VAULT OF HORROR #35 March 1954
Johnny Craig original artist
...I'm not even going to go into how the lead story in this classic EC Comic, writer/artist Johnny Craig's "...And All Through The House..." wound up scaring me more than anything I've EVER read in my entire life!?! To do THAT traumatic tale justice, I'd need far more space than I usually allot these cover commentaries. Trust me, group--it'll turn up elsewhere on this site some fine day, but right here, right now, I think I'll concentrate on filling in background regarding the actual redo rather than that of the original.
Y'see, it was my intention to produce a "Dateline:@#$%" strip spotlighting EC Comics for an issue of COMICS BUYERS' GUIDE. To do so, I decided on revamping a quartet of similarly themed covers from that legendary fifties publisher, choosing four different titles and artists for varieties sake. Looking through pages and pages of cover repros, a unifying theme soon leapt out at me--um, cruelty to women. Yeah. Sorry ladies, but you know how backward things were a half-century ago, right? I mean, I made sure to point out that blatant misogyny is, like, y'know, a BAD thing in my accompanying text, a REAL bad thing, let me assure you!! But that doesn't mean that the renowned EC illustrators, tops in their field, couldn't delineate such unappetizing subject matter without a great deal of panache, y'know? So I dutifully redid George Evans' CRIME SUSPENSTORIES #23, Jack Davis' TALES FROM THE CRYPT #41, Wally Wood's SHOCK SUSPENSTORIES #6 (posted earlier on here in the gallery), and this particular Johnny Craig gem. It made for a moderately effective piece, and then it was on to phase two for these happy little regurgitations: offer 'em up for sale on eBay. That, my friends, is where things got a little bit dicey...

Darlin' dear wife Lynn is my computer savvy facilitator, you understand, and generously takes care of the busy work in getting my material up for auction. She's also a woman, folks. So, when she saw what I newly had to offer, she didn't see the quaint, of-their-time, classic comic book cover facsimiles that I saw, she just saw the appalling violence directed toward fellow members of the female persuasion!?! " But--but it's Jack Davis, dear? Wally Wood--Johnny Craig, fergawshsakes!?!" It wasn't easy--because she wasn't wrong--but finally, reluctantly, she agreed to put them up for sale. The Wood redo went quickly; we were contacted by someone who saw my strip in CBG and wanted to buy the Davis piece, thus managing to circumvent eBay altogether on that one; and we've yet to offer the artificial Evans. That brings us to this cheery little illustration.

As I recall, I finished it in late November, cajoling my sweetie to get it out before the public in time for the Christmas rush!! Yup, I really thought some demented soul out there would eagerly snatch this up as part of their holiday celebration! And it soon seemed as if I was indeed correct, as a bid came in, thus guaranteeing a sale--or so I thought. At the eleventh hour, our potential buyer backed out, the sole instance of such a snafu occurring in our eBay dealings over the past several years doing business there. His (…her?) excuse? The late-breaking realization that the artwork up for sale wasn't truly by Johnny Craig. Now, anyone can easily see from any of our eBay listings that we make it crystal clear that these drawings, while inspired by the likes of Mr. Craig and other cartooning legends, they are most assuredly drawn by me, Fred Hembeck, and no one else. We're not trying to fool anyone here, folks. So, using this excuse to weasel out of the sale was entirely bogus, but ...sigh...we didn't pursue it, and decided to just let the whole matter drop. You wanna know what I think? I have no way of knowing, dig, but I can just imagine my potential patron's better half getting a peek at what her hubby was bidding on with his Holiday bonus, and, as appalled as my own loving missus was, made him withdraw from the auction!?! At least, that's the way I like to think it went. It kinda makes it seem like one of those ironic, EC snap endings, y'know?

Well, ever since, my version of Craig's disturbing little masterpiece has spent Christmas with us, but as of now, it's still up for grabs. Any psycho Santas out there? We've got the perfect gift for you! (As the Old Witch would say, "…hee hee...")