Creepy Indeed.

Pegged Jean Nightmares 14

Creepy was light years away from the comics I was used to reading.

I stumbled upon Creepy, with its sister publication Eerie and a copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland, at a baseball card and comic book show at the Crossroads Mall in Waterloo, Iowa. My friend’s family went for sports cards. Along for the ride, I had no interest in baseball cards and no money to spend. My friend’s dad took pity on me and gave me a few bucks. To stretch the money out, I went to the discount cardboard box under one of the tables and found the magazines.

Through my older brothers, I had already been introduced to Wolverine, X-Men, and Doctor Strange. I loved comic books and, when I had $.75 saved up, I would bike the mile into the town drug store to buy a new title, which I would read cover to cover at least three times.

Comics were safe. No amount of punching or smashing led to graphic gore or anguish. No preposterously-clothed lady would ever do more than chastely kiss a lover. No dialogue repeated out loud would lead to grounding. I didn’t realize it then, but I was being protected by the Comics Code.

Know what else I didn’t realize? Creepy published in black-and-white and in magazine format to AVOID being subject to the Comics Code.

The victims-to-be in Creepy were petty, filthy creatures. When they got what they deserved, it was dirty and gory. The artwork was detailed and realistic, so you couldn’t just pretend a mutant with superpowers would save the day in the next issue. If you were in Creepy, things usually ended very badly for you. I remember one comic where a double-timing acrobat falls to his death, straight into the waiting palms of Satan himself. I don’t know which issue this was in, so if anyone does, I’d love to be enlightened.

The magazines were so upsetting to me I couldn’t stop reading them. They’ve begun re-releasing the issues in hardcover compilations, and I’d love to spend an afternoon or ten staring at the art and breathing in that fresh nihilism smell.

In my post-Creepy world, it’s hard to get frightened of any big screen superheroes arch-nemesis. The Comics Code may not have the power it once did, but I know the moral universe most superheroes live in stays a pretty safe place. They can flail all the want to in their tights; we all know how the story ends.

Unless they start taking trips to the Creepy side of the street. Who knows what kind of trouble they’ll fall into there.

-Axel

(Thanks to Philip Lenssen and http://www.coverbrowser.com/covers/creepy/ for helping  me track down old Creepy covers)

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