Good evening little devils, I bring you a true life titillating tale of things that go bump in the turbulent world of the 1950's horror comics industry, and if the creepiness of the intolerant and ignorant-minded are the kind that give you the heeby-jeebies then turn back, turn back now!!! For this story isn't for the faint of heart and if you choose to continue, like many of the folks from way back in the day that are heard of in this fascinating but rather scary historic example of what extremist puritanical groups and attitudes are capable of in the right circumstances, you might just lose your head! It begins by skillfully evoking the feeling of what it must have been like to buy and see those gruesome little horror treasures when they first appeared in the 50's. Then it gets down to business and the time period is brought vividly back to life with clips of old footage, stills and newspaper articles, and most importantly numerous panel shots of the grisly works of art themselves, and their luridly-awesome looking covers. So yes, there's obviously a big nostalgia factor even if at the time you were a long way off being born yet! The programme explores the thinking behind the moral panic and the way the people in charge acted. It was driven by the politics of the time, the puritans and the small-minded bigots. A part that I found pretty unbelievable was when they talk about a beautifully-drawn sci-fi comic that was considered controversial not because it involved any gore or scary monsters, but because at the end of it the unseen hero of the story was revealed to be an African American man, which was a big deal at the time. And it's the unpleasant little details like that that show how absurd and crazy the whole thing was in many ways and how amateurishly it was handled. I've read one or two, and although I know that you really have to take into account the historical context to understand the shock that the comics engendered, but looking at them today it makes me wonder how in the hell they were ever considered obscene and dangerous, and I just couldn't get to grips with how something so small and clearly harmless could have fallen foul of the law to such a massive extent. And although they may have succeeded in banishing the comics, in a way the final bit of grim irony was on them, as the fiction that they were so convinced was bringing about the ridiculously vague and dreaded "juvenile delinquency" to the youth of the time was in reality nothing but good clean escapist entertainment that may have in fact been subtly teaching kids that doing something bad is never a wise decision. It captured young impressionable minds in what I'm sure was a mainly positive way that gave them something to focus on, and again probably prevented a lot of kids from wanting to commit any bad behaviour. I guess the people were just so naive and stubborn that they just had to have that one scape-goat and were essentially blind to any of that. Congratulations, you successfully robbed a generation of kids of a small but precious piece of the childhood magic and lore... Bravo(!) Anyway at the end of course it turned out to be a success story for the comics and a great example of what goes around comes around as by being banned, they gained long-lasting infamy, and certain famous authors and directors that loved them as kids grew up to become directors of classic horror anthologies like Creepshow that beautifully embodied and brought to life the E.C. brand of fun and lethal horror, as well as of course one excellent HBO television series. The hard work of those artists and story writers really changed things greatly in the world of horror and in their own significant way they probably even helped to shape the genre as we know it today. To me what's always the most fun about the just desserts ironic horror style in short stories films and TV episodes is that, you know exactly who the villains are, that they've done terrible things and that eventually they're gonna die horribly for it, and that's always the best most juiciest part, the anticipation and suspense of waiting to see just how exactly they're gonna suffer kids! An absolute treat, it's balanced, well made and is truly absorbing stuff for any horror fan. If you have any interest in comic book history or art I encourage you to look it up. I leave you now with the words of Mr. Tom Stoppard; "If you carry your childhood with you, you will never become old..." Bon-voyage, cheers!!
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