The Vault of Horror (comics)
|The Vault of Horror|
Cover, issue #13
|Publication date||April/May 1950 – December/January 1955|
|No. of issues||29|
|Created by||William Gaines|
The Vault of Horror was an American bi-monthly horror comic anthology series published by EC Comics in the early 1950s. Along with Tales from the Crypt and The Haunt of Fear, it formed a trifecta of popular EC horror anthologies. The Vault of Horror hit newsstands with its April/May 1950 issue and ceased publication with its December/January 1955 issue, producing a total of 29 issues.
Horror comics emerged as a distinct comic book genre after World War II when young adult males lost interest in caped crimebusters and returning GIs wanted more potent themes in their reading. One-shot Eerie (1947) is generally considered the first true horror comic with its cover depicting a dagger-wielding, red-eyed ghoul threatening a rope-bound, scantily clad, voluptuous young woman beneath a full moon. In 1948, Adventures Into the Unknown became the first regularly published horror title, enjoying a nearly two decade lifespan.
In 1950, William Gaines and his editor Al Feldstein discovered they shared similar tastes in horror and began experimenting with such stories in EC's crime comic War Against Crime and its companion title, Crime Patrol. With issue #12 the War Against Crime title was replaced with The Vault of Horror. The Vault-Keeper became the title's sardonic host and commentator, occasionally sharing duties with the Old Witch and the Crypt-Keeper. Due to an attempt to save money on second-class postage permits, characteristic of comics publishing of the era, the numbering did not change with the title; the first issue of The Vault of Horror was thus labelled "No. 12". There is, however, evidence of an intention to reset the series' numbering with the fourth issue (#15), as was done with The Haunt of Fear (the numbering of which was reset, yet also "continued" by Two-Fisted Tales: a few copies survive of the first issue of Crime SuspenStories with a different indicia on the inside front cover. As the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide explains: "#15 (formerly The Vault of Horror)" printed and blackened out on inside front cover with "Vol.1, No.1" printed over it. Evidently, several of No.15 were printed before a decision was made not to drop the Vault of Horror and Haunt of Fear series. The print run was stopped on No.15 and continued on No.1. All of the No.15 issues were changed as described above."
Artists and writers
Like its horror companion titles, Tales from the Crypt and The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror had its own distinctive qualities and atmosphere—in this case, created by its main artist, Johnny Craig. Craig illustrated all the covers for the entire run and was responsible for the lead story of all but issues #13 and #33. He also wrote all his own stories (save two) in Vault, something rarely done at EC, and became editor with issue #35 (February, 1954). Gaines and Feldstein wrote almost every other story until late 1953/early 1954 when outside writers Carl Wessler and Jack Oleck were brought in. Other contributing artists to The Vault of Horror were Feldstein, George Evans, Jack Kamen, Wally Wood, Graham Ingels, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Sid Check, Al Williamson, Joe Orlando, Reed Crandall, Bernard Krigstein, Harry Harrison and Howard Larsen.
Influences and adaptations
As with the other EC comics edited by Feldstein, the stories in this comic were primarily based on Gaines reading a large number of horror stories and using them to develop "springboards" from which he and Feldstein could launch new stories. Specific story influences that have been identified include the following:
- "Portrait in Wax" (issue 12) – Michael Curtiz's The Mystery of the Wax Museum
- "Island of Death" (issue 13) – Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game"
- "Fitting Punishment" (issue 16) – H. P. Lovecraft's "In the Vault"
- "Terror on the Moors" (issue 17) – Clark Ashton Smith's "The Nameless Offspring"
- "Baby It's Cold Inside" (issue 17) – H. P. Lovecraft's "Cool Air"
- "Voodoo Horror" (issue 17) – Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray
- "The Jellyfish" (issue 19) – Ray Bradbury's "Skeleton"
- "Daddy Lost His Head" (issue 19) – Robert Bloch's "Sweets to the Sweet"
- "Grandma's Ghost" (issue 20) – Stephen Grendon's "Mr. George"
- "The Monster in the Ice" (issue 22) – Christian Nyby's The Thing from Another World
- "What the Dog Dragged In" (issue 22) – Ray Bradbury's "The Emissary"
- "We Ain't Got No Body" (issue 28) – Clark Ashton Smith's "The Return of the Sorcerer"
- "Star Light, Star Bright" (issue 34) – Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr
After their unauthorized adaptation of one of Ray Bradbury's stories in another magazine, Bradbury contacted EC about their plagiarism of his work. They reached an agreement for EC to do authorized versions of Bradbury's short fiction. These official adaptations include:
- "Let's Play Poison" (issue 29)
- "The Lake" (issue 31)
Although EC's horror stable consisted of three separate magazines, there was little beyond their titles to distinguish them. Each magazine had its titular host, but the hosting duties for any one issue were typically shared with the hosts of the other two. Thus, a single issue of The Vault of Horror would contain two stories told by the Vault-Keeper, one by the Crypt-Keeper (of Tales from the Crypt) and one by the Old Witch (of The Haunt of Fear). The professional rivalry between these three GhoulLunatics was often played for comic effect.
The Vault-Keeper was the primary host of The Vault of Horror. He was introduced to the public in War against Crime #10, and he continued in that magazine through its change in title and format. He was a frightening presence in those early issues, an ancient inquisitor, hooded and robed, presiding over the empty dungeon of his bloody past. But he soon evolved into a more comedic horror host, delivering an irreverent and pun-filled commentary to lighten the horrific tone of the stories he introduced.
Although The Vault-Keeper was originally designed by Feldstein, Craig is the artist most associated with the character, having drawn all his lead stories in The Vault of Horror with the exception of two. Craig also drew the Vault-Keeper in his guest appearances in the other comics, although another artist frequently drew the rest of the story. For the final four issues of The Vault of Horror, The Vault-Keeper was joined by Drusilla, a beautiful but silent co-host in the Vampira mode.
In 1954, Gaines and Feldstein intended to add a fourth book to their horror publications by reactivating an earlier title, The Crypt of Terror. They were stopped dead in their tracks, however. American horror and other violent comics had come under scrutiny by moralizing parents, schoolteachers, clergymen, psychologists, and others who viewed the material as dangerous to the well-being of children and a significant contributor to the juvenile delinquency crisis in America (although the formulaic nature of the books usually resulted in truly immoral characters receiving a well-deserved, if gruesome, comeupance.) Matters came to a head in April and June 1954 with a highly publicized Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. Hearings targeted violent comic books—which fared poorly in the proceedings. While the committee stopped short of blaming the comics industry for juvenile delinquency, they did suggest it tone down the product. Publishers were left reeling.
The industry avoided outside censorship by creating the self-regulatory Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA) and a Comics Code Authority (CCA) that placed severe restrictions on violent comic book genres. Publishers were forbidden from using the words "terror" and "horror" in titles, for example, and forbidden from depicting zombies, werewolves and other gruesome characters and outré horror fiction trappings. Gaines was fed up; he believed his titles were being specifically targeted and realized they were doomed to future failure. He cancelled The Vault of Horror and its companion titles in September 1954. The last issue of Vault was its 29th (cover label #40, December/January 1955). Since an issue of The Crypt of Terror had already been produced, it was published as the 27th and final issue of Tales from the Crypt (#46, February/March, 1955).
The Vault of Horror has been reprinted on numerous occasions. Ballantine Books reprinted selected Vault stories in a series of paperback EC anthologies in 1964–66. Other Vault stories were reprinted in Horror Comics of the 1950s by Nostalgia Press (1971), edited by Bhob Stewart and Ron Barlow. Publisher Russ Cochran released six issues of his EC Portfolio (1971–77). East Coast Comix reprinted issue #26 in the early 1970s. The magazine was fully collected in a series of five black-and-white hardbacks by Cochran as part of The Complete EC Library in the early 1980s. Cochran also reprinted the title in a standard comic book format (out of sequence) during the early 1990s in association with Gladstone Publishing. Cochran eventually reprinted the run in proper sequence during the later 1990s with Gemstone Publishing. This complete run was later rebound, with covers included, in a series of six softcover EC Annuals. In 2007, Cochran and Gemstone began to publish hardcover, re-colored volumes of The Vault of Horror as part of the EC Archives series. One volume (of a projected five) was published by Gemstone before their financial troubles left the project in limbo. A second volume was published by GC Press LLC, a boutique imprint established by Russ Cochran and Grant Geissman, in January 2012. But the project may soon be revived under a new publisher, since Dark Horse Comics has announced plans to resume it with the release of The Vault of Horror Volume 3 in January 2014.
