The Simon/Kirby Black Magic stories (discussed in my last blog-post) are relatively formulaic (though they are superior in their class, thanks, I think, largely to Joe Simon’s presence, or perhaps better to say the magic mixture of Simon and Kirby working together). A more unusual 1950s Simon/Kirby series, also published by Prize Comics, was The Strange World of Your Dreams. (The series was in fact devised by comics artist Mort Meskin, who, incidentally, was interested in Wilhelm Reich’s orgone therapy.) Selections from this series appeared in the latter issues of the 1970s Black Magic run and three of the stories are included in the present omnibus.
In one of these stories, ‘The Girl in the Grave’, pipe-smoking (permit me a Freudian exclamation – !) ‘Dream Detective’ Richard Temple meets Madelen Robert by chance when she spills a coffee over him in a coffee shop. The funny thing is, Madelen had been intending to visit Temple after finishing her coffee as she was currently troubled by a recurring dream. Having studied accounting at college, Madelen has just obtained a position with an accountant’s office. In the dream, she tells Temple, she is lost in a cemetery. She comes across a gravestone bearing her name. ‘The grave yawns open …’ She descends and finds a candle-lit office. She sets to work on some ledgers but cannot make the figures balance. Water starts rising around her, filling the chamber. When she tries to leave she finds the gravestone has fallen back into place. There is no escape. Just before she drowns, the waters wash away the stone. ‘I’m dead,’ she tells Temple, ‘but I’m holding up a burning torch!’
‘Your dream is quite normal,’ Temple assures the troubled woman. ‘All but the water.’ It turns out that Madelen had nearly drowned when she was 6 years old. Worried about her new job, the water symbolizes her fear. The torch she holds aloft at the end is hope. All she has to do, Temple says, is try her best in her new job and everything will be all right.
No twist ending. No monsters. (No Freud.) Straight forward, helpful, if rather bland, dream analysis! It makes a refreshing change from the supernatural and monstrous happenings in the Black Magic stories. Perhaps, though, Kirby felt a little reined in by the down-to-earth approach. In another story from the series you could interpret the little demonic creatures spilling across the panels as Kirby’s own energies fighting to get out. (See bottom two panels of page below.)