Friday, March 11, 2016

Day 1562 - Stephen King and Bernie Wrightson's Creepshow

Truth be told, I've never seen more than 15 minutes of Stephen King and George Romero's Creepshow.  I know I've caught some of it on TV, but that's it.  I did sit through Creepshow 2 more than 25 years ago, and I still remember how bad it was.  It takes a certain kind of movie to leave that indelible an impression.  But today, I'm here to write about the comic book adaptation of Creepshow.

I was either 11 or 12 years old (6th or 7th grade), and one of the kids a grade above me (T.J.) was casually reading Stephen King novels.  As I think about ti now, that was quite a feat for someone who was, at most, 13 years old.  One day, he brought in this graphic novel called Creepshow.  I was a comic book reader at the time, but I knew nothing about the EC horror comics (Tales From the Crypt for example), as I was in full superhero mold at the time.  This comic was making its rounds throughout the classroom when it landed in my hands.

I was not prepared.

This was a comic book that was filled with graphic violence (beheadings, people getting eaten by a monster, and a man full of cockroaches), and profanity.  And I couldn't put it down.  It stopped making the rounds at me.  I was well aware that the comic wasn't mine, and I knew I'd eventually have to give it back to TJ.  But for a brief time, I read that sucker so much that images were permanently burned into my brain. 

Fast forward to tonight.  I now own a copy of Creepshow for myself.  I bought it tonight, and this was the first time I read it at least 32 years.  Some thoughts...

1. It was much shorter than I remember.  King tells five stories in a very short amount of time.  As I've gotten older, and read much, much more, I recognize the style of what he was trying to accomplish, and there's no wasted space.

2. It has only minor profanity.   I don't think it has any of George Carlin's 7 words you can't say on TV.  I've told people that this was my first experience with profanity on the written page, and it was, but I guess I didn't know what I was in for, because the language here is pretty tame all things considered.

3. It's still pretty violent.  An image of a head with candles on top of it, acting like a birthday cake is still startling.  A swamp monster committing suicide - grim.  And the crate monster reveal is still pretty great. 

4. I can appreciate Bernie Wrightson's artwork on a number of levels now.  As a kid, it was serviceable to the story.  Now I can appreciate the artwork itself, as well as the pacing.

5. Until tonight, I never knew that the movie came out before the comic.  I thought it was the other way around.  That's a tidbit I could have lived without knowing.

Reading Creepshow again tonight, after all these years, really brought me back to grade school.  The images that were burned in my mind then, still exist for me today.  They've just come into sharper focus.  Now I just have to find a copy of a story where a guy kicks at a cat, then gets crushed by an iron maiden while the cat licks up his blood.  I read that one in high school. 

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