Not every Monster Kid grew up in the era of the Universal and Hammer horror classics. For some Monster Kids, those things were already old when they themselves were still young.
Just the other day, on October 1st, StrangeKidsClub.com released the second issue of its sickly-but-sugary four-color offshoot, Strange Kid Comix. And, boy howdy, it is some gooood shit!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with StrangeKidsClub.com (what the hell is the matter with you?!?), be advised: it’s more of a rainbow-colored barf bag than a straight-up website, riddled with gooey, undigested chunks of gleefully repugnant, slimeball splatstick nostalgia. It’s a wretched repository for all the affectionately remembered artifacts of Modern Moster Kid youth.
These aren’t necessarily the fond reminisces of wizened Ackermaniacs who were raised on Karloff and Cushing. These are kids from a few generations laters. Think of the nasty li’l rugrats who grew up in the 80’s and early 90’s, mixing their Count Chocula, Frankberry, and Boo Berry all together in the same bowl for breakfast, then plopping down in front of the TV to take in movies like Ernest Scared Stupid and Night Of The Creeps or an old Scooby Doo rerun, or playing video games like Zombies Ate My Neighbors and the old school Splatterhouse. The kind of weirdos who collected Madballs, plastered Garbage Pail Kids stickers over everything, voraciously devoured every new RL Stine book, and snuck downstairs after bedtime to watch Tales From The Crypt on HBO.
Now those kids are grown up, but they refuse to let go of the arcane iconography that made them the morbid-minded horror addicts that plague the world today. Thankfully, some of those kids are now contributing members of society. Still, the contributions they provide admittedly have a distinct, grossout creature feature flavor. It’s a flavor not unlike the tart, sweet-and-sour edible slime that might come with a plastic novelty toilet toy. Mm-mmm, good.
One such contributor is artist David Hartman, whose memorable, Emmy Award-nominated style can be seen in comic anthologies like Asylum Press’ Zombie Terrors and music videos like the one Rob Zombie produced for “The Lords of Salem.” If you haven’t seen that video, by the way, do so right freakin’ now. The “American Witch” one is good, too.
Whoops! Going off on a tangent!
Getting back onto the main road, as it were, Hartman’s work takes center stage in Strange Kid Comix #2, gracing both the cover and accompanying a revealing yet relaxed interview article that acts as the book’s sole non-comic feature.
Yes, you read that’s right. The rest of Strange Kid #2 is wall-to-wall visual bliss. Comics, comics, and more comics, And then some putrid, punky, funky, freaky-deaky, Pop Rocks-tasting pin-ups, just for the hell of it! Woo-hoo! All of these stories, each one by a different artist, star the titular “Strange Kid.” Think Dennis The Menace if he were a member of The Addams Family. With his brace-face, striped shirt, and rambunctious attitude, this character is essentially a manifestation of the collective id of all those Monster Kids I described earlier. All of those macabre misadventures you imagined yourself having when you were shoveling Gummi Worms in your piehole and flipping through some dogeared issue of Mad Magazine while Return Of The Living Dead played on mute on the TV because you didn’t want your mom to come in and catch you ogling Linnea Quigley’s clean-shaven biscuit? They all come to life in these stories.
Well, maybe not some of the more Quigley-related ones. Sorry, pervoids.
Whether he’s taking out the living dead with the almighty awesomness of the Nintendo Powerglove (it’s so bad), fending off attacks from giant sentient carniverous boogers, or going into battle against legions of viking-demons in some godforsaken sub-Tolkien sword-and-sorcery landscape, this little bastard proves himself incorrigable and iconic, an instantly relateable representation of the mischief misfits like us were getting into when we were the age he will be forever. That’s what he is: the essence of what we were when we were that age.
Strange Kid Comix #2, as well as the website that spawned it and the mascot who thrives within it, is, more than anything, a potent shot of hyperactive horror fandom, a candy-fueled headtrip time-warping our brain-damaged psyches to the endless Halloween of Monster Kid childhood. It’s hardly the kind of thing that will push the genre forward into innovative, unexplored boundaries, but it’s hardly the kind of thing that’s supposed to.
What this is supposed to do is remind us of why we got into the genre in the first place, what made us fans, what made us love it, what made us who we are today. And, really, when you get right down to it, when you remove the sophisticate pretentions that come with age and adulthood, when you take the time to just be completely honest with yourself, it doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re Fred Olen Ray or David Cronenberg, at the end of the day… isn’t that kind of crap EXACTLY the kind of crap that we really, truly, honestly love more than anything else?
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the month of October, with it’s cheeky, cheery emphasis on childhood, overindulgence, and all things dark and bizarre, than by grabbing yourself a copy of Strange Kid Comix #2.