During this spooky season of terror, let's take a moment to celebrate how we are living on the precipice of global catastrophe and our every action is governed by fear. I mean, we have Nazis and an insecure idiot in control of nuclear weapons. On the other hand, a few generations ago, their Nazis had tanks, and their insecure idiot actually used nuclear weapons. So I thought it might be interesting to learn what terrified late '40s America by looking at the horror comics they read. Because, at the risk of crushing you under my mind's brilliance, I think you can learn a lot about a culture from its culture. And I learned about ...

OH! MAYBE THEY'LL OR.. WATER.. DRIPPING ON RIPOUT MY FNGERNAILSI MY HEAD... SLOWLY... UNTIL THEY COMNG GETME/ OH! TO NO! THE PAIN! THEYRE EACH DROP FE

Your Own Hand!

AY FINGERS -ALIVE! AND THREATENING ME VITH--DEATHT

DIVI- SrOPI! MURDERER' TTIN
"WAIT, CAN YOU EVEN HEAR ME? THIS IS GOING TO SOUND LIKE I'M JOKING, BUT DO YOU SPEAK SIGN LANGUAGE?"

There were a lot of variations on the murder hand. Sometimes an evil limb would kill other people because they knew no one would believe a ghost hand story from the guy whose fingerprints are on 50 dead necks. Other times, instead of taking control of your hand, little men would form on it and torment you. And it wouldn't be that unusual for a hand to sneak off and solve its own murder while you slept.

DOCTOR JOHNSTONE STARED DOWN INTO THE BLACK AN EXCRUCIATING PAIN WHIPPED THROUGH JOHNSTONE'S HOLE BEFORE HIN! THEREIN THE SLIMY WER SOIL RIGHT ARM! TH
This is why the very, very first question your hand transplant doctor asks is "Did you cut this hand off a guy you murdered?"

I don't think these similar evil hand stories came from laziness or creative bankruptcy. They were all heartfelt iterations on an idea everyone agreed was bone-chilling enough to be imagined a thousand different ways. I guess when you're away at war or at home reading a comic book, an out-of-control hand is both a physical danger and a betrayal by your only lover. Holy shit, it's an enemy with your exact strength that knows your most carefully guarded dick, nose, and ass secrets!

EACH LUMP... HAS BECOME A FACE... STRANGLE QUIET f THE FACES OF THE NATIVES I KILLED.. THE FACES THAT HAVE BEEN YOURSELF DO YOU HAUNTING ME IN MY AS Y
"And also, hey! Hey! Make love to yourself as you made love to me!"

It occurs to me that most of you reading this have probably never seen an actual horror comic book. They used to be super popular, but when the Comics Code Authority formed in 1954, it basically made the entire genre illegal. Among many other things, the code outlawed "gory crimes," "gruesome illustrations," and the words "horror" or "terror" in any comic's title. So I'm going to do something that's going to sound crazy at first. I'm going to stop this list of weird things comic readers used to be afraid of and start a whole new list of understandable things comic readers used to be afraid of, to help you get a baseline idea of what the average horror comic was like. It's going to confuse a few dumbasses, but not you, expert world wide web surfer! See you in nine entries!

FUUCK! RAISINA FUCK! HAIR LIST! BOnu SHILITI Hssssss. 9 PRETUY NORMAL THINGS OUR GRANDPARENTS SEEMED VERY AFRAID OFM!

Unwanted Metamorphosis!

THE WATER...IT CALLS/ NEED IT... MY GOD!HES BEING CHANGED INTO A MONSTER-CRAB LIKE THEM. I MUST GO TO IT.! LOSING OW CAN'T My NOICE: NO ONLY WALK GQAW

In the '40s, most people's understanding of science was limited to how many cigarettes it takes to shut up a wife. And judging by how frequently they wrote about it, they seemed to think there was a solid chance you could suddenly turn into a bug or a fish for no reason right before the end of a story.

Space Aliens!

WATCH. ounv CAN YOU EVER APPRECIATE SUCH A MAGNIFICENT DECEPTION2

How much time should you spend worrying about shapeshifters coming from space to eat you? Probably not none, but close to that, right? Judging by their comics, the average person in 1945 would answer that question with a gun to your head and the last words you'd ever hear: "Nice try, Beezborp, but a real human would know better than to joke about impendin' Mars Communism!"

Ironic Vengeance!

