When I was a kid, like most children in my neighborhood, we would camp out. We'd pitch up a tent in either my families yard, or a friends yard. We'd then spend the evening playing board games and looking at pictures of boobies and discussing the female form like we knew what the hell we were talking about. They were good times; innocent times. I'm sure most of you have the same warm memories of your youth, and I'm sure a lot of you fondly remember that looking at boobies and playing games, however excellent, was the least of the fun.
For my motley crew of Goon's, the evenings entertainment only truly began when FINALLY all lights went out in the parents household. The town went quiet, the world went to bed, and the night became ours.
I have so many wonderful memories of the explorations we'd have. We'd often walk mile after mile through the night to make our way to a creepy bone yard, just to tell ghost stories and scare ourselves shitless. We'd sneak around the gardens and yards of our cozy little burb, electric with the energy of apprehension of being caught and our parents being informed of just how demonic their little angels truly were. We'd often meet other like minded adventurers on our outings too, sometimes friends and sometimes foes, and sometimes blood was spilled. Another thing we'd do, was run around town nicking all the magazines from outside the corner shops and newsagents. We'd steal anything we could get our hands on. Not out of maliciousness, (we'd only take one of each), but for the sheer thrill of the act. Like all kids we were little shits. It was on one of these glorious 5am raids that I first came across SCREAM.
We'd done our usual run of the local newsagents and had crept into the nearby graveyard, (very apt), to explore our bounty and see just what we'd pilfered. And on this one occasion there was a comic. The cover had a snarling image of Dracula on it, with a set of plastic fangs attached where his mouth was located. By nine or ten I was already damn near obsessed with horror, so for me, this was Christmas freaking morning! I can remember the thrill and the fear I felt as I read through this, the first ever edition of the Scream Comic. A short lived yet much beloved throwback to the glory days of America's EC comics. It was balls out, beautiful, adult level horror, IN A COMIC FOR KIDS!!! Mum and Dad would never look twice at it, readily assuming it was simply another Beano or Dandy. And of course, back then in the 80's people were a lot more rational than the moral extremists and paranoid lunatics we find living next door in the fear filled 2000's, (thanks mainstream media). This beautiful comic only ran for fifteen issues before it disappeared into obscurity, and later, into a nostalgic haze. And it was wonderful, full of genuinely frightening tales of terror and a cavalcade of spooks, ghouls and killers for youngsters to sink their teeth into. It was a thing of beauty. Great artwork, a respect for its audience and some spine tingling free gifts made it a winner all over Britain.
Alas, we all grew up. We stropped caring about about vampires and werewolves and focused all our thoughts on the female of our species. Seemingly childish things were tossed aside like yesterdays news. It still hurts to think of all the amazing comics and toys I sold as puberty hit me, simply to buy some beers or a new pair of shoes to impress the ladies, ( it never worked anyway). As I got older and realized just how precious these objects are, and how keenly I hold onto the memories attached to them, I felt inevitable regret. Many of the things I loved as a sprightly kid are gone forever. Replaced by illegal wars, vicious taxmen and a whole host of unsavory habits. But sometimes, just sometimes, we get a chance to relive those moments. And thank God/Allah/Buddha and Batman for the Internet. A determined surfer can often find and retain a glimpse of his/her youth, and this is one of mine.
It turns out that my beloved Scream comic has been salvaged, at least in part, by some like minded souls with a taste for nostalgia. There's a somewhat wonderful website out there, where you can relive many of the comics creepy stories, and marvel at the artwork therein. The archives are not complete, but for anyone like myself who grew up with these comics, this is a rare and priceless treat. My personal favorite long running story was THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR, in which a conscious elevator would deal out brutal, horrifying justice to any evildoers who entered its apartment building. I cant describe the fear I felt reading those tales, or the endless sleepless nights they would afford me. One in particular, where three skinheads enter the elevator, wearing tattoos of spiders on their heads, and harassing a tenant of the building, has stayed with me to this day, and may be responsible in part for my incurable arachnophobia. I can still feel the tremor of dread as I think about that issues imagery. And, as we all know, there's something magical about being scared.
This post is a pleasure to write, no matter how brief, as a chance to relive a long-gone boys rights of passage into his lifelong love, is something we should all be so lucky to experience. I miss that kid. He was a good little soul, (despite the stealing), with no baggage and a light heart. This site has allowed me to greet him again, in some small way, and shake his hand....
The link is on the top left of this website. Just click the picture of Dracula from the very first issue and your on your way. Its a brilliant site with links, galleries, and full scans of tales to feast your eyeballs on. For some it'll be a trip down into the darkness and wonders of memory lane. For newcomers, a little insight into how us Scottish/British kids dealt with having no EC comics to steal from our Dads. And as a soon-to-be father who still believes in the power of magic, wonder and yes, fear; I truly hope someday my daughter finds her own Scream Comic, hides it under her bed away from Mum, pull sit out when we go to bed, and cherishes it for all its worth.