Midnight 8: The Crimson Claw from GHOSTS #4

On this special Presidents Day episode, Ryan Daly and guest Scott X talk about "The Crimson Claw" originally published in Ghosts #4. Plus listener feedback!

Learn more about the assassination of President Lincoln at BoothieBarnhttps://boothiebarn.com

and the Lincoln Discussion Symposiumhttp://rogerjnorton.com/LincolnDiscussionSymposium/index.php


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Music produced by Neil Daly.

Thanks for listening!

22 responses to “Midnight 8: The Crimson Claw from GHOSTS #4

  1. After being amused by PJs intro, I went from feeling the comic story was neat, to being amazed by all the historical backstory that Scott X illuminated about this little story.

    I was really impressed by Scott’s debut and I’d be first in line to check out his Assassincast (Asscast?).

    1. Yeah, I basically turned Scott loose and let him do everything this episode.

      And Assassincast sounds awesome! Better than Podassin?

    2. Thanks for the comments Paul. If I ever get it together enough to do an assassination related podcast, you have just named it! Assassincast is awesome! Asscast…ah , that may be different type of podcast.

  2. Cool episode, Scott was a great guest.

    It’s a shame that comics really can’t do stories like this much anymore, there just aren’t venues for 4 or 5 pagers. Ryan is right, this story exists pretty much just to get to the “a-ha” moment at the end, so if you force the reader to wade through 10-12 pages it would get tedious. But four pages is just the right amount.

    I’ve had my issues with Tuska’s work, but he and Cardy make a really nice combo!

    My Great Uncle Fred, born in 1900, once showed us a newspaper he had–it was from the time of Lincoln’s assassination! A subheadline revealed that when it as printed, Booth had not even been caught yet. We were gobsmacked that this piece of American History was just sitting in an envelope, buried among all his other bric-a-brac. We implored him to donate the paper to a museum, but our Uncle Fred said he’d rather just give it to us when he died.

    Unfortunately, in the subsequent years he allowed an antiques dealer into his home, whom we believe ended up stealing some items. The newspaper was never seen again.

    1. Thanks Rob. It was an honor to be a guest on this podcast and the Fire and Water Network.

      By the way I absolutely agree with you about the 4-5 page stories. It’s really too bad that there doesn’t seem to be a place to tell these compact stories anymore.

      Sorry to hear about your uncle Fred’s newspaper going missing. Those kind of items I really love because they are a tangible connection to the past. Somebody held it and read it at the time of the assassination and you were able to hold it and read it over a hundred years later. That’s cool. Newspapers of that time held up well too, because they were made of rag paper (paper made from cotton, often old rags) instead of the wood-pulp paper we use today.

  3. Wow, what an interesting discussion! I have always been fascinated by both Lincoln and his assassination, so hearing Scott X discuss it was a real treat. I think I got this mini-obsession from my Dad. I don’t read a lot of non-comic related non-fiction (because I’m an awful person), but a few years back I read Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson, and I could NOT put that book down. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed this discussion today.

    As for the story, wow, that’s a perfect little vignette, isn’t it? The fact that Dorfman based it on historical accounts is positively chilling. Tuska and Cardy make a very nice team, and they were then working in tandem on the later days of the first Teen Titans run, and it was similarly well-designed. It is a shame stories like this have seemingly no place in modern comics. I agree the 4-page format was a must to tell this story properly.

    Again, great show, and I hope Scott X returns! Maybe make it an annual President’s Day affair?


    1. Chris thanks for your feedback. I would love to be on the airwaves again sometime! I had loads of fun doing this one.

      And thanks for recommending Swanson’s book. I absolutely agree that for those interested in getting a good overview of the Lincoln Assassination it’s great. As you said, a real page turner. It is very fast paced and doesn’t really let up. Its narrative style is more like a novel than a history book. So much so that even though you know how the story ends, you’re not really sure as you read it!

  4. I hope the real bits of that story were discussed in the letter column. I read the story before listening to the podcast and thought I was decent. But on hearing the truth behind this, I was floored. Wow!!

    After that revelation, this become much more fascinating. And it certainly explains the ‘now do you believe’ end line.

    Tusks is pretty generic in my mind but Cardy gives him a great polish.

    Great podcast and welcome Scott X. Hope to hear more from him in the future.

