Monday, December 27, 2010

Found It!

A lot of the comics I got as a kid came in those bags that contained two (or was it three?) comics for like 49 or 50 cents.
You tended to find them on the magazine racks at little mom and pop grocery stores, gas stations, and department stores.
The contents of the bag tended to be a surprise, since the bag was sealed and you could only see the comic that was in front, and even that didn't help you much, as the cover of the comic was either missing entirely or at least torn at the top* and there was printing on the bag that obscured most of the cover anyway.
Fortunately it didn't much matter what was in the bag because, as I often say, there's one thing that can be said about my taste in comics when I was a kid: I didn't have any.
Sure, I liked some comics more than others, of course, but, in general, as long as it was a comic book at all I was happy.
(I developed some discernment and critical faculties as I got older, but up until the time I was around 10 or so? I'd happily read anything.)
In any case, there were certain comics I read when I was younger that left an indelible stamp on my brain - typically because they were disturbing in some fashion - and throughout the years there's been one story that I've often thought about.
It had been in one of the horror anthology books that DC was still publishing in the early 80s, but, since it came in one of the grab bags, it didn't have a cover, and while I'd probably read the indicia on the front page, I couldn't remember what comic it appeared in.
I did, however, remember the story, though I was a bit fuzzy on some of the details. It involved a young peasant girl in the 18th Century who lived in a small village somewhere in Italy who was engaged to a military officer who had been stationed in her village. However, when the day of the wedding came to pass, she learned that the officer had been stringing her along, had no intention of marrying her, and was, in fact, moving on to a new assignment, where he would no doubt seduce some other naive village girl. The young woman did not take this well.
Which is to say that she jumped off a cliff to her death (the panel showing her battered and bloody corpse is one of the things that burned itstelf into my brain. In part because it was surprisingly graphic, but mostly because it was just so sad, as she had been such a beautiful young woman.).
Her younger brother vows revenge on the officer, who is amused by the childish threat.
Several years pass and the officer is once again stationed in the village and is engaged to a wealthy woman. The now-grown brother, who never forgot his vow to avenge his sister, confronts the officer. However, he isn't up to the task, and the officer runs him through with his sword.
With his dying breath, the brother tells the officer that his sister is waiting for him.
At that moment, the village is rocked by an earthquake. The officer and his intended flee for their lives as the village crumbles and bursts into flames, and they soon find themselves in the cemetery, and, most disturbingly for the officer, in front of the grave of his jilted lover. Another tremor causes the ground to open, and the officer falls into the grave and into the waiting - and skeletal - arms of the woman he betrayed, who is clad in the tattered remains of her wedding gown.
The ground closes on the screaming officer, and the poor peasant girl is at last reunited - forever - with her beloved.
Somewhere along the line I figured out that it must have been in an issue of Ghosts, but, having no idea what the cover looked like, I was never able to say for certain.
Until now, that is, as, at long last, I've found it!
Ghosts #105, October, 1981.
So, yay!

*It was because of the damaged/missing covers that the comics were packaged in the bag and sold at a reduced price. Of course, if I understand it correctly, distributors were actually double-dipping, in that they'd been reimbursed for the cost of the damaged books by the publisher - which they were supposed to destroy, yet they went on to sell them at a reduced cost. In some cases, it was clear that the damage was inflicted after delivery. Every once in a while you got a comic that had no damage whatsoever, in which case the distributor just straight-up lied about the books being damaged, got reimbursed, and then sold it anyway.

No comments: