by Hans Lindahl
- The Grave Robbers
- Script: David Bishop
- Art: Kari Leppänen
- First published in Fantomen Nr.12/2004 by Egmont, Scandinavia. Original cover shown on the left, thanks to Brian Jensen. The working title of this story was The Resurrection Mob.
- Message from the Publisher:
In this issue - a gripping adventure written by David Bishop and wonderfully illustrated by Kari Leppänen!
The Grave Robbers is part based on fact and part based on a famous novel and more than a few famous and infamous real-life characters.
In the early days of scientific study of anatomy, Scotland and in particular, the medical and scientific world of Edinburgh, led the world in research and experimentation. In this story, you will find references to Dr. James Lind, two villains called Burke and Hare, young Allan Pinkerton and among others, Mary Shelley, wife of the famous poet Percy Shelley. All these people existed!
Dr Lind's role in this adventure has been rather exaggerated. He was not, as the script claims, involved in experiments aimed at trying to bring dead people back to life! Dr Lind (1716-1794) graduated in medicine from Edinburgh University, served as a surgeon in the Royal Navy and became famous for his treatment of tropical diseases. He spent much of his career working in a Naval Hospital and has gone down in medical history as the man who discovered the true nature of scurvy. His research and recommended treatment eventually eradicated scurvy, a disease which had dogged the British Navy for many years.
The infamous Irishmen Burke and Hare however, were professional grave robbers who provided "fresh corpses" to the medical profession and murdered at least 15 people when "supplies" were not readily available. Both were eventually arrested and sentenced to death. Hare, as this story correctly relates, turned Crown witness against his partner and was not only released, but pardoned. Burke was hanged.
Mary Shelley, who is mentioned only in passing, wrote the famous novel Frankenstein, a Gothic horror story which both thrilled and terrified readers when it was published in 1818. The Frankenstein novel remained a best-seller for more than a century before Hollywood re-discovered the story and turned it into a wildly successful movie which incorporated wonderful effects for the then black and white era. But, sadly, they destroyed the original message of the novel to such an extent that over time people became confused and Dr Frankenstein's "monster", as it was then known, became widely known by the same name! The raging success of the original Frankenstein movie led to a spate of other, similar themes being produced in Hollywood and England ... Dracula and The Wolf Man among many others.
As for Allan Pinkerton, he was born in Scotland in 1819, went to America and after founding his detective agency, lived until 1884. Whether his agency was the world's first, or even America's first, is open to debate. He did however, earn a special place in American history, by organizing a Civil War espionage network which eventually became known as the Federal Secret Service. There have been many TV documentaries, movie specials and even a feature motion picture based on the rise of the Pinkerton agency.
So, a great deal of this story is based on fact - especially the grim deeds of professional grave robbers! This is a slightly scary, but engrossing story about dark days in Scottish history which are now, thankfully, long gone.
Our next edition - The Secret of the Falls goes on sale on 25 June.