Cemetery Dance gives us this summery of Stephen King's 520 page novel, REVIVAL.  It will be coming out in November, 2014. My favorite words, "nightmare" "Edgar Allan Poe" and "dark."  In other words, it's a Stephen King novel!

From master storyteller Stephen King comes a spectacularly dark and riveting novel about addiction, religion, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town more than half a century ago, a boy is playing with his new toy soldiers in the dirt in front of his house when a shadow falls over him. He looks up to see a striking man, the new minister, Jamie learns later, who with his beautiful wife, will transform the church and the town. The men and boys are a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls, with the Reverend Jacobs — including Jamie's sisters and mother. Then tragedy strikes, and this charismatic preacher curses God, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from age 13, he plays in bands across the country, running from his own family tragedies, losing one job after another when his addictions get the better of him. Decades later, sober and living a decent life, he and Reverend Charles Jacobs meet again in a pact beyond even the Devil's devising, and the many terrifying meanings of Revival are revealed.

King imbues this spectacularly rich and dark novel with everything he knows about music, addiction, and religious fanaticism, and every nightmare we ever had about death. This is a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe.

(Cover picture was taken from: www.pxleyes.comerathion)

Movies With Terrible Endings

I enjoyed the article, "Which Movies Have the Most Terrible Endings?"  by Allison Weaver.

Some I agreed with, some I hadn't seen, and some left me going, "WHAT?"

Return of the Jedi was a bad ending?  Actually, there is an explanation, "When I say Return of the Jedi, I'm referring to the re-released version of the film, in which George Lucas felt the need to edit the bejesus out of the movie until the whole thing was a laughable mess."  Ah, got it.

Other offerings include Castaway, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and Signs.  I liked the ending of Signs!  A lot.

Also, Weaver listed as a bad ending.  Okay, now they're messin' with Hitch!  What's wrong here?  The Birds was great, and the ending was dark, heavy and wonderfully open.  It's how the Mist should have ended.

Titanic.  Uh, I would love to see an alternate ending to that one.  The boat sails into New York harbor?

And then there is THE MIST.  I hate  this ending.  So, even if I disagree with every other entry in this article, I think this is right on.
Did anyone actually enjoy the ending of 'The Mist'? I don't believe it's possible. Who could be happy after watching the main character give up, shoot his own son, and then head off in search of the perfect way to kill himself? 
Honestly, though, even if it ended there, it would've been more acceptable than what really happened. Instead, he discovered that he and the rest of his family and friends could have survived the entire ordeal if they had just waited a few moments longer. Oops! Tough break. 
What movie endings do you hate?

'The Shining' Twins All Grown Up

Yahoo Celebrity TV notes, 
The siblings were just 12 years old when they terrified moviegoers in 1980, but today the 46-year-old sisters lead a rather normal life. And while they still look frighteningly similar, they barely resemble the creepy handholding sisters who lurked around the Overlook Hotel. "The Shining" was their final film. Lisa went on to study literature, and Louise became a microbiologist. 
Today the twins are active on social media and make regular appearances at horror conventions. Check out the vid to see what the Grady sisters look like nowadays, and be sure to tune in to "The Insider" on TV tonight for the latest in entertainment news.
Full story at:

Do You e-Book?

Sarah T. Schwab at Sunday OBSERVER (HERE) has at least one very strong opinion. . . “I dislike eBooks,” she boldly writes.  There it is, in clear black and white print.  Well, actually, it’s on my computer.  Go figure!  It’s a column on the internet declaring her dislike for ebooks.

She points out that Stephen King recently announced he would not be publishing Joyland as an ebook because he loves paperbacks so much.  I hope that doesn’t mean King will also refuse us the audio edition.

This is an interesting turn, because as Schawb points out, King was an early pioneer of the ebook.

I love to have a good hard copy of the text.  I understand those who actually want the book in their grubby hands.  In fact, I even  like the smell of some books.  A paper copy of a book is great for study, since it allows me to highlight and write in the margins.  However, I hold not animosity toward the ebook.  In fact, here are a few strengths of the ebook:


1. Easy travel.  You don’t need a bookshelf to bring your library with you.

2. Quick purchase.  No more long trips to the bookstore, hoping they have your book.  Now we find it on Amazon and buy it in a single click.  Hey, Amazon doesn’t even make you retype your password and buyer info. . . it really is “one click.”

