It’s no secret that I love horror comics, and that I love EC’s stuff most of all. I own the Gemstone hardback reprints of Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear, and I have Al Feldstein’s autograph proudly displayed on my wall. But EC’s glory days were cut short, and we didn’t see horror anthology comics of that caliber again until Warren launched Creepy, Eerie and later Vampirella. Some of the early Warren issues even feature artists who worked for EC back in the day, making those titles, as far as I’m concerned, the primary inheritors of the EC legacy. The Warren books went through a series of prominent writers, including a fellow by the name of Bruce Jones. Jones is who I wanted to talk about here, because in 1982 he launched a comic called Twisted Tales for the now defunct Pacific Comics. He took the old EC formula and added great heaping dollops of graphic violence and nudity, which probably goes a long way towards explaining the popularity of a handful of issues that turned up at Camp Airy one summer in the early 1990s.
I confess that I was pretty much a coward as a child, and certainly wasn’t a horror fan, but it held a strange fascination for me. I would browse the horror section at the video store, both repelled and enthralled, until I saw or read something that was too scary… but I always came back. Those issues of Twisted Tales held the same allure. I borrowed them from another kid in my bunk and read them cover to cover, even though I knew they’d give me nightmares. And they did give me nightmares, but they also did to my young mind exactly what horror is supposed to do, namely twist my imagination and let me see the world in new, strange, dark ways. And even though Twisted Tales came long after EC, it’s part of the lineage, and so I credit it as my very first signpost towards that company’s wonderful, wonderful body of work.
Kid who brought those fantastic and utterly inappropriate comics to camp, even though I’ve long forgotten your name and face, I thank you and salute you. You helped make my brain the way it is today, and I like it this way.
Twisted Tales is long out of print, but most issues aren’t rare and aren’t too pricey. Of course, you can also find it through the usual channels online, if you know where to look. I won’t say any more. Instead, I’ll just leave you with one of my favorite stories, one that I read at Camp Airy all those years ago and never forgot. From Twisted Tales #7, story by Bruce Jones, art by John Bolton: Holly’s Hobby.