Vault stories were also adapted for the Tales from the Crypt television series that aired on HBO (1989). The following stories were used in the television series: Horror in the Night (Issue #12), Doctor of Horror (#13), Report from the Grave (#15), Fitting Punishment (#16), Werewolf Concerto (#16), Revenge Is the Nuts (#20), The Reluctant Vampire (#20), Dead Wait (#23), Staired in Horror (#23), 99 & 44/100% Pure Horror (#23), Collection Completed (#25), Seance (#25), Half-Way Horrible (#26), People Who Live in Brass Hearses (#27), 'Til Death (#28), Split Personality (#30), Easel Kill Ya (#31), Whirlpool (#32), Strung Along (#33), Let The Punishment Fit The Crime (#33), A Slight Case of Murder (#33), Smoke Wrings (#34), And All Through the House (#35), Beauty Rest (#35), Surprise Party (#37), Top Billing (#39) and The Pit (#40).
|Issue #||Date||Cover artist||Story Title||Story artist||Host and synopsis|
|12||April/May 1950||Johnny Craig||Portrait In Wax!||Johnny Craig||The Vault-Keeper
A greedy man murders his roommate and dumps the corpse in a vat of acid in order to profit from his artistic work. A strange old man and his creepy wax museum enter the man's life to exact some vengeance.
|The Werewolf Legend||Wally Wood & Harry Harrison||None
Walter Mallory is a rich heir who believes that he is the culprit of several gruesome murders about his estate. Murders only happen on the night of a full moon.
|Horror in the Night||Harvey Kurtzman||None
Tom Hawkins owns a roadside motel and relates to his friend the story of his strange dream in which a man and his ghoulish wife rent a room and a night of murder ensues. But it's just a dream.
|Terror Train||Al Feldstein||None
Gloria is convinced her husband Ralph is trying to kill her, so she runs off and boards a train. Problem is Ralph keeps popping up everywhere she looks, even in a lonely cabin that contains a single open coffin.
|13||June/July 1950||N/A||The Dead Will Return!||Al Feldstein||The Vault-Keeper
Bert and Florence have just done away with the latter's husband and dump his body into the sea next to the lighthouse he used to own, hoping to find a hidden stash of money near the place. Too bad that the ever-rotting corpse keeps washing up on the shore.
|The Curse of Harkley Heath||Wally Wood & Harry Harrison||None
Charles, Sybil, Edgar are the last heirs to the crumbling remains of Harkley Heath which is reported to have a curse on it. When Charles and Edgar plot to get Sybil out of the way, they find out the true power of the curse.
|Doctor of Horror||Graham Ingels||None
Poor Doctor Lemonet must find a way to bring in more students into his anatomy classes, but there is a shortage in cadavers. So the good physician turns to grave robbing and a little foul play.
|Island of Death||Harvey Kurtzman||None
Steve and Alec's jet crashes into a lonely island in the Pacific, Alec seeming to have disappeared. Steve then comes upon a castle where a strange count and his manservant live. The count enjoys a good game of sport, especially when it comes to hunting humans.
|14||Aug/Sept 1950||N/A||Voodoo Vengeance!||Johnny Craig||The Vault-Keeper
A befuddled old husband realizes his beautiful wife is having an affair with a younger man and turns to a voodoo priest for assistance. He is given a doll in the likeness of his wife which he uses to inflict a little payback.
|Werewolf||Jules Feiffer & Harry Harrison||None
A group of hikers take residence in a mountaintop cabin but Jan Bodzla, the Romanian guide, believes that one of them is a ravenous werewolf and will do anything to kill the beast.
|Rats Have Sharp Teeth!||Graham Ingels||None
Abner Tucker uses his position as town historian to rob the graves of the wealthy but is pestered by the filthy rats that scuttle about the underground tunnels. He sets up traps to slay the rodents, but those furry fiends will chew through anything.
|The Strange Couple!||Al Feldstein||The Vault-Keeper
A you-are-the-narrator story where your car has stalled on a lonely road one dark and stormy night. You decide to seek shelter in a nearby cottage where the vampire husband and his ghoul wife are just dying to let you stay the night.
|15||Oct/Nov 1950||N/A||Horror House!||Johnny Craig||The Vault-Keeper
Henry is a struggling comic book writer whose rowdy friends throw parties every day in his apartment, so he rents a lonely house in the country which is rumored to be haunted. In an attempt to get him back, three of his friends plan to scare him out of the house with smoke and mirrors. If only they knew that something was lurking inside.
|Terror in the Swamp!||Al Feldstein||Old Witch
An old hermit relates to two travelers the story of a group of scientists who accidentally created an amoeba that devoured anything in its path and grew with each feeding. The travelers should have heeded the tale.
|Report from the Grave||Jack Kamen||The Vault-Keeper
As part of his initiation into the Vault-Keeper's Club, Warren must go into the local cemetery and retrieve a watch from a recently deceased member. When he discovers a molding skeleton in its place, Warren unearths a mystery of murder and revenge.
