There's a simple answer to this question:
"What's the best comic you've ever read?"
The answer is:
"The one you read when you were ten."
I expect everyone who reads this blog will have a childhood favorite, that comic that stuck with them through the years. Or maybe there's a dozen. Mine was DC's 'Unexpected' issue 202, published in 1980.
Did it terrify me? No, not really. What it did was disturb my young sensibilities. Pretty much everything I had read in horror comics had followed the formula EC had made famous, the twist ending that resulted in eye for an eye justice. The 'big payoff', that final gruesome conclusion where the villains got what was coming to them.
The DC horror covers were famous for the 'kids in jeopardy' motif. The Fantasy Ink blog has a nice post of the Neil Adams 'kids in peril' covers. Sometimes there were even kids as the characters in the stories. However, I had never seen kids murdered in one of these stories. And they weren't even bad kids! Biting off the head of a chocolate Easter bunny is not a bad thing. Biting off the head of a boy covered in chocolate is. This wasn't part of the script... The monster wasn't supposed to eat the kids!
At that tender age I learned that horror (even the comic book kind) is not safe. If we cage Horror and poke it with a stick, we lose our freedom. You see, if we cage anything and stare at it, we lose our freedom, because that cage is not a place we're willing to go. The cage goes both ways.
With that philosophy...
In the next post: