Last night, after recording next week’s show and putting up today’s, I read the Bernie Krigstein story Key Chain from Crime SuspenStories 25. It’s a simple story, where a thief breaks into a key shop to make a key to break into a house filled with diamonds. He then knocks a try of keys onto the floor, losing the key to the front door.
It’s a short 5 page story, with a typical EC twist ending and story-wise there’s nothing special here. Just a run of the mill anecdote that builds to a ho-hum twist ending. However, in the hands of Krigstein, it becomes a work of art. From the way he shows the desperation by shrinking the panels, and then having panels WITHIN panels, to the surreality of getting inside the mind of the man looking for the key by having the number of keys move from realistic to overwhelming to a virtual avalanche, the art conveys the story in a way that prose or narration could not. He took the ordinary and made it art on a grand scale and did it in a way that many artists couldn’t even think of doing, let alone pull off.
He left comics for commercial art and eventually became a teacher at an art based high school. I really wish he would have got on with Warren in the 60’s, just to see what he would have accomplished with Archie Goodwin, or even did some comic book related work in the 80’s at one of the many high end independent publishers.