They seemed like such nice neighbors. Their kids seemed perfectly well-behaved. But at night you could hear strange noises coming from their house. What was that scratching noise? Were those muffled screams? Eventually, you go to check it out. At night you quietly sneak up to the house, creeping behind the hedges. You slowly approach the window. You peer over the sill. And you are struck dumb as your eyes witness the horror of...day twenty-six of Spooky covers! Today's nuisance is Black Magic #4:
Click to enlarge.
There are very few Spooky comics that are actually scary. In fact, as I mentioned in the introduction to this Month of Spooky, scary really isn't a criterion. Campy, cheesy, adbsurd, and ridiculous are closer to the elements that make a comic "spooky" for me.
But occasionally you find a cover that is truly creepy. BM #4 earns that distinction.
The truly wonderful art by Joe Simon/Jack Kirby make it appear that the woman is peering into the Great Unknown with her enormous eyes. Perhaps she sees something wonderful, but the ominous red scar forming behind her head indicates that what lies beyond is too terrible to contemplate. And the warning by the doctor tells us that man was simply not meant to know the truth.
But once I get over the "creepy" factor, this is one of those covers that actually kind of makes me angry. Here you have a guy (her husband, maybe?) who is a complete ghoul. The poor woman is dying, but rather than seek comfort for her, this jerk is berating her to tell him what she sees. Grabbing her arm with his gnarly hand, and shaking her shoulders---is it any wonder the poor woman is freaking out? Is this really the way to treat a loved one?
And the idea that people near-death can see something beyond is completely unprovable; and yet it persists as a "truism" for many people---sometimes because it is unprovable. How could you even go about testing such a hypothesis? Even under perfect conditions, people on their deathbed make unreliable, and ultimately un-cross-examinable, witnesses.
These (at best) anecdoctal tales of deathbed sightings seem to me to be yet one more way to prey upon scared and desperate people. But urban legends (like the soul weighing 21 grams) remain in the public consciousness because they provide some solace for the uncritical. And that's the truly scary part for me: that end-of-life issues are still handled as if we were living in the Dark Ages.
When I'm dying, please do what you can to make my end bearable. And I promise not to haunt you from the other side.
Two screams for a great cover, and one for "the best health care system in the world."