HORROR HOSTS…HOW "REAL" ARE THEY?
by Chris Nigro
This essay will explicate a horror fiction topic and character category that has always intrigued me, but which I've never seen picked up on by other researchers on the nature of reality and its structural context. I'm hoping to correct that oversight here, and to delve into the nature of a particular type of character that is often confronted in the various chronicles by creative mythographers, but just as quickly overlooked and dismissed due to their seeming unimportance in the overall scheme of things. This is the character type that may best be described as Horror Hosts. Their presence in the horror and suspense chronicles is pervasive, but their exact nature…and whether or not they have a true basis in the "reality" of the Wold Newton Universe [WNU]…is as elusive as a phantom in the darkness.
These Horror Hosts can be divided into two sub-categories that I have noted. As such, this essay will be divided into two parts, each of which will deal with one of those sub-categories. The overall purpose of this essay will be to identify and explore the very nature of these ephemeral entities, and to determine if they are simply projections of the human chroniclers of the various tales to provide schtick for the readers, or if they may be legitimate characters in their own right who happen to have an "actual" existence in the greater world around them. The main topic of this treatise will be regarding the nature and possible purpose in the greater scheme of things of a long neglected type of character category in horror fiction. These Horror Hosts have appeared in all manner of visual mediums, from comic books to television (and occasionally movies). Due to the obvious visual appeal of these offbeat entities, they have been understandably absent from the prose medium.
This dissertation has other goals in mind also, which are to elicit interest in further research by other creative mythographers into the nature and history of these characters, to provide a brief exploration of the history of Horror Hosts in popular fiction, to try to determine if (as I believe) they have a concrete existence within the greater framework of any given reality (something many readers and researchers appear to all but ignore), to determine what their overall purpose in their indigenous universe may be (in this particular case, the WNU), why they display the distinct personality traits that they do, determine commonalities between them, and ultimately to try to figure out which of them may possibly fit into the "consensus" WNU continuity. Further, as noted above, I believe that I have identified at least two sub-categories of Horror Host that I also want to explain here.
The Horror Host characters
have been left out of almost any type of timeline, checklist, handbook, or
essay designed to chronicle the various characters who exist within any given
universe. The two main reasons for this, I believe, are: 1) many, if not most,
Horror Hosts merely act as narrators of stories that they generally have no
direct connection to, nor do they usually have any discernable involvement in
any of the stories which they narrate (at least not overtly; see below), and as
such, their actual "reality," or physical (or at least metaphysical,
if you will) presence within a greater reality is often ignored. This is
perhaps interpreted by readers and researchers as mere "horrific"
projections of the story's author from the "real" universe, and then
summarily discarded as a legitimate character within a larger reality;
And, 2) the almost universally campy aspect to all of these characters, i.e., their penchant to "lighten" the stories with dark humor via their flippant, pun-laden personal observations of the moral lessons to be had with each story, and this appears to diminish their validity as bona fide characters within the context of a greater universe around them in the eyes of most readers/viewers or researchers, as these characters' near-universal love of dark humor appear to present each of them as one trick ponies without individually developed personalities. This further encourages researchers and readers/viewers to simply dismiss them out of hand after finishing the story and laughing at their comments and observations.
Now, I cannot pretend to have completely closed in on the actual nature of these beings, as I am merely one person among scores of interested researchers and enthusiasts of fictional universes and their internal cosmological structure. However, I do believe that some evidence exists to suggest that many of these Horror Hosts (e.g., Cain and Abel, the Crypt-Keeper, Uncle Creepy, etc.) may have a metaphysical nature to them that allows them to manifest as physical beings within the greater context of a certain universe, but who prefer to influence reality in a very behind-the-scenes manner. Moreover, they tend to generally (but not always) avoid direct contact with other, fully physical beings who are experiencing the events described in the tales, thus frequently encouraging chroniclers of events within these universes to deny their validity as actual characters (many of these Horror Hosts, however, such as Cain and Abel and the Crypt-Keeper, appear to have origins in the physical world, but later became intertwined with the metaphysical world as a result of their supernatural heritage, and their genesis appears to have been manipulated by higher entities towards fulfilling the overall purpose of these beings; see below).
Other Horror Hosts (e.g., Dr. Witty, Elvira, Digger, etc.), whom I suggest belong to a separate sub-category of Horror Host, appear to be actual physical beings with paranormal attributes or leanings who do have a demonstrably active presence in their various universes, albeit do not seek the limelight in the same manner as many of the standard heroes and villains within that universe outside of their interest in tale-spinning. Horror Hosts from this second category have indeed been included by chroniclers of the fantastic as legitimate characters, though their status as Horror Hosts may likely bias researchers of fantastic history against giving such characters the same type of scrutiny they will readily grant characters from other categories. The fact that most of these Horror Hosts all seem to have very similar personalities and modus operandi appears to work against their validity as actual entities within a greater universe. However, I believe that the apparent similarity in personality and actions of many of these Horror Hosts may indeed have a good explanation that enhances, rather than diminishes, their validity as characters worthy of inclusion on any timeline, and their inclusion and purpose in any given universe may be far more important than most readers and researchers who are used to giving such characters only a cursory glance may suspect.
First, we should explore
the history of Horror Hosts in comics, and then describe the two sub-categories
I believe I have identified thus far. Over the course of this essay, I hope to
build a solid argument that Horror Hosts are a legitimate character category
that are as worthy of exploration as the other, universally recognized
character categories, such as Super-Heroes (e.g., Batman, Captain America, the
Spider), Super-Villains (e.g., Fu Manchu, Dr. Doom), Monsters (e.g., Dracula,
the Frankenstein Monster, the Man- Thing), Scientists (e.g., Victor
Frankenstein, Dr. Abraham Erskine), Western Heroes (e.g., the Lone Ranger,
Jonah Hex), Detectives (e.g., Sherlock Holmes, Auguste Dupin), Sword and
Sorcery Heroes (e.g., Conan, Kull, El Cid), Explorers (e.g., Prof. George
Challenger), Jungle Heroes (e.g., Tarzan, Jann of the Jungle, Ka-Zar the
Great), Adventurers (e.g., Allan Quartermain, Indiana Jones), Mystic Heroes
(e.g., Dr. Adam Spektor, Dr. Stephen Strange), etc.
[Note: I fully acknowledge that many readers and researchers may prefer to use different names for each of the aforementioned categories, but I'm sure that everyone has the gist of the character types I am talking about here; I also acknowledge that some characters draw a fine line between two categorizations, such as Doc Savage, who I think straddles the Super-Hero and Adventurer categories].
