Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Go See the Cracks Part Three:

I knew my battery was getting clunky, but I couldn't believe it would betray me like this.
Jon had brought a portable dvd player as backup, but this too needed an outlet. And there weren't any.
I asked the gal behind the counter where the plugs where. She pointed to the ceiling, and even provided a step ladder so the crazy cartoon people could plug in and watch the show.
The clip had no credits and in fact started with a few seconds of Ernie before fading into the cartoon.
There they were! The girl, Camel Crack, Crack Hen, Crack Monkey... hey, this was kinda cute.
Then came the the famous part. They friends walk "to where they'd never been..." The camera pans right "and in corner found a giant crack!" a shrill flutelike note sounds and we're facing him. Crack Monster!

Before I saw this I'd convinced myself he couldn't have been that frightening. Surly I'd been freaked out by something silly or benign. Not the case. Crack Monster (or, as he calls himself, "Crack Master") is startlingly creepy. He's cubist malevolence, with beady, mismatched eyes, a snarly cranky mouth, with cracks crossing his face and hanging from him like roots. Yeech. Good heavens, no wonder I'd been freaked.
And it gets worse! He "tries to make himself look very big and mean," growing more angry and qrotesque...

The narration tells us "then the wall plaster crumbled to the floor...," whereupon his features droop and melt off like something from a scary movie.
I watched it over and over and over. (Wow! It was really him!)
Jon claimed he'd shown it to a relative about our age who'd forgotten it until until now. She started crying! Startled by her reaction, she actually studied it frame by frame, convinced a that a subliminal horrors lurked somewhere. I think the explanation is more simple:
It's 1975. You're a little kid watching t.v. A crooked, scary face shows up, acts mean, gets scarier, then melts! You flip out.

Click here for Part Four.
Note- these pictures aren't from the cartoon. I sketched them. They're not exact replicas, and I don't think I've quite captured the creepyness of the original. Someone was a genius. I wish I knew more about them.


Sally said...

Just so amazing that this long long quest has come to an end in a satisfying way. Nice series of posts about it too.

Namowal said...

Thanks Sally,
I was a little worried that I might scare off my regular readers by going on and on about the cartoon...
... but there's so much strangeness surrounding it.

Linda said...

Namo, I can't get over this whole adventure either. And the fact that the cartoon still had the same power is incredible!!

stray said...

It is amazing that someone created something that scared people so much that they remember it so many years later and still have the same reaction! How powerful. Wonderful Jon brought it to show you!!

Namowal said...

Hi Linda, Stray,
Amazing indeed. Sort of when you hear a song you haven't heard or even thought of in decades and it wakes up long-dormant corners of your brain.
Interesting fact:
While people my age were frightened by the piece, Jon says his kids weren't frightened at all when he showed it to them. They couldn't believe their dad had once been scared of it!
As for Jon taking the trouble to show the cartoon to me, I owe him one.

Teen1 said...

I am sitting here *dying* of jealousy. Yes, dying.

OTOH, I am so happy that you got to see it, Namowal - that was so awesome of Jon! Your first drawing of the Crack Monster (no, I won't call it Crack Master!) was similar to what I remember, but as you say, not spot on. I distinctly remember the eyes. They'll probably haunt me the rest of my life.

Thanks to both you and Jon for filling us in on our crack friends. Oh, and my kids would probably think it was funny too - I laughed when I read Jon's kids couldn't believe he'd been scared of it. I wish I'd been one of the kids back in the '70s whom it *didn't* scare. But I'm so glad I wasn't the only one, and that some closure has been brought...

Namowal said...

Thanks, Tween1.
I tried to sketch the eyes as close as possible, since they seemed to play a big part in his creepy-scary look. Glad you recognized them!
The "real" crack monster is composed of thiner, browner lines which are more linier and less scribbly. My sketch retains his major "fault lines" and his facial expression.
I'm glad I saw the cartoon again (thanks to Jon,) but I still wish I knew more about its origins. Who made this? Who were you?

Daria Erdosy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Namowal said...

Hi Daria,
He lives in the midwest.
Apparently he got a copy from someone claiming to have inherited it from the original creator. They were strangely secretive and only gave him the copy after he signed faxed paperwork promising to keep it off the internet etc...
My theory is they probably read one of his "Where IS this cartoon?" comment on some Sesame Street related article and approached him. I have no idea if they're aware of the rest of us "crackheads." :)

Daria Erdosy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Namowal said...

Best of luck, Daria.
Who knows? Maybe you'll uncover more info about the cartoon than Jon and I have.

Anonymous said...

Anything new on the Crack Master? My story is that I carved a jack o' lantern this past Halloween. I used the natural gray "scars" on the pumpkin's surface as outlines for the eyes, which ended up twisted and mismatched, just as I had planned. But it reminded me of something. Although I knew it was an animation I had seen as a youngster, I couldn't put my finger on it. Sesame Street? Electric Company? 321 Contact even? What was it?!? Then l I spoke with my older brother yesterday, who instantly came up with the "Crack Master!" Now I am a member of this small, obsessed legion who must see it again!

Namowal said...

Hi Anon,
No new news about this cartoon or who worked on it, but I did start a facebook the other day for, as you put it, "the small obsessed legion".
I haven't publicized it yet- so I'm the only member, but you can find it here if:
If you want to join.

Anonymous said...

Yikes, that sounds pretty freaky!
The only "scary" segment the show had during my time was "Mysterious Theater," a parody of the PBS series Mystery! (complete with creepy animated Edward Gorey-esque opening, and Vincent Twice as the host!) But that was 1991, not the late 1970s :P

Namowal said...

Thanks for visiting, wile-e2005.
I haven't seen the Mysterious Theater episodes myself, but I have heard of them- and that they freaked out many an early 1990s kid!

Anonymous said...

Can I see this cartoon, Jon? I'll ook a laptop screening.

But Jon, I don't have an e-mail address and I really want that audio documentary. So can you please upload it on to MediaFire and give a link to it? I'll give you a picture I made of the cartoon in return!

Anonymous said...

Jon, I have a picture!

C:\Documents and Settings\frankpluzsik\Desktop\My Pictures\the crack video.bmp

Can you give me the audio documentary in return?

Anonymous said...

Check your e-mail, Namowal.

Mary Pensik said...

My other e-mail is:


Please send the audio documentary to me.