Friday, December 27, 2013

Come visit the Cracks...!

Anyone familiar with my older posts know the story well:
In the mid 1970s an odd Sesame Street cartoon appeared.   It involved a girl and cracks on her wall that morphed into animals.  I remember being intrigued.  That would be cool if I wall cracks could turn into things and play with you!
Then came the climax : a jagged  crack face shows up,  growls, and falls apart in chunks!
It frightened me so badly that I ran from the  room when it came on. I feared the "Crack Monster" for years.  I was sure he'd appear on my wall at night.  Even normal cracks made me nervous.  
I figured it was one of those "silly things that scared me as a kid."  Yet when I blogged about it I got tons of feedback from fellow GenX kids who had the same reaction:

Some comments I've collected about it over the years:

"...not nearly as scary as the cartoon with the talking crack in the wall. That still haunts me." -Ann Arbor, Michigan

I am amazed to know there are so many other people that were scared by this. I thought I might be the only one...  .... Scared the crap out of me as a child. "

 "... that **** cartoon with the crack in the wall that came to life (btw, i *REALLY* want to see that so if anyone has it, please let me know!)"-Illinois

"- I have NEVER forgotten is the 'crack' video... ...I remember both anticipating and dreading the possibility of watching it every time SS came on. if anybody [finds it], POST POST POST!!!"

"Good God, I have periodically searched for "crack, camel, master crack" for years .... ...This has to exist somewhere. God, I can't imagine how normal I might have been if I hadn't been exposed to [it] as a 3 year old?"
"This is so strange. I thought I was alone in how this one little cartoon freaked me out and has stayed with me ever since... ...Anyway, if anyone does find it, please please share with the rest of us so we can finally close this chapter"

" I was Googling around and found your reference to the Sesame Street "crack" cartoon, and I was wondering if you have ever found it? I am SO very relieved to see that it either really existed, or we all have some kind of mass psychosis! Seriously, I have been looking for this clip forever, because it scared me so much as a kid and I need closure! :)"
"...a child looking up at the cracks in the ceiling and spotting various animals. Suddenly... a horrible face appears in the wall and says something like 'I am Crack Master!' - But just then the wall plaster crumbled to the floor... 'He'd destroyed himself, being mean.' Yeeergh, that still gives me the shivers."

"Oh my God! My brother and I have been trying to find a clip of the Cracks forever! I remember it as "the cracks overhead" It scared the crap out of us. I would LOVE to find it somewhere."
"When I was a kid, there was an animated skit that used to have me screaming and running from the TV... ... It was about this girl sitting in her room on a rainy day. She has a whole bunch of cracks on the walls in her room (I guess she had plaster walls). As she's sitting there, her imagination starts to go wild, and she sees the cracks form into different shapes, mostly animal shapes, and they start to come to life. There's a camel, and a monkey...
...and behind it is a horrible looking splinter crack monster in the plaster with a really scary face! ...It claims that it is the crack master... ...I remember when the skit started, I was like "Oh no!" And started to scream and then when the face appeared I became hysterical! I had horrible re-occurring nightmares based on it for the entire time it was on the show. I've been trying to find it ..."

As famous Sesame Street shorts began to appear on YouTube, we anticipated seeing our nemesis again.  Yet it never showed.  
Then things got weird.  Jon, an internet acquaintance claimed to have a copy.  He'd gotten it from an mysterious source that allegedly made him sign paperwork that he wouldn't put it online or duplicate it.
A few months later, I met up Jon, half expecting to be pranked.  He did have a copy,  I watched it again for the first time in almost 40 years.
But mysteries remained.  Why was it kept under wraps?  Why did Jon get singled out as a the person who got a copy?  More importantly, who made it?  Who were the artists and musicians behind it?  Why has nobody come forward, especially now that it has a cult status?  

Then, on December 24th, I got a note: it was on YouTube.  An anonymous email to The Lost Media Wiki contained the clip.   I believe it's from a different source than Jon's source- as the latter seemed to be pulled from a Sesame Street episode (A few seconds of Ernie preceded it) and the former started with a title card.  Crack Master has been freed!

Note: One thing I just noticed- I'd always interpreted the character to have black pupils (as if he's looking away from the others).  As he ratchets up his scariness, they grow into spooky socket-like holes.  However, on closer inspection- I think he was supposed to be interpreted as having dark eyes with white pupils.  This makes more sense (why would he be looking the other way) and makes him look less grotesque.  At least he's making eye contact and not staring away, zombie style.
When you look at him, which way do you read his eyes?


Anonymous said...

HOOOOOORAY! He looks like your sketches. And why do I think of The Ring?

raptavio said...

I followed your tailing this, and Mr. Armond's stories, for some time. I was so delighted to see this return from the void.

I feel the echo of the fear I felt these many years ago when I see it again. And I'm so very happy to confront it as an adult.

Thanks for your diligence!

Namowal (Jennifer Bourne) said...

@Mary I think of "The Ring" too.

@Raptavio Thanks for the note! I still can't believe this cartoon has finally showed up! :)

Anonymous said...

I never thought of the eyes thing. At first to me it looks like they are empty black sockets or large black dots for eyes the entire time (that start small but grow large), but now that I look at it, as the monster grows more grotesque they do look like black sclera with white pupils.

It sure was exciting for a classic Sesame Street/Muppets fan like me to see this segment for the first time!

Matt said...

I had posted a long while ago about what I recalled. Now that I have seen the video after almost 40 years some observations: Even though it aired only 11 times total, I did catch it twice back in the day. I had vague recollections of what the girl looked like. The remembered the saxophone more as a flute. I remembered the monkey, was somewhat foggy on the camel, but couldn't remember the hen. I always remembered the Crack Master as the Crack Monster. Upon viewing the video, I couldn't believe how little air time the Crack Master had. It seemed a lot longer as a kid and his crumbling seemed to take more time. I did remember a lingering eye as he was cracking up but in my childhood memory, the crumbling remains of the Crack Master's face seemed to stay on the wall longer. I too remembered eyes with pupils and was surprised by how different Crack Master looked. If anything, seeing this video has greatly diminished what childhood fear still lingered. It's funny how we perceived things as kids. All the cheesy special effects in those Creature Double Feature B Monster Movies seemed so convincing back then too.

Panda Rosa said...

Good point about the Crack Master's eyes! makes him just a tad less scary.
I wonder why he was so mean and scary compared to the crack animals? Was he upset at being ignored? Or did his bad nature match his spidery appearance?

Anonymous said...

What do you think the girl's name is?

Anonymous said...

The cartoon isn't scary! Why were so many kids of the 70s frightened by him? He just looks like what you drew! I was half-expecting the words "POLICE SKETCH" to show up at the upper-left corner when we first saw him! Yes, that's what I thought it was!

Danielle is a nerd said...

This is like the 70s version of that moment from the SpongeBob episode "Karate Choppers" where the drop of hot sauce gets a face.

Danielle is a nerd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TOM said...

Jesus, I remember this short too. That Crack Master was pretty damn freaky. Think I had a few nightmares. But I always loved this short. The artstyle in particular influenced me in drawing my comics later in life.

Namowal (Jennifer Bourne) said...

Do you have a link to your comics? I'd like to see them.
The google link seemed empty.

Danielle said...


Anyway, I found the animator of a 90s Sesame Street cartoon after 2 years of looking. This is the short:
It was animated by Ken Brown and Lisa Crafts with narration by Scott Getchell.

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