“All my instincts tell me… it wasn’t a wolf! No… It was another kind of creature!”
So here’s the question: Is Dark Shadows cursed?
Over the last couple years on this blog, I’ve watched and read and listened to a growing number of Dark Shadows spinoff products — the 1991 revival series, the Gold Key comics, the Paperback Library novels, the trading cards, and the Big Finish audio dramas — and they all have one thing in common, namely: They don’t make any goddamn sense. And we haven’t even gotten to Night of Dark Shadows yet, one of the outstanding leaders in the field.
It seems like people are unable to write Dark Shadows stories that hang together in a coherent way, up to and including the writers of Dark Shadows. So what kind of chance does the Dark Shadows comic strip have? For these two weeks, while I’m out traveling, we’ve been reading this 1971 strip, and so far, it looks like the curse of not making sense is in full effect. So as we go along today, I’m going to periodically check in with the ABC7 AccuWeather Sense Tracker, to see if we can figure out what’s wrong with the structure of Dark Shadows stories.
Continue reading Dark Shadows Comic Strip, part 5: Try to Forget
“Are you still a zombie, Quentin?”
Against all odds, it’s still the summer of 1969, and Dark Shadows has never been more popular. Eccentric millionaire Barnabas Collins has transported himself back in time to 1897, where he discovers that today’s teen dream Quentin C. is a restless, shambling zombie.
Young Jamison is possessed by the spirit of Quentin, or possibly the other way around; it’s difficult to tell. To save the family, Reverend Trask tries to perform an exorcism, and then a gypsy tells Quentin’s fortune. Meanwhile, Mad Jenny finds a set of keys, while somewhere a werewolf must hurry, for darkness means death. And that about brings us up to date.
Continue reading Episode 822: A Giant Evil Force
“She called your name, and then she became unconscious again.”
One nice thing about being a soap opera character — and overall the benefits are not numerous — is that every once in a while the writers need you to figure something out in a hurry, so they hand the entire solution to you on a platter, whether it makes sense or not.
For example: the Dark Shadows writers have decided that straight-laced Charity Trask needs to know that Quentin, her prospective fiancé, is a werewolf who murders people on the regular. So they’ve arranged an educational tableau for her to discover, on her morning walk through the woods.
Lying on the turf is the unconscious Quentin, with his shirt all ripped up and decorated with blood spatters. A couple feet away, there’s a young woman who we haven’t seen before and aren’t likely to see again, because she’s sporting the telltale fang and claw marks of a werewolf victim.
Feebly, the girl mutters Quentin’s name, and Charity finds the crucial piece of evidence in his hand — he’s clutching a piece of taffeta, torn from the young lady’s dress. There isn’t a sign that says WEREWOLF with an arrow pointing to Quentin, but Charity’s a bright girl. She can put two and two together, especially if one of the two is currently bleeding out on the green burlap that everybody’s agreed to pretend is the ground.
Continue reading Episode 809: Twice Burned
“I don’t think that two supernatural creatures appearing simultaneously at Collinwood could be just a coincidence.”
A metaphor for masculine hunger and violence is loose in the dark forest, a bottomless appetite for carnal destruction preying on the weak. Faced with this upsetting symbolic rejection of civilized cultural norms, Collinsport Animal Control sets up a traffic stop and hopes for the best.
And now we’ve got a new kind of juvenile in detention, a crossbreed nightmare on two legs dressed in grown-up clothes, snarling and clawing at anyone foolish enough to approach its cage. So here’s my question: How do you think they got him out of the bear trap and into a jail cell?
Continue reading Episode 787: The Dog Pound
“When you were putting Miss Balfour’s room to rights, did you find a dead snake on her dresser?”
Shadows of the night, falling silently. “Quentin’s Theme” is steadily climbing the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and pretty soon everyone’s going to be humming that tune, whether they want to or not. In this world that we know now, Quentin Collins is a bona fide Dark Shadows phenomenon, with a hit record and everything.
And this phantom melody is even starting to intrude on the hazy parallel world of the Paperback Library gothic romance novels. This peculiar line of spinoff books has been spinning its own cracked version of Dark Shadows for several years now, first chronicling the adventures of an ersatz Victoria Winters, and then tumbling head over heels for Barnabas Collins.
We last checked in with the Paperback Library four months ago to read Barnabas Collins vs the Warlock — the 11th novel in the series, and the sixth to feature Barnabas. By that point, the PBL was following clear editorial guidelines that the greatest human being who ever lived is named Barnabas Collins, and everybody else can go to hell. His only flaw is that his hands are cold, and hands are not everything.
But even the Paperback Library can’t ignore Quentin forever. They can ignore consistency and common sense and the limits of human patience, but Quentin Collins requires a response.
Continue reading Episode 782: Don’t Leave Home
“Do you think it’s right, to pray for a cursed thing like this?”
So it all turns out okay, obviously, it’s Quentin, of course it’s going to be okay. It takes more than a silver bullet to the chest to stop a phenomenon like Quentin. At this point, the only thing that could destroy the audience’s interest in Quentin Collins is a 95-minute MGM motion picture where he tries to drown Kate Jackson in a swimming pool. And what are the odds of that?
Continue reading Episode 766: You Have to Admit She’s Got a Point
“I already know how and where. What I want to know most of all is when.”
That — creature! I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a vicious animal — but it wears clothes, like a man! It also runs like a man, wears shoes like a man, and uses doorknobs like a man. Somebody get me a man, so I can double-check. Get one for yourself too, if you want one. I mean, as long as you’re out.
Continue reading Episode 765: Rabbit Season
“I don’t share your confidence in that cane.”
Quentin Collins, former human being, has turned into a snarling werewolf that runs around in the woods, attacking people and causing unrest. Quentin’s nephew Jamison is out tonight, running away from Reverend Trask’s sleepaway punishment school, somewhere on the Collinwood grounds. Trask didn’t say “Release the hounds,” because you don’t have to at Collinwood. The hounds are provided free of charge by the management; it’s just one of the great estate’s many fatal perks.
So now Beth is out looking for Jamison, wielding a gun that she found in a drawer somewhere. She hears a growl, and turns to find the werewolf sitting on a boulder, waiting to pounce. As we all know, people are the most dangerous game, but werewolves have got to be a close second. It just stands to reason.
Continue reading Episode 754: The Hunger Games
“On this night, with the rising of the full moon, a young woman finds out the terrible thing he is destined to be.”
Incipient lycanthrope Quentin Collins was supposed to be standing inside the pentagram drawn on the floor when the change took hold, but guess what? He had other ideas. Now Beth is in a room that has a werewolf in it, which is not a comfortable position to be in.
And so we get one of the most stunning cliffhanger resolutions they’ve ever done, as Beth jumps inside the pentagram, and the werewolf does a little mime act around the perimeter, trying to get at her.
Continue reading Episode 753: Dog Days
“I’m not going to be inside any pentagrams. I’m going to be doing something that makes sense!”
In the morning, Beth finds Quentin stumbling into the house, exhausted and dirty, his clothes ripped to pieces, and with no memory of what happened to him.
“Quentin!” she cries. “Where have you been? How did you get like this?” Yeah, and how do we get you to do it again?
Continue reading Episode 752: The One Where Evan Ruins the Carpet