Pingo is a scary horror comic about a circus clown who also happens to be a serial killer. It appeared in House of Mystery #221. It is considered one of the nastiest stories that ever appeared in a DC horror comic.
The story begins with a young red-haired woman named Karen Hunnypott. She is hitch-hiking on a lonely country road. It’s cold outside and it’s beginning to snow. A man in a car stops to pick her up. As they drive on through the rain and the snow, she tries to make conversation, but the driver is strangely quiet.
He lets her off close to her home and she thanks him for the ride. As she is getting out of the car, the man suddenly wraps a green scarf around her neck and strangles her to death.
Karen’s glasses fall off as her lifeless body slumps to the ground.
The man drags her body off the road and buries it in the snow. Then, he picks up her glasses and keeps them as a memento.
The man is Pingo the Clown and he works in a circus. He does a high-wire act with his wife Margo. When he gets home to their trailer, she is mean and abusive, calling him a “big idiot” and a “pea-brain”. Pingo endures it all, just saying, “Yes, Dear. All right, Dear.”
That night, when her husband goes to bed, Margo is going through his coat pockets when she comes across a strange pair of glasses.
The next morning, Margo is reading the newspaper when a story catches her eye: “Mystery Strangler Strikes Again… Karen Hunnypot… Third victim in two weeks… Police are baffled…”
That night, just before showtime, Margo decides to confront Pingo. “I know why you’re always coming home late,” she tells him. “I know what you get up to on those long drives you take.”
“You do?” Pingo asks nervously.
“Of course I do, you idiot!” she shouts. “You’ve been driving down the highway, picking up young girls and strangling them just for kicks!”
Margot holds up the glasses she found as proof. There is a name engraved on the side: Karen Hunnypott.
“Really, I don’t know how you expected to get away with it,” says Margo. “I always knew you were a creep, but I had no idea you were Jack the Ripper!”
She picks up the phone to call the police, but before she can get through, Pingo wraps his scarf around her neck and strangles her to death.
But the show must go on. In the circus, the ringmaster introduces Pingo the Clown and he walks out dragging the dead body of his wife. The audience applauds because they think it’s just a rag-doll.
Pingo climbs up the ladder, carrying her corpse under his arm, and dances with her on the high wire. The audience cheer and applaud.
All of a sudden, Pingo lets her drop and she plummets to the ground, landing with a huge THWUD!
The audience screams and an ambulance comes to take Margot’s dead body away. Everyone thinks it was just a terrible accident. Pingo pretends to be devastated, but when he is alone, he chuckles at how clever he has been.
For the next few weeks, Pingo continues on his murder spree, gleefully strangling one young woman after another.
He is also rehearsing a new act and he has bought a rag-doll to replace his wife. On the night of his first performance, Pingo carries the rag-doll up the ladder and dances with it on the high-wire. The audience cheers and claps.
However, while he is dancing, the rag-doll knocks him off balance and he falls. Pingo just manages to grab onto the high-wire with one hand.
The audience keeps clapping. They think it’s all part of the act. As he hangs there in mid-air, struggling to keep his grip, the rag-doll wraps its arms around him, pinning his other arm to his side.
Pingo can’t hold on any longer. Finally, he loses his grip and they plummet to the ground, landing with a THUMP!
The other circus workers gather around, but there’s nothing they can do for Pingo. He’s dead and there is a look of horror frozen on his face. The rag-doll, on the other hand, looks like it is smiling…