Sunday, August 16, 2009

(Not so) Creepy

The first comics I read were newsstand comics, Harvey, Gold Key, Archie; I then grew into the world of Superheroes (DC, Marvel), but when I got to High School, I discovered Warren’s line of horror mags (Creepy, Eerie, and the rest of the Horror-verse that was Warren Comics), Along the way I was also exposed to the old EC-style comics (both from EC and the mass-market pablum that filtered into DC, Marvel, and the rest of the mainstream, newsstand books), so in spite of my admitted bent towards guys and gals wearing Spandex and punching the crap out of each other, I do know a bit about the history of horror in comics.

(Unavoidable aside, I not only interviewed Steve Bissette for four hours about his then-upcoming book Taboo (and remained friendly with him for several years afterward until we lost tough with each other) but I also interviewed Jim Warren (several years later) and still (occasionally) get a Christmas card from him (no, really!).)

Anyway, a couple of years ago Papercutz (helmed by my friend and former editor Jim Salicrup) re-launched the classic EC Comic, Tales From The Crypt. This version was re-imagined for kids (sort of an illustrated Goosebumps). Not bad, but not really horror either. Well this month, Dark Horse has relaunched Creepy. Well, in spite of the fact that I’ve written a horror story or four (the first three issues of Psychosis! for GWP, and issue #3 of Only In Whispers for Free Lunch Comics, plus am continuing my Wülf Girlz series for Atlas Unleashed) I really wasn’t interested in picking up Creepy #1, that is until Mark Mazz, my editor, publisher and friend prompted me to do so.

Well, I did, and wow, was I extremely disappointed. For whatever reason, Dark Horse (or, more specifically, New Comic Company who — I believe — packaged the material for Dark Horse) chose to not so much relaunch the title but essentially pick up with stories that could have very well been published by the title some 30 or 40 years ago.

Please note, this is so not a compliment.

Let me digress for a moment. As good and ground-breaking as those stories were all those years ago, for the most part, they were all what I term “Turnabout Revenge Fantasies”. That is to say, (and this is an oversimplification) a young boy would pull the legs off spiders, and then get trapped in the web of a giant spider. Effective stories for a 12-year-old, but not so scary for an adult read. (I say that even though to this day I’m not entirely unconvinced that when a smash insects in my house that someday soon a hoard of gigantic insects wont swarm me and kick me to death.)

Still, to return to Dark Horse’s Creepy. It just isn’t scary The stories are all cast in the precise mold of its earlier incarnation, and just don’t do it for me any more. Now, while it may be possible that these stories just might be scary to a younger generation that didn’t grow up reading these stories already, I am highly suspect. If only due to the vast expanse of Freddie Kruegers, Michale Myers, and Jason Voorhees populating the movie landscape. It could be me, but I just don’t see this stuff as scaring anyone.

I realize that this may come off as professional jealousy (because of my association with Psychosis!, even in spite of the fact that this version of Creepy (at least in it’s packaging) looks nearly identical to Psychosis!. Still, it has no teeth. This Creepy still thinks the stuff that scared me at 15 in 1970, is going to scare me (or someone else) in 2009. I think not. At least in Psychosis we tried to update the fear-mongering to relate to issues and fears of the 21st century (the schoolyard Bully, Predators that stalk our children, global warming, eminent domain, shadow conspiracies, and the like.

Our fear base has changed over the past 30 years, unfortunately the storytelling in this tome has not.

If you want to see what I mean, write to me and I’ll sell you copies of the GWP issues of Psychosis! that I still have. Or, if you are going to be at the Wizard/Big Apple show in NY this October You can look up Atlas Unleashed in Artist Ally, and check out what we are doing with the genre.

Until then. See you in the funnypapers!

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