Sunday, April 10, 2011
Horror Comics and RPGs
At the height of their popularity the genre attracted increasing public criticism from groups accusing the comics of being potentially harmful to children and contributing to juvenile delinquency. The stories in these books were dangerous, and by reading them children would be led into a life of crime or worse. As a result of hearings by the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency the industry created a self regulatory body and the comics code authority was began, and the golden age of horror comics ended.
We can see this cycle repeat itself again in the 1980s with the anti- Dungeons & Dragons protestors, and tabloid journalism looking to draw similar connections between children being exposed to this harmful gaming material and it's corrupting influences. Just as the comics industry stepped away from controversial subject mater after the CCA Seal was introduced, TSR did likewise with the new + friendly 2nd Edition of Dungeons and Dragons (featuring no more demons, devils black magic, or Gary Gygax!).
What's interesting is that not only are there parallels between horror comics and D&D in their popularity and censorship, but there are also some Horror Comic elements in the game.
The Shambling Mound appeared in the Original AD&D Monster Manual published in 1977. Both the description and illustration have an uncanny resemblance to the Marvel Comics character "Man Thing" which was introduced during the early 1970s when the comics code authority relaxed some of it's rules about monsters being included in comic stories and creating a resurgence of interest in horror themed comics.
I wonder how many other influences horror comics have had on D&D and RPGs over the years? The parallels between popularity and censorship of comics, d&d, heavy metal, film etc. is definitely food for thought...