Things That Frightened Me as a Child, Part 7


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.

Things That Frightened Me as a Child, Part 6


Yes, it didn't stop at the cover reproductions on that fateful Creepy paperback. Inside lurked a story that was to make me feel uneasy for years to come - the story of the...


The story itself was pretty standard Creepy fare, featuring an asshole named Demmon and the ever-popular moral "don't be an asshole" (paraphrasing!). Nothing I hadn't seen before, honestly. The part that really haunted me was the werewolf itself.

I don't know if it's because this was an African werewolf or if Frazetta was just having fun with some crazy monster design, but the thing looked completely eerie and alien to me. The short muzzle and enormous mouth, the spiked black fur, all of it combined to make something that clearly did not belong to the natural world.

Plus: bats! The most frightening of mammals!

Eventually, of course, it came down to a one-on-one between Demmon and the beast, and of course that scared the hell out of me. The very thought of standing there attempting to stare down such a creature... brrr.

And then Demmon gets in a lucky shot and rips off the Gorilla-Man's origin story. That guy - what an asshole. I think that it's safe to assume that he didn't get to spend any time on a delightful super-hero team at any point, thank goodness. Note, however, the emaciated, half-transformed figure in the upper left. Frank Frazetta, why did you hate eight year old me? Why would you haunt me like this? I demand answers!

Or possibly money.


Things That Frightened Me as a Child, Part 5


Specifically, Frank Frazetta paintings. I had a paperback reprint of some of the old Creepy yarns and, well, check out the cover image:

Or at least the most prominent cover image - as I recall (twenty years on) this was a fairly busy bit of graphic design. The important part was really the fact that this image freaked me the hell out, and that it was entirely because of that crazy looking werewolf. Even by the standards of the supernaturally cursed, that thing does not look right. (The story referenced is one of the very best, though. For the record)

The back cover, or possibly the lower half of the front cover (twenty years, remember?) featured a few more covers, and they were almost as bad. Take this one:

Frank Frazetta is the only person ever to manage to make a caveman look frightening to me. It's remotely possible that this is because I saw Encino Man at a relatively young age, but I don't think that this in any way detracts from the accomplishment.

This here was the one that broke young Johnathan. Pubescence was rearing its horrific, spotty head and whispering things about how interesting the character in the foreground might potentially be, while general childhood terror was pointing out that the gorilla head and the colours were profoundly wrong. In retrospect I have to blame this image for my not retaining the collection over the years. Brrr. And also yowza.

Tomorrow: more Frazetta!