EVIL ERNIEOriginal Medium: Comic books
Published by: Chaos! Comics
First Appeared: 1991
Creators: Brian Pulido (writer) and Steven Hughes (artist)
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From Desperate Desmond to Eclipso, quite a few comics villains have starred in their own series. Of all the bad guys that have ever appeared under their own logos, it's possible Evil Ernie is the worst. His antecedents aren't Pegleg Pete, Doctor Doom or even The Joker, but the thing that waxes teenagers in splatter movies. And while series stars such as
The Claw and The Phantom Blot spun off superheroes like Daredevil and Super Goof, the only thing Evil Ernie spun off was Lady Death.
Lady Death was, in fact, Ernie's inspiration — she appeared in his dreams and offered her ample charms if he'd just do her a small favor, and go on a rampage of grisly murder. She needed everybody in the world dead before she could achieve a few little goals of her own.
Evil Ernie was originally Ernest Fairchild, who was born with telepathic powers. The ability to "hear" other people's thoughts made him uneasy, and in defense he became quiet and withdrawn. This didn't suit his parents, who cruelly mistreated him for not responding to the world as they thought he should. Eventually, they took him to a psychiatrist, Dr. Leonard Price, who tried an experimental "dream probe" on him. That, plus Ernie's special abilities, guided by a personality warped through years of abuse, led him to The Endless Graveyard, where Lady Death, who had been hoping to meet someone just like him, gave him a warm welcome. He emerged from the experience with his telepathy enhanced (so he could no longer block it, making him crazier than ever), and a new purpose in life. He killed his parents and 35 neighbors before being subdued and clapped in a mental institution.
The story was told over a five-issue mini-series, published by Eternity Comics (Dinosaurs for Hire, Ex-Mutants) starting with a December 1991 cover date. It was written by Brian Pulido and drawn by Steven Hughes, both of whom are best known for Lady Death. The publisher was one of several small ones with identical or interlocking ownership, most or all of which are now owned by Marvel Comics. After this, Pulido launched Chaos! Comics, which handled subsequent stories about Ernie and Lady Death, as well as Bad Kitty, Purgatori and other protagonists that aren't necessarily heroes.
Ernie's first Chaos! Comics mini-series was Evil Ernie: The Resurrection (1993), in which he was again subjected to psychological experimentation. This time, Dr. Mary Young zapped him with a so-called Neurotech, which she claimed would purge his psychotic inclinations, making him a model citizen. Instead, it killed him, but gave him the power to re-animate corpses, including his own. From then on, he's not only been unkillable, he also commands an army of similarly undead minions. Somewhere along the way, his Smiley Face button came to life, to function as a combination advisor, cheerleader, and Greek chorus.
More mini-series followed, most later collected into graphic novel form. He had an ongoing series for ten issues, July 1998 through April 1999.
Ernie's most recent appearance was in Evil Ernie Returns, which Chaos! published as a oneshot comic book in 2001. The following year, the company declared bankruptcy. Lady Death has found an afterlife with other publishers, but so far, Ernie remains dead.