3. No more retyping.  This is especially true of Bible commentaries.  It is nice to be able to cleanly copy and paste from book to word processor without having to retype the whole thing.  I mean, God Bless my PC Study Bible!  Used to be we preachers had to type the Bible passages word for word into sermon notes.

4. The ebook saves trees.  Why does a conservative need to bring this subject to the table?  Shouldn’t the liberal writers be the ones taking this up?  Oh well, I do believe we are stewards of the earth and should manage it wisely.  However, I don’t actually think a few more copies of The Stand in print is going to cause much more global warming.

5. The ultimate concordance.  Ebooks allow you to search them, giving the reader very quick results and the ability to dig through the book on a given subject much faster.  We used to have to rely on others to catagorize subjects in the book, hoping they found the same things as important as we did.  Now we can just type in the search word and go.  How many times does “M-O-O-N” appear in The Stand?  Well, you can find out pretty quickly now that The Stand is an ebook.

6. The ebook is cheaper.  I know, that’s not always the case.  And it opens a can of worms in the Stephen King world, since his books are sometimes the same price as the paper copies!  And, while I’m on that subject – shame shame on those of you who write bad reviews of the book on Amazon because you don’t like the Kindle price!  I thought I would miss the bookstore.   But now I just wander the bookstore aisle thinking, “I’ll bet this is cheaper on Amazon.”

7. Returns are easy.  Buy the wrong book?  Simple. . . you don't have to stand in line and explain why the book was a poor purchase decision.  Now you just fix it with a click.

8. Preview.  I  love this!  Amazon lets you preview the book before buying it. What drives me crazy is that so much of the copyright and opening pages suck up the preview portion.  Sometimes it's 20 pages of copyrights and "this book is for my cat" and prefaces to the introductions, that the preview is only 3 pages!  But still, the preview gives a glimpse of what you are about to lay money down for.

And here’s the deal: I don’t own a Kindle.  I don’t even like e-readers!  But I have the Kindle app on my computer, and it’s pretty handy.

Not only are books by King abudnant in the e-book world.  So are books about King.  In particular, Cemetery Dance has almost all of their books about King as ebooks; Quigley, Lilja in particular.

So tell me. . . what do y’all think of the ebook?

Reposted from July 1, 2012

King Out Of Print Books Are In Demand has released a list of the 100 most desired out-of-print books of 2013. Topping the list was Madonna’s 1992 erotic coffee table book, “Sex,” and two titles from New England author and Red Sox fan Stephen King (above). No. 2 on the list is “Rage,” in which King writes under the name Richard Bachman. No. 3 is “My Pretty Pony,” King’s 1989 short story that was published as part of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s artist and writer series. No. 4 on the list also has local ties. It’s “The Harvard Classics,’’ an anthology edited by former Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot, cousin of T. S. Eliot.


Add  to their list: The mist  audio book.

2 questions:
1. What King out of print books do you own?
2. What king out of prints are you on the hunt for?

JOYLAND comes to ebook

On May 27, Hard Case Crime will publish the book for the first time in the classic rack-sized “mass-market” paperback format typical of pulp crime novels in the 1940s and 50s. The company will also release the novel for the first time in an e-book edition, in April 2014.

The Simpsons All Work And No Play

SOURCE: Facebook Fans Of Stephen King

Cats Eye

What did you think of Cats Eye?

My thoughts:
1. I really liked The  Ledge.
2. It seemed disjointed.  A cat roaming scene to scene just doesn't work.
3. I wish Graveyard  Shift had been trimmed down and made into one of these stories.
4. Creepshow blows this movie out of the water.
5. My favorite part of  this movie is the trailer.

King to Justin Bieber

"Memo to Justin Bieber: For  the young celeb, life is a banquet of free food.   What  they don't tell you is that you are often the last course."  That's great.

