Cover Story: Two EC Covers That May Make You Weep

Tales from the Crypt #28

I make no bones about my love of old pulp covers, and, with Halloween fast approaching, I thought I’d share a couple of EC classics that always leave my brain in a spin.

The first, above, is the sort of premise (possibly stolen from Poe’s you still see replicated in movies like The Serpent and the Rainbow, Buried, and Kill Bill Volume 2.

Bargain in Death!
Two medical students need to procure a corpse in order to get an anatomy credit to graduate and pay an imbecile five bucks to dig and grave rob a newly dug grave. The target of their efforts is a man convinced by his ‘friend’ to take a drug that will emulate the death-like appearance in order to collect a forty thousand dollar insurance policy. The friend tells him that he will insist upon his being buried immediately and then dig him up later, but he intends to betray him and leave him in the coffin. –

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Of course, as Snopes points out, not all such burials have been fictional:

In the first century, the magician Simon Magus, according to one report, buried himself alive, expecting a miracle — a miracle that didn’t happen. On Iona, in the sixth century, one of St. Columba’s monks, Oran, was dug up the day after his burial and found to be alive. Legend has it when he told his fellows he had seen heaven and hell, he was promptly dispatched and re-interred on grounds of heresy. And the 13th-century Thomas a Kempis, the reputed author of the great devotional work The Imitation of Christ, was never made a saint because, it was said, when they dug up his body for the ossuary they found scratch marks on the lid of his coffin and concluded that he was not reconciled to his fate.

The second cover hits me in a much different place – there’s something oddly touching about the simplicity of the scene and its ragged coffin. The story has a bit of a Bradbury-esque touch to it, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was one of the tales Gaines somehow pilfered:

Let the Punishment Fit the Crime!
The children came marching down the street carrying a wooden coffin, and the neighborhood buzzed about it. […] Thinking back, many of the town’s people had been questioned by the same kids about all sorts of things having to do with death and funerals […] but the one thing they really wondered about was what the punishment would be for robbery and kidnapping. The local lawyer explained that kidnapping could be punishable by death, but not robbery. Suddenly, a mother came up screaming to townsfolk, telling them that her son was missing…..that he had stolen another child’s doll and had refused to give it back. Then…..they all looked in horror as they gazed over at the kids, who had just finished burying the coffin! –

Vault of Horror #33

Have any cover suggestions of your own?
Leave ’em in the comments!