What would Charlton Comics’ monster line have been without the efforts of the great Steve Ditko? Well, it would’ve been shy of a Konga, a Gorgo, a bunch of other Fantastic Giants and, of course, What’s-His-Name.
A classic Charlton Comics ghost story, it was a tale which was unearthed as an inventory piece for reprint titles. As it popped up in Charlton’s mid-70s Monster Hunter title, it also has the honor of being one of the few horror comic tales to be shepherded by three hosts – Colonel Whiteshroud was the technical host of Monster Hunters (although he’d been absent on the interiors since issue no.10), Winnie the Witch hosted the actual story inasmuch as it was entirely reprints from her title Ghostly Haunts, and the strip’s protagonist is Doctor Graves!
|And catering by L.Dedd.|
Every year around May 14, so the story informs us, “a small town in West Virginia is haunted by a very malicious ghost!” The green, elongated specter rises from his unmarked grave in the town’s cemetery and then proceeds to make a mess of the place – knocking out power, slugging the unsuspecting in ark alleys, burning down houses and doing savage donuts in the town’s only fire truck. I’ve never seen a ghost story which combined the twin images of a leering, spectral visage erupting with malicious laughter over the sight of a deadly house fire and that same ghost a few minutes later driving a fire truck into crowded traffic with its hands at 10 and 2. Safety first!
The extent of the destruction and chaos is so great that a concerned local doctor calls in his colleague, Doctor Graves, whom I’d assumed had a doctorate in supernatural studies but I guess he’s an ophthalmologist or something? He’s just in the book? I might be able to see Doctor Graves if I had a referral, right?
|"Oh, shut up Fred, you've never said any such thing."|
Rushing to the site, Graves is dragged appropriately enough to the local graveyard, where he learns that the single unmarked – and yet undisturbed – grave belongs to Bertram Crumm, black sheep of the acclaimed Crumm family. They sound nice. I think their family changed their name at Ellis Island from “Cumberbatch,” by the way.
Sensing a solution to end the ghost’s rampage, Doc G arranges for a local stonecutter to cast a forgiving tombstone for the malicious entity, and then asks the local townsfolk to come honor the man at a funeral. It does the trick ,and the ghost is mollified, although there’s frankly some outright fibs on his tombstone – “He harmed no one…” it says, the ellipses seeming to indicate “…assuming you ignore the time he played Crazy Taxi with the fire engine, or murdered all those dudes, or started all those fires.” Then again, comics are full of lie-laden tombstones, I mean, have you seen Bob Kane’s?