The Devil's Scrapbook


Above image courtesy of Tune In For Terror © 1992

This show was very similar to The Hermit's Cave, except that it was introduced by the devil. Satan was voiced by Charles Penman, who also did the Hermit in the West Coast version of The Hermit's Cave (Dunning, 318). The Devil's Scrapbook had a great concept. The anthology series featured the ultimate horror host-- the Devil himself-- who delighted in collecting stories of his accomplishments for his own hellish scrapbook. (He probably used fire retardant paper.) In spite of the wonderful premise, it did have a few shortcomings. For one thing, the devil's really deep voice doesn't sound very menancing when you first hear it. It sounds more like someone Disney might hire to play the devil in a cartoon. However, as the blood and violence of the story builds, so does the effect of his dark voice on your nerves. Not all the narration is original. Much of the opening and closing narration uses identical lines made famous by The Hermit. Then again, no one ever suggested the devil wasn't above stealing! Even the howling dogs in the background are the same as the ones heard on the Hermit's show.

Still, that doesn't stop this series from being unique in its own right. After all, it was probably the first radio show to "cut out the middle man" and replace its human horror host with the immortal King of Evil himself. It was the logical evolution of the genre when you think about it, and The Devil's Scrapbook came up with the idea just five years after the first horror series began (in 1931 with The Witches Tale).

To give the devil top billing in 1936 must have been rather daring. Prohibition had recently ended in 1933, but America was still very religious. Perhaps making Lucifer the star at this time became controversial, because the series didn't last long at all. Either the devil became too hot to handle, or the producers diverted their energy to The Hermit instead. Whatever the reason, Penman retired his devil's horns and cape, and continued his work on The Hermit's Cave for many more years to come.

Penman also had the historical distinction of being the announcer for Father Charles E. Coughlin (Pittsburgh Press, Jan. 2, 1934). The Catholic priest became the most popular (and controversial) radio commentator in the 1930s. It is somewhat ironic that Coughlin wound up being banished from the airways for constantly attacking Roosevelt's pre-WW2 pro-war stance, while Penman went on to star in various horror programs. (No doubt, some critics would suggest Coughlin's show was Penman's first horror program.) The one surviving recording of The Devil's Scrapbook ("The Conquest Of David Rugg" with Noreen Gammill as well as Penman) is dated November 28, 1936, and involves murder and the supernatural. Penman is credited at the end as playing David Rugg, but also played the uncredited role of the deep voiced devil (Ogden, 3/26/10).

A Typical Intro:

(SFX: Strange humming.)

Announcer: "A story from the Devil's Scrapbook."

(SFX: FADE IN: Wind, dogs howling, distant scream, organ flourish.)

Devil: "I am the devil. From my inferno of boiling cauldrons and smoking brimstone, I come to Earth each Monday night to tell you a story from my scrapbook. And it's full of them. Ghost stories. Weird tales of the supernatural. Yes, and murders too! All the horrible tales of the centuries are here in my scrapbook. Listen, if you've got the nerve. Ah, but first, turn out your lights. Turn them off! There now, listen..."

A Middle Narration:

(SFX: Organ flourish.)

Devil: (Fiendish laugh.) "A night of horror. But is it really a dream of Sidney Trent? You can observe I have the honorable David Rugg well in hand. And who knows but Sidney himself may fall into my toils. Doesn't he sound a bit insane with such a fantastic tale? Well, it's all right here in my scrapbook. You will know, you will know... Now, what do you suppose has happened to the servants? And the boy, Jimmy, of the Rugg family? Aye? Listen, while Sidney Trent continues his engrossing account of this night of horror! (Fiendish laugh.)


An Ending Narration and Closing:

(SFX: Organ flourish.)

(SFX: Wind, dogs howling.)

Devil: "And Sidney Trent's night of horror was not a dream. Through some strange force, he went back through forty years to witness one of the most masterful exploits: the conquest of David Rugg. And a pretty tale, too, don't you think? Now, turn on your lights. Turn them on!

"I am the devil. I come to Earth each Monday night to tell you the simple, but I hope, interesting stories from my scrapbook. Will you be with me next Monday evening at ten? I'll be expecting you! (Fiendish laugh.)"

(SFX: Organ flourish.)

Announcer: "You have just heard another chapter from The Devil's Scrapbook, featuring Charles Penman as David Rugg. If you like stories of the supernatural, join the devil next week at this same time. Goodnight, and pleasant dreams!"

(SFX: Distant scream, devil laughs fiendishly.)

Announcer: "This is the Mutual Don Lee Broadcasting System."

Announcer: "You have just heard the 410th story of The Devil made possible through the courtesy of the Carter Coal Company producer of ..." (commercial follows.)

Devil: "And the Devil has more stories for you. Listen in again next week for my hounds howling! I'll tell you the story of The Haunted Theatre. I'll be back. Pleasant dreams! Heh-heh-heh-heh!"

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(Courtesy of

"The Conquest of David Rugg" - The only surviving story from this series involves a man who seems to go back in time and witnesses a mad man murder his family and become haunted by their ghosts. A rather grim and chilling story!


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