PLEASE LET WE Go! AAAA NO. OON'T! 3 eR.e : THE END

In Golden Age horror, there was no cause of death more common than a poetic Twilight Zone revenge slaying. For instance, if someone drove over a mailman, it would end with them getting squashed into a package by a ghost and mailed to Hell. All fates were governed by this spine-chilling, elegant logic. If you were a Soviet fishmonger poisoning pets, poisoned fish would pet your Soviets. Speaking of confusion, horror comics' insatiable appetite for deadly wordplay accidentally killed a lot of innocents. People got maimed due to using phrases like "lose my head" or "give my right arm," and at least one scientist was hugged to death for the crime of teaching a robot how to love.

BUT THE ROBOT CANNOT STOPI THE ROBOT'S DYNAMO AND A SPLIT SECOND BEFORE JOHN HLIMS A LOVE TUNE/ITS FEDER LOSES CONSCIOOSAED! HE MASSIVE ARMS KEEP REAL
"I FORGOT (GASP!) HE CAN FEEL LOVE"

Paintings!

AAAGhtu ia SE HE DONC ow 4ND NOHE NIAES AIEEGHH R SOE Dde FNE n WAY CHA MA CTIIN EEYA

There's no such thing as an ordinary painting in a horror comic. It's 100% going to come to life or trap the artist inside it or spit out monsters. Now that I think about it, this is probably why demon and vampire ladies always have such hot naked bodies -- the men drawing them grew up being warned they could get sucked into their own art at any time. "Oh NO. The forces of darkness. Are they pulling me into my own painting? Oh no, I'll be trapped. Trapped! Trapped in the clutches of Ravynn Footjobika!"

Puppets!

MY EVES! THEY'R iLL PUPPERTSS WNA- PEAINO CANT COMING FOR MY EVES: KILL! BACK: BACK you DEVILS. BACK! Ouof TME TREOR SADOARD OAE OLN N E g AT NE Fey M

To this day, getting stabbed is a reasonable concern when meeting a new puppet. But death by doll was an extremely common way to die in the '40s and '50s. And if you ever find yourself in a Golden Age horror comic and you meet a ventriloquist, let me spoil the ending: He's the actual puppet, and his puppet has already murdered you. I'm not really strong with puns, but it goats to show the real dummy was ewe all a-lamb!

I SCREAMED WITH THE HORROR OF IT ALL, AND THE LAST THING I REMEMBER As I TURNED AND RAN OUT INTO THE CLEAR CLEAN AIR, WAS THE BROKEN FIGURE OF THE WOO
"Witness ventriloquism's only true law with your dying eyes," hissed every puppet.

Trees!

YAAAC'CAN'T --BREATHE! UNNNNNNNI m

It must have been hard for writers to come up with new horrifying tales every month. Of course, we'll never know, since every horror comic ever written included at least one story about a spooky tree that grabbed people to death. It sounds like an easy enemy to avoid, but think about it. It would take at least a couple dozen victims before any of them said something other than "Weird, another dead body. Hey, this is going to sound crazy, but I wonder if this tree- AAACK!"

The Obese!

NO! HELP- DON'T! I'LL SHOW YOU! FAT MAV STEAL MY LAND HAN- HLIH HA- HA- THAT RIGHT TRAV HE Src

Today you can order a chicken breast on your phone, and someone will bring you a 30-pound slab of juicy breaded meat with seven sides of mayonnaised corn syrup. If you wanted a similar meal 70 years ago, you had to steal a wedding cake, chase down 15 tiny-tittied hens, and tenderize their gamy meat for an hour. In the '40s, trying to get fat was the most effective way to burn calories. Scientists call this the Hot Dog Paradox. The point is, the obese were once strange, unique creatures to be feared, and fat people in horror comics could only be two things: loudly hungry and strangling you.

Evil Children!

NO. NO: HEHHEH!I TOLD Too IT you THEY WOULD AURCE EFFO TONIGAT HELP ME! ow you

If you're a parent, you know children accidentally smash something into your groin or eye several times a day. So it is a little terrifying to think, "What if a child wanted to kill me?" Apparently, everyone was worried they were going to give birth to a devil baby in the '40s. This trope could also be the result of comic writers maturing and thinking, "Sure, trees and fatties are scary, but you know what's really chilling? Responsibility." And then after a quick rewrite, "Werewolf responsibility holding a gun."

Women!

THERE! LOOK AT ENOUGH NO! ITs TO YOUR NO! OH.. NY REAL FACE! SCARE ANYONE... WIFE! No-0-01 EXCEPT..