LILJA'S LIBRARY: Aaron Paul A Possible For Eddie Dean

Posted from my favorite Stephen King website, Lilja's Library:

Aaron Paul as Eddie Dean? Well, maybe. This is from Cinema Blend:

We’ve heard this before. But Paul was in Sundance recently promoting a new film, and was asked by Ain’t It Cool News about the Dark Tower books and whether he’d ever been considered for Dean. The character is a strung-out junkie pulled into a mystical realm by the story’s main hero, Roland, a gunslinger. Dean becomes a hero, despite his numerous flaws. Sounds a lot like Jessie, no? Anyway, Paul says that he hasn’t read all of the books (there are seven), but dropped this huge bomb:

Here is what he said...
I've had a ton of meetings on that. I just had a general sit down with Ron Howard, who is a huge fan of the show, which is such a crazy thing to even think that Ron Howard even knows who I am. They're definitely planning on making it. … I'm excited. Their goal is to do three films, but also have a television element to it, which will be very interesting. From what I hear, Eddie Dean is a pretty epic, iconic character.

A Visit To The Stanley Hotel

I enjoyed Shannon's 2009 posts on her visit to The Stanley Hotel.  This is reposted  with permission.  Visit her blog at:

The Stanley Hotel

What a beautiful place.
Okay, I know I usually only talk about Sweet Valley, but the Stanley Hotel was amazing and I thought you guys might be interested in knowing what I’ve been doing this week instead of updating the blog. Our room was sufficiently spooky, the creepy four-poster bed so tall there was a little set of wooden steps to get into it. Our room had a walk-in closet, which I’ve never seen in a hotel. There was a channel that played Kubrick’s The Shining on a loop.

Kevin the tour guide took this picture for me.
It's at the top of the stairs leading to the bell tower.

If you are ever in Estes Park for any reason, you should definitely stop in and take the ghost tour. We learned a lot and our tour guide, Kevin, was hilarious. We liked him a lot, even though he thought the name of the bartender in The Shining was Grady (Grady was the previous caretaker, Lloyd was the bartender and I’m a dork). Anyway, here’s what we learned:
F. O. Stanley and his wife, Flora, lived in a mansion in Estes Park but it wasn’t large enough to accommodate all the guests they wanted to entertain. The hotel was built in 1909, and guests, all friends of the Stanleys, could come by invitation only. (There’s a Stanley Museum just down the road from the hotel and they told us this is completely untrue, it was a regular old hotel, but whatever. We believe in Kevin.) There’s a building separate from the main hotel. It’s called the Manor House, and this is where the bachelors stayed when they came to visit, since Flora didn’t think it was proper for them to stay in the same building with the married folk. The children stayed on the fourth floor with their nannies and pretty much didn’t see their parents for the duration of their visit, which usually lasted a whole summer.
Our tour didn’t take us to the Manor House, but we explored most of the main building and learned what kind of paranormal activity happens all around the hotel:

On the fourth floor, people hear children playing and running around, and children who stay there find their toys misplaced. The fourth floor is also home to Room 401, which was the nannies’ break room back in the day. Supposedly, this room is haunted by Lord Dunraven, a misogynistic jackass who used to own the land on which the Stanley was built. A woman who stays in that room might feel a hand on her leg or someone touching her hair.

Room 217
On the second floor, we stood in front of Room 217, which used to be the Presidential Suite. Room 217 is at the end of a hallway and the rooms on either side of it, 215 and 219, used to be part of it. This room is haunted by Elizabeth Wilson (my husband raised his hand to play Mrs. Wilson when Kevin asked for a volunteer during the ghost tour). Apparently, Mr. Stanley asked Mrs. Wilson to go light the candles in the room when the lights went out. The hotel used gas, and when Mrs. Wilson lit her match, the room blew up. For real. Mr. Stanley felt like crap about this. He paid all of Mrs. Wilson’s medical bills (yeah, she survived) and said he wanted her to keep working for him. She stayed and was given a raise every year she worked there, which she did until she died.

This is, of course, the room in which Stephen King and his wife stayed when they came to the Stanley. 

