from graphic novel guest blogger Francisca Goldsmith:
Ernie Colón’s transformation of a quartet of horror tales from the essentially aural to equally essentially visual suggests some interesting questions about how our minds meet and work with elements of story. Inner Sanctum was among the radio-broadcast “theaters” through which audiences could get doses of pleasing thrills in pre-television days—about 500 tales of “mystery, horror and suspense” were brought to life by actors using voices and sound effects between 1941 and 1952. Altering the support of sounds for the support of pictures is only part of Colón’s work here: his choices of panels and perspectives come to the fore to create a new—but loyal—way of experiencing what started as actor’s voices. By maintaining the period piece affects of costuming and setting that the radio period implied, he allows readers to settle back without fear of exposure to full-color mayhem or 21st century horror.
Imagination, of course, is essential to receiving any story, whether visual or auditory. In this little enactment, we can feel that flicker of understanding about how different—and how similar—the workings of eye and ear can be, if the storyteller allows us to lose ourselves in the suspense he builds.
Bonus: You can listen yourself and compare the original radio version of “Death of a Doll” (file 60 in this Old Time Radio archives) with the visual presentation of it in this collection.
Adult/High School–Colón, who has a well-earned reputation for bringing both fiction (from Richie Rich episodes to Vampirella) and nonfiction narratives (including The 9/11 Report) to the sequential art reader’s eye and mind, now offers an unusual project: depicting stories that were originally crafted for the ear into versions that “work” for the eye. Inner Sanctum offered listeners, in the days before television’s explosive popularity, creepiness that came to life in plotting and character, but also sound effects. In this collection of adaptations of “The Undead,” “Death of a Doll” and two other stories from the radio show’s archives, Colón maintains the period settings and character interactions, while showing how ominous shading, gestures caught in frozen moments, staring yet lifeless eyes, and the confusion between reality and nightmarish deformity convert the tales from ear to page. As he typically does when binding images into panels, he takes unique pathways across the page and guides readers with arrows when he deems necessary for clarity. Given the attraction this collection can have to those not accustomed to having their reading contain images and a specified page flow as well as words, the extra crutch of pointers can help woo new-to-graphic-novel readers. Colón succeeds in respecting the original tales, his readers, and the joy of getting slightly creeped out.–Francisca Goldsmith, Infopeople Project, CA