Wednesday, August 28, 2013

gardinel and manly wade wellman~


several weeks ago, when i was gently challenging anyone and everyone to come up with a bit of modern myth or folklore of their own, our pal warren newsom sent me this bit of backwoods wisdom under the subject heading, "I didn't make this up..."
inside, followed by (...the great Manly Wade Wellman did.)

the coincidence was jarring in that, though i had first heard of this enigmatic author a year or so ago from walter simonson--who offered that i would really enjoy wellman's supernatural backwoods yarns and especially some of the bizarre critters he encountered--but i had, just that week, finally tracked down a copy of one of his long out-of-print books on ebay and had it en route when warren invoked his name.

manly wade wellman--love that name! as does walt, as does warren--was a writer for the pulps, a contemporary of such luminaries as malcolm jameson and otto binder. he wrote, mostly, of the strange happenings in the deep, dark hills of the appalachians and is probably best known for his tales of silver john or john the balladeer, a guitar playing wandering minstrel who encountered more than his fair share of strangeness throughout those mountains.

here is the text and photo from warren's original email.

(…the great Manly Wade Wellman did.  The photo is a composite.)

“If the gardinel's an old folks' tale, I'm honest to tell you it's a true one.
Few words about them are best, I should reckon. They look some way like a shed or cabin, snug and rightly made, except the open door might could be a mouth, the two little windows might could be eyes. Never you'll see one on main roads or near towns; only back in the thicketty places, by high trails among tall ridges, and they show themselves there when it rains and storms and a lone rarer hopes to come to a house to shelter him.
The few that's lucky enough to have gone into a gardinel and win out again, helped maybe by friends with axes and corn knives to chop in to them, tell that inside it's pinky-walled and dippy-floored, with on the floor all the skulls and bones of those who never did win out; and from the floor and the walls come spouting rivers of wet juice that stings, and as they tell this, why, all at once you know that inside a gardinel is like a stomach.
Down in the lowlands I've seen things grow they name the Venus flytrap and the pitcher plant, that can tole in bugs and flies to eat. It's just a possible chance that the gardinel is some way the same species, only it's so big it can tole in people.
Gardinel. Why they're named that I can't tell you, so don't inquire me.”

-- Manly Wade Wellman, “Farther Down the Trail”
From the short story collection, John the Balladeer

thanks, warren--awesome stuff!
that's it for today!
smell y alater!


Brian said...

Now that's a scary concept.

Warren said...

There's so much magic in that book. You're going to love it. You're going to want to go on a hike in the backwoods where few men if any have ever trod.

Matt Wieringo said...

Is Manly his name or an adjective?

Warren said...


A few years ago at Heroes Con in Charlotte I talked with the legendary Murphy Anderson about how comics were expanding beyond just superheroes and I mentioned how the Silver John stories would make a great comic. Turns out that he and Wellman were good friends.