|I find as I grow older, as a I mature along the path towards my future, I gain a form of wisdom that I did not possess in my younger years. What were only dim observations in my youth have fomented into great truths. Like a lot of people I find myself thinking, if I only knew then what I know now. If only I could mount a time traveling Pegasus and go back in time to tell my high school self what I have learned. So much pain and frustration could have been avoided.
Of course I can't do that. But I can perform one selfless act, and that is to try and pass on what I know now to the youth of today. What would I say?
Have sex, gentlemen, and lots of it. You're never going to have a better chance to get at the firm, trim bodies of the girls in their prime so go for it. If you have to get them drunk, or pretend to be a rock star or tell them you love them, do it - whatever it takes!
Also, take lots of drugs. Everyone is telling you they're bad for you or they'll destroy your future but screw it. Who wants to be some successful 34-year old yuppie who's never really enjoyed the mind expanding properties of an acid trip or cocaine binge? Music really does sound better on pot. Plus, drugs really do make you cool. Crystal Meth, heroin, ketamine - Go for it! I beseech you!
Finally, try your hand at violence. Everyone should have a couple good fights in their past. An experience they can recount for their buddies at the pool hall once they've turned 50 and their backs are starting to hurt and their hips are feeling out of place. Nothing brings man more in touch with his primal self than feeling his fist smack against an opponent's jaw and seeing the blood, teeth and spittle spatter against the wall like a gooey orgasm. Never will you be more alive as when you feel the pummeling of an antagonist's paws against your chest and you realize the pain is only prompting you to render this man into a pile of bloody hamburger.
I say you should do all this stuff because I never did it. Well, except for the drugs. You see, I was a comic book nerd. Comic book nerds didn't get laid and they didn't get into fights. Instead they just read about all that stuff.
But I gotta say, if there ever was a comic that brought sex and violence to life (without all the downsides like STDs and broken ribs) it was Twisted Tales. Twisted Tales was all about what every teenage boy is obsessed with: nubile bouncing breasts, fantastical schemes of revenge, willing eager young women, and the bone breaking, gore spilling destruction of your enemies.
Twisted Tales ran as a horror anthology series in the vein of classic pre-comic book code E.C. series like Tales From the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. It was published by Pacific Comics and lorded over by editor/writer/artist Bruce Jones, a creative raconteur who'd spent part of the 70's working on the adult Warren magazine* line. As you might glean from the company name, Pacific Comics was based on the west coast, San Diego to be exact. This might seem like a moot point, but there's a subtle significance. The comic book industry for years had been run out of New York with its most successful practitioners, Marvel and D.C., pawning off an endless series of underwear wearing superheroes onto the dim-witted comic buying public (myself included.) I suspect it took the cool breezes of the Pacific Ocean to encourage the authors and artists of P.C. that comics could be a little different. They merged the sensibilities of classic pulp novels, 50's exploitation comics and the adult comic book explosion of the 60's and 70's (highlighted in European comic magazines and their American counterpart, Heavy Metal) to produce a line of periodicals featuring titles such as Somerset Holmes, Elric, Captain Victory**, Alien Worlds and Twisted Tales.
* Best known for their Vampirella comic book.
Undoubtedly, the driving force behind the horror focused Twisted Tales (and its sci-fi counterpart, Alien Worlds) was author Bruce Jones. He wrote all the stories and even lent his credible artistic abilities to a few. The plots were of the standard "Horror/Twilight Zone/twist ending" variety, albeit with ample supply of naked chests and eviscerated intestines. (Jones' characters had a variety of humorous moans they would make when being disemboweled, often along the lines of "Flrrbbble." or "Glubble.") In one story a small child recounts his discovery of a baby dinosaur who he grows to adulthood by feeding him various neighbors. But at the end we discover there is no dinosaur and it's the boy's insane, carnivorous father who's been doing all the dining. In another tale a woman discovers a race of underground hideous monsters feasting on the corpses of disemboweled women. She destroys them but in the final panel learns that she is pregnant and only then realizes that the creatures were feasting on their mothers - and she'll be next!
Plots aside, Jones had a canny knack with the English language and could deliver grade A pulp writing with the best of them. For example, check out the opening text to "Infante Terrible" from Issue 2. Ulla-Lean Kincaid sprawled seductively on her parent's lumpy, thread-bare sofa, raven hair flowing like a dark waterfall about her slim alabaster shoulders. She stretched one long, perfectly-shaped leg toward the worn away living room carpet and flicked absently at a piece of loose threading with her bare foot. She sighed loudly, stretched, arched her slim back until the scrap of material that passed for a blouse strained precariously against her swelling adolescent bosom.
The artists that graced Twisted Tales were no slouches either. Mike Ploog, famous for Marvel's "Man-Thing" illustrated a story in issue 2 about a loser who falls in love with ceramic aquarium doll. Richard Corben of Heavy Metal fame did several stories and covers. Bret Blevins, known in the 80's for Marvel's Cloak and Dagger series drew the gore infested "Sunken Chest" from issue 3. Famed horror pen-and-ink man Bernie Wrightson did a cover featuring an axe-wielding madman with a belt made out of human heads.
Sadly, like a lot of the upstart 80's independent comic companies that rose up to challenge Marvel and D.C., P.C. didn't last. (Marvel itself collapse into bankruptcy in the 90's.) Twisted Tales ran 10 issues and then imploded into itself like a severed head being stepped on by an elephant. Bruce Jones went on to write for HBO's "The Hitchhiker" series (a TV horror anthology show) and faded from view until he fell back into the comic book world taking over the writing reins of Marvel's "The Incredible Hulk."
So is Twisted Tales gone and forgotten? Not in Hollywood, where everything gets a second chance. Comic book celebrity Todd McFarlane (creator of the rather dreadful "Spawn" series) has been working with Fox to develop a Twisted Tales television show. With any luck, the nubile teenage whores, eviscerated organs and ghoulish screams that made the comic book a masterpiece will soon be found on your TV screen.
With any luck.
Wil Forbis is the pen named shared by such noted authors as James Ellroy, Katie Roiphe, and Jim Thompson. E-mail him, I mean, them, at firstname.lastname@example.org
View Wil's Acid Logic web log, a stirring endorsement of sex with pandas!