There wasn't a lot of romance in horror comics. Creators wrote female characters as if every woman they ever met said, "All the real men are in France killing the Nazis. Is that why you stayed here to make goblin cartoons?" What I mean is that most women are hate-murdered on the first page, and the ones who survive are just the worst. For instance, here's an ordinary wedding night in a horror comic:

THERE, BELOVED HUSBAND AND NERE 15 AND MY GLORIOUS ANO 'M A AKE.' TAKE 15 THE HAIR YOU ADORE MY FLASHING SHAPE! I'S ALL A LOOK AT WHAT YOU'RE IN POR!
Or I guess an ordinary date in a '90s standup routine.

A horror comic woman would lock a man into marriage, only to reveal her true form of at best a much uglier woman, or more likely a lizard monster from space. If you learn nothing else from this analysis of classic pop culture, it's that nerds have always feared the deadly powers of women above all else. The famous closing words from the parable in Adventures Into Weird Worlds #18 said it best: "Lolez of Zorz is real, Craig! And remember ... you can never, never leave her."

BUt LOLEZ oF ZORZ IS REAL, CRAIG! AND REMEMBER... YOU CAN NEVER, NEVER LEAVE HER! KISS ME, MY SWEET! P' THE END
Remember, Craig! Remember!!!

YOU CAN GO NO DID FFURTHER ! YOU IT! OKAY, BACK TO THE ORIGNAL LIST OF WEIRD, NOT NORMAL, THINCSIIM!

Oh, They Were a Monster This Whole Time

YOU ARG MY GREATEST WH-WHAT YOU ARE EXPERIMENT. JOE! ARE YOu A ROBOT! YOU ARE NOT THE SAYING... HUMAN BEING you THINK YOU ARE.. THE END

I'm glad you're back. Now that you're an expert on the ordinary, let's talk more about the strange and really stupid. First, picture a night out with friends. Your activities aren't noteworthy, nothing unusual continues to happen, all of them are robots THE END. That's the story structure of at least 25% of all horror comics. A whole lot of very average things happen, and then in the very, very last panel, someone would scream, "I'M A VAMPIRE!" It's the kind of thing that would be an unlikely twist in a romance novel or a safe sex pamphlet, but it was invariably at the end of a story called "THIS WIFE ... THIS VAMPIRE!" in an issue of Unexpected Vampire Tales.

YES: I'M A YES. DR. REED! 1 AM THE VAMPIRE! VAMPIRE:! THE COFFIN IN THE CELLAR IS MINE! 1 FEASTED LAST NIGHTAND TONIGHT I SHALL FEAST AGAIN..ON YOUr Y
Well, only one panel left! I guess this story doesn't have any chills or terror in- HOLY FUCKING SHIT! V-VAMPIRES!?

Most of the stories seem like they were desperately changed at the last minute by confused creative teams. "One more panel and Strange Romances In Fantasy Worlds #9 is ready to go to the pri- what? This is for Weird Journeys Into Horror Crypts!? Fuck fuck fuck. OK, I've got it. Instead of Alicia earning the love of the king, he was a werewolf the whole time?"

As ALICIA'S HE SPOKE.HE TURNEO. AND ALICLA CRINGED r OVERWHELMING HEART SANK MOMENTARILY.FOR THE KING HAD HORRORLFOR SHE saw BY THE *ING'S HAIRY FNCE.

It's a truly lazy writing technique, but never lazier than in Adventures Into Terror #3, when a werewolf story ends without showing anyone actually turn into a wolf. Instead it cuts to an exterior shot of a building and spends 52 words reasoning how the villagers probably turned into dog monsters and ate some guy.

COME, YOUNG SIR. YOU ARE WE WILL TAKE DAVID CABOT WAS SEEN NO MORE. BUT THE VILLAGERS OF HURTIBUT BE ASSURED WE GOOD CARE FRONTENAC SAY THAT WHEN THE
"Trust us, reader. There's a decent chance they ended up being foul, flesh-rending beasts!"

It's obviously not super terrifying to get all the scary information after everything has already happened. It's sort of like finding out you've been live-streaming your viewing of Sad Anal Teen Squirters. Or maybe it's closer to sharing your pitch-perfect recital of Eddie Murphy's first album with new friends, and being told the next day you were at a gay wedding reception. Actually, wait, maybe this can be a really effective horror technique. Although it might need more nuance than some random character saying, "Oh yeah, before we go, I'm the Devil."

