The Living Ghost comic – Text by Frank Belknap Long
Here is a rare treat indeed! “The Living Ghost,” a comic yarn by Lovecraft’s best pal, Frank Belknap Long, from Adventures into the Unknown (Fall 1948). The art is by Fred Guardineer. Now, I’m not the biggest comic geek in the world. Far from it. I enjoy the early pre-Comics Code horror anthology comics, but I’m mainly into literature and film. Still, the fact that fave writer FBL was involved is noteworthy, and there’s no denying the impact Frank Belknap Long and Adventures into the Unknown had on popular culture and horror in 20th Century media.
Lovecraft & Long
While visiting New York in Summer 1995, I ventured to Fairleigh Dickinson University Library in New Jersey to see if I could dredge up any details of Long’s association with ACG (American Comics Group) editor Richard Hughes (pseudonym of Leo Rosenbaum). Joining me that afternoon was my old pal S.T. Joshi, who had/has gone on many similar journeys to secure Lovecraft, Bierce, and W.C. Morrow material (to name but a few authors). I hoped to secure sloughs of scripts by FBL. Sadly, all that was left in the papers of Mr. Hughes in terms of FBL was a listing in an address book. Mounds of comic silver prints, but no attribution of who wrote what. In the early days of the comic book field writers were rarely if ever credited, so it stands to reason that nobody cared to keep what I’d consider valuable typescripts of stories. Note FBL’s lengthier than usual verbiage on the panels? During a 1994 phone interview I had with Julius “Julie” Schwartz, Julie told me he always figured that FBL failed at comics because he couldn’t keep it short and to the point. His attempts to shorten speech bubbles in an early stab at Superman, according to Julie, consisted of changing “cannots” to “can’ts” and “will nots” to “won’ts.” Well, wrong Julie was! And, yes, he admitted it when I read him the evidence from FBL’s letters to August Derleth. FBL actually broke into scripting Superman comics behind Julie’s back, through Schwartz’s associate Mort Weisinger, circa 1939.
If not for Adventures into the Unknown, we may never have experienced EC Comics or an extremely popular flick such as Creepshow. No doubt George Romero and Stephen King were fond of the visceral visuals and terror-tinged tales. -Perry Grayson (alias The Black Bird)
If you haven’t already done so, you need to read my 1995-97 article “Frank Belknap Long Pioneers the Unknown” – click here!