-teen audience that would buy it. The forbidden-fruit attraction made them especially exciting and were ones that you never let your parents find if you could help it.

So summon forth the inner kid again and let him enjoy this while your adult self takes a break.

So it's Snake 1, Skeleton 0 as the fight of the century ends. But the snake's victory was an empty one, since it's bony prey had no meat left to ingest. As for the hero's plan of burying the bones in different locations, I wouldn't count on that working for long. You just can't keep a good giant skeleton down.... especially one so eloquent. Using a combination of mime and subtle inflections, the creature was able to make a simple "Aaaarrrrgggrrrr!" communicate a plethora of emotion and loneliness.

Below are some of the later, more gruesome covers of the type that I was first introduced to. You will not find anything like this on the newstands today. Ah, the good ol' days, when a kid could take some change to the corner store and get some candy, soda and mind-searing images of death, mutilation, torture and terror. Today's coddled, over-protected kids would be traumatized. But we ate it up!

I suppose as long as the violence was monster-on-monster, it was easier to get away with. In reality is just desensitized us to the plight of the abused vampires, werewolves and ghouls.

Okay, it's safe, you can call your adult self back in now, and tell it that those cigarettes will kill them someday. And look out, your boss is headed this way.


Patrick said...

I don't recall seeing these gems on the newstands when I was a kid, but i became keenly aware of them much later. As a kid in Utah, the extent of my horror mag exposure was Creepy, Eerie and Famous Monsters. I have always wanted to see some of the interior art on these, so thanks for the sneak peek Fred! I am gonna have to snag some of these when I find them again!

Karswell said...

Actually Patrick you've seen quite alot of the artwork from these mags as most of them are just reprints of pre-code stories with occasional modified art. That doesn't make them any less awesome though of course because they also bumped up the gore factor!

Nice post Fred... surprises everyday.

Karswell said...

Another thing, Eerie Bones was recently reprinted in the great Zombie Factory collection from IMP. After reading it there I had a sneaky suspicion that a page was missing as it felt like there was definitely a huge gap in the story. And in fact you've just proven I'm right by posting these scans... pages 5 AND 6 are both MIA.

Anonymous said...

Not to be (too) obsessive pal, but since linking up with your blog from Curt's GROOVY AGE OF HORROR site earlier this evening, I've found myself spending a LOT of time over the course of the night catching up on your stuff & it's been a blast!

Like I said in my earlier response to your SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN piece, it's a blast reading so much spot on commentary & nostalgic musings from a kindred spirit from the exact same era.
Further proof of very parallel childhoods being this post devoted to those wonderful old Eerie Publications comic mags of back in the day.

Like you, I was more into that much loved trio of Warren comics in CREEPY, EERIE & VAMPIRELLA & I had significant collections of such. But, every so often, I'd get my hands on the odd issue of an Eerie title & it would be a wicked little treat.

Now, my parents were generally very supportive of my comic book collecting endeavors & reading habits, so I'm not sure why my getting an issue of WEIRD or WITCHES TALES etc. was so rare. I'm not sure if their distribution was spotty in my area ( Buffalo, NY ) or what, but I was far more likely to score a Skywald mag than I was an Eerie. And by the time that Marvel introduced their own B&W line toward the mid '70s, I'd pretty much left the Eeries behind & was content with my accumulation of a short stack of them. But seeing them reproduced online now, MAN does that bring back a LOT of fond memories & make me want to replace that stack from thirty some odd years ago!

At the moment, I'm in the midst of rebuilding a collection of the original 25 issues of CASTLE OF FRANKENSTEIN, with it being about a third of the way done & in hiatus while I look to get back on my feet financially before I continue adding to it. But, once I'm finished with that, I really think that getting my hands on a few issues of those good ol' nasty Eerie titles will be the next order of business.

Keep the good stuff coming.


- Jim

Fred said...


Glad you are enjoying the blog! Readers such as yourself are the very reason I spend the time to post this stuff. I had hoped that others with similar memories and love for such things would get a kick out of it.

As it is, I have no-one around me that I can share my enjoyment of the various interests with (my wife just tolerates it out of love), so putting them online is one way of doing that. Hearing back from a reader like you makes it worth it!

Keep reading and commenting, I love reading the responses.

Hope you find much more to enjoy here!