The term “Horror” has meant different things in the world of comic
books over the years. In the
1950’s, EC Comics published truly horrific and graphic stories in such
titles as Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror.
The stories were so violent they were targeted as a corrupting
force in society and the Comics Code Authority was created to save the
In the 1960’s, horror comics were really Monster Comics.
They are known today as Kirby Monsters since artistic trailblazer,
Jack “King” Kirby created and drew such formidable baddies as Groot
the Monster from Planet X and Grottu, King of the Insects.
Big and destructive. “Safe”
for kids. Largely forgettable (but nonetheless fun.)
The 1980’s gave us Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing among others, which lead
to edgier comics such as Hellblazer and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.
Those lead to the 1990’s debut of an entire line of Mature Reader
“horror” comics under the Vertigo (DC) banner.
Vertigo still functions today as a home for some of those
“darker” titles, but has branched off into crime fiction, sci-fi and
the plainly bizarre.
So, why did I skip the 1970’s? Well, I was seven years old in the mid-70’s and I was
discovering comics for the first time.
DC published House of Mystery and Witching Hour.
True horror stories in an EC style.
To be honest, the covers alone frightened me. Marvel took a different path and, at the same time, stayed
true to what they did best.
Marvel made monsters into super-heroes.
Werewolf by Night was about a “good” wolfman.
Morbius was a LIVING vampire.
Ghost Rider had a flaming skull, but also a really neat-o
motorcycle. Even Tomb of
Dracula was as much about vampire hunters (like some guy named Blade) as
old Vlad himself. But, my
favorite was the Son of Satan.
Even now I admit to being amazed my mom had no problem with me reading a
comic featuring the Devil’s pride and joy.
Actually, Daimon Hellstrom was not a chip off Lucifer’s block.
He was a tortured soul who fought his dark side with his trusty
trident that shot hellfire. His
chest was emblazoned with a pentagram where Superman’s “S” usually
sits. He even had a cape,
fangs and a spit curl that resembled horns.
And no Batmobile for his guy, Daimon could conjure three fiery
horses and a chariot that could carry him faster than a bat out of
The Son of Satan. A comic I
truly believed would not get me in trouble if I smuggled it into Sunday
School. I could always say
the Devil made…Nah.
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