Words an’ Pictures: This’ll Kill You! – The Shocking Suspense of Reed Crandall

“Carrion Death!,” Shock Suspenstories #9, 1953 http://bit.ly/2xhRgh2

Greetings comics fans! For my first post in a long while, I would like to do a brief spiel about one of my favorite suspense and horror illustrators, Reed Crandall (1917 – 1982).

Reed Crandall had a long, productive career with masterful artwork that spans several different genres. But what I would like to focus on in particular is his work with suspense and horror comics, beginning with his illustrations for E.C. (Entertaining Comics). Crandall was a relative latecomer to the E.C. crew, illustrating his first story for the company with “Carrion Death! in 1953’s Shock Suspenstories #9. Crandall’s work was an immediate asset to E.C., particularly in its crime and horror titles. This wasn’t just due to his ability to draw a shambling corpse, which he could certainly do, but primarily due to his attention to detail and ability to use that detail to highlight a character’s desperation.

“Carrion Death!” shows Crandall using this detailed close-up technique to great effect, pushing a relatively simple story — one of a criminal on the lam finds himself handcuffed to a dead policeman in the middle of the desert — into the realm of pure graphic brilliance. Crandall juxtaposes close-up panels with wider shots of the surrounding desert that highlight the vastness of the wasteland around the main character, heightening the suspense of the story as our anti-hero escapes justice only to find himself at the mercy of a different, crueler fate.

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