At some point I decided that I liked horror comics. Probably because I was heavily influenced by horror movies and TV shows. Soon after the titles hit the stands I discovered Creepy and Eerie Magazines. One day in my dad’s warehouse I saw a copy of Eerie #13. The cover utterly horrified me. In fact, it scared me so much that I almost didn’t bring it home. But I did. I took it into my bedroom with the other stacks of comic books that I was reading–everything from Hot Stuff the Little Devil, to Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Man, and Kirby’s Fantastic Four, and Wonder Woman by Ross Andru, and Magnus Robot Fighter by Russ Manning…well, there was no shortage of comic book titles in those days.
For some reason I waited until it was dark before opening the cover to Eerie #13. These days I cannot recall the contents of that issue, but I vividly remember the cover art. It wasn’t by any of the artists whose styles I had learned to identify. This was something that I didn’t find particularly intriguing or inspiring–it was just pure, nihilist horror. It was also the only copy of a Warren magazine that I can remember having a word balloon on the cover.
But that cover utterly gave me the creeps. I was afraid to allow the cover art to touch my fingers and I ended up folding the page carefully back to keep that from happening. I do remember reading the contents and then initially putting the magazine at the foot of my bed with the cover down. Eventually I turned out the light and fell to sleep.
Sometime in the dark hours I was awakened. I immediately knew why I had come awake. There had been a sound in the night. A ‘PLOP’ sound. As of something having slid insidiously off of my bed to land loudly upon the floor, perhaps in an effort to get away, or to hide, or to sneak up on me.
I turned on the bedside lamp. I looked down at the foot of my bed and there were the comics I’d been reading–Richie Rich and Stumbo the Giant and Classics Illustrated and Spider-Man, Mystery In Space, etc. etc.
But that copy of Eerie #13 was gone.
My heart froze.
Where was that damned cover art?! I’d put it face down because I didn’t want to see it again. And now it was gone.
It had intentionally crept away!
I sat up in bed and looked down at my good comics. I have an image in my head right now of Magnus, Robot Fighter breaking a robot’s metal neck with his steely hand. I had to know where that goddamned copy of Eerie #13 was! So I sat up, crawled out from under the covers, and looked at the floor at the foot of the bed.
The magazine was not there.
I looked a little farther, toward the dresser, and I still couldn’t see it!
Knowing I’d have to lean over the side of the bed into the unprotected zone where monsters could reach up and grab children and drag them into whatever dimension they used to appear under our beds, I began to build up my stupid kid’s courage. The magazine couldn’t be anywhere but right at the foot of the bed on the side below my window. If it hadn’t slipped straight off, then my foot must have knocked it to the left.
I looked down. It wasn’t there.
Now I was more curious than frightened, so I leaned my entire head and shoulders over the side of the mattress and leaned waaaaaaaaaay over and looked down where the copy of Eerie #13 could not possibly be.
And that red-eyed skull face was staring straight back up at me!
My nine-year-old eyes bugged out. My throat constricted so much that not only couldn’t I scream, I couldn’t even choke on my own fear.
Using what courage I could manage, I hopped out of bed, grabbed a big dictionary that I kept on my dresser and I turned that copy of Eerie Magazine face down and covered it with that heavy Webster’s hardback dictionary and weighted that oversized offering of horror pulp to the floor with the help of matter and Mr. Gravity!
There, you damned revenant! Try to get out from under 10,000 years of language!
Strangely mollified by the thought of the big book covering the illustrated horror tales, I climbed back into bed, turned off the light, and managed to go right back to sleep. Zombie out of sight, out of mind.
Over the next couple of weeks I actually forgot all about the copy of Eerie #13 under my bed. I didn’t look to check. Even my mom forget to come in and sweep under there. Then one day I needed my dictionary to look something up (this being the 1960s and not 2019 when you can look up anything on a cell phone or a wifi computer.) I recalled that my Webster’s was under the bed holding down the offending horror magazine which was, I reminded myself, face down. So I reached under with the bright, yellow sunlight streaming through the window and I pushed away the dust bunnies and brushed off the grey layer on the book and picked it up, knowing I’d only see some advertisement on the back of the magazine.
But of course that blood-chilling artwork was staring up at me, those crimson eyeballs staring right into mine.
I rolled up that magazine, put it into a bag with some other comics, and walked into the front of the house where my mom was reading.
“Here,” I said. “I’ve read these. You can take them back to the store and sell them.”
And it worked. I never saw that copy again.
|Scared the crap out o’ me!|