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A Monster of a Mix Up:
The Strange Case of Creepy No. 10

August 10th, 2022

Today we continue unpacking some of the titles mentioned during my conversation with Brentley Palmer and Nicholas Schwartz in the Frankenstein installment of their Horror Drafts podcast. if you haven’t listened to that discussion, you can find it here.

As for the previous blog posts in this series, you can find them here and here

“Monster” isn’t your typical Frankenstein story.

Written by Archie Goodwin and featuring pen-and-ink artwork by Rocco Mastroserio, the tale first appeared in Creepy Magazine, a large format, black-and-white horror comic published by Warren Publishing, the same people who brought us the invaluable Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Fashioned after EC’s Tales from the Crypt, it featured Uncle Creepy, a skeletal old geezer who introduced and concluded each story with an occasional Hee Hee Hee! and plenty of groanworthy puns.

Here’s Uncle Creepy’s introduction to the Frankenstein-inspired “Monster”:

 

What makes the story atypical? For starters, it’s narrated in the second person, present tense: “You are sick of the darkness, tired of the moss and slime-coated walls…. You can take no more of the dark murky water and musty chill…. You must move, act….”

It also begins in the middle of the story, opening with a hulking form lumbering through a dark sewer and stepping into the light of a manhole. Then, gripping a metal ladder, it climbs to emerge in the center of a village street.

As it climbs, we see that its face is crosshatched with surgical scars, and if that weren’t enough to indicate we are in the Frankenstein universe, in the next panel (right) we see the monster stomping down a misty street, arms outstretched in the classic Frankenstein walk.

Soon it arrives at a cemetery where it finds a man and a woman standing beside a fresh grave. They are talking about a monster and how the men of the village are even now attempting to track it down. And here we encounter another one of the story’s atypical qualities in the form of a nonlinear timeline that sifts to the story’s beginning.

It’s an ambitious format for such a short piece, and yet it goes through no fewer than three timeline changes before arriving at its surprising conclusion. I won’t reveal that ending here. It’s too good to give away. Instead, I encourage you to seek it out at Amazon’s ComiXology (where you can read it for free in Creepy Archives Volume 2) or by tracking down a copy of the August 1966 issue of Creepy Magazine, Number 10.

However, should you choose to read that original edition, you will encounter an additional surprise in the form of a jarring jump cut between pages five and six–one that takes you from the steps of a laboratory to the middle of a swamp. It’s an abrupt transition, but not as jarring as it might be in a story with a more conventional timeline. And so, as a kid reading it in 1966, I took it in stride and stayed with it to what I thought was the end.

I remember being impressed with the surprising conclusion. And although the story seemed a bit shorter than the usual Creepy installment, I knew I had reached the end because there, at the bottom of the page, was good old Uncle Creepy:

So, Imagine my surprise when I turned the page to find not Uncle Creepy’s “next offering” but a continuation of “Monster.” The story wasn’t over because a printing error had placed the ending in the middle, thus making Creepy’s foray into nonlinear storytelling a full-on avant-garde experience. Yes, “How ’bout that, Kiddies” indeed!

If you’d like to hear more about “Monster” and the many Frankenstein adaptations covered in my free-ranging conversation with Brantley Palmer and Nicholas Schwartz, you can do so by visiting the Horror Drafts podcast page, where you’ll also find a complete directory of past episodes. They’re all strongly recommended.

In our Frankenstein episode–along with a discussion of movie, comic, and television adaptations–you’ll also learn a bit about the upcoming production of Frankenstein  scheduled to kick off Prime Stage Theatre’s 26th Season in November. It looks like they have an exciting lineup of shows.

Click the player below to find out more.