The Crypt-Keeper, Uncle Creepy, and Their Uncanny Kin
Among the earliest Horror Hosts to appear, to my knowledge, were those who hosted E.C. Comics' infamous horror anthology titles from the early 1950's (and unfortunately did much to encourage Dr. Frederic Wertham's rants against the comic book industry of the time, along with the then popular genre of true crime comics). The first was the Crypt-Keeper, who initially appeared as the narrator of a few short stories within the "Crypt of Terror" segment of a true crime comic known as CRIME PATROL (beginning with issue #15), and the popularity of such stories swiftly took over the book entirely, so that the title was changed to CRYPT OF TERROR by issue #17, which was soon changed again to the far more familiar TALES FROM THE CRYPT.
The Crypt-Keeper may very well be the prototype and inspiration for all Horror Hosts to follow, since he appeared in comics before television became a force to be reckoned with in popular culture, as at this time only a minority of households in America had television sets, only four stations existed (with relatively few areas in the U.S. able to pick up the long-defunct Dupont Network), and with televised programming then only encompassing a few hours of air time per day, all mostly during the evening hours. It wasn't until later in the '50's that TV became the popular medium that it is today, and that the networks really began cramming so many hours of the day with programming, including the introduction of a plethora of Horror Hosts to headline various local networks' "Creature Feature" and "Shock Theatre" shows that played many horror films (Alfred Hitchcock certainly had a hand in building the standard for Horror Hosts on TV, and I'm going to delve into this in a bit). Thus, I can argue here that the Crypt-Keeper may likely have preceded the many television Horror Hosts, who became quite common in locally televised horror matinees by the time the '60's came about (alas, there are far too many to describe here, so I'm going to later include only Dr. Witty, whom I know about thanks to the valuable input I received from fellow creative mythographer Kurt Roberts, and I'll get to Dr. Witty in Part 2).
The Crypt-Keeper served
strictly as a narrator of the horror stories that appeared within the pages of
TALES FROM THE CRYPT, though he did display a distinct personality (mimicked in
some form or another by virtually all Horror Hosts to follow in any medium),
which included a love of collecting grotesque stories of horror and the macabre
that nevertheless usually had an important morality lesson to convey, and to
then present these stories to others who would presumably be both
simultaneously terrified and enlightened by what the ghoulish narrator related
to them . Who the Crypt-Keeper routinely presented these tales to within the
context of his internal universe was never cogently explained within the book,
which is a major reason why the readers and researchers simply interpreted the
Crypt-Keeper as an elaborate narration tool crafted by the writer and artist in
the "real universe" [RU] to add a bit of humor and pizazz to the stories.
This is likely why many such readers and researchers do not tend to actually
consider him as a character who inhabited the chronology of a greater universe
as they did with characters who took a blatantly active involvement in the
events of their respective realities, such as Superman, Tarzan, Sherlock
Holmes, or even Richie Rich. Further, the Crypt-Keeper appeared to delight in
terrifying the recipients of his stories at least as much as enlightening them,
though the latter may have been the primary purpose behind the telling of these
tales. As such, it may be inferred that the Crypt-Keeper is a being whose
purpose is to take an extreme hard line approach towards enhancing human moral
growth and enlightenment by displaying how human flaws can lead to truly horrifying
consequences, while taking a large degree of personal pleasure and self-
entertainment in the process of terrifying the recipients of his tales in the
process, and this displays itself in his penchant for dark humor. Thus, I opine
that the Crypt-Keeper is neither good nor evil, and though his ultimate
intentions may arguably be positive for those whom he relates these stories to
within the confines of his own universe, he doesn't seem to possess anything
resembling compassion or consideration for the feelings of any individual who
hears his tales, and he appears to take great pleasure in the horrific
tragedies of other human beings, particularly those who have a high degree of
character flaws that ultimately bring on their doom. Though he appears to have
an interest or at least purpose towards deterring other human beings from
duplicating the folly of those who appear in his stories, he nevertheless seems
to be greatly delighted by the fact that the horrifyingly tragic events
experienced by particularly flawed human beings, and even the many innocent
bystanders who are harmed or killed by their actions, grants him such horrid
and lurid story material to pass on to others.
Further, he appears to act as if human life itself is far less valuable than the lessons the worst or most unfortunate of the human species can provide to other humans. As such, this may provide a hint that his very existence or purpose in the universe (if you will) may depend upon the continued failings and tragedies experienced by many human beings. Of course, there is also the possibility that his interest in such things is largely (if not entirely) prurient.
In lieu of the near-total lack of research that has so far been conducted on such characters, it would probably be unwise for me to make any sweeping assumptions based upon little more than my own personal observations at this point.
Now let's move on to the
subject of the Crypt-Keeper's possible effect on the greater WNU around him.
There is no evidence that the Crypt-Keeper directly influenced the fate of any person or other entity that appeared in any of the stories he told, so what "powers" he may possess outside of great story-telling ability and penchant for creating witty if tasteless puns are unknown at this time, though his nature is definitely not human, and he appears to be "undead" in the standard definition of the term that would be applied to supernatural vampires and mummies (in fact, as you will see, the Crypt-Keeper's maternal physical lineage was indeed a cursed female mummy).
However, there do appear to be hints that he may indeed have had a greater hand in the events depicted in each of these stories than most readers and reviewers have thus far imagined. What I offer here is nothing more than hints, with a goal towards building evidence, and other researchers will undoubtedly either expand on this further or successfully refute everything I suggest here.
For one thing, the Crypt-Keeper appears only at the beginning and end of each story that he tells, with an occasional appearance in the middle of the story to make a certain poignant observation, but generally not within the context of the story itself as an active participant in the events. This has provided a strong implication to many that he doesn't "actually exist" even within the confines of that fictional tale he relates. But is this truly the case? One very interesting story provided in the TALES FROM THE CRYPT series (which did have a televised version on the TV series based on the book) was a story that featured the origin of the Crypt-Keeper ("Lower Berth," TALES FROM THE CRYPT #33). According to that story, the Crypt-Keeper was the undead progeny of a freakish two-headed man named Enoch (likely a non-posthuman mutant) and the corpse of a cursed female Egyptian mummy whom the former stole from a museum exhibit and subsequently mated with; it was strongly implied that the decaying form of the female mummy had at least part of her human spirit trapped within her body (perhaps as the part of some ancient curse that really wasn't explored in the story), and as a result, it enabled her withered reproductive organs to somehow produce a physical if largely decayed offspring. The infant Crypt-Keeper was the result of this ghastly union, and for the first and only time in the series, the physical reality of the Crypt-Keeper within his respective universe was established. Obviously, he was not human, and it's quite possible that his birth (if you truly want to call it that) was manipulated by as yet unidentified metaphysical entities to create a being who would serve a specific purpose elsewhere on Earth, much as Zeus, Odin, and other deities from the mythologies of various human cultures often sired offspring with mortals, other supernatural beings, or who manipulated two particular beings, human or otherwise, to mate so as to produce an offspring who would serve a very specific objective in the scheme of things (as an example, Odin mated with the Earth Goddess Jord, probably another guise of Gaea, to sire a god who would combine the lineage of Asgard and Midgard [Earth], so as to be a powerful champion of both; the result of their union was Thor, champion of the common man on Earth and defender of Asgard against the giants and the trolls).
