Treasured Stories: «Tex’s Bad Dream or ‘The Egg Lady’s Revenge’» (1988)

« You really saw that things were not at all what was portrayed in the mass media… at least not in our neighborhood. It was just a conclusion that most of the kids of that age came to, that things were extremely corrupt. » — Spain Rodriguez

While plenty of cartoonists trod the path of autobiography before him, it took Manuel ‘Spain’ Rodriguez (1940-2012) to truly show how it should be done: here at last was a genuine full-blooded practitioner, hardly content to merely observe from the sidelines, blending with the wallpaper. Lover, brawler, consummate graphic storyteller: a scarce combination indeed.

The following tale belongs to a cycle recounting the exploits and insights of The North Fillmore Intelligentsia, Spain’s closest compadres in Buffalo of the 1950s. Tex’s Bad Dream… originally appeared in Blab! No. 3 (Sept. 1988, Kitchen Sink Press); indeed, Spain’s recollections became, over time, the sole reason to purchase the once-excellent Blab! Mercifully, most of these were collected, in their usual exemplary fashion, by Fantagraphics, as Cruisin’ With the Hound (2012). You’ll still be lacking the mysteriously-omitted, quite essential « How I Almost Got Stomped to the “Still of the Night” by the “Five Satins » (Prime Cuts No. 2, Mar. 1987, Fantagraphics), which you can find in another Spain anthology, My True Story (1994, Fanta again).

In the meantime, enjoy, with my compliments, this true-life tale of original EC Fan-Addicts, facial restructuring, cautionary dreams, isometrics and pork sandwiches.

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-RG

Hallowe’en Countdown II, Day 16

« When the dark mists rise up from the graveyard, and shutters bang in the windows of old abandoned houses, and the lights burn late in the back rooms of funeral parlors, the hour has struck for the Autumn People. » — anonymous back cover blurb

Frank Frazetta‘s cover for Ballantine Books’ October 1965 collection of EC adaptations of Ray Bradbury short stories (such a string of possessives!), namely « There Was an Old Woman » (art by Graham Ingels) « The Screaming Woman » (Jack Kamen), « Touch and Go », aka  « The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl » (Johnny Craig), « The Small Assassin » (George Evans), « The Handler » (Ingels), « The Lake » (Joe Orlando, some of the finest, most sensitive work of his incredibly-brief peak, which he would coast on for the rest of his career), « The Coffin » and « Let’s Play Poison » (Both Jack Davis).

FrazAutumn

I’m feeling foolishly generous, so here’s a panel from each story. Owing to personal bias, Mr. Craig is the only one who gets a full page to show off. Seriously, though, scripting his own stuff afforded him greater latitude in storyboarding his work… and how it shows!

IngelsOldWomanA
« Ghastly » Graham Ingels.
KamenScreamingA
Jack Kamen.
CraigTouchA
Johnny Craig.
IngelsHandlerA
Mr. Ingels again.
EvansAssassinA.jpg
George Evans.
OrlandoLakeA
Joe Orlando.
DavisCoffinA
Jack Davis once…
DavisPoisonA
… and Jack Davis twice.

I first encountered Bradbury through « The October Country » (1955), which turned out, I was to discover later, to be a heavily-revised version of his initial, Arkham House-issued collection, « Dark Carnival ».

« When given the chance to rerelease the out-of-print collection in 1955, Bradbury seized the opportunity to revisit his first book and correct the things he deemed inadequate. (Ever the perfectionist, Bradbury was, throughout his career, often discontent with calling a book done, even after its publication.) He rewrote a number of stories, made light revisions on others, cut twelve tales altogether, and added four new ones to round out the collection. The stories Bradbury discarded he thought too weak, too violent, or too primitive, and not representative of where he was as a writer at that moment. »

As it happens, several of the stories that caught Gaines & Feldstein’s fancy were the very ones that Bradbury was in the process of disowning. Ditching « The Coffin » or « Let’s Play Poison » or, for different reasons, « The Black Ferris » (as he was to expand it into « Something Wicked This Way Comes » a few years down the line) I can understand, but losing the incredible « The October Game »? Especially since he was making (lots of) room for his most plodding story, the seemingly-interminable (at 44 pages) « The Next in Line ».

There was a companion volume devoted to EC’s adaptations of Bradbury science-fiction tales, « Tomorrow Midnight », also boasting a Frazetta cover.

– RG