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Last year for Robot 666 Week we had a lot of fun putting together our list of six comics that scared the $#!@% out of us. So this year, we thought we’d broaden our scope and ask a few comic creators what comics scared them. Here’s the first batch; check back tomorrow and on Halloween for more!
That’s an easy one.
In 1973, I read a short story in the black and white Monsters Unleashed magazine by Thomas Disch, adapted and illustrated by Ralph Reese called “The Roaches,” about a bug-infested apartment and the woman in it…all I remember was it was illustrated in such a creepy style and all those bugs…
At the time I was living in a basement of a house that had some of the little critters from time to time, and the story freaked me out to the point I couldn’t sleep, knowing the bugs were out there ready for me to fall asleep and crawl into my ears, mouth and nose. Now that I’m talking about it, it’s creeping me out all over again.
Jimmy Palmiotti is the co-writer, with Justin Gray, of a ton of comics — Jonah Hex, Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, Time Bomb and many more. If you’re looking for a comic to read this Halloween, The Last Resort is a fun, over-the-top zombie comic.
When I was ten years old, I was stuck in the house because I was sick. My friend Michael lent me two hardbound comic collections, which were rare creatures at the time, the time being 1975. One of the books was Superman From the 30’s-70’s, the other was the 1971 Nostalgia Press anthology of EC horror, suspense and crime comics. The only thing that stuck with me from the Superman book was a Bat-Mite vs Mr Mxyzptlk story. On the other hand, almost every comic in the EC book stayed with me, and completely freaked me out, to boot. I don’t know if the book gave me nightmares, but it gave me some daymares, thinking about three stories in particular which remained in my memory for years before I became re-acquainted with the EC material: “Shoe Button Eyes” (drawn by Graham Ingels, with a script by, I believe, Johnny Craig), “Foul Play” (script by Al Feldstein, probably co-plotted with Bill Gaines, art by Jack Davis), and “Carrion Death!” (Felstein — with Gaines most likely, art by Reed Crandall).
I don’t want to describe the stories and ruin them for anyone who might want to read them for the first time, but the first is a supernatural period revenge tale revolving around spousal and child abuse, the second features one of comics’ most infamous acts of dismemberment, and the last story is a grueling survival tale of a felon handcuffed to a cop he murders in the desert. All of these stories feature super-effective art, all of them scared me as a ten-year old, and they’re still three of my favorite EC tales.
As an adult reader and creator I don’t find that horror comics can actually be scary anymore, which is a bit of a shame to find out. The best that the medium can achieve, in my opinion, is to be disturbing, or at least creepy. Towards that end I particularly like Junji Ito’s work. Uzumaki, Gyo and the Tomie stories are all wonderfully disturbing, crazy comics full of outrageous ideas, WTF moments and bizarre visuals that stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.
Evan Dorkin has created a lot of stuff for comics and television. He’s the writer of Beasts of Burden (with artist Jill Thompson) for Dark Horse and had a story in the most recent issue of Bongo’s Treehouse of Horror comic, if you’re in need of any horror comics this weekend.
I can remember quite vividly being spooked out by Mike Mignola’s Wolves of Saint August. I read it in a single night and can recall how creepy and cold those wolves heads on human bodies were. I remember being grasped from the beginning by the pacing. I knew something was going to happen. I suppose we all did, but you can feel it coming in that story. Something bad was cooking. There’s a great foreboding mood in that story… then it hits you with a werewolf skinning himself out of a human body. But the werewolf kept his humanity and when killed, died slowly without remorse for what he’d done. That alone was creepy to watch. It was agonizing and astonishing. A great tale based on an old myth that legitimately scared me to boot.
The scariest moment I have ever read in a comic can be found in SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING Annual #2, written by Alan Moore, art by Stephen R. Bissette and John T. Totleben. I first read it in the second trade of Moore’s SWAMP THING run.
Swamp Thing has to go to Hell to find Abby’s soul. There he meets the villain Arcane. Arcane’s time in Hell is marked by hundreds of bugs using him as a hatching ground, so his body has become swollen and grotesque. Arcane asks Swampy how many years he’s been in Hell.
Swamp Thing tells him he’s been there since yesterday.
The hatching ground screams.
Ian Brill is an editor at BOOM! Studios, where he also writes Darkwing Duck and the upcoming Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers.
For me it was Tomb of Dracula #32. My parents would buy both my brother and I each a comic every week. John picked Tomb of Dracula #32, which I couldn’t understand. There were perfectly good issues of Superman and Justice League on the rack. Sometimes I think he picked the comics he knew I wouldn’t like.
And he was right. I mean look at it. Big scary Dracula jumping in to kill an old guy in a wheelchair, shouting “…tonight is the night you die!” Even the coloring was scary. Dracula’s lit with blue light coming from the side. It’s a little thing, but it was so unnatural, and the first time I remember seeing that.
Read it? Are you kidding? Wasn’t the cover enough?
Eventually, weeks later, I sneaked a peak at a page or two at a time, and always during the daytime. I remember Dracula being attacked by a dog and the dog’s collar having silver crosses, burning his hands. There were all sorts of traps and gadgets like that, and none of them really stopped them.
I can’t remember how it ended, but I know I read that far, because one of the scariest parts was that Dracula wasn’t killed at the end. Monster movies had the vampire get killed at the end, but this book… he got away to do more horrible vampire things, and he couldn’t be stopped. Heck, there was going to be another issue. And another after that.
But not for me. I didn’t buy another issue, and for some reason, neither did John. Maybe it scared him, too.
Until, eventually I checked out the Marvel Essentials collection. It was probably a good thing that Young Me never read those stories. Current Me, though, loved the heck out of them.
When I was a kid, my brother brought home an old, beat up copy of Ripley’s Believe It or Not #25. I don’t where he got it. The cover was a painting of “Spring-Heal Jack”. As far as I remember, I had never seen a comic with a painted cover. It hit me as something I might see in a grade school history book, which seemed to validate Jack’s possible existence. The issue contained several stories, including one with a scary harpy/bat/witch, but Spring-Heal Jack had the most effect on me. The story contained only mystifying incidents with no real wrap-up. Plus, he apparently didn’t wear pants. I found it all terrifying, and I couldn’t help but imagine him jumping over tombstones whenever I was in a cemetery. Brrrrr.