Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dark Dungeons and Monster Clubs

Religious propagandist and founder of Crusader Comics, Jack Chick, passed away earlier in the week. That didn't mean anything to me because I hadn't heard of him, Chick Tracts, or Crusader Comics. But there was a lot of noise from third generation role playing game types that he was the one responsible for the Satanic Panic of the 1980's. 

Since I was there, and since I had never heard of him, I'd have to conclude this just isn't true.

After reading the stories by the AV Club and others, I can categorically say he may have riled up a few evangelicals already primed to go whacko, but in the small town I grew up nobody needed any help creating a Satanic Panic. They were always ready for the next witch burning.

Later in the night I did some research on Chick Tracts and immediately went to Ebay to buy Dark Dungeons, which is unintentionally hilarious. I remembered I had seen it on the internet, but had assumed it was some sort of meme. But it's real.

I recently bought a VHS copy of Mazes and Monsters and remembered unfondly those days. 

The same English teacher who later made us watch the final episode of M.A.S.H. made us watch this, and warned us of the perils of Dungeons and Dragons. For me it was too late, as I had attained many of the books at a local hobby shop next to the Ben Franklin, and was absorbed. I loved mythology, and I couldn't get enough. 

I formed a Dungeons and Dragons club about the same time I saw The Monster Club on Elvira's Movie Macabre and two great obsessions were born for me. Well, three. And the crackdown was immediate. Dungeons and Dragons books were banned from our school, and my parents were soon visited by a youth pastor from the Baptist church who gave them a good speech about how Dungeons and Dragons led to Satanism and witchcraft. The Satanic Panic was in full bloom, and according to Geraldo Rivera secret Satanists were everywhere. No mind that I had no idea where I would have found a Satanists if I wanted to, my books were gone. I returned to sports.But I maintained my love of mythology and horror movies, watching Movie Macabre every Friday. 

Now in my late forties, I have slowly been re-acquiring those Dungeons and Dragons books. I got a first printing of the Dungeon Masters Guide and World of Greyhawk last week. 

I expect next week I will receive the package of Dark Dungeons tracts I ordered directly from Chick Publications tonight. I will open them up... and laugh.

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