The clear implication, at the end of the bizarre arc from October 23rd to the 28th, 1989, is that the entirety of the Garfield comic strip is, in some way, an elaborate hallucination, a paranoid delusion, or an extended meditation on a stage of grief.
It's a weird storyline, like a cross between old EC comics and It's a Wonderful Life. But the conclusion is ectoplasmic:
Garfield is a ghost. And a real ghost, not some bullshit about a lingering soul trying to finish up his business. Ghosts are space. They are, particularly, a becoming-consciousness of space. Ghosts are not embodied, or if they are, it is a function of narrative and not ghost-ness; ghosts are absences of space, absences within space, that structure the space. And so, apparently, is Garfield.
A dark current of productive influence ran from American radio to horror comics. Classic audio theater from the 30s and 40s fed the rising comic industry.
Lights Out, May 18, 1943, "The Spider": Two men discover and try to capture a giant spider the size of a dog, with grim results. The same plot occurs in "Sucker for a Spider", EC's Tales from the Crypt 29, 1952.
Lights Out, December 1, 1942, "The Story of Mr. Maggs": A haunted chest murders the occupants of a house one at a time. Also "The Visiting Corpse" (from Mysterious Traveler, August 10, 1948): A man kills his wife and hides her dismembered corpse in a trunk before being forced to hid the trunk and getting crushed to death by it when he falls down a flight of stairs dragging it down to the basement. Those two stories are echoed in "Tight Grip", EC's Tales from the Crypt 38, 1953.
The Strange Dr. Weird, December 19, 1944, "White Pearls of Terror": A ruthless criminal takes refuge on a remote island only to realize too late that he has disembarked on a leper colony. The same plot is recycled in "A Rottin' Trick" EC's Tales from the Crypt 29, April 1952.
Gothic media circulation is a terrific subject. It's important to investigate how creepy stories and memes migrated across platforms: movies, radio, newspaper, magazines, urban legends, books, games, music.
The American Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a zombie story this month. The aim is pedagogical: to teach us how to prepare for emergencies.
It's a graphic novella in format, a single pdf. There's an accessible text version, too.
The plot concerns a zombie plague and two teenagers' survival strategies, along with a sketch of governmental responses. The point is to teach readers how to assemble an emergency survival kit, as is made clear by the concluding thunderstorm.
Interesting how they rely on the internet for information, but have no connection with other people through cell phones:
There's an unfortunate it-was-all-a-dream ploy, but I'll charitably assume that was to avoid scaring some kids.
"Short Mystery" is a one-page Web comic with a horror theme. It does a couple of nice things with the Web page medium - click and enjoy, making sure your speakers are turned on. Perhaps best experienced in the dark and while alone.
Don't worry if you don't read Korean - you'll jump on very quickly.
An interesting case of semi-scary media comes from an excellent Gothic manga. Junji Ito, the madman behind Uzumaki series, published "The Enigma of Amigara Fault" (NSFW ads, probably) (Wikipedia) in 2002. It's a fine short story with a creepy premise, the exploration of which I'll leave to the reader.
What I wanted to draw attention to in this post is a very odd use of technology. The story's horror isn't about digital tech (although there's an interesting ancient tech possibility hinted at). Instead it's the motivational use of older digital tech.
One character's awful fate is apparently driven by television. The heroine appears because of tv. Ito insists on this:
For an American reader, there's a fun/sick joke about the old "I saw it on TV!" label. "I saw it on tv, and so I had to buy it/thrust myself into a fatal tunnel of mutilation!"
So is this a case of fearsome media? Perhaps not. Television drops away from the story right after these panels, never to appear again. The horror is instead based on geology and analog human construction. It is mediated by dreams (both of which are prophetic), crowds, science (some useless "university researchers") and oral conversation. Arguably a better use of technology could have saved lives. Imagine long fiber optic cameras, robots, sensor networks, or just metal barriers to keep people from their deaths.
The narrative's tv motivator is a necessary spur. The Fault is located in a remote location, reachable only by hiking, it seems. The story's opening scene portrays the narrator wandering alone for some time, wondering if he's lost, without any human indicators. No other media draw people to the Fault and its cruel horror: no mention of radio, print, internet, or even urban legend. If the back end of the Fault is a twisted output hole, then the front end is a television set.
Can we still see tv as uncanny, in this age of internet mediation? Or has it been thrust back into the real of trusted media, naturalized and even romanticized (for example)? Imagine how this story would read differently if the main characters discussed learning about it on Facebook, or if we saw one plunger's final tweet.
Today's Gothic comic comes from the mad brain of Junji Ito. It's called "Thing That Drifted Ashore", and Monster Brains has scanned the whole thing. Like a Poe or Quiroga story, it's a dreamlike tale of monstrosity, memory, and disturbing insights into humanity.
If you don't know Junji Ito, get to Uzumaki right away.