IV NAB NO--MO-.NO! FEEEARAHH! you WENT TOO FAR TMIS T SATAN! THLI NOT m'e TIME you tOL SOME- FRIENO! AG GATAL BDY FL5E'S BLIND yo Gemea: SATAN!! DATE.

Another thing that really complicated these stories was how they were mainly set in worlds where everyone knew what was up. Most TV and movies you're used to take place in universes without TV and movies, so characters may not even know what vampires or ghouls are, much less how to deal with them. It wasn't like that in horror comic books. They knew where they lived and what lurked there. If someone walked past a mirror without casting a reflection, the slowest person in the room was already pulling out a wooden stake. As soon as someone shouted how they were a robot or a demon, everyone was like, "OK, sure. That happens here all the time. Three of my cousin's kids came out Devil."

And since any werewolfery was immediately met with suspicion, the writers had to add more and more twists to these already stupid, pointless twists. For instance, if William is acting strangely, Margie might think he's a ghost, then speculate that he's a vampire, and then directly accuse him of being a wolfman.

DON DE WVLEANAF wHY WULLIAAAP WHATIs CERTAINLY NCALIU NeY Ne BSUIT DONIT IGHTEINEO T THes WRON07 I BECALIGE e NOTT. you YOUIRE AG AN ALOREE QUESTIONS
"YOU'RE A MUMMY! A TOILET SALAD! YOU'RE A CENTAUR! OH, WILLIAM! IF YOU'RE A TOILET SALAD, YOU HAVE TO TELL ME!"

So soon, the standard twist evolved from someone yelling "I'm a surprise monster!" to their victim yelling "I'm a different kind of monster who kills you, the first kind of surprise monster!" And when the stories were only five pages long, this meant the nesting doll of twist endings often had to start before anything resembling a plot. They were nothing more than creatures surprising less patient creatures until everyone except one was dead and- oh shit, you're probably curious what William ended up being. Well, I am truly excited to share with you that Margie was only off by a little bit. William isn't a ghost, vampire, or werewolf. He's a regular guy ... with a gorilla for a father! Dun dun DUUUUNNNNN!

YOUIE SACRIFICED YOUR r PROMISED AFTER ALL... YEE AND I'M PROUD TO WHOLE LIFE TAKING CARE MOTHER YOUAXE MY HAVE A SON A6 GoOD OF ME... AND YOUIVE NEVE
I repeat: Fucking dun DUN DUUUUUUUUUUNNNNN!

This Unpleasant Shit Could Happen To YOU!

ALL RIGHTI DON'T. BELIEvE IT!IT'S JUST ANOTHER I SAID I WAS RIGHT BEHIND yOu. WAITING. WATCHING. STORY EH IT'S NOT TRUE.. ALL THIS IVE BEEN BECAUGE YO

Virtually every horror title featured three or more stories each issue, and when you only have a few pages to introduce a haunted bow tie, establish its spinning secrets, and then send it on a killing spree, you're going to find yourself out of space long before you've found a way to make it relatable or scary. But there is a secret technique known only to every single horror comic writer who ever lived. If your story is too dull to terrify, all you have to do is have a character turn to the reader and warn them that all the fictional nonsense they're finding so uninteresting and silly ... could happen to THEM!

YOU'RE- RIGHT! NOT AFRAID.. BUT you SHOULD BE! THERE IS A FULL you SEE- GETMY PREY FROM MOoN, ISN'T THERE-: DOUBTERS LIKE yOU! BUT YOU'RE NOT AFRAID!
Gasp!

These ridiculous endings are fundamentally backwards from how fiction is supposed to work. You want the reader to care about the characters before the terror happens. It doesn't work if you kill a bunch of people who don't exist with a thing that couldn't exist, and then the only chance of relating to it is if you believe comic books might come to life. It's like jumping out of the shadows and saying, "Excuse me. I'm sorry for bothering you, but imagine if instead of saying 'Excuse me,' I had been some sort of monster going RARRGH. You can't prove it's impossible that will ever happen, and I thank you for your time."

You GLORY BE!A SKELETON GASP.. SAINS PROTECT REMEMBER AT THE CONTROLS OF WiLL Y'LOOK AT THE THE STORIES FROSTS TRAIN THING! WHAT IS IT-- iN THE NEWS-
Why should I care if a skeleton drives a train? Oh, because my neighbor might be a skeleton. OK.

