Like Creepy and its cousin Eerie, the EC horror comics were a fruitful source of things for me to freak out over in my youth, especially as I had much more exposure to them through the reprints that were coming out in the early Nineties. Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear all made their impressions on my young psyche, but it always seemed to be the more science fictiony yarns of Weird Science and the like that would get me fretting about the potential occupancy of the space under my bed. Here's one such:
The story in question is set in the far future (natch), and on a colonized planet that is just receiving its second load of Earth-types. There's nothing in the text to indicate that Mother Earth was using the opportunity to rid itself of pirates and lounge singers, but the implication is there.
Straight away, we are introduced to the planet's most nightmare-inducing inhabitant, the moko, and told of its suffering at the jaws of the hideous hydra-files. Humans (especially 1950s-style colonial space-humans) being humans, the underdog mokos were welcomed into the colonists' hearts and the hydra-files started to get a taste of the old "hunt 'em to extinction" trick that has been such a perrenial favourite since we first showed it to the mastodon. And also they were given a terrible name, presumably just in case they were able to feel shame. Hydra-files, pah.
But, I guess that the extinctioning was warrented! The things hunted the allegedly adorable mokos, and now were after the colony's precious, precious children, who were also adorable.
Look at the middle-ground of the second panel. That man is in a personal tank-suit, and he has a little hatch so that he can keep smoking his pipe while he drives it around. The wonders of technology!
And then the General's son gets killed and the species-murder gets personal. Hydra-files start dying by the bucket-load.
Another shot of that man-tank. So cool.
And then things get real. Yup, it turns out that wildly unbalancing an alien ecosystem that you have little to no understanding of can have some unforseen consequences, go figure. The individually-weak mokos are horrific pack hunters once a critical population mass has been reached, and breeding the things like rabbits was a surefire way to make that happen. Even entire communities must keep in mind the cardinal rule of horror comics, referenced yesterday: don't be an asshole.
All in all a nifty little ecological fable, but a swarm of kill-frenzied pink insect-monkeys? Add some scales to that description and congratulations! You have flipped all of my visceral horror switches at once. Bleah.