There may be any number of
beings out there, e.g., "gods," spirits, demons, faeries, archetypal
entities such as the Dreaming (see below), etc., who semi-routinely initiate
such proceedings towards manipulating or evolving humanity for purposes that we
mere mortals of any universe can scarcely understand. The Crypt-Keeper and many
(though not all) of his brethren may be instances of such 'divine' handiwork,
albeit some of the less savory but no less important examples. Unlike Thor and
others of similar caliber, however, their only cursory involvement with the
greater universe around them often results in their neglect or even outright
dismissal by those who chronicle and compile biographical information about
characters within various fictional worlds. But is their purpose in the
universes they inhabit any less important upon close examination?
It should be noted that other Horror Hosts very, very similar to the Crypt-Keeper also appeared in E.C. Comics' other horror anthology titles, such as the Vault-Keeper in VAULT OF HORROR and the Old Witch in HAUNT OF FEAR (the latter embodying a less than pleasant stereotypical image of witches to all modern Wiccans, including myself, but I digress…the Old Witch was also given an origin tale describing her as the physical result of a female vampire somehow siring a child with a male werewolf). Since the Vault-Keeper and the Old Witch appear to be the same type of being as the Crypt-Keeper (assuming they are not simply alternate guises of the Crypt-Keeper himself), differing from him primarily in visual image and the fact that they enjoy far less popularity than he does, there is no need to go into further detail about them, other than to use them to point out that the idea of the Horror Host appears to have "caught on" with the success of TALES FROM THE CRYPT, and that E.C. Comics must have concluded that their initial Horror Host had much to do with the success of their first horror anthology title.
Hence, it would appear that the Crypt-Keeper does have some form of physical reality even if he does walk in metaphysical circles. But where, in a geographical sense, does he live in the WNU? Though he appears to inhabit (of course) an old and abandoned mausoleum, exactly where on his Earth it exists was never revealed and probably never considered too important to any writer, editor, reader, or researcher. Possibly this crypt didn't even exist in the Earth dimension proper, but could simply manifest there, either upon his will so as to entertain reluctant "guests" with his stories, or manifesting on its own in different places on Earth at different times on its own accord for reasons not yet explained, with the Crypt-Keeper more or less a slave to his greater purpose, despite his obvious enjoyment of carrying out these activities. This could mean that the Crypt-Keeper and his unnamed crypt is very similar to Cain and Abel, along with the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets, respectively (which I believe to have counterparts in the WNU). This could also strongly imply that such beings may have their personalities, to at least some extent, "tailored" towards an overly- enthusiastic enjoyment of their characteristic activities, which would explain why so many of these characters appear to have such similar personalities and modus operandi...unlike humans and other sentient beings, the metaphysical aspects of these Horror Hosts may allow far less variance in personality traits or recreational interests than human beings, as the higher forces that are responsible for their genesis may have taken measures to insure that these beings, like many other types of supernatural entities of the lower tier, do not stray very far, if at all, from their pre-chosen purpose. Thus, beings like the Crypt-Keeper, Cain and Abel (from DC's HOUSE OF MYSTERY and HOUSE OF SECRETS, respectively), Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie (from Warren's CREEPY and EERIE, respectively), the Creep (who appeared in two very different guises in the two "Creepshow" films and a single comic book adaptation of the first film) etc., may not do what they do as a result of the equivalent of personal interests or hobbies as we human beings and other sentient, fully material beings know them, but actually as part of an overriding purpose. Hence, these beings, while at least as intelligent as human beings, are nevertheless far more single-minded in regards to their mental processes and thought patterns. To what degree these beings can act on their own volition or deviate from their overall purpose in the universe, however, is far from clear at this point, though Cain and Abel, at least, appear to have much of their actions and personality traits beholden to higher forces. Thus, there may be a very good explanation for the similar personalities and activities seen in many of these Horror Hosts after all, without these similarities suggesting that they are merely a bunch of one- dimensional narrative tools, and are invalid as legitimate game players in the overall reality of any alternate universe, including the WNU.
How the Crypt-Keeper's expanded activities as seen in the short- lived "Tales from the Crypt-Keeper" animated TV series may or may not reflect on his nature is unknown to me at this time, since I saw very little of the show at this writing, though he appeared to be providing slightly more "gentle" morality lessons of a terrifying nature to children in the latter case, and to take a somewhat more active role in these incidents.
Now, on to other Horror Hosts similar in nature to the Crypt-Keeper and his E.C. clones, the Vault-Keeper and the Old Witch.
We next come across Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie from Warren Comics (they are now owned by Harris Comics, who has done little with them outside of the CREEPY 1993 FEARBOOK), who appeared in CREEPY and EERIE respectively, performing much the same function there as the Crypt-Keeper did in TALES FROM THE CRYPT. As such, I would argue that Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie are beings of a very similar nature to that of the Crypt-Keeper (hence, everything I said about him up above applies to them), and Warren even presented an origin for Uncle Creepy of sorts ("Monster Rally," CREEPY #4), where he was evidently birthed into material reality in a manner strikingly similar to that of the Crypt-Keeper. What makes Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie of special note, however, is the greater likelihood that they may have counterparts in the WNU (they had a direct physical encounter with Vampirella in the early 1990's), and there is evidence that beings of this nature may be common aspects to many alternate universes, including the Marvel Universe [MU], DC Universe [DCU], and the WNU, much as beings such as vampires, werewolves, and demons appear to be common to all of these disparate realities. Horror Hosts of this first sub- category may be otherworldly beings who have a wide-reaching presence and purpose in many alternate universes, though as I've said before, for many reasons they have simply received nowhere near the amount of attention and scrutiny by researchers as other supernatural beings have. Further evidence of their existence within the context of the greater reality of the WNU can be inferred by the fact that Cousin Eerie was the official Horror Host narrator of an illustrated story magazine that many continuing series characters appeared in, including the Rook, who are known to be indigenous to the WNU, and he even narrated a few stories of these established characters from the latter universe. I fully admit, this is merely a hint, and nothing close to good evidence, but hopefully good evidence will be uncovered in time.