Telling a reader the thing from the story is trying to get them in real life is not a very complicated narrative technique, which makes it even dumber when writers fuck it up. Lots of them tried to use this ending for stories where it made no sense. Like, say there was an ornate mask that gave you deadly powers. Wouldn't it be terrifying if ... YOU bought it?

ATANY RATE..SOMETIMES I WONDER! WHERE IS THE BEAUTIFUL, DEADLY MASK OF MEDUSA? WHO WAS THE PERSON WHO BOUGHT IT--AND WHO HAS ITNOW22 DOES IT BELONG, P
What? No. No, I didn't buy the beautiful, deadly mask of Medusa. I ... what?

Sometimes the threats were so mild that they barely seemed worth mentioning.

BEWARE, YOU HUMANS! THE RATS ARE GOING TO TAKE OVER THE WoRLD! WE CAN WAIT BIDE OUR TIME! BUT THE DAY OF THE RATS WILL COME! YOU'LL SEE- FON #b# 99*78
Thanks for the warning, shirted rat!

Other times, they seemed to forget the medium they were working in and tried to set up cinematic jump scares. Ignoring how this type of ending is entirely expected, it's not exactly startling when ...

... BEES! You're safe, but perhaps next time, it won't be the mere word "bees," but a swarm of real bees! Perhaps that time is ...

... NOW!

BUT IT ALWAYS WINDS UP THE SANE WAY RENENBER MY WARN- ING! CALL THE POLICE! REMEMBER... MY NEXT VICTIN MAY E... yo.!
His next victim could be ... oh, I wonder what he's going to sa- AAAAAH! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!

By far my favorite fourth-wall-breaking endings were the ones where they didn't warn of your impending doom, but asked if you'd be into it. Like, instead of saying, "Beware the next sandwich you make, for it may host MUSTORD, DUKE OF TANG," the narrator would ask, "Do you think you'd enjoy being killed by a sandwich? Bye!" It's the best. Let me show you what I mean. These are actual panels professional writers ended their stories with:

THAT HAPPENS. IT HEH! WHEN HEHY WILL HAVE NO MORE USE WOuLD YOu FOR ME! IT WILL TAKE ME LIKE TO BEE BACK I WHAT CAN I DO? EATEN ALIvE I DON'T WANT TO
It's quite a spooky thing to think about, isn't it?

MINUTES ARE PASSING! THOSE MEN MuST BE CLOSE AT HAND, FRANTICALLY WAITING FOR THE BEAM TO GO ON AGAIN! BUT IF I TURN IT ON, THE MONSTERS WILL PURSUE T
I mean, would you let aliens through the beam if your face was temporarily melted? ANSWER THE IMPOSSIBLE QUESTION, COWARD.

AHHH. HAVE yOU EVER SPIDERS! TRIED FATING HE REALLY SPIDERS PICKED SOUNDS NAUSEATING. CHOICE ONES! DOESNIT IT ? BUT ACTUOLLY-TO MY TASTE- THEYTRE NOT
"Spiders! Crunchy and delicious spiders! What was I talking about? Oh yeah, The End!"

Plumbing!

AGOGOGAAAAAYE THE WEIRO PATTERN SEEMED To 7sT AND REVOLVE NALL OIRECTION MAKING THE/ HEADS SPIN- THE FAUCET DRIPPED IN A STEADY INCESg- ANT RHYTHM! IN

I'm not a plunger historian, so I'll never be certain why, but judging by their comics, few things petrified our grandparents as much as plumbing. People drowned in bathtubs, or were driven mad by the sound of dripping faucets. If you put a man under a leaky pipe in a horror comic, the water torture would break his will in seconds. It wasn't uncommon for a story to feature a haunted blood pool that did absolutely nothing except kill people dumb enough to jump in it.

WELL, HERE GOES! IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE t HAD A NICE A FEW SECONDS LATER SOME. ENOY REFRESHING SWIM! THING FLOATS TO THE SURFACE IT WHL E OF THE
"It's weird that your pool is filled with blood, but I could sure go for a swim!"

Here's a fun fact about the Greatest Generation: Those goddamn maniacs produced more than zero stories about swimming pool skeletons.

The MURDER PO POOL POOL OF SKELETONS THE Oy NE A FAALLCUS UCEKEND Hnm Agry NIT INSTEAD oe LAVY TURE DET INILAD oe LAUGHITES. VRS WM TUE GATTLB o GHONT
"INSTEAD OF GAYETY THERE WAS DEATH ..."

