Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

I’m a little worried about today’s column. I feel like it could solicit some strange response. I’ll bite and write it anyway though. I want to start off by pointing out three things about myself though:
  1. I like to scare myself. Zombie movies, Stephen King and Clive Barker novels, Warren Ellis’ comic books (Strange Kiss…don’t read. No no no, bad thoughts…)…don’t know why, but I love to find things that really get under my skin.
  2. I’d like to think that I’m a fairly tolerant person. That is to say, I strive to be culturally sensitive. I don’t go around telling people this is right, or this is wrong. I wasn’t raised as one particular religious denomination or the other. I’m not advocating for any religious faith in today’s column.
  3. I think there’s something wrong with me, lately.
Over the course of the rest of what I write here, you’ll hopefully see why I laid all of this out for you, upfront. So yeah, I love scary stuff. And nowadays, my tolerance for scary is pretty high. I mean, after all, you can only watch so many schlocky, late-night horror movies on USA before they all start to kind of blur together. Still, I challenge myself to find media- written or filmed- that unsettles me. Apocalypse stories captivate (read: terrify) me. Not because I love to see people suffer, or because I have some weird, perverse fetish for gore, but because I love their epicness. How would the world end? What could wipe out the whole human race? What kind of force- natural? Man-made? Supernatural? What would life be like, in the face of such massive, cataclysmic events? I’ve got to tip my hat to The Walking Dead, not to impinge on Defense With the BoomStick’s territory or anything. When I first saw that comic on the rack, I fully expected it to be “just another zombie comic.” I’m so blown away by how well thought-out, long-running, and well characterized the story is. Fans of World War Z’s gritty realism would do well with this book. Part of what’s so compelling is not just the action- how the characters survive- but the psychological impact of surviving on each of the characters. The kinds of choices and pressures each character is exposed to- and how different grim reality sometimes is from their expectations- well, there have been some big shifts in personality for a lot of the characters. Really, the zombie is kind of an analogy for war. You know, one day you might wake up and suddenly such and such people from such and such place are a threat to you, and you’ve GOT to KILL THEM in order to survive. That’s part of why the zombie is so frickin’ scary- not because it’s this horrible monster, but because it’s this perversion of a real PERSON. Okay, I’ve ranted about zombies before. The real point is, I’ve finally learned, in the last few weeks, that there’s “well-written” scary and “unintentionally” scary, and that the latter fills me with dread far, far more than the former. Lots of writers play around with the book of Revelations, from the Bible. I’m still a strong believer in the idea that Southland Tales (from the director of Donnie Darko) is somehow just a weird allegory for Revelations. It comes in a pretty weird form, but it’s all in there in one piece or another. Okay, deep breath- here I go. Left Behind. Ever heard of it? They’re those hardcore, evangelical Christian “science-fiction” novels that you probably sneer at in the grocery store. I can’t believe someone wrote these. I can’t believe people read them. I can’t believe someone, somewhere, has made money off of them. Not only that- but these books have blossomed into a multimedia franchise. Direct to DVD movies. Graphic novels that cover the first two books in the series (hence my comment, on this blog). And a video game (I’ll get to that). DESPITE these misgivings, I, myself, am somehow sorely tempted to read them. It’s like a train wreck, or reality television. I can’t look away. I have never once opened a single page of any book, or the comic. I can’t bring myself to. I can’t comment on the quality of the artwork of the comic book adaptation of the novels and how closely it resembles the books. Yet, I have subjected myself to the films (starring Kirk Cameron) and spent numerous hours researching the plot online. I just can’t believe people…think this way. Left Behind doesn’t scare me. The fact that people enjoy it scares me. Left Behind is a completely literal interpretation of the last book of the Bible. So all of the prophesized events of the book of Revelations come true, in the most explicit, literal terms that the author can dream up. Occasionally, Revelations is- obviously- vague enough to leave some wiggle room for interpretation. Still, the point is, the writer isn’t big on the “Bible as