Curiously, it should be noted that Cousin Eerie was often relegated to providing comments on the opening splash page of EERIE once the magazine started focusing largely on series characters, with his 'voice' and visage appearing only in the framing sequence of the ever-decreasing number of stand-alone horror tales of which he specialized in collecting and telling (and perhaps influencing?). Once the focus of EERIE shifted to largely horror or sci-fi oriented 'super-heroes' by the time of the horror comics decline in the early '80's, Cousin Eerie was very rarely seen anywhere in the book at all, even on the once typical opening splash page of the magazine. He now seemed to be entirely relegated to the small image of his face that adorned the upper left hand corner of most covers of the book (though after a time, he began rarely appearing there, as well). Uncle Creepy, on the other hand, remained a more or less active presence as a story-teller in CREEPY throughout its existence, since that comic magazine mostly (though not entirely) avoided continuing characters and series, and never gravitated towards super-heroes from the late '70's to early '80's (though it did start taking a more sci-fi slant by the early '80's).
This may provide yet another important clue towards a hypothesis I'm slowly building: Horror Host characters seem to have little interest in the lives of crusading heroes, world- conquering villains, or other types of routinely extraordinary individuals; rather, their interest and purview appears to be mostly focused upon the "everyman" type of individual who have unusually great personality flaws or otherwise extreme personality traits of some sort, which make them very likely candidates for receiving a harsh and destructive end to their lives, and whose aforementioned negative or severe character traits are likely to result in them becoming involved in unusual, and usually horrific and violent, events that occur within many of these alternate realities (including the WNU), regardless of whether or not these events may involve aspects of the paranormal or not. It may very well be that the Horror Hosts, in harmony with their purpose (and who appear to have various lesser creatures under their command) actually influence the supernatural or extreme events that occur to these ill-fated individuals, possibly not only to mete out their "deserved" fate, but also to provide a constant occurrence of such incidents to collect as stories, and to provide these tales to other, less flawed individuals as an important morality lesson. I do not pretend to fully understand why these beings do what they do, or how incessant their behind-the-scenes influence may or may not have on the events they relate in their tales, but I do believe that more evidence can be uncovered via future and more diligent research into the nature and activities of these beings.
Now we can move on to the question of where Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie actually live. From what I recall, Uncle Creepy appeared to inhabit a mansion of some sort that had an extensive library, which may have been similar to the House of Mystery in regards to its intrinsic nature. He also appeared to have been frequently accompanied by a large number of small and playful but sinister demon- like creatures that may have acted to do his bidding in terms of possibly influencing certain events or gathering listeners for his tales, much as Uncle Creepy himself may have been beholden to higher forces. A good example of these creatures are those who were seen beside Uncle Creepy on the cover of CREEPY #1; it should be noted that a few of these critters were sometimes seen in the company of Cousin Eerie, as well. This mansion may be otherdimensional and/or transdimensional in nature, able to manifest in various places on the Earth within the WNU at different times for reasons that have yet to be fully explained. Cousin Eerie always appeared to reside within a gloomy-looking swamp area [swamps appear to be natural "window areas," where paranormal events can more easily manifest or occur than anywhere else, a good example being the large swampland extant outside of Citrusville, Florida, which is said to be a natural "nexus of realities" where paranormal events and other strange occurrences normally congeal, and home to the muck-monster known as the Man-Thing] and often not indoors, though he was sometimes seen to be inhabiting a construct resembling a decrepit shack in the shape of a huge human skull, not nearly so grandiose as the mansion-like construct serving as the 'base of operations' for Uncle Creepy. In the case of Cousin Eerie, at least, it's possible (though far from verified) that he may have manifested in various lonely locales where an intended recipient of one of his tales may have been out and about, or where a certain event of interest may have been occurring for him to record, both without an accompanying place of residence manifesting alongside him; he sometimes appeared to have co-habited Uncle Creepy's mansion.
What connection Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie may have had to each other is anybody's guess at this point, as they only appeared beside each other on a few rare covers or stories, including Harris Comics' CREEPY 1993 FEARBOOK and in a crossover appearance with Vampirella, the only things Harris has done with these characters since acquiring their copyrights to date. It should be noted that when Dark Horse Comics briefly licensed the Warren characters in the late 1980's, their CREEPY mini-series more strongly implied that Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie may indeed influence the events they are so fond of collecting and telling, but this idea was never fully explored, considering the Dark Horse CREEPY mini-series was less than successful. Since I have not read Dark Horse's CREEPY mini-series in many years, I do not remember full details of the storyline, so I will have to try to acquire a copy of this series and delve into this matter further, and possibly compose an addendum to this essay afterwards.
However, there is even more available evidence that Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie do indeed have a concrete presence in the WNU. In fact, whatever these beings may actually be, there seems to be an implied connection to Vampirella, who is a known action character, which also suggests that such definitively concrete entities with a colorful life of adventure, as she does, can sometimes be conscripted by higher powers (likely via the Dreamlands) into temporarily and/or intermittently serving as a de facto Horror Host. As noted above, various ephemeral characters who are known to have strong interactions with the universe in a concrete, objective sense, such as the Spectre and the Phantom Stranger, have temporarily served as Horror Hosts. This may all suggest that such entities have an important role indeed within the schema of the universe's cosmology, and are hardly as insignificant to consider as many researchers appear to think. Their actions are certainly clandestine, but they may be of great significance to the universe, and deserve consideration and exploration for that reason alone.
It's important to note that Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie, on at least a few occasions, have actually appeared in stories as active characters, rather than simply as narration tools. As noted above, Uncle Creepy actually had an origin story ("of sorts," according to David A. Roach in THE WARREN COMPANION) that was featured in a story called "Monster Rally" in CREEPY #4 (thus being the third Horror Host of the first category, after the Crypt-Keeper and the Old Witch, to be given an origin account that is allegedly based in concrete "reality," an important point to consider). Thus, it can be suggested that various higher forces may manipulate events to "breed" such perfect horror host candidates, or it's also possible that these beings were conscripted into permanent horror host "servitude" by these higher forces upon reaching the equivalent of maturity (or may even have agreed, at least in part, to take such a "full-time vocation" partially or wholly of their own volition, in exchange for unknown favors or privliges). It's quite possible that these higher forces, likely extant in the Dreamlands, would find the progeny of various monstrous beings [e.g., a mutant and a cursed female mummy, a vampire and a werewolf] to be perfect candidates for performing such bizarre yet somehow necessary functions for the universe [see Stephen King's DARK TOWER series of novels, as well as several other WNU articles and DC Comics' SANDMAN series and its various spin-offs for much more info on the Dreamlands and its pervasiveness in the cosmos of the WNU, and other alternate universes as well].
