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.