Things That Frightened Me as a Child, Part 9

This one ties in to two others! Madness!

First up, it's an EC comic, so assume that I was freaked-out at a low level from cover to cover. I'm pretty sure that this one had a story about people being forced to swallow starving rats, for example - terrific stuff for Grade Five Johnathan.

Secondly, this is a tale about a man who has cancer, and much like the poor kid from the Swamp Thing entry I knew just enough about cancer to be totally freaked out by it. Although if Young Me had had access to the future ladyfriend's pathology textbooks he may never have left the house again. Last night I both learned about a human organ that I'd never heard of before and saw a picture of one riddled with tumors! Huzzah!

This is the tale of a man named Pete, who has either the most or least confidence-inspiring country doctor I have ever seen. On the one hand, his down-home ways and easy explainations of such things as malignant and benign tumours probably make for a pretty good bedside manner, but the way he shouts out SPINAL TAP! BLOOD SAMPLE! in the second panel seems kind of like he's trying too hard, like maybe this is the first case of cancer he's seen in twenty years and he's desperately trying to remember the next thing to do.

I would say something about the doc completely overlooking the possibility of chemo or radiation therapies, but honestly I have no idea when they were introduced. I would like to point out, though, that the tumour is on Pete's forearm, and I don't hear word one about amputating the limb to save the Pete. Why is that? Do arm tumours metastasize especially quickly?

So Pete, bereft of any medical advice better than "go get ready to die," hunts up the local witch and makes what I would generously call a very stupid request: he wanted her to make it so that he would never die. The witch reluctantly does what he asks, under the caveat that he never, ever come back to see her again. Especially when he eventually worked out that he just should have gotten her to cure his cancer.

Folks, I want you to remember for me: if a witch or a genie or something offers you the gift of immortality, remember to ask whether you get to stay young and healthy the whole time. Pete didn't remember, and look at him now. He looks like a hamburger monster.

And of course things keep getting worse and worse as Pete is consumed by his disease. Which brings us around to the setting in which the doc is telling his tale: outside a cave that he and the local menfolk have tracked some sort of horrible monster to.

And that monster is Pete himself, now transformed into a horrific blob of all-consuming flesh. Which is gross on the face of it, but the really disturbing thing about this story, both in the early Nineties and now, is the fact that this is a monsterous extension of something that happens to people all the time. It doesn't bear dwelling on, really. Oh, plus they couldn't actually kill the thing. They just sealed it away in the cave, there to slither around in the darkness forevermore. So gross.

Uh, sorry if this one is depressing you like it is me. I'll try to find something lighter-hearted for the Halloween post proper.

Oh! On a slightly lighter note, here is the cover:

File that sucker in the drawer marked "Way to give away the end of the story on the cover, guys. Geez."

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.