According to Kevin, Stephen and Tabitha showed up looking for a room on the last day of the season when everyone was going home. The manager gave them the keys and asked them to lock up when they left. After dinner, Tabitha went up to the room while Stephen went to the bar and had a few drinks. Then he went to the dining room and found a huge party going on. He tried to talk to the partiers, but nobody seemed able to see him. I’m not sure I believe that part. It was during SK’s coke period, after all. He could have seen all manner of strange things. Anyway, when he went up to the room, Tabitha thanked him for putting away the luggage, which he of course knew nothing about. At the time, SK had been trying to write a story about a family trapped in an amusement park. It wasn’t working out, but after his stay at the Stanley, he moved the whole thing to a haunted hotel and it became The Shining.

The MacGregor Room
The MacGregor dining hall is something else. This used to be where the Stanleys would feed their guests. It’s now used for wedding receptions and other events. This room used to be completely white, but when ABC came to film the miniseries version of The Shining, they wanted a darker, spookier look. The wood you see in the picture to the right isn’t actually wood. It’s white plaster airbrushed to look like wood. And now the Stanley has a deal with ABC: they’re not allowed to change the appearance of the hotel until “interest in The Shining dies down.” So basically never.

Our tour took us downstairs to the basement, where we learned that there really is no foundation for the hotel. It’s just sort of perched on the mountain rocks. Some people believe it’s the quartz in the mountain that brings out all the paranormal activity. This is now called the Stanley Effect.

The pet cemetery

That’s where our tour ended. The next day, my husband and I explored the rest of the property. In the main building, there’s a music room where Flora used to hang out with the women, and a billiard room where the men did manly things like smoke cigars and play billiards. The Stanley has its own concert hall, where Flora Stanley’s ghost is said to hang out. The Manor House, where the bachelors used to stay, isn’t very exciting, but Kevin the tour guide said he had an experience in one of the rooms there. If you walk to the left of the hotel a little way, you might find a little pet cemetery where some Stanley relatives have buried their pets. You’ll also find the new Presidential Suite, which appears to be sort of a duplex.

Bottom line: you should go there. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, you should just stop by for a while and look around. It’s a beautiful hotel with a really interesting history, and the Rocky Mountain National Park is five minutes away.

Third floor hallway

Flora's music room

The grand staircase

A Stanley Steamer car

Contact Music Says 2013 Carrie Essentially Unnecessary

Along with the rest of us, Contact Music is asking the deep question, "why exactly did we need a Carrie remake?"  Well, for many of us who saw the movie, the necessity of the movie is set aside once the film begins to roll.  It doesn't matter if the story is needed, we just want to know at that point if it is going to be a good story.  I think they did good with it.

Rich Cline suggests that the "problem" with the new Carrie is Moretz.  "She's simply too confident and glamorous to believe as someone so socially inept," Cline continues:
Thankfully, Moretz is a terrific actor, so she sharply catches Carrie's nervous energy and makes us believe that she's been pushed to the brink by both her mother and her classmates. Even so, she works out how to use her power far too quickly. Opposite her, Moore delivers a superbly detailed portrayal of a paranoid true believer.
Check out the full article:


Carrie is alive and well!

Mark Horning posted that Beck Center for the Arts and Baldwin Wallace University Music Theatre Program are collaborating to co-produce "Carrie: The Musical."  The show will run from February 7 through March 9, 2014 on the Mackey Main Stage. Show times will be 8:00 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays and 3:00 p.m. on Sundays.
The show is directed by Victoria Bussert (Director of Music Theatre at BWU) and stars Katherine DeBoer as the mother and Jodi Dominick as Mrs. Gardner, the phys-ed teacher (both appear courtesy of Actors Equity Association). Twenty actors from Baldwin University’s nationally recognized MT program make up the rest of the cast. Musical Direction is by Nancy Maier with Choreography by Gregory Daniels. The show features music by Michael Gore with lyrics by Dean Pitchford and book by Lawrence D. Cohen.