|Buried Alive!||Graham Ingels||The Vault-Keeper
Two carnival workers, Sam "The Great Zobo" and his girlfriend Rita, plot to blackmail a rich man of murdering the Great Zobo who has the talent of "shallow breathing." When Rita decides to leave Sam six feet under, a series of circumstances allow him to get revenge.
|16||Dec/Jan 1951||N/A||Werewolf Concerto||Johnny Craig||The Vault-Keeper
Hubert Antone is the manager of a hotel in Hungary whose customers are being murdered by what appears to be a savage animal. The arrival of a strange pianist adds to the mystery, and things start getting hairy.
|Fitting Punishment||Graham Ingels||The Vault-Keeper
Stanley is an orphan who goes to the home of his miserly Uncle Ezra and assists him in his undertaking business. Ezra is a fanatic penny pincher and decides to kill his nephew in order to fill an unwanted coffin. He's a bit too tall for it though.
|The Grave Wager||Jack Kamen||Vault-Keeper
Paul, Clyde and Roger attend a carnival where they see Pirro, The Wax Man who has the ability to stay completely still. Paul and Clyde plot to pull a practical joke on Roger by betting him that he could not spend an entire night in a room with a corpse (Pirro in actuality). When Pirro decides to scare Roger, the real horror begins.
|Escape!||Al Feldstein||Old Witch
Pete Luger is a hardened criminal who serves in the prison's rockyard, lugging bricks back and forth. He soon hits upon the idea to stow himself away in a coffin and be driven out of prison in the hearse. Once he seals himself up in the casket, the heat is on.
|17||Feb/March 1951||N/A||Terror On The Moors!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
Jim Ryan gets stranded on the moors and decides to spend the night in a crumbling mansion nearby. The old man and his servant who live there seem to be oblivious to the bloodcurdling screams and frantic scratchings that ring out in the house.
|Baby... It's Cold Inside!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Barton Gordon applies for the job of superintendent at an apartment and meets the ghoulish-looking and strangely mannered landlord Marcus Kingsley who insists that his room be refrigerated at all times. When the air conditioner busts, a foul odor emanates from Kingley's room.
|The Beast of the Full Moon!||Jack Davis||Vault-Keeper
Tom believes his brother Andrew was inflicted with the curse of the werewolf on a hunting trip and the recent string of murders seem to confirm his suspicions. He sets a trap for his brother and plans to end his mayhem once and for all.
|Voodoo Horror!||Jack Kamen||Crypt-Keeper
George Barker visits Haiti to have a voodoo bust of his likeness made and the strange priest performs the weird ritual. Returning to the States, George remains young as the bust takes on the evil of his deeds.
|18||April/May 1951||N/A||Sink-Hole!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
Sick of her boring farm life and stingy, elderly husband Aldous, Shirley knocks him over the head with a frying pan and hurls the body into a yawning sink hole. But she should've known that all's well that ends well.
|Lend Me a Hand!||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
The brilliant Dr. Johnstone gets in a terrible car accident and must have his right hand removed. Devastated, he murders a wino, cuts off his hand and buries him in the garden. Johnstone then attempts to revive the hand in his laboratory.
|The Mask of Horror||Jack Kamen||Vault-Keeper
Ken purchases a ghoulish zombie mask from a dusty costume shop, the eerie proprietor stating that his masks reflect the character of the people who wear them. After spying on his cheating wife, he meets a mysterious woman in a vampire mask at a masquerade who shows him a fangtastic time.
|Dying to Lose Weight!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Dr. Perdo arrives in a small town offering a miracle formula to help cure obesity in the form of capsules. The results are amazing as the customers start slimming down... and then waste away. And when the town physician examines one of the corpses, he reveals just what was inside the pills.
|19||June/July 1951||N/A||Southern Hospitality||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
A seemingly sweet young man marries into a rich Southern family to reap all the benefits, and ultimately tears up the family, but only to be visited by a very angry, vengeful ancestor.
|The Jellyfish!||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
Two doctored brothers find their relationship torn when one sends the other to jail for "tampering" with a patient's insulin, but while in jail the brother decides to create a revengeful plan.
|Daddy Lost His Head!!||Jack Kamen||Vault-Keeper
An abusive father gets his just deserts at the hands of his young daughter after she befriends a peculiar neighbor.
|Reunion!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
An unfaithful wife decides to get involved with another man when her husband becomes terminally ill, and meets him every couple of years deep in the marsh, even when he's been dead for years...
