“I met him, fifteen years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.”
–Dr. Loomis, Halloween
The horror genre has long been a major part of my life. Long before other mediums, film and television were my gateway into the land of horror. While my friends shielded their eyes from the likes of Michael Meyers, Linda Blair’s portrayal of Regan, Mr. Barlow, and Pennywise the Clown, I was positioned in front of the television watching these horrors come to life before me. My mother likes to tell people–in fact, she just told this to my fiancé two days ago that The Leprechaun was one of my favorite movies growing up, and I would watch it over and over again.
What we know we have learned from those before us. My parents knew horror, so I did too. When I mention that my parents let me watch movies like The Shining, Psycho, and A Nightmare on Elm Street at such an early age, it was surprising to me just how many people take offense to it. Especially other parents. They believed that my parents were horrible people for exposing me to such terror. To these people, gruesome images and ghastly premises had an age limit to them. Maybe they were right? What kind of long-lasting emotional scarring did watching David transform into his beastly form in An American Werewolf in London have on me? I think I learned two important lessons from these movies. The first, the things which go bump in the night are usually nothing more than made up ideas from the minds of men. The second, life is valuable. Survival is what we do. In the face of all the odds, Laurie Strode refuses to back down from her murderous older brother. People do not give up. We keep fighting against the evils of the world until our very last breath. Perhaps watching all those horror movies was not that bad after all.
“Alone. Yes, that’s the key word, the most awful word in the English tongue. Murder doesn’t hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym.”
― Stephen King, Salem’s Lot
Then, the summer before my freshmen year of high school, my grandfather passed away. After cleaning out his house, my mom gave me his record/tape/cd player as well as all of his music. Most of the records were of old country singers, the same with the cds. One night–probably a school night–I found myself staring at the wall, unable to sleep. I made my way over to the player. Even though we did not share the same taste in music, I still liked to play some of it because it reminded me of him. While searching through one of the drawers in the stand it sat upon, I found a cassette tape titled “Graveyard Shift and Other Stories from Night Shift.” The name on the front was Stephen King. I had, of course, heard the name before, but I knew little else. I did not know that he had penned many of the stories some of my favorite movies were based off upon. That night, I listened to “Graveyard Shift,” “The Man Who Loved Flowers,” and “The Last Rung on the Ladder.” These three haunting stories began my life-long quest into the world of Stephen King, and I have my grandfather to thank for it.
When I first started reading comics, my love of horror on the screen and from the pages of various horror writers (King, Richard Matheson, Edgar Allan Poe, etc.) welcomed, whole-heartedly, horror in the panels. Sandman snared me in its grasp right away, for all reasons I need not explain for they are the same for most. Various Alan Moore works have done the same, especially his run on Swamp Thing, a personal favorite for many on this site. The Walking Dead was the first monthly comic I started buying after I dropped out for a while. DC characters found on the dark side such as Constantine, Swamp Thing, Frankenstein, Deadman, and The Spectre quickly became some of my favorites. Then came Scott Synder’s Severed and, thanks to Patrick, Joe Hill’s Locke & Key. Movies can be easily ruined when the budget is low and they cannot afford to create the right atmosphere with the set or the costumes look like they were bought at Party City. Comics books do not have this problem. Monsters and scenery are brought to life with the stroke of a pencil. Edges of rubber masks are non-existent in comics. However, despite the “unlimited budget,” movies, in my opinion, are able to tell a better horror story than comics. But in the end, it depends on the creative team’s storytelling ability. This is the first time I have given this idea much thought, but my love of comics is deeply rooted in my love for horror. Everything felt in place in the world of comics. The genre, themes, and motifs were the same, but I now had a new medium to explore.