Every now and then, murder pools weren't so much haunted as they were filled with poison by murderers. This meant they had to buy 30,000 gallons of dangerous chemicals without anyone noticing, lure their victims to a pool party, then hope they let their guard down next to the open pit of bubbling toxins. People used to be so afraid of water that a murder weapon as comically absurd as all that became a recurring theme.

AAGH-H-H!! INITO THE POOL OF THE SKELE- TONSNJARVIS! THERE'S ENOUGH OE MY PRECIOUS FORMUILA TO DESTROY. ANY OTHER ENEMIES I MAY HAVE TO/ T
"AND TO THINK, I ALMOST JUST BOUGHT A KNIFE!"

Of all the water-based slayings that happened through the years, none are more spectacular than this one from Vault Of Horror #23. It brings me great pleasure to show you a shower's incredible victory over man. Witness Ernie as he foolishly lifts a soapy hand to rub his itchy eyes!

WITH THE TEMPERATURE O SUDDENLY, ERNIE'S EYES BEGIN THE SHOWER SPRAY TO HIS TO ITCH! FOOLISHLY. HE LIFTS LIKING. ERNIE BEGINS TO SOAP A SOAPY HAND TO
"OOWWWWWWWW!"

Once Ernie has soap in his eyes, it's all downhill from there. The suds somehow shut down every single part of his brain except the part for describing how hard you're fucking up out loud and to yourself.

THE SOAP IN HIS EYES IS LIKE ACID THE PAIN IS EXCRUCIATING ERNTE DROPS THE BAR BLINDED, ERNIE FUMBLES FOR THE FAUCETS! OF 30AP REACHING FOR THE FAUCET
"OH LORD! NOW I'M DOING THIS OTHER DUMB THING!"

The ordinary shower continues its domination over Ernie, who can't figure out how to get soap out of his eyes or himself out of a shower. There are five-year-olds in Flint, Michigan who take less damage from showers than Ernie.

FRAMTICALLY. ERNTE REACHES THROUGH THE CRNIE TURNS. STILL NOT ABLE TO SEE. AND 9CALOIMO STREAM OF WATER. TRYING TO FIND REACHES FOR THE STALL SHOWER 0
"OWWW! DRAT IT! IT'S TOO HOT!"

What's so remarkable about this story is the sheer amount of time this shower spends beating Ernie's stupid ass. Most horror comic deaths happen in one panel -- a quick stab or a choke and it's over. But here, three out of the five pages are devoted to one guy getting the shit kicked out of him. On top of the visuals, he shrieks about each new thing while a narrator also describes it. Three different storytelling methods are simultaneously dedicated to explaining how lethally bad Ernie is at showering.

ERNIE LAYS SPRAWLED ON THE SMOOTH FLOOR OF THE SOALDING SHOVER OF HOT WATER POURS DOWM THE STALL SHOWER. HIS RIGHT LEG MORRIBLY DIS- UPON THE CRUNPLED
Come on, Ernie. I mean, for Christ's sake.

Ernie complains, "MY LEG! IT'S BROKEN!" but the artist hates Ernie so much that he drew him with two perfectly intact legs.

RNIE. HIS EYES TORTURED WITH THE BURNING SOAP SLOWLY. THE STEAMING WATER BEGINS TO FILL UP THE SUDS... HIS LEG PAINFULLY BROKEN..THE SCALDING STALI SH
Ernie, what are you doing, man?

No man can escape the terror of a shower handle not being in the very first place you try, and that includes Ernie. He bravely dies screaming like a bitch, and we should never forget the wisdom of his final words: "OOWWWWWWWW! MY EYES! THEY'RE BURNING! OH LORD! THAT'S THE COLD WATER I'VE SHUT OFF! OWWW! DRAT IT! IT'S TOO HOT! MY EYES! MUST GET OUT OF HERE ... YAAAAAAAAAAH! MY LEG! IT'S BROKEN! I ... I CAN'T GET UP! EEEEEEAAAAAAGH! H-E-L-L-L-P! FOR GOD'S SAKE ... I'M GOING TO DROWN! A-A-A-G-L-U-G-G-G-G-G ..."

ITN ONE LAST PAIN-WRAGKED VHEN THE SUPERINTENDANT EFFORT ERNIE TRIES TO TET UP... INVESTIROTED THE COMPLAINT BUT MIS BROKEN Lem GOLLAPSES THAT THE CEI
"A man is dea- whoa! THAT SOAP IS CLOGGING THE DRAIN!"