|20||Aug/Sept 1951||N/A||About Face!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
A renowned lion trainer finds herself horribly disfigured after she's attacked by a panther, and locks herself away from the world, until she meets Steve, her sweet talking limo driver and soon marries him. But she soon finds that he is only in it for the money, and decides to take revenge on his beauty too by using witchcraft.
|The Reluctant Vampire!||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
A lazy vampire decides to work for a blood bank since he doesn't like killing to quench his thirst, but when the bank goes into debt, he decides to help fill it up... with the blood of innocent townsfolk.
|Grandma's Ghost!||Jack Kamen||Vault-Keeper
Peggy, a young girl, finds herself in the care of her wicked aunt and uncle when her Grandma dies from heart failure, a death that could have been stopped by the aunt and uncle who are after her money. But when the will is read, they find that Peggy has inherited all her Grandma's money, so they decide to do away with the little girl, but not if Grandma has anything to say about it!
|Revenge Is the Nuts!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
An old insane asylum is run by a cruel, wicked man who delights in beating and torturing his patients, only to find that revenge can really be the nuts!
|21||Oct/Nov 1951||N/A||One Last Fling!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
Harry and Olga, a married circus couple, find their life torn apart, when Olga is turned into a vampire and cannot control her quench for human blood, including Harry's own blood, but how can she be stopped?
|That's a 'Croc'!||Howard Larsen||Old Witch
A crazed, lonely zookeeper obsessed with the crocodile pit, sees to it that they are fed promptly and suitably, even going as far as to supplying them with what the maneaters crave: man.
|Child's Play||Jack Kamen||Vault-Keeper
Four boys find themselves victims of harassment by a mean, nasty man who won't let anyone near his house, so after catching him beat his wife to death, and steal their football, they decide to get even by scaring him... to death
A con man boards a train to lie low for a while and finds himself in a small house that has been rumored to be cursed, so he kills the owner and decides to hide out there, but does indeed find that the land is cursed.
|22||Dec/Jan 1952||N/A||Fountains Of Youth!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
When Ken's sister Eileen ages to death overnight while in the care of a woman by the name Madame DuBois, he decides to find out the truth by following her new young female assistant, which leads to the "rotten" truth
|The Monster In The Ice!!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Two geologists and an eskimo find a grotesque body frozen in ice and decide to bring it back with them, but while traveling they realize the body might actually be the body of the true Frankenstein, and soon find it missing...
|Gone... Fishing!||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
Two friends go fishing together at a local beach, where Max shows off his mean-spirited nature by making all the fish he catches suffer gruesome deaths while Steve protests. But later on in the day, Max finds himself in the fins of death, and learns what goes around comes around.
|What The Dog Dragged In!||Jack Kamen||Vault-Keeper
Betty, a lonely, blind woman lives her life by sending out her trusted dog to fetch supplies and food for her, until one day when he is struck by a car. The driver takes him to the vet and gets him fixed up and returns him to Betty, where he falls in love with her, only to die in a car crash while leaving. Betty becomes depressed when she never hears from the man again, and sends out her dog to find him, but she should be careful what she wishes for...
|23||Feb/March 1952||N/A||A Stitch In Time!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
A sewing machine sweat shop run by a cruel, heartless man erupts into terror when the factory girls decide to get even with their cruel boss after he mistreats one of the girls.
|99 44/100% Pure Horror!||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
Ernie, the spoiled cocky owner of a soap company finds that the former owner, who "mysteriously disappeared" has returned in the form of a bar of soap to "cleanse" Ernie's soul...
|Dead Wait!||Jack Davis||Vault-Keeper
Red Buckley, a sleazy con artist, finds his way to a rich plantation where he assists for the wealthy owner who has a renowned black pearl hidden somewhere on the plantation. With Kulu, the native servant of the plantation, Red devises a plan of murder and robbery, but soon finds himself in over his head.
|Staired... In Horror!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A greedy widow meets a rich widower in a cemetery and begins to hit it off hoping to inherit his fortune, but her fear of spiral staircases ultimately decides her doom.
|24||April/May 1952||N/A||A Bloody Undertaking!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
A mortician begins dating a beautiful young woman who helps him find an assistant, a creepy, weird assistant who has a habit of disappearing whenever a vampire related death strikes the town...
|...With All The Trappings!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A poor elderly man decides to save his earnings during the winter to have a proper burial for his recently deceased wife, but how will she keep til then?
|Impressed By A Nightmare!||Joe Orlando||Vault-Keeper
Emma, an everyday housewife finds herself plagued by nightmares that show what happens in the future, and tries to save her family from the fate that lies ahead.
