My family lived in the small town of Hudson, IL, from 1966 to 1972.  From about age 4 to 7, my mother would go grocery shopping twice a week or so at the local IGA.  I’d tag along, and mom would put my little sister in the cart.

Following her around while she pored over food choices was boring, so I’d spend the time perusing the comic book rack and the magazine rack.

NOTE: In small towns in the 70’s, nobody cared if a little kid was alone in a store reading whatever comic books/magazines he wanted.  They knew mom was there and the kid’s bored.

I remember at the time, as far as comics, I was into Sad Sack, Little Lulu, Scrooge McDuck, and the occasional Hulk or Spiderman or Batman.  I also liked war stuff like Sgt. Rock.  I usually bought them anyway, so I’d want to wait until I got home to read them.

But the magazine rack was the most intriguing – and freakin’ scary.

The bottom rack shelved the standard stuff (I read Mad and Cracked and Crazy, but usually bought those, too).

But the upper shelf had some pretty wild stuff.  And by “wild” I mean “stomach-churning-holy-shit-graphic-gory.”

I think EC Comics’ Tales from the Crypt was there, and that was one of the tamest.  Here are some illustrated images I remember:


Heads ripped off in extreme detail


Eyeballs popping out and dangling

Werewolves clawing Victorian women to shreds

A sniper shooting people’s heads off

Graphic cannibalism

And LSD party that ends with everyone chopped to pieces

Body parts falling off

Vampirella: nice boobs


I remember seeing all this and being shocked and thinking, “I shouldn’t be reading this,” but it was fascinating.  And I read it every time I was there.

I suppose a therapist would tell me that early exposure to extreme violence warped me somehow.  I just thought it was really cool.  I mean, they had some talented artists who were committed to detail.


Later in life, I was looking forward to seeing my first horror movie.  I was 14, and my friend raved about how scary Halloween was.  So, in October of 1978, we sneaked in to see it.  I was ready for mayhem and buckets of gore, like in those magazines many years ago.

Not the case.  Yes, it’s a groundbreaking horror/suspense movie, but I kept waiting for the head-ripping-offs and disembowelments (those wouldn’t come until a few years later when the slasher craze hit).



FUN FACT: One day my 3-year-old sister grabbed a package of chocolate Ex-Lax from the checkout display stand.  She scarfed it down — thinking it was candy –- before anyone could stop her.

They had to rush her to the hospital to get her stomach pumped.  Stupid girls.