Several years later, a second story featuring not only Uncle Creepy but also Cousin Eerie called "Where Satan Dwells" appeared in CREEPY #39. And in the early 1990's, Harris and Dark Horse Comics united to present a direct crossover between Vampirella and Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie, where the latter two horror hosts directly put the vampiric she-warrior through strenuous metaphorical trials, and this may be connected to the fact that she appears to have been temporarily conscripted for Horror Host duties herself in the past (likely without her conscious recollection, and likely by the same higher powers that pull the proverbial strings with Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie; see below). This provided yet more evidence that these characters have a concrete if metaphysical existence (perhaps similar to that of Cain and Abel) in the greater context of the WNU, and this also further suggests that these two entities have a connection of some sort to each other (see below for a suggestion as to what this connection may be). I will endeavor to acquire copies of these two aforementioned issues of CREEPY so as to study the stories themselves, and to see what conclusions I can draw in a possible future addendum to this article. One such conclusion that we can draw immediately, however, is that at least sometimes, these characters can indeed directly interact with the physical world and individuals living within.
Now for a really interesting tidbit. It would appear that Vampirella herself played the role of Horror Host in early issues of Warren's VAMPIRELLA title. Vampirella appeared as an active story character in tales appearing in the first two issues of her mag that seemed to share no continuity with each other, thus backing up later claims in her various Harris Comics stories that much of her early "history" as chronicled in Warren Comics were actually false memories implanted in her psyche for reasons still not fully understood, but the Lovecraftian entity called Chaos possibly had something to do with it (something I have also explored in my Index to Warren's "Dracula" series). Though the second story had more elements of "truth" to it regarding her "actual" history, the silly story in her inaugural issue suggesting that she was an extraterrestrial from the "planet" Drakulon (!!!) has since been dismissed as a false memory implant during the '90's, when she was actively trying to make sense out of her past, and its lack of connection to the continuity of the first story provides strong evidence of this (though she would revisit her "origins" on 'Drakulon' in later issues of Warren's VAMPIRELLA title, and Drakulon has since been shown to be an otherdimensional sub-section of one of the various 'Hells' that is inhabited solely by vampires, who subsist there by feeding off of naturally flowing rivers of blood).
Now back to the subject of Horror Hosts. It seems that when Warren first conceived the VAMPIRELLA title, it was largely a horror and fantasy anthology comic magazine in a similar vein to CREEPY and EERIE, focusing mostly upon stand-alone rather than series stories, but differing from the other mags in that these stories would generally concentrate upon female characters. In fact, Vampirella vanished from the title as an active story character after issue #2, and didn't appear again in that capacity until #8, where her stories were treated as a serious continuing saga rather than possessing the "stand-alone" tone of her two initial tales (and her story in #8 picked up on elements from the story in #2, and this further implies that at least part of that second story was likewise a memory implant, and that nearly the entirety of her story in issue #1 was a memory implant; her appearance in the Evilly story in VAMPIRELLA #3 has yet to be fully explored to determine whether or not it was "in continuity" for the vampiric she-warrior). But here is the rub that connects Vampirella to the Horror Host pantheon, which may imply absolutely nothing, or may in fact imply an interesting twist to her supernatural roots.
Vampirella may have been absent as an active story character in her own mag from issue #'s 3-7 (and occasionally in subsequent issues) save for her possibly highly apocryphal appearance in the Evilly story in issue #3, but she still appeared in the book as a Horror Host narrator to many of the stories therein! Now I fully understand that this may imply nothing more "tangible" than an example of Jim Warren's admittance that they had no idea what to do with the character at first, as he was quite displeased with Forrest J. Ackerman's campy take on Vampi with her first origin account and the first two Vampi stories that he wrote, so her presence as a Horror Host in the various non-series stories that appeared between VAMPIRELLA #2 and 8 may indicate nothing more than a decision by the editor to keep the character visually present in the book in some capacity, taking the format of CREEPY and EERIE as a guide post until he could find a writer who would foster a conceptualization of the character that he was pleased with (which he did with Archie Goodwin in #8, where Vampi finally became a permanent and serious series character in a story that introduced the important personages of Conrad and Adam Van Helsing to the Vampirella saga). She then ceased her role as a "mere" Horror Host only, though she continued to intermittantly host other stand-alone stories that appeared in her mag for years.
Next we find yet another interesting and very curious tidbit that may indicate nothing more than an advertising gimmick by Jim Warren, or it may have a far deeper meaning to it. EERIE #22 featured the first ad for the then soon to be published first issue of VAMPIRELLA. However, not only was Vampirella curiously left out of the ad, but Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie were included to officially plug her book, and in this advertisement, Cousin Eerie referred to Vampirella as Uncle Creepy's "niece." It should also be noted that Vampirella's image was seen a few times alongside those of Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie in various places, including, interestingly enough, on the cover of Harris's CREEPY 1993 SUMMER FEARBOOK. Could this mean nothing more than an advertising trick on the parts of Warren and Harris, or could this be a hint to deeper connections, even if not an actual familial relationship? Also, could the reference of Vampi being Uncle Creepy's "niece" actually have been a metaphorical statement, implying that Uncle Creepy may have been the entity assigned to temporarily conscript her into Horror Host "servitude"? During the period of her life when she was particularly subjected to confusing and contradictory memory implants, she may have been an easy target for Uncle Creepy, and the machinations of whatever higher forces ultimately pull the metaphysical strings of the Horror Hosts.
As further possible hints, Vampirella's past remains highly suspect (from what I have read), and the earliest issues of Warren's VAMPIRELLA appear to provide glaring attention to the ambiguity of her history, no matter how unintentional this may have been on the part of the writers and editors in the RU. Her very temporary status as a Horror Host during this period where she appeared to be particularly affected by these memory implants is even more intriguing. As noted above, could this be taken to imply that Vampirella, in the course of her early history, may have been briefly conscripted into the service of the unknown higher powers, who have beings such as Uncle Creepy, Cousin Eerie, and the Crypt-Keeper in their permanent servitude, possibly with the direct assistance of Uncle Creepy in this case? Again, might this explain Cousin Eerie's statement that she was "related" to Uncle Creepy, as well as explaining the latter two entities' further interest in Vampi during their early 1990's crossover? To such beings, familial terminology such as "cousin," "uncle," or "niece" may simply be their way of describing a metaphysical relationship that has nothing to do with genetic lineage of any kind, including the implication that at least some of these beings may have begun their existence as fully material beings (albeit of a strange genesis) only to later be "drafted" by another Horror Host character and transformed into the same type of being, all at the behest of these undefined higher powers. As such, these beings use titles such as "Uncle" and "Cousin" to parrot the terms used by humans to denote a genetic relationship with each other, despite the fact that no such connection actually exists as we in the human material world understand it.
