Thursday, October 13, 2016


Graves, Ghost Hunter, and the Mystery of the Clock That Was a Whole Boob

Among the multitude of Ghost Hunters, Ghost Detectives and Ghost Busters in the history of comics, few have gone on to any sort of long-lasting legacy. Much of that has to do with the changing mores of the culture, the waning and waxing of interest in the supernatural and horror genre. In some cases, however, it's plain disorganization.

Graves (Not to be confused with Dr.Graves, of the Many Ghosts of ... fame. He's sort of the Dobie Gillis of ghost fighters) bills himself as a Ghost Hunter, although he primarily lets the distressed spirits come to him. More specifically, he lets their intended victims come to him, and then he shows up later in a vain attempt to stop a bunch of murders. If only he can remember where he left his pen. And his lighter. And where's that pesky Ghost Disintegrator of his, anyway?

It was in a shoebox, his kids took it to school for show and tell.
Besides having a rep as a spirit-solving sleuth, Graves is armed with the Disintegrator, a device which can banish ghosts "back to the land of shadows where [they] belong." It's not clear who invented it, what other capabilities it has, or what exactly it does to the ghosts upon whom its ray is trained -- it's called a disintegrator, but Graves make it sound like it just shoves them back into limbo. More to the point, though, it needs to have a strap on it, because sometimes Graves misplaces it.

This is what happens when he faces off against the spirit of a vengeful witch (Crown Comics No.1, 1945) who visits death on the descendants of the Puritans who sentenced her to execution for witchcraft. I don't want to kibbitz here or anything, but ... clearly she was guilty? Take the "L" with some dignity, ma'am.

That kind of patronizing condescension isn't just a gimmick hauled from my "ironic sexism" comedy toolkit, it's also evident in the story itself. When Graves is made aware of a nearby death via poisoned claw, he muses "Only cats and women scratch." Put a sentiment like that on a coffee mug and it's never gonna sell as well as "Male Tears."

"Signed, Garfield."
Graves gets involved with the surviving members of the family, although he doesn't do much to save the family's last surviving daughter. Oh, only cats and women die of ghostly poisoning when their lives were supposed to be safeguarded by Graves, Ghost Hunter, is that it?

Before the avenging witch can extend her kill count to include the last male heir of the clan, Graves goes after her with his deadly Disintegrator ... or he would, except he misplaced it! He forgot where he put it! You might think that this was a scheme, some sort of long con, or perhaps the witch did something to the weapon ... nope, none of that. He forgot where he put it, that's all. Finds it later. Musta rolled under the desk.

Graves is supposed to have continued his adventures in Crown Comics, but it goes nowhere. My guess is he was slaughtered off-panel by a ghost while he was frantically searching for his Disintegrator. "Maybe it's in the glove compartment or, no, wait, I was at the library earlier..." are terrible last words, but I promise you they were his.

1 comment:

Floyd Lawton said...

Terrible last words indeed. Your fantastic blog always makes me laugh, which I greatly appreciate.

The good news is I bought your terrific book last week, the bad news is (at least for your residuals) that I picked it up at a used book sale at my local library for $2. If it's any consolation it was the shrunken "loot crate" edition which probably didn't help your bottom line much anyway since your publisher may have cut some crazy deal so as to get it into the modern equivalent of the Columbia house record club.

Keep up the good work, we all need more laughs to insulate us from the specter of President Gary Johnson.

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