“I am very excited that the third annual Beck Center collaboration with Baldwin Wallace University Music Theatre program will bring Cleveland the local premiere of CARRIE the musical, based on the famous and infamous first novel by Stephen King,” remarked Bussert. “The collaboration has also brought highly-acclaimed productions of Spring Awakening and Next to Normal to the Beck Center stages.
Horning writes that the musical "pulses" with an  "amazing score ranging from high energy rock to epic melodies of nearly operatic proportion."

With a cast combining professional actors and Baldwin Wallace students, it promises to be a night you'll never forget!”

Tickets are

  • $29 for adults 
  • $26 for seniors (65 and older) with an additional $3 service fee per ticket applied at time of purchase. 
  • $15 Student tickets with valid I.D. (includes service fee). 
 Purchase tickets online at or call Customer Service at 216.521.2540, ext. 10. Beck Center for the Arts is located at 17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood, just ten minutes west of downtown Cleveland. Free onsite parking is available.

Darabont: Stephen King has an innate talent

I enjoyed Frank Darabont's interview at  About Stephen King, Darabont writes,
Stephen King has an innate talent I’ve adapted several of his books for the screen [The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist] simply because he is one of the all-time great storytellers. He can put characters on a page that engage you in a way that few writers can. It’s a magic trick he has, and I’m not sure how he does it.
I'm currently reading The Mist and noting just how good the movie adaptation was.  When it comes to King's work, Darabont swung three home runs in a row.  He says that the lasting popularity of Shawshank brings a "pleasing level of respect, but nothing opens doors like a film that actually makes a lot of money."

REDRUM Headed To Benson Theatre

Broadway World posted news that a stage adaptation of The Shining is coming to Omaha's Benson Theatre. The play will be directed by Jason Levering, from a script written by Levering and Aaron Sailors and approved by Mr. King.  

Broadway World points out that a play is a good set up for the Shining, since the book itself is a tragedy in five acts.
The Benson Theatre is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that fosters the success of local artists, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and underserved populations within the historic community of Benson. Our goal is to acquire and restore the historic Benson Theatre at 6054 Maple Street in Omaha to serve as a shared community space for business education and artistic performance. Benson is a flourishing arts and entertainment district, and the timing to restore our historic theater and bring more diverse entertainment and vital business education to our community has never been better. The Theatre's prime location in downtown Benson has the potential to bring thousands of new visitors to the Benson business district for more than 500 events annually.
Full article is at 

Still No Audio

reposted from 2012
Here are 3 books that still have not found their way to the world of audio books:

1. The Dead Zone
2. Pet Sematary
3. Rage
. . . of course, I'd even listen to The Cannibals on audio, if it existed. I was enjoying that book!

4 books that are endangered species:
(That means they are hard to find, almost disappearing off the face of earth)

1. The Mist, read by Frank Muller. Muller did a recording of The Mist unabridged, and it was great! However, there seems to be copyright problems with the recording, and who knows if it will ever be seen available to the public again.

2. The 1978 edition of The Stand read by Grover Gardner. I think these only existed as tapes.

3. The original King readings of the Dark Tower 1-2. These were great! King's reading was a joy, even though it was obvious he was nervous.

4. An actual physical CD copy of The Stand. It's available on audio through audible, but difficult to find as a CD.

Regarding audio books, I think the happiest I have been was when Needful Things came out.  I bought each set of tapes and spent hours in my room listening while I played solitary monopoly.  (Yes, I'll tell you the rules if you ask).

THE MIST Review Part One

This  is from Blood Spattered Adaptations.  (thanks Chris)

This review does a good job  comparing the book to the movie.

THE MIST JOURNAL #1: Listening To The Mist

I started re-reading The Mist today.  I had  a long drive to Walmart (because when you live in the sticks,  it's a long drive!) and put in an old CD of Frank Muller reading The Mist.  I bought the tapes years ago and had them digitally remastered because they were in terrible shape.  Strange thing, I never listened all the way through.

I can't express how much better the actual unabridged reading of The Mist is to the 3D sound version that is pushed right now.  I don't know exactly what happened with the Muller recording, why it's not available, but it is far superior to a dramatization.  Words have power, and when we dramatize everything we lose something in the transmission.