Unchokable Enemies!

NOT. ME.. DESTROY NUMANS ARGHHH' H-HURRY... ORAN

Among all beasts, machines, creatures, and space aliens, the most common form of horror comic murder was bare-handed strangulation. Maybe it's because it's the easiest cause of death to draw, but they only sold two kinds of sympathy cards from 1948 to 1954. One said, "Sorry you lost someone to choking," and the other said, "Sorry you lost someone to choking" without skateboarding Garfield.

NO,NO, THE STORM GOT NO, WORSE. Na DON'T AND DON'TI KILL PLEASEII I cANrt DONIT WANT BREATHE ha SORRY! TO DIE-. AGAGH! PLEASE LET ME LIVE. AAGHI T-ICA
The one without skateboarding Garfield was seen nearly as an insult.

If someone wanted something dead, their first and only instinct was to wrap their hands around its neck and squeeze. So any enemy who happened to be windpipeless was unthinkably impossible to kill. This could mean spirits, robots, and even most puppets or jelly monsters. You probably get it, but for an example, here's some poor asshole named Lee who has to go up against a skeleton. He knows it's a skeleton, isn't bothered it exists, and he never panics, but his only ideas to kill it are choking it and choking it. And neither one works.

WHY, YOU ATTLEBONES, . BUT CHOKING CAN'T HURT I'LL CHOKE YOU.. AND ME! I NO LONGER HAVE A CHOKE YOU... WINDPIDE -- BUT YOU DO... TOO BAD, LEE..
"THIS IS BULLSHIT -- AND BULLSHIT!"

Like the kung fu, Godzilla, and Mega Man genres, one of the most satisfying elements of horror is watching the heroes try different shit against the monster until they figure out which one defeats it. There simply wasn't time for this in the five-page story format of Golden Age comics. The victim got one shot at killing the monster, and if the secret wasn't squeezing its throat, they died.

STOP' STOP' W-WHY -AIEEEEE! Y-YOU YES WAS AN OLO MAN! AND CAN'T I SQUEEZE YOUR ARE A THE NEW CUSTODIAN OE THE THROAT WITH MY DEAD BEING DEAD WAS DESIG
"W-WHY CAN'T I SQUEEZE YOUR THROAT WITH MY HANDS? STOP!!"

HAVE CREATED AdGEE A DEVILA A FIEND! I'LL DESTROY YOU! w
"W-WHY WON'T THIS PUPPET DIE OR SHUT THE FUCK UP? STOP!"

There were some less common but more fun variations on this idea, like monsters immune to bullets ...

FOR AN INSTANT ZER STAREO IA INCREDULITY AT CAN'T KILL ME, THF GROE SOUE TITAN. THE VERY SGHT OF THE THIVO MOMENTARILY TFRROR. GOOK I WAS M BUT THEN T
"Y-YOU NO D- HOLD ALL HORSE, WHAT THE FUCK YOU JUST CALL TO ME?"

... or teapots:

DICK, EVERYBODY IS YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER LOOKING Ar YOU! ME! I'LL GO ON MAKING STOp SHOUTING  NEWS IN MY OWN WAY! EEEEE!
"DICK! EVERYBODY IS LOOKING AT YOU! EEEEE!"

Still other creatures would show up completely immune to alarm clocks:

BARNEYS RAGE OVERCAME HIS FEAR. GET OUT OF HERE AND FOOLISH CREATURE! STOP HAUNTING ME, OR REMEMBER. YOU ARE I'lL... AAAAR, IT DIGGING YOUR OWN SAILED
"STOP HAUNTING ME, OR I'LL ... AAAAR."

Men of the Greatest Generation were haunted by fiends immune even to pipe wrenches to the dick, for their dicks were already dead:

MEVER THERE IS NO TURNING BACK. AND WE WIL'L MEET AGAIN, I ACCEPT THE HUGO MORRISEY/ CONSEQUENCES I
"I ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES!"

We're going to be here all day if I keep posting pictures of ghosts getting wrenches ineffectively thrown at their dicks, so let's move on to something we can all agree on.

Sex! With Gorillas!

SAYE ME-. PLEASE!! EEEEE:

As I was researching this article, I found a truly deranged number of gorilla stories. At first it seemed like a mistake. Why were so many gorillas in horror comics? They're frightening, but not "racist ghost immune to bullets" frightening. Were they so plentiful back then people were worried they'd be ape-dismembered on their way to buying hernia support belts and cocaine toothache drops? Are gorillas endangered today on purpose?

