Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Ripley's True Ghost Stories

It's time once to again to expose explore a Ripley's Believe It or Not! comic book. Like last year, I'll discuss the validity of each story and link it to actual legends or events. Unlike last year's, this issue contains no ads. Sorry kids.

This 1966 issue has a cover featuring one of Ripley's most famous characters, Liu Ch'ung (despite not appearing anywhere in the book itself).

According to Ripley, "Liu Ch’ung was born with double pupils in each eye. Despite his abnormality, he became Governor of Shansi, China, and Minster of State in 995 A.D."  I found no evidence of a Liu Ch'ung, however there was a Liu Chong (Liu Min) who lived from 895 to 954 AD and was the founding emperor of Imperial China's Northern Han State. Additionally, there's no scientific evidence his condition (known as "Pupula Duplex") exists.  It may be a misinterpretation of the medical condition Polycoria in which there are multiple openings in the iris.

I did find a Muslim King named Abbad II al-Mutadid who apparently did suffocate a group of rival princes in his steam bath, but no mention of skull flower pots.

Calaveras are indeed sugar skulls made for Mexico's Día de Muertos celebration.

I couldn't find any reference to a German ruler named Francis II or the described statue and inscription, although you have to admit it is kind of a cool quote. I can see using it in many circumstances, particularly when given a gift I don't like.

"The Skeletons that Would Not Die" is a retelling of The Stones of Kerrigan's Keep.  While I did find references to the story, I didn't find any evidence the story or even a castle with that name exists.

While the Yakuts are an indigenous people of Siberia, the only hitching posts they make are for marital celebrations.

Sardinia is an island region of Italy. They did indeed weave Spirit Carpets or Funeral Rugs, though I found no mention of their use on a Funeral Bier.

Bajirav II (Baji Rao II) was a puppet ruler of the Maratha Empire of India from 1795 to 1818. I could find no Banquet of Banshees that he attended.  In fact, "banshee" is a Gaelic term unlikely to be used by an Indian.

"The Double Image" tells the tale of coincidental commonalities between Umberto I of Italy and a local tavern owner.  There was a King Umberto I of Italy who was assassinated by an anarchist in 1900, however I could find no other sources of information for his double aside from this article which also could not validate the story, although the article alleges the tale's first appearance was on an Italian website.  Clearly he never read Ripley's.

I think the closest "The Strangest Criminal Clue" gets to the truth is there is, in fact, a Lyons, France.

Likewise, I found nothing to support medical practicing headsmen.

Mughal emperor Shah Jahan commisioned the Taj Mahal as a tomb for his wife, but there's no mention of his own tomb being built in the manner described.

"The Thing with Claws" takes place in  London's 50 Berkeley Square which is indeed a notoriously haunted house with legends telling of residents gone mad with fright or even killed by unseen entities, but I could find no claws for support of this story (see what I did there? Yes, I made an awful joke is what I did there.)  The creature in the story does kind of remind me of that Jonny Quest episode, though.

Henri Christian Michel de Stengel (or Steingel), the central character in "The Dark Rider", was in fact a General under Napoleon Bonaparte, however, his demise is disputed.  Some say he died at the battle of Mondovi (not Merengo), while others say he died several days after the battle from complications after having his arm amputated. Napoleon sent a letter dated April 27th, 1796, a month after the battle of Mondovi stating Stengel had died on the battle field.  I think we can trust that account.  There is no mention of a premonition or ghostly rider.

Henry Bourchier, Earl of Sussex is buried at Beeleigh Abbey. I wasn't able to verify his tombstone.

The Corstorphine Sycamore is a unique species with yellow leaves and legend has it a "drunken philanderer James Baillie, 2nd Lord Forrester, was murdered by his lover in 1679." I could find no mention that the tree first turned yellow after that. The original tree fell in high winds in 1998.

The story of Inês de Castro and her post-mortem crowning is a real legend, however it didn't appear in writing until over 200 years after her death.

Man, this issue was chock full of "facts".  They even used the back cover.

The indigenous natives of the Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal are known as the Andamanese. While I found no mention of a feast for dead relatives, they do carry their relatives' skulls on a long cloth. They believe it cures disease and eases pain.

There's not much mention of the Lunda people on the internet and no mention of this custom.

As is with so many of these stories, Alcázar of Seville is a real place in Spain, but I found no mention of corrupt judges' skulls.

And let's end with a story we can believe. The Church of Solferino, Italy is lined with the skulls and bones of the victims of the a battle of Solferino during the Second War of Italian Unification.  The killed were buried for 10 years and then dug up and stored in the ossuary.

Wow, this issue was really obsessed with skulls.


  1. wow such a detailed post and its awesome! I sure wish I still had my rippley's comic books. I used to have stacks as a kid of all horror comic books.

    1. I never collected horror comics as a kid, but I appreciate them these days.

  2. wow, this is an EPIC post. so much research! it's going to take me awhile to go through it... S P O O K Y !

    1. Yeah, it's one of those "once a year" posts it takes so much time to research.


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