    1. Thanks for the welcome Anj!

      Great thought about the letter column. There wasn’t a letter column or similar page with editorial comments in Ghosts #4. But maybe this story and the reader response was addressed in the letter column in a later issue. I don’t have any of the closely numbered follow up issues so I can’t check. Hmm, i guess I’ll have to do a little searching…

  5. What a terrific episode, great job all round. The level of knowledge brought by Scott made this extra special, and I’m dying to hear more from Ryan on the history of Halloween in the United States (I had to pass through Jersey City a few years ago, and I could not believe the amount of dangling dummies, wizened witches and pumpkins in patches).

    I really enjoyed the craft of this tight tale, but I wish there’d been a note at the end providing elucidation because until I heard Scott I’d assumed this was simply Dorfman being entertainingly wacky. The story behind the story was utterly fascinating and I reckon Ryan hit the nail on the head, that the Gypsy’s ‘I’m building my part’ ramblings influenced the teenage mind of Booth and set him on the road to a tragic end. Not that I’m saying a Brit was to blame, obviously…

    I like Tuska more than most (he came up on my blog this very week in a review of Action Comics #409, cover dated Feb 1972, the month before this very issue, spooky!) and Cardy’s embellishments are the icing on the mouldy cake. Little details that stand out include the eerie shadows of Johnny and Asia in the last panel of page three and the Jim Aparo quality of the issue’s final image.

    One thing I wondered about, Mary Ann’s word balloon in the second panel looks to have had a line edited out. What could it have said? Maybe too big a clue to the con-clue-sion?

    And in other word balloon news, I’m amazed Tuska looks to have drawn the first panel on the final page back to front, meaning that Johnny’s friend’s dialogue comes after Johnny’s words as Western eyes are trained to read. It’s a wonder someone in the production department didn’t just flip the panel.

    A question for Scott – in mentioning the stories featuring the assassination of Lincoln, he mentioned one involving clones from the future, and then said that wasn’t even the wacky part. But he never told us what the wacky part was!

    Great reading of that chilling poem, Scott, and that slower version of the Midnight theme at the end was gorgeous, well done to Neil… I don’t remember hearing that one previously.

    I was absolutely convinced that somewhere in this episode we’d hear The Ballad of Booth from Stephen Sondheim’s sublime Assassins. Oh well, here it is, with Victor Garber, Patrick Cassidy and some very Nineties hair. https://youtu.be/MAJRiM9EWX0

    1. Thanks Martin! Your thoughts and comments are much appreciated.

      As far as the story about the clones from the future and even more wackiness (The Unexpected #217). I didn’t want to ruin the “suspense” in case we decide to cover this one in a future podcast – God only knows what podcast this wacko story would fit into. I don’t know that I could even describe the story from the point I left off but I will give a few hints: A space war, a bikini clad senator (with a cape no less), another clone switcheroo, shape-changing aliens (based on their appearance, I would hope to change shapes too), robots and reprogrammed robots, a hidden laboratory, a “truth gun” that fires “truth rays”, election winners determined by voice analysis – used to confirm whether or not the candidates are telling the truth, and Lincoln doing math that the citizens of the 23rd century couldn’t do! That plus the first clone switcheroo and Lincoln running for president of the galaxy – all in just 10 pages. My head is spinning just writing that!

        1. Absolutely I do! Who could resist that cover (Weird Western Tales #53) depicting the arm wrestling match between Scalphunter and President Lincoln? Classic!

  6. Dammit Ryan, you made me laugh out loud in the opener, in the street in front of everyone. (One day I’ll listen at midnight, really should.)

    Loved the episode and the real historical weirdness. Lincoln is a great one for that, especially the weird links between his death and JFK’s. Personally, I think Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is the true, secret history of the famous president.

  7. A truly fascinating episode, and congratulations to Scott X on his podcast debut. As a Civil War buff back in my middle school days, I really appreciated the historical context for the story. I had heard of Booth’s encounter with the fortune teller before, but had never heard of his mother’s premonitions. Great stuff, and an example of truth sometimes being stranger than fiction.

    1. Thanks Brian. I really enjoyed my podcast debut and really appreciate the opportunity Ryan gave me. Nice to hear from another person who has been interested in the Civil War era. You are one of a very few, I think, who was previously aware of Booth’s encounter with a Gypsy fortune teller. And you are right about truth often being stranger than fiction. Unless the fiction is that story from The Unexpected #217. 🙂

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