The "six degrees of separation" idea is attributed to Hungarian playwright and poet, Frigyes Karinthy in 1929. The concept in its most simplest of terms means that everything is connected by six or fewer "steps" (the coincidences found in the "friend of a fried" concept, for instance). Author Peter Levenda has also asserted more than once in his writings that there is a similar affinity between politics and the occult, as well as the synchronicity of of criminal acts (ex. the relationship between The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson and Charles Manson) and other, seemingly so-called, odd coincidences.
In this 8-page story from Warren's CREEPY #78, the six degrees of separation can be applied, whether loosely or directly, to two seemingly unrelated occurrences that ended up being connected by a common thread. The lead character in the story called "Creeps" is an accountant who goes by the name of Lester Finch. On page 2, Lester is told by his boss to get the "Berkowitz" people their final audit completed by the next morning. This seems quite innocuous and pedestrian enough on the surface, except, with the added hindsight of history (and a bit of the "six degrees" idea thrown in for good measure), it takes on a new perspective by the following elements:
- The story appeared in the March 1976 issue of CREEPY.
- The issue would have appeared on the stands in January or February of that year.
- The main character, Lester Finch, is an adult who lives at home with his stifling, overbearing mother.
- Finch snaps and goes on a hallucinatory killing spree, knifing anyone who he perceives as being a "creep".
- A killing spree with a connection to the name "Berkowitz" began in July of 1976, sending the citizens of New York City into a state of terrified panic.
Now, you may remember the infamous name, Berkowitz. It belonged to a man born as Richard David Falco, aka David Richard Berkowitz, who became known as the "Son of Sam" and the ".44 Caliber Killer" (a nice, journalistic ring to it, don't you think?), who went on a serial killing spree, murdering 6 people and wounding 8 others until he was apprehended. Here are the facts:
- Falco/Berkowitz was the product of a broken family, and his mother, who had been abandoned by his father, put him up for adoption.
- Berkowitz' first attacks were with a knife.
- Berkowitz claimed that he was ordered to commit his crimes when under the hallucinatory influence of his next-door neighbor's dog, "Harvey" (the neighbor was named Sam).
- The murders occurred only six months after the publication of the story in CREEPY.
Weird, huh? But not so weird when you consider Karinthy's six degrees of separation, and it may be stretching it a bit to think so, but in light of today's social thought, who's to say? Some may even categorize this connection as being "uncanny". But that's a concept asserted by another deep thinker by the name of Sigmund Freud, and let's just agree that the idea is a little too "heady" for this discussion. Nevertheless, using the six degrees model, not surprisingly, it fits. Now, if only I could convince Raquel Welch that I am a long-lost, distantly-related nephew!
The story, as it is shown here from CREEPY #78, was written by the legendary comics scripter, Archie Goodwin, and I have to say, even coming from later in his writing career, was expertly crafted. A line such as, "For down there, in the concrete and tile gloom of the platforms, aboard the filthy trains that shrieked and shivered like wounded angry prehistoric beasts, they waited for Lester Finch", resonates as not only great comic storytelling, but great storytelling, period.
The artwork was masterfully executed by two of the medium's most accomplished artists, John Severin and Wally Wood. The original art from the story is followed by the published version. The original first page is missing the story title, which was most likely added using an acetate overlay. The art is up for auction with the current bid of $2,400.