Horror was the first genre I fell in love with. When my brother moved away for college, I was only ten, and suddenly I found myself home alone a lot. My mother had remarried, and at her house, our TV had every conceivable channel, including all the channels kids should not watch. So, I watched them.
I’m not sure anyone in my family, even today, appreciates just how many horror films I used to binge as a kid. I was regularly home alone for entire weekend days and evenings after school. Without supervision, I watched it all. The good, the bad, and the utterly depraved. I was eleven, twelve, thirteen, watching Hellraiser, The Howling, Scream, The Fly, Halloween, and so forth.
Once I got a taste, I wanted more. I wanted horror video games. I wanted horror books. And, eventually, as I got older and had some of my own money to spend, I wanted horror comics.
Rarely has anything scared me in a lasting way. I think that’s part of the fun for me. I enjoy the story. I feel the thrill while it’s happening (if it’s good), and then my brain simply moves on. When I do encounter something that sticks with me, like Kathe Koja’s The Cipher or Milligan and McKeever’s The Extremist, I cherish them like almost no other stories.
Earlier this year, I was talking to Sally Cantirino (co-creator / artist: I Walk With Monsters, Human Remains) about horror, and she explained that for her the best horror creates a place to heal. It provides a narrative, within which you know the fear will end, and you can explore your own limits, even heal through your traumas. I believe that whole-heartedly.
I also believe that the best horror creates a place to hurt.
I believe that some, if not many, will appreciate what I’m about to say next: certain biographical details in my life made me so reticent for so long. I still hardly cry when the worst things happen to me. But I cry over books easily. I struggle to feel afraid of just about anything. I’ve been perhaps too comfortable with my own mortality since I was very little.
But when I’m deep in a good horror story, I feel it. I feel that fear that turns other people away from the dark rooms I’ve always walked into. I feel that tingle down the back of my spine that says, Wait, don’t.
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