Sunday 6 December 2009

Seduction of the Innocent

A friend of mine recently regaled me with the tale of his attempts to procure a birthday present for his fourteen year old nephew. It wasn't as easy as it might seem as he thought he ought to run the ideas he had past the wee lad's mum.

Eventually they settled on the idea of a computer magazine, but even here doubts arose when he reported back that the magazines in question had a 15 certificate. The problem being that nowadays computer games magazines review products such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Zombies from Hell" (OK I made that last one up but you get my drift) which are rated 15.

I don't know exactly what it was that eventually they decided upon as an appropriate present but it wasn't an easy decision to come to.

Now it might appear that this is taking levels of anxiety regarding tipping children into a variety of personality disorders and even juvenile delinquency as a result of unsuitable stimuli, to an absurd level. However I think that it's a part of human nature that is always with us. There was in the 1950's an epidemic of teenage gun crime in both this country and the U.S. in fact the figures for shootings and the coverage that they were given in the UK media was on a par with the recent rise in knife crime. Scapegoats were needed and in both the U.S. and U.K. there was an outbreak of national hysteria over the prevalence of so called "Horror Comics" on newstands.

Nowadays it's computer games, thirty years ago it was "video nasties", it's a sop for the ever anxious middle classes who just need something they can comprehend as being the root cause for their children kicking off from time to time. And to back up their anxieties they've got constant counselling from the media who's increasing tendency to treat their audiences like a mentally frail herd of sheep is evidenced by announcements such as "viewers may find some of the scenes contained within this report distressing" inevitably followed by "we'll be running a helpline after this report so that viewers affected by these issues can talk to one of our advisors".


So censoring your kids entertainment is not that unusual I suspect, but around the age of thirteen children's brains are in a state of hyper-drive as they go through a process of re-wiring. They are seriously exploring the limits of their boundaries and yes they definitely need to know what the limits of those boundaries are. But a lot of the help they get in assessing those boundaries is not just from mum and dad but it's from their own imaginations. Venturing into the darker regions of fantasy is a natural and important progression for them, without that they are heading for dullsville. It's no accident that film directors such as Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino soaked up horror comics, Hammer films and anything else that their parent's generation would have regarded as being entirely unsuitable.

My journey into all this stuff occurred at around the age of thirteen, when a schoolfriend of mine introduced me to the wonderful world of "The Pan Book of Horror Stories" series. For kids my age these things were fantastic reading and after that we were dabbing modelling floc, a kind of weird fine brown stuff that looked in a poor light almost like stubble, onto our baby faces and trying to pass ourselves as 16 year olds so we could get into our local flea pit to see "Dracula Prince of Darkness" and "Plague of the Zombies".

Halcyon days indeed!

Right now that we're on a horror theme - here's the contest:

The picture below is the first published artwork by a then sixteen year old who was destined to achieve great things in the field of horror and fantasy comics and illustration. The magazine that it appeared in published the artwork in their fan section and several years later the artist concerned was producing some of his greatest work for that magazine.

So I want you to tell me who the artist is.

Lucky first correct response (post it in the comments section so I can see who's first) gets to appear in Cloud 109 with a partner of their choice - could be an S/O or someone either real or fictional you would fancy hanging out with for a panel or two.


  1. Unbelievable James!

    OK You're the winner, so you get to appear with a partner of your choice in the cyber world of Cloud 109.

    The artwork above appeared in Creepy No. 9 and in the original drawing which I adjusted for obvious reasons the tomb stone was inscribed Berni Wrightson and dated December 15th 1965. Wrightson was born October 27th 1948, which would have actually made him 17 when the drawing was done.

    He did some really amazing work for Warren some few years later my three favourites being his adaptation of Poe's "The Black Cat", the truly horrible and compelling "Jenifer" and his adaptation of H.P.Lovecraft's "Cool Air"

    I'll be running some more contests over the run up to Christmas but in the meantime congratulations James!

  2. Darn - I missed my chance to reply to this because a bunch of friends came round for a pre-Christmas day of boardgaming! Mind you, I didn't know Wrightson worked for Warren, so I must have stopped collecting Creepy by then. I'd like to see his take on Cool Air. Shuseko Kaneko's movie version of that (starring David Warner) was really nightmarish, despite the studio's insertion of some annoying shock/splatter FX.

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  4. Good news is Dave that I'm going to be running more of these little brain teasers in the run up to Christmas but in the meantime I'll see about scanning in the pages from Wrightson's "Cool Air". I'd like to run all "Jenifer" and "The Black Cat" too as they are really amongst the best stuff he ever did.

    Apologies (well sort of) to Ms Mercedez but I am afraid this blog is not a platform to endorse whatever it is that you want to sell. The same goes for purveyors of horse liniment, pectoral implants, rubber nipples or even powdered toast - even if it is endorsed with the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

  5. Cool cannot remember the last time I won anything I look forwar to existing in a two dimensional world.

  6. James I'll need your mugshot - email me and we'll get you into the cyber lounge PDQ.

  7. I used to have one comic that had Jenifer and Cool Air in it. I thought it was published in the 90s. Do you know what it might have been called, or who published it?

  8. Hi Eric, I think the comic may well have been the Pacific Comics reprints published under the title "Bernie Wrightson Master of the Macabre". There were five issues in all first appearing in 1984.The issue that carried the "Jenifer" story was issue 2 in the series.

    All the stories were colored for publication in these comics and downloads of all five comics are available at and a further look at them is on the When Comic Books Ruled the Earth Blog.

    On an aesthetic note my personal preference are the uncolored versions which appeared in the Warren mags and are as the artist intended.

    Both "Jenifer" and "Cool Air" have appeared in their entirety on this blog along with "The Black Cat" scanned from the Warren magazines.