EC Comics::Graham Ingels


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EC Comics

Graham Ingels' horror host, the Old Witch

In 1948, Ingels was hired by Al Feldstein, the editor of EC Comics, to provide artwork for their titles which included Gunfighter, Saddle Justice, Saddle Romances, War Against Crime, Modern Love and A Moon, A Girl... Romance. The company's Western and romance comics were later canceled or converted to horror and science-fiction titles. In Grant Geissman's Foul Play, Feldstein explained that Ingels' early work for EC was disappointing, but publisher Bill Gaines was fiercely loyal to everybody, which is why Ingels remained at the company.<ref name="FP2">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> When EC introduced Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear, it soon became apparent to both Gaines and Feldstein that Ingels was an ideal choice as an illustrator of horror.<ref name="FP2"/>

Ingels' unique and expressive style was well-suited for the atmospheric depiction of Gothic horrors amid crumbling Victorian mansions in hellish landscapes populated by twisted characters, grotesque creatures and living corpses with rotting flesh. A trademark image was a character with a thread of saliva visible in a horrified open mouth.

As the lead artist for The Haunt of Fear, he brought to life the Old Witch, horror host of "The Witch's Cauldron" lead story, and he also did the cover for each issue from issue 11 through 28. A prolific artist, Ingels also drew the Old Witch's appearances in Tales From the Crypt and The Vault of Horror, plus stories for Shock SuspenStories and Crime SuspenStories. The Old Witch's origin story was told in "A Little Stranger" (The Haunt of Fear #14).

Because of his many "Witch's Cauldron" stories, he was strongly identified with the character of the Old Witch, an association that continues until the present day. Ingels' artwork on the eight-page lead stories, and his splash pages, particularly on issues #14 and 17, set a new standard for horror illustration that have rarely been equaled. "Poetic Justice" in the 12th issue, was adapted for the 1972 Tales From the Crypt film from Amicus studios in England, with Peter Cushing as the kindly old junk collector, and Ingels' "Wish You Were Here" (The Haunt of Fear #22) was also adapted.

When EC cancelled its horror and crime comics, Ingels drew for EC's New Direction titles: Piracy, M.D., Impact and Valor. He later contributed to EC's short lived Picto-Fiction line.

After EC ceased publication in the mid-1950s, Ingels contributed to Classics Illustrated but otherwise found little work, as discussed by Nostrand in Foul Play: "He was kind of a sad case, because when the horror stuff went out, Graham went out with it. His forte was strictly doing horror comics, and there weren't any more horror comics being done".<ref name="FP3">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref>

Ingels took a teaching position with the Famous Artists correspondence school in Westport, Connecticut. He later left the Northeast and became an art instructor in Lantana, Florida, refusing to acknowledge his work in horror comics until a few years before he died. Journalist Donald Vaughan documented Ingels' life in Florida:

His relationship with Gertrude became increasingly strained, possibly due to his heavy drinking, and apparently Ingels simply couldn't bear the life he was living. So in 1962, he quietly packed up and moved to Lantana, where he painted and taught fine art from his tiny home. Oddly, he never officially divorced Gertrude, probably because both were devout Catholics. Relations between Ingels and his children were painfully strained for decades, but he finally reconciled with Deanna in the mid-'80s with the help of George Evans, who had stayed in touch with the Ingels family. However, Ingels never reconciled with his son, Robby, who couldn't forgive his father for running out. It was a situation that hurt Ingels to the very end. In Florida, Ingels became extremely reclusive and went to great lengths to avoid any association with his comic-book past. Evans recalls an incident in which a couple of comic-book fans found out where Ingels was living and flew to Florida to meet him. "He refused to talk to them," says Evans, "and he told William Gaines to put out the word that if anyone bothered him that way again he would take legal action to stop it."... There's no question, however, that Ingels' life changed dramatically once he settled in South Florida, thanks in great part to a girlfriend named Dorothy Bennett. An artistic soul in her own right, Bennett handled the day-to-day aspects of Ingels' teaching business, cherished his artistic talent and encouraged his various endeavors. The couple lived next door to each other for years and finally moved in together.<ref name=vaughan/>

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