July 2, 2010

Unusual Tales - The Night They Learned The Truth

"Unusual Tales", a series presenting Steve Ditko's comics from 1957 to 1959 that are in the public domain.

"The Night They Learned The Truth" is a 5-page story from Charlton's OUT OF THIS WORLD #5 [1957]. They would reprint it 25 years later in GHOST MANOR #62 [1982], and that's the last time it saw print.

This starts off as a typical "small village misunderstands and persecutes the outsider who moves into that mysterious mountain-top house on the outskirts of town" story, but has one of the weirdest twists to such a story I've ever seen.  Very well told by Ditko, capturing the angry mob nicely.

Some links to check out:
Buy Ditko's creator-owned work
Many classic books available
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
New issue, focus on later Marvel work, out soon
Check out new and upcoming Ditko publications
Spider-Man reprint with full issue of pencil photocopies available
Download public domain comics, likely including the one this story is from
scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

Click images to learn the truth


  1. How sweet and fitting this is.

    I remember an Andy Griffith episode similar to this, also from the late fifties. In it, a stranger came to town. This stranger knew everything about everybody.

    He too was greeted coldly... with hostility and suspicion.
    In particular, a local ne'er-do-well named Ernest Bass discovered that he could be doubly cruel to the stranger and thus not be so looked down upon (which Bass did deserve because of his bad behavior) himself.

    Mr. Meriwether, the stranger, didn't blast off with all of Mayberry in tow, of course, but it goes to show that one gets as one deserves... sometimes, at least.

    So what does this story say about each of us and simultaneously, all of us?

    Hawkins Junction was not Mayberry. If it had been, there might have been a Sheriff Andy Taylor to smooth matters over, with a little comic relief from his bumbling deputy Barney, of course.
    Can't you see Barney sneaking up there, discovering the truth, and reporting it to Floyd and the boys at the barber shop, and they in sneering denial turn their abuse upon him?
    Everyone would have thought Barney had been drinking with Otis, the town drunk.

    Otis could also have discovered the truth and no one would have believed him, either.

    What a show that would have been!

  2. One weird effect -- the wind blowing the flames in two directions on page 4 panel 3.

    Also, I wonder -- which came first, this story or the City of Kandor story from Superman?

    1. also similar to Argo City from Action Comics #252 (May, 1959)

  3. Action Comics # 242 (July of 1958), unless I am gravely mistaken, was the first mention of the city of Kandor.
    If such is so, then the implication is very plausible that someone, most likely with a DC connection, took this story and extrapolated it into a way to expand the Superman mythology.
    Thank you, Mike, for this intriguing possibility!



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