From the Greystone Archive: Halloween

This was one of the all-time best Halloween storylines. I’ll put this up against any comic’s Halloween stories. It takes place at Transylvania University — which really exists in Kentucky. The story quickly becomes a retelling of the Curse of Rafinesque — a real-life botanist from Philadelphia. Rafinesque was hired as a professor at Transylvania University and placed a curse on the institution after the president threw him out. The president, of course, had a very good reason for throwing Raf out: The botantist was having an affair with his wife.

Every seven years since, something horrible has happened at Transylvania University, which still celebrates Halloween by sending two students to spend a night in Rafinesque’s tomb.

Rafinesque was a fascinating figure. I had way more stuff than I could cram into the storyline. Here’s the rest:

Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz (1783-1840) was called “the Daniel Boone of Botany.�

Although he was not appreciated during his lifetime, scholars now recognize his amazing contributions to science.

For example, his 5,400-line epic poem discussed a theory of evolution that predated Darwin’s by more than 20 years.

And he was the first to classify over 100 species of plants and animals.

One such classification stands out among the rest. A gentleman who had welcomed Rafinesque into his house was awakened in the middle of the night by a tremendous clatter.

When he went to inspect the disturbance, he found a mostly-naked Rafinesque, wildly running about the room, swatting in the air with the handle of the host’s favorite violin.

The disheveled houseguest was chasing bats, convinced that they belonged to an undocumented species.

They were.

And Rafinesque was the first to document them.

While spending the night in the house of John Jay Audobon.