Muller's narration is actually a little bland compared to the actors studios hire today.  But I like it a lot.  Sometimes over-acting gets in the way of the words as much as dramatizations do.  Muller's words are crisp, well paced and he always gives the right emphasis.  But he doesn't try to become the characters.  He's not an actor, he's a reader.

My wife noted that the way Muller read the chainsaw scene really did sound like a chainsaw -- and he never reduced himself to making artificial sounds.

The novella itself is all the more interesting since I've seen  the movie several times.  The movie really did bring the feel and tone of the book to the screen.

Some quick notes:

1. The story is told in first person. And interesting choice, since I think it probably boxed him in at the end.

2. I feel like I can tell that this was written quickly.  There is a certain energy about the book that is delightful.  From the first lines you can sense that King is excited to tell this story.  Did he stay up late writing this one?  I'll bet he did.

3. David's dream the night of the storm is quite interesting.  I've never seen any discussion about it.
In the dream I could hear the rending crack and splinter of breaking trees as God stamped the woods into the shape of His footsteps. He was circling the lake, coming toward the Bridgton side, toward us, and behind Him everything that had been green turned a bad gray and all the houses and cottages and summer places were bursting into purple-white flame like lightning, and soon the smoke covered everything. The smoke covered everything like a mist." (From The Mist, by Stephen King)
4. The first person narration also gives King the chance to give some ominous narration.  Get these lines:
Steff was standing on the cement path which leads to the vegetable patch at the extreme west end of our property. She had a pair of clippers in one gloved hand and the weeding claw in the other. She had put on her old floppy sunhat, and it cast a band of shadow over her face. I tapped the horn twice, lightly, and she raised the hand holding the clippers in answer. We pulled out. I haven’t seen my wife since then. (THE MIST, by Stephen King)
Couple  of things worth noting here.  One is just the line, "I haven't seen my wife since then" grabs the readers attention.  We now know something really bad is about to happen.  Second, king went to a lot of detail to describe David's wife, only to dismiss her in the same paragraph.

5. I like the way David and his wife pass notes back and forth. Today they would text one another, though the storm would have probably knocked that out.

6. Unlike some child characters, Billy really does come across as a kid.  I love the scenes where his dad keeps letting him have sips of his beer.  Not because I really think this is in anyway a good idea, but it seems real.  It's the kind of detail many writers would avoid.

7.  King makes the reader feel a bit of despair at the loss of Norton's 1960 Thunderbird.  Why is that strange?  Because it never existed!  I mean, the car is real -- but THAT car, Norton's car, never existed.  Yet I felt a bit of pain when I read about the tree falling on it.  I thought, "This is crazy.  I feel sad about a car getting destroyed by a tree -- and neither the car nor the tree ever existed.  This is all just stuff coming from Stephen King's messed up head."

Check out my article,
"Hunting The Mist Unabridged" (
"The Mist, Transferring Tapes To CD" (


Big Fish Games has released a first person adventure game titled "REDRUM" for Android, Ipad, iPhone and Windows.

This was published in 2008, so I suspect it's not really got  much to do with Mr. King except the title.


A little girl called Rose is an asylum patient, afflicted with mental images of death and other macabre visions. With the help of her psychic powers, she starts unraveling a plot against her life by an evil doctor.

Redrum is a horror-themed hidden object game. As usual, the objective is to find and click on all the objects from a list, as they lay scattered on gruesome scenes of murder and other creepy places. Roses are also hidden on the scenery. They add more hints to the magnifying glass at the bottom that, when clicked, highlights the location of one of the list items. There are two modes, with or without the time limit.

A bonus round appears at the end of each chapter. In one of them, the player has to make anagrams with refrigerator magnets. Another makes the screen all segmented, and replaces the object list with the screen portions that must be found. In one, the goal is to find several instances of the same object.


This article is by Brandon Engel

We are all familiar with the fate of virtually any sort of art that stirs controversy upon its initial release. At first, it’s perceived as subversive, and is often largely resisted by the general public. As time passes, tastes change, society typically becomes more permissive, and the thing that was shocking twenty to thirty years ago is ever-present, aesthetically and thematically, in mainstream media.

