Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Strange Tree

THOIA reader Roger Howell of NY, NY has put in a request for this eerie Manny Stallman classic from the March 1951 issue of Mystic #1. Here you go Roger, hope this yarn chases away the murky, ghostly memory that has been haunting the back of your mind for the last 40 years. Enjoy!

(And once again thanks to Brian Hirsch for the scans!)









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15 comments:

todd said...

What a wuss. By the end, I was rooting for the tree.

Dane said...

I agree with Todd.

Tim Tylor said...

I've always had a soft spot for evil trees. Plenty good stuff here - the warped perspective of the house interior, the branch shadows on page six, the very creepy first appearance of the tree with the branches spiralling round that knot to give it a hungry vortex look. And an excellent creepy plot - Ulric Daubeny's The Sumach (thanks again, HorrorMasters) has a somewhat related idea, but this is an even greedier beast.

Mr. Cavin said...

"That's Odd! It's as though he just disappeared! Merged into the shadow of that horrible old tree!"

Now I know paranormal games are afoot here, and certain psyches are effected, but constructions like these always seem a little dodgy to me. He disappeared like a ghost, one might normally say when freaked out. Or like he was zapped away by aliens. Or like he was never really there! But "merged into the shadow of that horrible old tree" seems to be the voice of the writer telling me something.

"My god, mother-in-law is just sitting there! It's as though she's someone suffering under the possession of a malignant plant I've just brought back to life, ironically, because she pestered me to! How odd! It's as if while she sits, the tree is filling up with her red blood! Weird! It's seems as just like I can expect, soon enough, that...."

With a dialog balloon big enough, and enough ridiculous exaggeration by me, it's possible to tell most stories in one panel this way.

Anonymous said...

This story has more "shake lines" around characters' heads than most.

Absinthe said...

Ahhh nothing like an evil tree of death and doom in your front yard! This one also carries on the comic book lesson of "women are evil - don't get married, they will nag you til you die or turn into an evil tree". Love Dolly's great white streak a la Cruella Devil.

Anonymous said...

YOU COULD PROBABLY FILL AN ENTIRE MONTH WITH PRE CODE POSTS ABOUT EVIL PLANTS OR TREE STORIES. THIS IS ONE OF THE BETTER MORE SUBTLE AND INTELLIGENT ONES THAT I'VE READ THOUGH, CONSIDERING IT DIDN'T RESORT TO ACTUALLY EVER SHOWING THE TREE DO ANYTHING TO ITS VICTIMS OR TURN INTO SOME KIND OF FANG FACED MONSTER. LOVE IT

ADRIO THE BOSS said...

jeaaa! the assassin tree!!!
hahaahah
great!
see you! bye

blackwalnut2001 said...

Thanks, Karswell! I'm the cause of this story being posted, and I quite literally didn't know what it would look like, as I hadn't seen it since I was five years old. Mystic #1 was my introduction to pre-code horror, and now maybe I can trace some elements of my current dementia back to this source... I'll be working on that! Thanks again!

The Vicar of VHS said...

Wow, I think this one is GREAT! Part "The Guardian," part "Little Shop of Horrors," Poor Roger getting his revenge on the nagging women only to fall to the evil nourished by his own hate--I could totally see this being made into a great Mad Movie!

Of course it has other Mad-Movie-esque goodness going for it too--like Absinthe, I'm really diggin' the wife's white-streak look, and like anonymous said, the rampant shake-lines in this one made me think that perhaps the tree caused some kind of neurological disorder like Parkinsons or something.

Other nice touches--

* "Middle-aged and henpecked...not at all the sort of man who has strange adventures!" Are you kidding? Henpecked guys have ALL the strange adventures around here!

* page 2, panel 1--is it just me, or is Mother STACKED in that shot? :D

* "The trouble with him is that he has no SPUNK!" Sexual dysfunction wahey! Well IS IT ANY WONDER, you couple of HARPIES?

* Make up your mind, writer--is it "Dolly," or "Polly"?

* The old man's warning on pg. 3--s/b "Let sleeping LOGS lie," eh?

Great stuff though--even a little more creep-inducing than average as the tree sucks the life and "spunk" out of the two women, if you'll pardon the expression. Really, this one is ripe for adaptation.

Glad to see us branching out into other types of monsters here... ;)

Karswell said...

>Glad to see us branching out into other types of monsters here...

Branching out, eh? Ahhh, tree humor... The Vicar will be performing here all week folks, don't forget to tip your topless waitress.

TOMORROW: The Origin of The Ghost-Breaker--- Dr. Thirteen!!

Patrick said...

I'm surprised Karswell didn't introduce this as " A story guaranteed to give you wood!"

Evil trees rule!!

Horror pariah said...

I actually thought this was a very well told and plotted story with a strong emphasis on characterization,up until the WTF? ending.(vampire tree?,ghost tree?mold from THE SHUNNED HOUSE?what is it?).I also find it strange the Vicar mentioned LITTLE SHOP,that was re-made into a musical,when this story already alludes to another musical;"Hello Dolly"(see pg.6,panel 4!).

The Vicar of VHS said...

>>Ahhh, tree humor...

Well, I thought I'd go out on a limb, get back to my roots (and thanks to Todd for THAT joke ;) )...everyone knows I can pun rings around all those other sticks in the mud...Okay, I know that was acorn-y one, but my bite really is worse than my bark...

Okay, I can see the jokes are Falling off, so I guess I autumn quit. Thanks a lot folks! I guess I'll be leave-ing... ;)

Karswell said...

>Okay, I can see the jokes are Falling off, so I guess I autumn quit. Thanks a lot folks! I guess I'll be leave-ing... ;)

All week folks, and Wednesday nights are Ladies Nights.