|The Death Wagon!||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
Two con car salesmen begin to sell their doomed cars to poor innocent people, only to find that no "good" deed goes unpunished.
|25||June/July 1952||N/A||Seance!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
Two con artists target a rich man whose wife believes in psychics, spirits, and mediums, but find that ghosts and spirits are nothing to BOOl around with...
|Kickin' The Gong A Round!||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
A heavyweight boxer is blackmailed by a fellow boxer into losing the fight between them, but when he loses his life as well, the boxer returns for one more match...
|Practical Yolk!||Jack Kamen||Vault-Keeper
A rich sportsman hires an African safari expert to help him navigate while traveling the world and brings him home to meet his fiancee, but with the help of black magic, his safari expert can make any of his wishes come scarily true.
|Collection Completed!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Anita, a middle aged woman who spends all her time caring for stray animals, finds her life turned inside out when her annoyed pet hating husband begins a new hobby...taxidermy! And Anita's strays will do just fine...
|26||Aug/Sept 1952||N/A||Two Of A Kind!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
A vampire and a ghoul begin to date eager to kill one another for nourishment, but find they really love each other, but will love keep them away from each other's throats when they get snowed in at a cabin?...
|Graft In Concrete!||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
Four counsel men devise a plan to build a road over a cemetery to expand their resources, but the dead have their own opinions....
|Half-Way Horrible!||Sid Check||Vault-Keeper
A man finds that he has multiple personalities, his good side and a bad, wicked side, so he travels to Haiti to find a voodoo priest to kill the bad side, only to find out he should have known how literal the deal was...
|Hook, Line And Stinker!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A lonely middle aged woman spends her time waiting for her boyfriend, Stanley to pop the question, the only problem, Stanley is supposedly in love with fishing, so she comes up with a plan to really hook, line, and sink her man.
|27||Oct/Nov 1952||N/A||Silver Threads Among The Mold!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
A nerdy sculptor uses his beautiful girlfriend as his model for his sculptures, but when he catches her with another man, he sculpts one last sculpture with her as not just the model...
|People Who Live In Brass Hearses...||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
Lionel Byrd is a quiet, odd old man who travels everywhere in a hearse-wagon, and no one knows why, why he nevers get off it or why he lives all alone in a cabin in the woods. But when two criminals hold up in his cabin, they unfortunately find out the whole truth.
|Strictly From Hunger!||George Evans||Vault-Keeper
A monstrous blob begins to terrorize a small town, and with the help of the town doctor, they figure out where it came from and why it's happening, but how can it be stopped?
|A Grim Fairy Tale!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Once upon a time, a selfish king and queen owned a kingdom infested with rats, rats that ate everything(and everyone) they could get, but the king and queen loved rats and wouldn't have them killed, so the townspeople found a way to get even...
|28||Dec/Jan 1953||N/A||Till Death...||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
A rich estate owner marries his wife in Haiti, but soon loses her to a rare tropical disease, thinking that his life is over, he entrusts in his native servant to create a voodoo ritual to bring her back. But this love spell isn't all it's croaked up to be....
|The Chips Are Down!||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
Three saw mill workers are presented with an offer to create wooden discs for the government, and greedily accept, but soon jealousy, greed, and murder begin to get in the way...
|For How The Bell Tolls!||George Evans||Vault-Keeper
A bell ringer's assistant becomes jealous after waiting thirty four years to ring the bell, and murders him in cold blood, but he soon learns he should have been scareful what he wished for!
|We Ain't Got No Body!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Three friends find themselves stalked and murdered by Henri, their fourth friend who they pushed off a train in order to earn his money.
|29||Feb/March 1953||N/A||The Mausoleum!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
A man kills his elderly uncle in order to sell the family castle. This plan backfires when he tries to tear down the attached mausoleum.
|Let's Play Poison!||Jack Davis||Crypt-Keeper
A child-hating schoolteacher is caught up in a sinister playground game.
|A Sock For Christmas||Jack Kamen||Vault Keeper
In a mythical kingdom, a peasant child is sent to the royal castle to be a companion to the spoiled young prince, but his family receives a surprise on Christmas Day ...
|Pickled Pints!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Two conmen begin soliciting the homeless for "blood donations" to be sold on to the hospital, but when one of their victims gives a little too much blood, they find themselves paying the price.
|30||April/May 1953||N/A||Split Personality!||Johnny Craig||Vault Keeper
A conman tricks a pair of reclusive twin sisters into dating him so he can get his hands on their money, with terrifying results when they discover the ruse.