The sheer abundance of gorilla horror stories was strange enough, but I soon noticed most of them were centered around the gorillas using their ape strength and cunning to have sex with humans. So, and this is a very intimate look into my creative process, I changed my research notes from "Gorillas?" to "***GORILLAS FUCKING." Let's talk about it.

NEVER! I'VE FAINTED. POOR CHILD! FALLEN IN LOVE BUT SHE'LL GET USED WITH HER, DOCTOR TO ME IN TIMES you CAN'T PREVENT THATI OHHH.. W
You can't prevent love, doctor.

These comics were all written decades before Dian Fossey or Jane Goodall had ever met an ape, so the writers' main source of primate knowledge came from King Kong and going to the zoo to watch a cigar-smoking chimpanzee die. It's not their fault the only thing they knew about gorillas was how they wanted to get all three centimeters of their tiny penises into what must have seemed like the unwieldily massive vaginas of humans. You also have to remember that sex was not some casual thing in the 1940s, even for apes. Sport fucking wasn't invented until 1964, when your mama saw Country Joe and the Fish at the Cow Palace. This meant that almost every gorilla sex story had to start with a gorilla marriage story.

WHAT A HANDSOME COUPLE YOU MAKE YOU WERE DESTINED TO BE MATES! SHe 15 YOURS. CHONGA TAKE HER FOR YOUR WIFE!
"She is yours, Chonga!"

I need to strenuously stress how strange this is. In this art form's peak era of popularity, it was totally normal to open a horror comic book and find half of it dedicated to a gorilla marrying an unwilling blonde woman. It's like learning that Bonanza made 70 episodes set on the moon, or finding out that every fifth baseball card from the 1949 MLB season was nothing but a picture of baked beans. How is this not the only thing we talk about?

6 Weird Things That Terrified Our Nerd Grandparents
It's so fucking weird, is my point.

This was all weird for the people in these stories, too. Characters in horror comics easily rolled with it when they ran into vampires, werewolves, robots, or aliens, but horny apes always caught them off-guard. They were the thing too crazy for their crazy universe. Watch how this ape steals a scientist's daughter to be his wife, and the scientist shrieks, "MARRY HER! YOU CAN'T! YOU'RE AN APE!" Note how he doesn't scream, "GIVE ME BACK MY DAUGHTER!" That's because a gorilla marriage was a more notable violation of his universe's laws than "Do not kidnap and molest my daughter."

Now IT WAS I'M GOING TO MARRY HER DOCTOR MARRY YOUR You CAN'T! KRASS' TURN DAUGHTER! YOU'RE AN TO KNOW THIS WILL BE APE! TERROR.. YOUR PAYMENT THE INS
"I'd actually like to keep my daughter, but more importantly, you'll destroy the sanctity of marriage!"

This story from Weird Chills #1 really demonstrates how much this dominated the literary landscape of the time. It tells the story of the union between ape and woman ... a love so forbidden it drives men mad! A godless wedding party of beasts witness a wicked park ranger join two interspecies souls! And they didn't call this tale "Holy Pri-matrimony!" or "I Now Pronounce You Husband And DEAD!" No, it was all so default that they called it "The Gorilla." I guess it's sort of like naming your film Squirters. You're done. The audience knows exactly what to expect already, and adding more words is just being self-indulgent. Get over yourselves, producers of Sad Anal Teen Squirters.

HGORILLA NOA PBONOUNCE yOU STOP! YOU CAN'T Do THIS MAN AND- IS INSANE! STATE OGICAL toola Z0L PARK 7 GUARO
THIS WAS OUR GRANDPARENTS' GENERIC! THIS!

It's obviously troubling that gorillas kidnapping humans for sex was so common, but it took very specific things to scare a generation of people whose top hobbies were black lung and German artillery. And I don't know if this will make your discomfort worse or better, but when you swap the genders in an ape-human romance story, the gorilla skips past the marriage and gets straight to the action.

PLEASE DO NOT STRUGOLE, NO, LEAVE ME ALONEI BELOVED. I DONIT WANT I CAN'T STAND TO HARM YOU, BUT I IT! T'AAAGH! SHALL NOT BE DENIEDI
THIS WAS OUR GRANDPARENTS' GENDER-SWAP REBOOT! THIS!

Seanbaby is a comical funnyman and survivor of nearly 100 showers. Follow him on Twitter, or play his critically acclaimed mobile game Calculords.

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