Friday 7 March 2014

Shadow Of The Axe!

'Shadow Of The Axe!' from Creepy #79 (Warren, May 1976)
Story by Dave Sim, Art by Russ Heath
6-Pages of Original Art Sold for US$2,500 in October 2002
The successor to the legendary EC Comics of the 1950s, Warren's fright mags Creepy and Eerie were successful in signing some of comics' most legendary creators to fill their pages with tension and terror. One of the finest stories to grace the pages of a Warren publication (and, in many people's minds, the most memorable), was the story offered here by the great Russ Heath. Atmospheric and moody, every panel is a masterpiece of horror. Rendered in subtle wash-tones, each page measures approximately 11.5" x 17.5", with an image area of approximately 10" x 15", and is in excellent condition, with little to no white-out. Held privately since its publication, this art may never be offered again for public sale.

Shadow Of The Axe! is included in the Dark Horse reprint series Creepy Vol 17.


Anonymous said...

I don't get it.

- Reginald P.

Anonymous said...

Dave said in yesterday's post that it's difficult to write these short twist-ending stories. I thought the twist would be that it was Mom, not Dad, who was the axe murderer. Instead, there doesn't seem to be a twist at all. Well ... Dave's writing got a bit better. Nice art, though.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, crt

Eddie said...

Comics Lit 101: I read it as more of an ironic horror story along the lines of The Lottery.
Metaphorically speaking, the shadow of the axe is his father's shadow from which he has to step out from. The irony comes from the fact that in order to stop his dad, on one level he becomes his dad or takes his place; e.g. he stops his dad the same way his dad was killing people (WHACK). He doesn't to go to the police, he just chops off his dad's head and makes a very adult decision (as indicated by the panel with the townsmen saying someone should take take the law into their own hands), thereby showing that the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree, (symbolized by the decapitated body falling and landing at the bottom of the stairs). Which is also why the mom is smiling; she knows her son did it (and obviously the police don't) and is keeping it a secret and seems relieved and proud of her son, as evidenced by the fact that she doesn't tell the police what really happened. To her, her son is a chip off the old block and has become a man. Dad is a secret axe murderer, son has become a secret axe murderer, and mom married an axe murder and kept quiet and now has a son who is an axe murderer and is still keeping quiet. "So I Married and Raised an Axe Murderer," if you will. The family tradition continues.  

Metaphysically, it might be a reference of the Oedipus story or perhaps other Greek myths, but I'm not 100% about that, and the Eddie Campbell Alec Omnibus post above may be giving my perceptions more of a Greek flavour. The image and description of the mom in the second panel on pg 2 does remind me of Medusa, but I'm sure that's just me.

Eddie Khanna

Anonymous said...

I fear, Eddie, that what you describe is less the subtext than the ... uh, what's above the subtext? ... oh yeah: the text. I don't read the story as Oedipal; there's no hint of the boy replacing his father, either in the household or with his mother.

I can see the hint of irony you suggest in that the boy does what the adults have discussed, and that he dispatches his father using his father's own method, but I still don't see any subtext beyond the EC-esque "You sharpen a pencil, the pencil sharpens your head."

As Dave said, these stories are difficult to write. You have even less space than a Twilight Zone episode, and the formula is more rigid.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, lit

Jeff Seiler said...

The first thought that occurred to me upon seeing this for the first time is that Dave returned to some of the imagery in Latter Daies when his stay with the sheep farmer and his wife reaches its sad but not surprising culmination.

(In case anyone has been wondering why I always spell volume 15's title that way, it's because Dave wrote to me around the time of the publication of that volume that he had seriously considered the Jacobean spelling, given the numerous religious themes.)

whc03grady said...

The bed looks like the one Jaka lays in in Going Home, I think?
Also, the watery oatmeal: Jaka's Story.