As noted in Part 1 of this essay, we must also consider that there is strong evidence that the often unseen higher beings to whom the Horror Hosts of the first category serve the overall interests of have likewise conscripted various beings of supernatural power to serve in the temporary capacity of Horror Host, including the Phantom Stranger and the Spectre (assuming these two DC Comics' personages have WNU counterparts, which I personally believe they do). Thus, it's not outside the realm of possibility that Vampirella may have once found herself in the temporary service of the beings who regulate the overall activities of the Horror Hosts who belong to the first category. However, this is seemingly a period of her existence that she does not remember, and was never intended to recall given the large amount of bogus memory implants she has, resulting in the strong level of uncertainty regarding her past. In light of this situation, at this point in time we simply don't know for certain, and we have nothing more than the barest of hints and my own conjectures to go on, but I still think the notion is an intriguing one that should be looked into further in the future.
Suffice to say, I opine that Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie are beings who are very similar in nature and function to the Crypt-Keeper and his fellow E.C. Horror Hosts, and to Cain and Abel who were published by DC Comics (though they likely have WNU counterparts, and I will compose this essay with the conceit that they do).
Okay, now let's get to
Cain and Abel, since much information has been subsequently provided for them
to imply that Horror Hosts have a much more profound impact on their respective
universes than previously believed, and that they are indeed legitimate
characters within the framework of the WNU, rather than merely glorified
narration tools for the author and artist of these tales in either the RU or
Cain first appeared as the narrator of DC's HOUSE OF MYSTERY when that title was converted into a horror anthology series by the early 1970's, and this was soon followed by the spin-off horror anthology title HOUSE OF SECRETS, hosted by Cain's much beleaguered brother Abel. It was later revealed, via a few crossovers with other characters such as Superman, Batman, and Swamp Thing, that the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets are supernatural constructs perceived by most humans as old and "spooky"-looking mansions of roughly 19th century architectural design (perhaps similar in some sense to Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, Uncle Creepy's manse, and the Castlevania construct, but different in other respects) that exist in the realm of metaphysical reality that mystics commonly call the Dreaming (or 'Dreamlands'), a sub-section of the universe inhabited by beings known as the Endless, where all metaphysical concepts originate, and where universal concepts (such as Death, Love, Dream, etc.) take on personified and anthropomorphized, seemingly self-aware aspects, and are in turn served by numerous lesser beings, all of whom can perhaps best be described (if crudely) as "living archetypes." Among the hordes of lesser beings who manifest within the Dreaming include Cain and Abel, who are said to be "reincarnations" (likely entirely archetypal) of the Biblical Cain and Abel, and consequently, their personalities are dominated by the archetypal preconceptions of the "original" Cain and Abel that common humanity collectively believes. As such, Cain carries out an endlessly sadistic game with his brother Abel by continuously playing darkly humorous practical jokes on him that ultimately result in the latter's grisly death. However, since Abel is an archetypal being who can nevertheless manifest himself as a physical reality on the Earth plane at certain times and under certain circumstances (see below), he is invariably resurrected every time, only to be subject to Cain's next horrible joke in cyclical fashion. The House of Mystery and House of Secrets have been shown to reside several kilometers from each other in the same geographic region, though this may simply be an interpretation of such etherial constructs from a human perspective by people who have encountered their quasi-physical embodiments on the material plane. These locales, while largely controlled by their respective resident Horror Hosts, also appear to be under the larger and ultimate control of higher forces manifested by the Dreaming, under the more direct control of Dream, a.k.a., the Sandman, Morpheus, etc., and probably other beings who comprise the Endless. While it may thus appear that Cain and Abel differ in many ways from Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie (and we have a much more detailed understanding of their relationship to each other as well as the greater universe they inhabit), we must also note the undeniable similarities that encourage me to suggest that they belong to the same general character category.
Like the previously described Horror Hosts in this essay, Cain and Abel alike delight in collecting horrific tales centered around human beings with a particularly serious personality flaw whose aforementioned character traits lead them to paranormal or otherwise extraordinary events, followed by a highly unpleasant fate as a result of whatever extreme personality flaw they may have been afflicted with (and possibly influencing these individuals and events to some degree), and then presenting these tales as object lessons in morality to various people who also represent the "everyman" type of persona. They share the same type of distinctive delight in simultaneously terrifying and enlightening people as do the other Horror Hosts described above, while the overall purpose behind these actions appears to take a backseat to the fringe benefits of horrifying and disturbing the recipients of their stories as far as Cain and Abel are concerned. They display a singular lack of compassion towards the feelings of all involved, both the ill-fated individuals who are part of the tales they collect, and to those whom they relate the details of these stories to. Both pairs of characters show a penchant for dark humor and milking laughs out of these stories for their personal amusement, which further underscores their lack of sympathy and empathy for all hapless participants in the event, and the sensibilities of those whom they relate these stories to. Though Abel often appears sensitive, servile, and even kindly in his dealings with his overtly sadistic brother, he isn't quite so charitable in regards to his dealings with the human recipients of these tales, as he has no apparent concern for the sensibilities of those whom he may terrify with these stories, nor what they may encounter whilst temporarily trapped in the House of Secrets; in the latter cases, he takes the same hard line method of presenting morality lessons to people as does his "brother." Further, it's very likely that Abel acts so differently around Cain simply because his personality, like that of his cruel though light-hearted brother, was tailored by the Dreaming to adhere to the archetypal design of the Biblical Cain and Abel, and they are unable to fully digress from it. This also explains why, despite the fact that Cain and Abel, Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie, the Crypt-Keeper, the Creep, etc., act entirely sentient and self-aware, and do indeed appear capable of a high degree of individual volition, they are all nevertheless unable to deviate from the basic essence of their purpose, and this overriding aspect of their personality manifests itself as their extreme zeal for their "hobby," and a ghoulish love for stories involving human beings and sometimes other sentient entities whose tragic personal flaws will lead them (and many innocent people) to a terrible fate.