|Who Doughnut?||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
A crime reporter believes there is a supernatural explanation behind a series of strange killings in town.
|Practical Choke!||George Evans||Vault Keeper
Three medical students use the dismembered parts of a corpse to play gruesome pranks. The corpse, however, has other ideas.
|Notes To You!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A group of men seek revenge on the writer of anonymous "poison pen" letters which have brought disaster to the town.
|31||June/July 1953||N/A||Easel Kill Ya!||Johnny Craig||Vault Keeper
An impoverished artist begins to commit murders so he can paint pictures of gruesome death scenes to satisfy a sadistic collector.
|A Peach Of A Plot!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
When a man denies murdering his wife seven years previously, a very vital clue turns out to be growing in his garden ...
|The Lake||Joe Orlando||Vault Keeper
Written by Ray Bradbury. A man returns to the scene of where his first love drowned many years before.
|One Good Turn...||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A charitable woman has an unusual way of "helping" the people in her care.
|32||Aug/Sept 1953||N/A||Whirlpool||Johnny Craig||Vault Keeper
A woman finds herself in an endless tortured nightmare, a nightmare which she can't seem to wake from.
|Out Of His Head!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
A lawyer kills his law partner with a cleaver to the head and disposes his body, only to see him everywhere when he gets back to his lonely penthouse late that night.
|An Ample Sample||George Evans||Vault Keeper
Irwin and Hannah were the perfect couple, until Hannah began spending all their money on boxes of chocolate and candy, fattening herself up and leaving them poor, but soon she finds that "you are what you eat", is dead right...
|Funeral Disease!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
An old man saves up his money so he can have a proper burial with flowers, music, and mourners, since his family was buried in a wood box under the ground, but when two "friends" of the family decide to do away with him and steal his money, burying him in the ground in a coffin, he comes back for a proper burial, he just needs a body.....
|33||Oct/Nov 1953||N/A||Together They Lie!||Reed Crandall||Vault Keeper
A rich man finds his life turned upside down when his wife dies in a fire, but finds out the half truth about the fire by his scheming maid and lawyer, but secrets don't make friends....from the grave....
|Let The Punishment Fit the Crime!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
A town slowly catches onto the true horror of a group of kids carrying a coffin to a grave, when the think about the questions they asked the town lawyer, doctor, funeral director, and electrician.
|A Slight Case Of Murder!||George Evans||Vault Keeper
Doc Swanson, travels to a nearby town that is being terrorized by a string of bloody female murders with an answer to who (or what) is committing the crimes.
|Strung Along!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Tony, a renowned puppet master, is forced into retirement when his heart gives out, and finds that his wife never loved him, and was only with him for the money. But at least his marionettes are with him to keep him company, even carrying out his wishes...
|34||Dec/Jan 1954||N/A||Star Light, Star Bright!||Johnny Craig||Vault Keeper
A man takes the position as master of an insane asylum, and begins to become paranoid that the inmates are out to get him, but that can't be right...can it?
|While The Cat's Away...||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
John and Frank, two sleazy travel agents, use their job to send rich people on beautiful vacations so they can rob their houses while they're gone, but the two find themselves in one mighty fine predicament when they break into a house of horrors.
|Smoke Wrings||Reed Crandall||Vault Keeper
A shy, nerdy salesman sells his idea about expanding the production of cigarettes to the company's business sauvy female boss. But when she decides to keep the idea and get the salesmen out of the picture, she finds she may also get "burned"..
|Where There's A Will...||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Mr. Farber, a dying old man wants to pass on his money to his "loving" family instead of towards a children's orphanage, but finds out (with the help of his lawyer) that maybe his family just wants the money, so they stage a phony funeral, with deadly results.
|35||February/March 1954||N/A||...And All Through The House...||Johnny Craig||Vault Keeper
A housewife murders her husband on Christmas Eve only to find she is trapped in the house by an escaped mental patient dressed up as Santa Claus, a CHEER classic!
|Tombs-Day!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
A group of expediters in search of a missing group of people who traveled into an Egyptian tomb, find themselves locked in the same tomb with the terror that left the first group dead.
|Beauty Rest||Jack Kamen||Vault Keeper
Helen, a jealous wannabe model/actress, decides to steal her roommate Joyce's moment in glory as Miss Corpse of 1954, but finds that modeling can be murder...
|Shoe-Button Eyes!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A little boy who was born blind, finds comfort in his teddy bear with blue shoe button eyes and his single mother, but when his mother remarries an abusive drunk, he learns that toys can really be loyal....