allegory” point-of-view. So, at the beginning of the story there’s a “Rapture.” One day, everyone who has steadfastly believed in God- the Christian God, that is- magically disappear off the face of the planet. Everyone else- who either don’t believe in God, believe in the wrong God, or who believe in God but have their doubts- are “left behind.” It’s not just a clever name. The basic premise is this- as the human race panics and tries to compensate for a huge portion of the world disappearing, hell on earth slowly commences. Things prophesied in the Bible- water turning the blood, the earth being covered in darkness, the antichrist (in this case, a wealthy businessman attempting to build a new world government and endowed with certain special gifts by a spiritual force that he mistakes as a holy angel- only it’s, you know, Satan)- start to come true, and only the people trying to decipher each line of Biblical text have even the faintest idea of what’s going on. Now, I know the whole idea of the Christian faith is- well, just that. To have faith. You aren’t supposed to believe in anything other than God. And God just isn’t going to budge on this. He isn’t going to come down and tell you that everything’s okay, and that he’s there watching over you, or whatever. Why he insists on not doing this somewhat baffles me, especially in the context of this story. Maybe I’m of weak spiritual fortitude, but I have a tough time seeing how the ultimate force of all that is Life and Good and all would so harshly denounce the countless people who freak out, panic, and turn to the “Antichrist’s” new world government for order and stability. Still, at the end of the story, Jesus returns, and in what I think is an uncharacteristic move given what I know of his past goals, methods, and personality, brutally damns anyone who was confused, scared, or uninformed enough to unwittingly join with the Antichrist. It doesn’t seem to matter whether people really understood that the Antichrist was the Antichrist. The ultimate evil is, apparently, the act of allowing yourself to be confused during an inherently confusing time, and turning for direction during a time in which their was little given, from anyone. This seems, to me, a strange evil for God to choose to fight. But who am I to question his ways, right? I mean, it just seems like the following would be a somewhat plausible allegory for this interpretation of the book of Revelations: Jesus hands you a cocktail napkin, with an address he hastily scrawled on it. He tells you to meet him at the address in a few weeks time. When you arrive at the address, you have trouble making out the apartment number he wrote down. You try one, but after looking around and seeing no one, you decide to go back downstairs and talk to the hot dog vendor you saw outside to see if Jesus is around. Suddenly, Jesus bursts out of a closet and screams “SURPRISE! I was HERE ALL ALONG and you couldn’t FIND ME! Now you’re DAMNED FOR ALL TIME! GOT YOU!” Left Behind is like a sleigh ride through the most regressive, emotionally stifling obsessive religiosity I have ever seen in my life. It’s the kind of thing that fuels hate crimes. This level of intolerance truly, truly frightens me, more than any zombie movie ever filmed. My favorite is, of course, the real-time strategy PC game- Left Behind: Eternal Forces. Among my favorite tricks for the evil, satanic, global government (or whatever) are…well, street musicians. Yes, "street musicians" is a unit you can build in the game. They carry beat boxes and wear 90s gangster-related clothing. Street musicians help you “seduce” followers into following you. I’m not making this up. I’ve felt uncomfortable, for so many reasons, writing this column. I guess I’m a bit of a masochist, even subjecting myself to the slight level of distorted, close-minded thinking this series represents. But like I said, I like to freak myself out. And like I said, there must be something seriously wrong with me that I would take this route to do so. Apparently I’ve upped the ante. You probably didn’t need this heads up from me. These comics are already out of print. Still, I suspect that wherever you find them for sale, someone will be down your throat explaining the premise before you even have a chance to ask. Still, I’m going to stick my neck out there and give a wholehearted “STAY AWAY” rating to this series. Really. Scariest stuff I think I’ve ever seen.


  1. you better watch yourself Hank With no fur, or else The boomstick is gonna come for ya. and hey i read first few books of teh left behind series not by choice and it is scary how some people use these are law for their lives. oh and one more thing stay out of the west side it belongs to me


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