They all appear to be
self-aware individuals who, along with their respective residences, exist
outside of material reality but can nevertheless manifest there as needed, and
are not subject to the same laws of physics as the greater reality around them
when they do manifest there. This can possibly be the result of the characters'
residences creating a "pocket" of their metaphysical reality in the
immediate vicinity of the Earth plane's geography where they appear and
interact with, and those human beings who enter an edifice such as the House of
Mystery may actually be entering another reality that takes on a quasi-physical
nature to them, and that allows physical beings to directly interact with the
Dreaming while in a fully conscious state. If you permit me a crude analogy,
just as the American embassy in a foreign nation is legally considered to be
American soil despite its presence in a foreign state, when the House of
Mystery or a similar structure manifests on the material plane, what occurs
within its walls may be more subject to the laws of the Dreamlands than the
physical plain we mortals are most familiar with, despite the fact that the
manse is seemingly standing in the material realm.
Further, mere mortals who enter these metaphysical edifaces when they manifest on the physical plane will simultaneously interpret who and what they encounter in these constructs in a manner in which the typical human mind can comprehend.
Also note the many types of strange, demonic looking beings who likewise appear alongside Cain and Abel in these otherworldly residences (who are similar to the creatures often seen in the presence of Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie). And finally, note the near-total lack of interest that Cain and Abel seem to have with sentient beings who are not flawed "everyman" types, which can explain why they only rarely interact with prominent adventurers, super-heroes, etc., as well as the fact that they prefer not to directly interact with the individuals whose unfortunate tales they record and possibly influence.
It may be important to
acknowledge that not all Horror Hosts of this first sub-category act, live, and
look in the manner explicated above (though many of them do). A good example of
this is the Hitchhiker from the eponymous suspense anthology series that aired
for two seasons on the HBO network in the early '80's (with edited versions
later airing on the USA network). The Hitchhiker acted as a Horror Host in the
sense that he appeared to be drawn to mundane human beings with particularly serious
character flaws, or to those who were closely involved with someone who
possessed these extreme flaws, and as a result were headed towards an untimely
doom. The Hitchhiker appeared to have a great interest in relating these tales
to parties unknown who may receive an object lesson from hearing them. In other
respects, however, the Hitchhiker departed from the other Horror Hosts in the
first sub-category, though he appeared very similar to the narrator depicted
onscreen by Alfred Hitchcock in "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," thus
implying the possibility of an alternate variation of the first sub-category of
The Hitchhiker and the Hitchcock analogue [is it a coincidence that the first five letters of their name are identical?] seem to have many traits in common. They appear to be more interested in tragic events with mundane underpinnings than the Crypt-Keeper and Uncle Creepy [though they do from time to time record and relate events with a supernatural origin, and E.C. Comics did publish horrific yet mundane tales in SHOCK SUSPENSE STORIES, many of which were curiously adapted into episodes of the "Tales From the Crypt" TV series on HBO, possibly implying that the Crypt-Keeper's influence was afoot in those stories despite his lack of visual presence in the comic book version]. Further, neither of them appear to be accompanied by, or depicted within, a distinctive otherworldly residence that manifests on the Earth plane along with them (the Hitchcock analogue appeared in what seemed to be a featureless locale, whereas the Hitchhiker was simply seen wandering lengthy roads, apparently on Earth), nor do any demon-like beings, in human form or otherwise, appear in their company or under their control. The Hitchhiker in particular appears to be a lone, nomadic type of entity (who may very well be human). Perhaps more importantly, the Hitchhiker and Hitchcock analogue do not display a lurid penchant for dark humor and puns, or take visible delight in the horrible human tragedies they record and lament to others, appearing instead to display complete emotional detachment from the events they relate, and focusing entirely upon their purpose without visibly displaying signs of enjoying what they do in zealous fashion. And finally, both appear entirely human in both form and attire, without any noticeable physical deformities or imperfections, or even the unusual hairstyles and clothing fashions of Cain and Abel. The Hitchhiker dresses like a stereotypical human drifter who spends much time wandering the highways looking for a ride, while the Hitchcock analogue dresses in standard professional business attire (i.e., meticulous suit and tie apparel).
What connection the Hitchhiker and Hitchcock analogue may have to the other Horror Hosts of the Crypt-Keeper mold is beyond my conjecture at this point, though I believe that both "The Hitchhiker" and the "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" series may be possible candidates for inclusion in the WNU timeline based upon the nature of their stories, but again, much further research is needed, including the possible hint of a crossover situation with an established inhabitant of the WNU. However, since these Horror Hosts largely avoid encounters with the great heroes and villains of the WNU, this may be a bit difficult.
Finally, let us note that the powerful supernatural hero known as the Phantom Stranger (whom I believe to have a WNU counterpart), who has often interacted directly with adventurers and various supernatural beings, and appears to belong to the category of Supernatural Hero, once took on the persona of Horror Host in the 1970's PHANTOM STRANGER comic, where he recorded and told the events of various horrific stories similar to those described above (and also in a previous 1950's horror/mystery anthology comic). Further, for a brief time during the late 1960's, the "ultimate" Supernatural Hero character, the Spectre (who may also have a WNU counterpart), was once punished for various offenses by being forced to temporarily carry about a book that recorded numerous cursed events, thereby taking on the role of Horror Host for part of the '60's run of THE SPECTRE. Thus, while I fully agree that the Phantom Stranger and the Spectre belong to the category of Supernatural Hero, it appears, as argued above, that many supernatural beings can sometimes be conscripted by yet higher powers to fill the role of Horror Host for temporary periods, despite these forces' preference for creating less powerful beings whose sole purpose is to do just that. I mention the above to again suggest that this may be an important hint which may imply that Horror Hosts (as we have called them here) are a vital ingredient to the cosmology of the universe, and that the various higher powers of these realities consider such beings (both exclusive and temporarily drafted for that purpose) to play a significant role in the overall development and destiny of the human species indigenous to the universe (or universes) where these Horror Host entities function. The fairly abundant presence of such beings in the WNU, and possibly across the spectrum of many alternate universes, as well as the fact that other supernatural beings are sometimes temporarily co-opted to perform a similar role for various reasons, again strongly suggests to this author that the role these beings play in the affairs of the human race is a vital and important one.
These beings thus appear to be as natural a part of the supernatural landscape of the WNU as any other type of metaphysical or supernatural entity that one can mention, and as such, they deserve much stronger scrutiny and attention by creative mythographers and the various researchers of supernatural entities and phenomena than they have received in the past.