|36||April/May 1954||N/A||Twin Bill!||Johnny Craig||Vault Keeper
A man murders his wife and her adulterous lover with the promise they will now be "together forever." He soon finds out how true this is when he attempts to recover his car from the scene of the crime.
|Witch Witch's Witch!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
A young nobleman causes scandal by abandoning his fiancee to marry a new woman. When an evil plague strikes the town, his bride is accused of sorcery, but is she really the witch responsible?
|Pipe Dream||Bernard Krigstein||Vault Keeper
In ancient China, an old man who frequents an opium den discovers that his smoke-induced hallucinations are coming true.
|Two-Timed!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A young boy barely escapes with his life after witnessing a murder. Many years later, he attempts to kill his own adulterous wife, but finds his past coming back to haunt him.
|37||June/July 1954||N/A||Surprise Party!||Johnny Craig||Vault Keeper
A handsome, young man drives to a town where he's inherited some land, and goes out for a night on the town, finding an unmapped road that leads to a dance party at a mansion, a dance party that proves history has a nasty way of repeating itself...
|Chop Talk!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
Emil, an average everyday civilian kills his lover when she ends their relationship, and finds that her husband is his executioner with more than just an axe to bury...
|Take Care||Al Williamson||Vault Keeper
An old man looking for money, takes a job as a caretaker for a lonely, old house where a rich, dying man was murdered by his assistant, the only problem, the killer was never apprehended and that's not just the house making noises...
|Oh! Henry!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
A hard nosed cop who finds pleasure in booking criminals catches an old woman stealing from a grocery store and arrests her, throwing her in jail for sixty days despite her pleas about her so-called husband, Henry.
|38||Aug/Sept 1954||N/A||Any Sport In A Storm||Johnny Craig||Vault Keeper
A rude fisherman stops in a harbor where legend has it that a sea hag claims any man she meets, not believing the legend, he goes out to sea to deliver his shipped goods, finding a light house, and that the legend may not just be a legend...
|Coffin Spell!||Jack Davis||Crypt Keeper
Nadyi and Janos, two grave robbers rob graves to supply a college professor cadavers for his students to dissect, but when they discover several coffins in a mausoleum, they find that this grave robbing may be their last.
|The Catacombs||Bernard Krigstein||Vault Keeper
Two Italian men rob a man of his silver and decide to hide it in the catacombs till the police stop looking, only problem is that the wine trail they left has mysteriously vanished, and their lantern is about to go out.
|Out Of Sight...||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Clyde Evans, a circus marvel by the name The Great Brain begins to mistreat his slow, but giant assistant Benny, who turns to one of the top dancers, Hulda for help. She soon falls in love with Benny and tries to protect him, but finds that she too is victim to Clyde, so finally Benny decides to stand up for himself, ending the showdown with a bloody finish.
|39||Oct/Nov 1954||N/A||Deadly Beloved!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
A struggling writer finds himself stranded on a swamp background, and seeks shelter in a burned house owned by the beautiful Eloise, a girl he would gladly die for.
|Top Billing||Reed Crandall||Crypt Keeper
Three struggling actors come across a theatre and meet the frazzled director and beg him for a part, but soon the friends begin to turn on each other for the part, a part that's a dead guarantee.
|The Purge||Bernard Krigstein||Vault Keeper
A king finds himself falling for a beautiful woman who is locked up for execution, and decides to have a sorcerer cleanse her soul, and rid her of the devil she is possessed by, but not all intentions are pure...
|All For Gnawt||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
Millie, a crude bluebeard-ess, answers an ad about an old rich man seeking company, and moves in with him, only to find that he hides his money somewhere in the house, that is if the rats that have infested the house, haven't found it.
|40||Dec/Jan 1955||N/A||Old Man Mose!||Johnny Craig||Vault-Keeper
A frontiersman and his wife take pity on the town pariah, an elderly hunchback named Mose, and hire him as a handyman on their ranch. Things go well at first, until a dead body is found, brutally slaughtered.
|An Harrow Escape!||Joe Orlando||Crypt-Keeper|
|The Pit!||Bernard Krigstein||Vault-Keeper|
|Ashes To Ashes!||Graham Ingels||Old Witch
In a twist on the Frankenstein story, father and son have passed down an experiment to create life by artificially stimulating evolution in ooze dug from the primordial muck of a swamp. Finally, the experiment has birthed life, and Emil, last of the Frankensteins, is to oversee the creature's rearing into adulthood, and finally the wedding to its unsuspecting betrothed.
- Dark Horse to Publish EC Library. Retrieved 2013-07-28.