Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Don't Step On the Rug!

John Stanley is best remembered for writing the brilliantly funny Little Lulu comic books. But, boy-o-boy, Stanley could shift gears and get really creepy if he needed to do so.

Of course, there are some pretty creepy elements to a few of the Lulu stories, so perhaps its not that surprising.

Stanley wrote what might be the scariest comic book story ever for Dell's Ghost Stories in 1962. That same year, Dell did an 84-page one-shot titled Tales from the Tomb, for which Stanley provided what might just be the second scariest comic book story ever.

It involves a young man named Harry, who needs a room for the night. No one answers the door at the first rooming house he tries. This seems fortunate, because the landlord there is a crappy old man, while the next house down is run by a sweet, kindly old lady named Mrs. Wittly.  Heck, she even provides a freshly cleaned throw rung for Harry's room.

Later, when she knocks on Harry's door and asks him to open up for a moment, he casually tosses the book he's reading to the floor. This has an unexpected result.

It turns out the rug is the home of a creature named Mr. Green. And, as Mrs. Wittly calmly points out: "Mr. Green MUST be fed!"

In the ensuing struggle, Harry realizes Mr. Green must stay close to the rug, so he tosses the rug out the window. Mr. Green leaps out after it.

In the meantime, the crappy guy next door has heard the commotion and called the cops. But that darn rug is now just sitting there on the sidewalk--a horrific booby trap that no sane person would suspect represents a danger.

With strong art by Frank Springer, "Mr. Green Must be Fed" is a concise horror story that sets up its premise effectively, then brilliantly uses this to provide honest terror. It has one of those "the bad guy doesn't get caught" endings that often seem contrived and unsatisfying, but in this case fits the rest of the tale perfectly.

The story is available to read online HERE.

Next week, we'll watch two of Marvel's Old West "Kids" team-up with one another.

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