Paul Bond and I are collaborating on yet another iteration of ds106 this semester: Tales from ds106. Like Noir 106, this class is inspired by a specific theme, namely horror. Early on we’ll be using some of the 1950s EC Comics Tales from the Crypt to explore the genre.
Why Tales from the Crypt? You could argue these comics helped define the imagination of a whole generation of horror artists and filmmakers—the aesthetic is unmistakable and the narratives are often an updated version of the classics for 1950s America. Take, for example, “Shadow of Death” (#39 1954) illustrated by Graham Ingels and written by EC Comics masterminds Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein.
This story features a disabled news stand owner (Ezra) whose business allows him to just eke out a living. But shortly into the tale even that meager existence is soon threatened when an abled-bodied man tries to steal his business by selling papers to his patrons as soon as they come out of the subway. The threat of losing everything torments Ezra, so much so that his shadow takes matters into its own hands. It might be seen as a twist on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde tale, and the magic is in the artwork and the details. The idea of there being no safety net for our victimized hero in this dog-eat-dog world is set against a newspaper headline decrying “Reds” —a derogatory term for Communist sympathizers popular in the 1950s. The dark humor of Tales may have provided a popular outlet for many potentially marginalized readers with its thinly veiled critique of this white-washed, apple pie period in American history.
Below is the Discussion Paul and I had about this story. If you are crazy enough to take the twenty minutes to watch it, I highly recommend you follow this link and spend the 5 minutes it will take to read the comic first 🙂
Also, major kudos to Paul Bond for his jumping head first into the green screen video work, and blogging how he did. Selfdogfooding #4life. I absolutely love the intro for Tales from ds106 he made, and he scored big with the find on the music I’m sure we’ll be doing many more of these, as will the students.