Elivra, Digger, and Other Macabre Human Tale-Spinners
In Part 1 of this article,
I endeavored to explain one sub-category of Horror Host. The second such
category appears to comprise those beings who have strong paranormal
connections yet also appear to act fully under their own volition, who
regularly display a discernable life outside of their duties as a "horror
host," and who sometimes (if not often) engage in adventures within the
greater reality of their universe outside of the distinct role of collecting
and telling horrific tales (despite the penchant for many to keep a lower
profile than characters who belong to other categories), and who appear to
collect horror stories and reiterate them to others simply as a hobby and
strong personal interest, possibly for the sheer thrill of doing so, rather than
being created and/or drafted for this purpose by higher powers of some sort.
In this category I include Elvira, Dr. Witty, and Digger.
To start off with an example, I will explain a bit of Digger's history, both for those who are unfamiliar with the character and as a perfect example of the second sub-category of Horror Host who happens to have a strong possibility for inclusion in the WNU. This will also serve to illustrate how Horror Hosts of the second sub-category can straddle two or more different character categories, just as other characters of various categories can straddle between Super-Hero and Monster, and how (as another example), the Martian Manhunter straddles that of three categories, Super-Hero, Alien Being, and Detective.
Digger's roots began entirely in the Horror Host mold, as he narrated the tales that appeared in the Marvel Comics' horror anthology title from the late 1960's called TOWER OF SHADOWS. In the course of that rather short-lived but somewhat memorable series (an early experiment by Marvel in producing a horror anthology), Digger was simply depicted as a creepy-looking character carrying a shovel, hence his name, with the implication that he was a criminal grave-robber, and he possessed the usual Horror Host disposition; he told the stories of various horrific incidents to parties unknown, and the Tower of Shadows itself was hinted at being the "place" where these stories were chronicled, but this structure was never actually seen (though its actual, quasi-concrete existence has been strongly implied; see below). The readers of the time had no reason to think that Digger existed in the "actual" MU (or WNU, for our purposes), however, and following the title's demise, Digger and the Tower of Shadows were promptly forgotten, and this remained the case for about 20 years.
Then along came CAPTAIN AMERICA Vol. 1 #330 (scribed by the late, great Mark Gruenwald). In this story, titled "The Night Shift," we are introduced to the eponymous team of Los Angeles based villains, most of whom were Super-Villain/Monster straddlers (Jack Russell, a.k.a., Werewolf By Night, was then part of the roster), who were then led by the Shroud, a super-hero with supernatural underpinnings who fought crime by masquerading as a criminal motivated by avarice, and thereby conning villains into operating on the side of the angels via pretending to be leading them for the purpose of personal gain. Since Captain America and the Jack Russell Werewolf are known to have counterparts in the WNU, and both were present together in this story, which also included Dr. Karl Malus (who is an important villain in Jack Russell's personal chron), and the Shroud is a character who would likewise be at home in the WNU, there is a great possibility that this incident had an analogue in the WNU of the early 1980's, and for the purposes of this essay I am going to presume that it does (this would also include 'wolded' versions of the rest of the Night Shift, who included Gypsy Moth, the Brothers Grimm, Needle, Tatterdemalion, Dansen Macabre, and Ticktock).
Digger appeared as a member of this group, and it was revealed that he was a particularly dangerous criminal with some connections to the supernatural who operated in the Los Angeles area, thus revealing that Digger not only existed in a concrete sense, but that he also had a life beyond his penchant for collecting and telling tales of horror within the Tower of Shadows. Hence, Digger can be said to straddle the categories of Super-Villain and Horror Host. During the course of this story, Digger and the Werewolf By Night, alongside the rest of the Night Shift, found themselves battling alongside Captain America against a mutual foe, businessman Curtis Jackson, a.k.a., the Power Broker (thus likely bringing him into the WNU) and the hordes of mentally deranged mutates who were failed recipients of his strength augmentation process that his company had dumped into the L.A. sewer system (one of these failed augments who retained his mental faculties, called Misfit, later joined the Night Shift).
Now, as to the quasi-concrete reality of the Tower of Shadows in the greater universe...here is the line given by the Shroud that suggests it actually existed. After Captain America and the Night Shift defeated a legion of the Power Broker's mutates, the Shroud told Captain America, "We'll deliver the mutates to the Tower of Shadows first, then pay a call on this Power Broker" (this line appears on page 12, last panel). However, nothing further of the mysterious but intriguing Tower of Shadows was seen or explained in that story.
Other Horror Hosts who fit the above sub-category alongside Digger include Elvira, whose life outside of relating horror stories was seen in her two films, and Dr. Witty, whose exploits outside of his tale-spinning was seen in certain local horror theater TV station affiliates. Elvira was not only well-known as a TV station and occasional direct to video B-film horror host, but she also pulled off a brief but notable stint as a comic book Horror Host in the early 1980's in DC Comics' ELVIRA'S HOUSE OF MYSTERY (possibly implying that she was temporarily conscripted by higher forces to take over the reins of the House of Mystery from Cain, but the reasons for that remain…well, a mystery).
Then we come to Vampirella, whose temporary status as a (apparently conscripted) Horror Host was described in detail in Part 1 of this essay, so there is no need to reiterate it here in Part 2.
Wolding The Horror Hosts
Here I will briefly suggest which of these Horror Hosts, at this point in time, I believe may be good candidates for possible WNU inclusion, bearing further research. Those of the first sub-category would be Uncle Creepy, Cousin Eerie, the Creep, Cain, Abel, and the Hitchhiker. I have yet to see any hard evidence that would hint that the Crypt-Keeper and his E.C. clones would be good candidates for inclusion in the WNU, so I await arguments for and/or against their wolding from other creative mythographers in the future who may decide to do further research on characters of the Horror Host category; nevertheless, I personally believe that the possibility of incorporating the E.C. horror hosts in the WNU chron is a good one. Should the two movies "Demon Lover" and "Bordello of Blood," both of which feature the Crypt-Keeper, ever be wolded for any reason, this would provide some good evidence.
Those of the second sub-category of Horror Host for possible WNU inclusion would be, in my opinion, Elvira, Digger, and Dr. Witty and company.
In summation, I believe that there is good evidence to suggest that Horror Hosts of both of the above sub- categories may play a much larger role in the reality of the WNU (or any other given alternate universe) than previously suspected or assumed, and as such, it's my hope that in the future, a category for these elusive beings will be routinely included among the many character or monster categories that are already established and accepted in any given inclusive horror tome or research project seeking to define various monstrous (or other types) of characters. It is also my hope that such characters will merit further attention in the future by researchers, as they may be among the most important denizens of the Secret History of the Wold Newton Universe who are routinely disregarded in the many chronicles that creative mythographers regularly research, as the characteristic ineffable nature of the Horror Hosts and their preference for the mist-shrouded sidelines has caused many a chronicler of the paranormal to overlook their possible hidden importance.