Horror Comics

I was never a huge fan of comic-book superheroes.  Superman, Batman, and the like were as much an enemy to me as the criminals they fought.  They were here to make the world safe for jocks, fascists, and idiots and I hated them for that.

Admittedly, I did lust after superheroines from time to time though the villainesses were the ones who really floated my boat.  They, like their goody-two-shoes counterparts, were built like brick shithouses but what made them extra hot was that they were unconstrained by some lame definition of what is right, proper, and just.  These women knew how to party.

Much of the appeal of fantasy is that it doesn’t have to be something your mother would approve of.  You can stray from the straight and narrow into the world of pure evil and when you’re done, you hit the reset button and you’re back in the real world as guilt free as when you took your detour.

That explains much of my love for horror comics in my youth.  The best were printed in black and white and were therefore exempt from that holdover from the McCarthy era, the Comics Code Authority.  Good did not have to triumph over evil.  What was meant to triumph was the horror, sometimes in the service of a harsh form of justice, but not always.

In these comics, heads came off.  Often.  I liked that.  I was a kid growing up in a southern California beach town where nothing bad every happened to anybody.  It was only natural for me to crave a little mayhem.

My friends and I used to swap stories about people who died at Disneyland.  This was long before the internet came along so you could just make stuff up without any fear of fact checking.  I may not have actually believed that some bozo stood up on the Matterhorn, got decapitated, and had his headless body cartwheel and splash down in the submarine ride.  I didn’t have to.  The story was gruesome as hell and that was good enough for me.

Well, it is probably more accurate to say it was good enough for the moment.  I needed more.  I wanted stories.  They didn’t have to be plausible stories or even good ones.

A typical plotline in either Eerie or Creepy would be about a guy who gets sick of his wife’s nagging he shoots her and dumps her body in the swamp.  That night, the dead wife, dripping with algae and assorted swamp slime, walks in through the front door and eats his face.

What more could a twelve year old ask for?

A few weeks ago, I was in a bookstore in Sacramento and bought three hardcover volumes of Creepy issues from the mid 1960s. The material was about a decade older than the stuff I remember so it was all a fresh read.  The themes, however, were very familiar.  Ghosts and ghouls, vengeance and violence, it was like a reunion with an old friend.

It was also an inspiration.  I often have a hard time coming up with new material for this blog.  The pulp reviews were fun for a while but if I’m going to be showcasing bad fiction, I would prefer it be my own.  Horror stories, especially the kind that exalt in their own cheesiness, seem to be the kind of stuff I can churn out with regularity.

Oh, don’t expect any young-vampires-in-love bullshit.  I don’t even like the fanged fops.  If I ever write a vampire story, I’ll have the sorry undead bastard dumpster diving for used tampons.

Youth Outreach

I like the picture of a peasant girl on this Russian chocolate-bar wrapper, and not just because she looks like the long-lost child of John Candy.  For one thing, she looks nothing like the sort of kid you’d see on American packaging, a greedy-eyed little bastard with a maniacal grin who puts his love of consuming the product he’s advertising above life itself.

With this child, you’re not exactly sure what’s on her mind.  She could just be off in her own little world.  Children are prone to do that.

That would be nice.

Then again, perhaps her blank stare comes from little mind working overtime trying to process a visual no child should ever have to see.  Like her father bound and gagged while her mother does the horizontal bop with a cossack, Stalinist komissar, or Vladimir Putin, depending on the era.  With a culture and history as rich as Russia’s, there are so many to choose from.

Too extreme?  Disturbing?  Foreign?  OK, picture the kid safe and sound in her Amercian suburban home.  Mom and Dad are downstairs watching “American Idol.”  The kid walks into the home office, climbs into a desk chair, and starts surfing the internet.  Her mother and father are very responsible parents and installed a filtering program so any attempt to access adult content will redirect the browser to the Disney’s Little Mermaid Fun Page.  It’s a very sophisticated piece of software but not without its limitations.  It can’t know about every objectionable site out there.  It does not know about Poison Spur.

This is a very precocious child, able to read even as a preschooler, but too innocent to know what all those words mean.  She takes in as many words as will fit in her brain and desiring explanations, ventures downstairs.

“Mommy, Daddy, what’s a pug room?”

A guy can dream, can’t he?

Stingy with a Rat’s Ass

My old roommate, the late Ralph Ross, once told me a joke about two hikers who encounter a bear and start running for their lives.

“We’re never going to outrun this bear,” says one guy.

The other guy says, “I don’t need to outrun the bear, only you.”

There’s a valuable lesson to be learned there.  Unfortunately for Ralph, it was just one more piece of wisdom that failed to resonate.  If there was anything that Ralph taught me, it was that “happen” and “occur” are not necessarily synonymous.  Things happened to him all the time but nothing aver occurred to him.

He found himself on the losing end of life’s race to survive and died in 1992.  It is said that a fool and his money are soon parted.  In Ralph’s case, the same can be said for a fool and his motorcycle, especially after hitting a guard rail.

