« Ghost stories … tell us about things that lie hidden within all of us, and which lurk outside all around us. » — Susan Hill
We’ve once before turned our attention upon Dell’s Ghost Stories, an anthology title with such an incredible first issue (written and directed by John Stanley) that all the subsequent ones whither in the long shadow it casts. In recent years, I’ve somewhat softened my stance on these sequels, taking into account that nothing could measure up to Stanley’s work on numero uno — and accordingly judging them on their own merits.
As a kid, I didn’t think too highly of Frank Springer (1929-2009), being primarily familiar with his inks over Frank Robbins on The Invaders (too sloppy, and no substitute for Robbins inking himself, which never happened at Marvel anyhow). Down the line, I ran into some of his earlier work (Phoebe Zeit-Geist, The Secret Six, The National Lampoon, Dial H for Hero and sundry items for Dell) and grew to appreciate his strengths.
Now, Ghost stories was interesting as a ‘horror’ (in the very limited Silver Age/Comics Code in full force sense) anthology, in that the vast majority of the stories were, after that peerless first issue, the work of one single artist (Gerald McCann, after contributing a couple of page to number one, handled issues 2-5, with a couple of filler pages thereafter, then Springer took over for 6-20, the rest of the run consisting of reprints, with the unexpected exception of no. 35).
Here then is what’s likely my favourite Springer Ghost Story: A Room with a Dreadful Secret.
One of my favorites. Good choice.
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Ah, that’s gratifying — I don’t even know anyone else who knows, let alone enjoys, this particular story. Thanks for the feedback!
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Hey, I strongly agree that nobody else should ink Frank Robbins’ pencils but you are unfair with Frank Springer who did a pretty decent job on the Invaders. In fact, we should praise him since he replaced the infamous one!
Hey, I’m just reporting that I found his finishes too loose and sloppy at the time. I haven’t looked at Invaders since the early 80s… Nowadays, I’m not sure I could stand revisiting Roy Thomas’ writing.
By the way, today is the Infamous One’s birthday! 😉
This is where comics shine for me… I can still enjoy a badly written comic for the art while I can’t with a badly drawn one.
While I may have felt this way when I was younger, but over time, my viewpoint has more or less flipped.
As it happens, my definitions of “well-drawn” and “badly-drawn” have considerably evolved. Some artists with homely, crude, rudimentary styles are terrific storytellers, while many a flashy, ‘gorgeous’ stylist throws up visual fireworks aplenty but does little to tell the story, and in fact detracts from it. You know, pretty pictures that just sit there. Dumb beauty.
I recall that Will Eisner, in an interview, had quite a bit to say about that tendency.