Such is the case with EC Comics, which were a major source of inspiration for a young Stephen King. Under the leadership of publisher William Gaines - whom many of you may also know for his involvement with Mad Magazine - EC established themselves in the early 1950’s as the pre-eminent publisher of horror comics. They published such titles as Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, The Haunt of Fear, and Shock Suspenstories. The covers typically featured highly stylized, lurid imagery which owed something to the tradition of “weird menace” pulp magazine covers.

Gaines worked closely with editor and visual artist Al Feldstein to oversee the production of content that was, in many ways, light years ahead of its time. Visually, the comics stood head and shoulders above competitors’ comics thank to the contributions of artists like Jack Davis and Graham Ingels. In terms of the writing, one of the traits that made EC historically significant in the annals of horror is that the publication featured many original stories by well respected authors, such as Ray Bradbury (another major literary influence of King’s).

The stories commonly featured some version of an O. Henry twist, and were typically moral plays, wherein the bad guy (or the worst of the bad guys) would ultimately receive his comeuppance at the end of the story. The stories would be introduced by one of three horror hosts: “The Vault-keeper,” “The Crypt Keeper,” and “The Old Witch.” They would make awful puns and provide comic relief that tempered the ghastliness of the stories themselves. And the stories were ghastly, with instances of people being eaten alive by vultures, cannibalism and even vividly illustrated dismemberment. It was a no-holds-barred kind of publication.

The books were immensely popular among young readers (with such gruesome plots, how could they not be?), and at one point in time, horror comics accounted for about 25% of the comic book market. And then, along came psychiatrist Fredric Wertham...

In 1954, Wertham published a book entitled The Seduction of the Innocent, which asserted that comic books contributed to juvenile delinquency. He took issue with the EC horror titles in particular, for juxtaposing macabre images next to advertisements for toy guns and knives. Wertham also had a litany of issues with other popular titles, and even went so far as to suggest that Batman and Robin promoted homosexuality (he may or may not have been correct on that point). Regardless, his book led to hearings about whether or not comic books were indeed endorsing illicit behaviors for young Americans. Gaines was forced to testify before a congressional hearing, and shortly thereafter, the Comic Code Authority was constructed by the Comics Magazine Association of America. The CCA organized a self-imposed set of censorship rules that a publication would be required to meet in order to get the Comic Code seal of approval. Publications that weren’t approved were generally sent back to the publisher, since sellers didn’t want to carry them.

As expected, this effectively terminated EC’s horror comics. Fortunately, EC had other properties to fall back on, such as the aforementioned Mad Magazine. But the influence of those comics endured. John Carpenter and George Romero were two filmmakers who grew up in the fifties and drew heavily from the influence of EC - the latter of the two eventually teamed up with Stephen King to produce the EC derivative horror anthology Creepshow (1982). King wrote five short stories in the EC tradition, and Romero did his best to replicate the comic book aesthetics in the composition of the shots, and the use of comic book style borders. There are also animated segments that feature artwork from original EC layout artists. King even stars in one of the segments as an east-coast bumpkin whose life is turned upside down when a meteor crashes in his back-yard.

In some ways, you might say that the film helped demonstrate that the general public was ready for material this intense. It was only 6 years after the release of Creepshow that HBO began airing its Tales From the Crypt series, which used stories from all of the EC horror titles as the basis for teleplays. As a bonus, because the program was originally broadcast on HBO, producers didn’t have to make concessions with the gore and violence. And later, there was an animated TV program for kids entitled Tales From the Cryptkeeper.

To his credit, you might say that Stephen King and George Romero played a large role in legitimizing this genre of material and making it palatable to a wider audience. And it really does go to show you that what’s outlawed one decade could very well be fodder for Saturday morning children’s programming a few decades later.

. . . . . . . . . .

Brandon Engel is a blogger with who writes about a variety of topics - everything from vintage exploitation films to energy legislation. Brandon has a penchant for horror literature, and his favorite authors within the genre include: H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Clive Barker, and, of course, Stephen King.