As for me, well, I’m still running.

I sometimes think the world has an annual body-count quota.  The old and weak and the young and stupid fill up most of the coffins.  If you’ve managed to reach an age where you’re somewhere in the middle, survival can be pretty easy.  It can also be pretty dull.

Of course, I’m talking about folks who live in an industrialized nation, have some level of education, and have reasonable job prospects.  That’s a pretty small percentage globally but a rather high one for people reading this blog.  In fact, I would be be bold enough to say that the average Poison Spur reader has fewer than ten flies crawling around the edges of his or her mouth at any given moment.

People are able to take the long view and suck up the boredom.  There are more important things to consider.  They have families to raise or other responsibilities outside of work that give their life fulfillment.  And then there are people like me.

I’ve always dealt with the specter of life’s obligations by running like hell in the other direction.  I’m fully aware that I need to keep working so I don’t end up some homeless guy who sits on a bench sporting a ZZ Top beard and shits his pants while begging for money to bankroll his filth.  Other than that, there is not a whole lot I do to justify my existence and that shows in my attitude at work.  In fact, it’s safe to say that my level of professionalism at every job I’ve ever had peaked at the end of the end of the interview.

Oh, I muddle through well enough to not get fired and avoid the sort of hijinks I used to do when working at Dining Commons in college.  For example. I once took a condom out of its wrapper and putting it in the bread warmer, resulting in some freshman finding it melted to the side of her dinner roll.  I’m better behaved than that now.

However, I have even in the past decade pressed my luck just to make my professional life more challenging.  Massive hangovers were a common occurrence for me although I wouldn’t say I used to make it a habit of staying up all all night on drugs and spending the next day on the job and getting paid even though I could barely put a sentence together.  That would be wrong (not to mention illegal) so I wouldn’t say I was doing that at all.  And even if I was, I’m too old and decrepit to continue with that level of foolishness.  Not that I would ever do such a thing, mind you.

Nowadays, I’m pretty much just a Walter Mitty miscreant.  In my world of make-believe, disgusting limericks and haikus of my own creation cover the surface of every men’s room stall.  I’ve spotted the CEO’s laptop unattended and use his account to send a company-wide email with the message “LET’S FUCK!”  There is a fetal pig floating in the coffee pot.  Fortunately for all concerned, I am content to snicker like Muttley at what shall never be.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to work for some fucking reason or another.

Two Nuts in Sac

Paula and I had set out from Oakland Saturday afternoon not entirely certain where we wanted to go.  We were thinking maybe Napa or Sonoma.  As we approached the Carquinez Bridge, Paula suggested Sacramento.

We spent the rest of the day wandering around a fairly empty downtown taking pictures of less ugly parts of the state capital, eschewing  the grim bureaucratic edifices near the capital building, each one looking like the DMV writ large.Perhaps I’ll get photos of those next time if I’m feeling in a dystopian mood, but on this particular Saturday, I was in the mood for prettiness.  Even with a camera as simple as what comes with an iPhone, I was able to create the illusion that I was on the street of a quaint and lovely little town.  All I had to do was point the lens so anything I didn’t want to see was out of the field of my field of vision.  It was quite easy really.  Most people live their entire lives that way.

Oh, and to the homeless guy standing in the street with his hand down his pants, undecided whether to start masturbating or keel over dead, thanks for not being in my shot.

Blight at the End of the Tunnel

After finishing “Tiny Cancer,” I decided to be less ambitious with my follow-up effort.  It was going to be a quick something I was just going to rattle off in my spare time.  I figured I would have it done within a week or two.

I just started on it two days ago.

There were a number of reasons for this.  It was the holiday season.  I’ve been spending a lot of time with my girlfriend.  I have a job.  So on and so forth.

All of these are valid.  Unfortunately, there was also part of me that felt I deserved to rest on my laurels after completing a ten thousand-plus word story.  I had arrived as a real writer, you see, and needn’t concern myself with such mundane tasks as continuing to write.

I blissfully embraced this foolishness until Christmas day.  I was at Paula’s apartment, trying to help with dinner preparation but quickly finding out that I was of most use occasionally ferrying items out to the dining-room and mostly staying out of the way.  For the most part, my job was to amuse Paula by reading stories to her from my blog.  Naturally, I was in favor of that.  It beats honest work any day of the week.

As I recited my prose and took sips of wine to keep my voice from cracking, I started noticing passages that could use a little polish, some that needed more serious reworking, and others that just plain sucked.  It’s bad enough realizing that you’re not as good as you thought you were but a far worse thing when this realization comes to you in front of an audience.

It took me more than a week to gather up enough courage to give it another go.  It may take a while before I can produce any fiction worthy of showing to anyone so in the meantime, expect bits of fluff like this.

I’ve also become a bit of a shutterbug with my new iPhone so expect more pics as well.  I’ll try to refrain from uploading any taken of my own poop (though I may be persuaded to make them available upon request).