The Scream Factory | Wizard World Chicago

There's No Place Like Home
Michael C. Riedlinger

            When Fangoria Comics closed its doors last year, several promising titles went the way of the dodo, or so it seemed. Several months ago, a new comic book publisher with a strikingly similar logo started hawking titles on Myspace, chief among them a movie tie-in for the much anticipated genre bender Death Walks the Streets. Soon, we began seeing familiar titles promoted by this new company, including BUMP and Strangeland: Seven Sins. The creator-owned properties left unfinished by the demise of Fangoria Comics had found a new home called The Scream Factory.

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            The folks behind the Fango books stuck together, helping each other complete their titles even without pay, because they really believed in each other and each other’s work. The first new offering from The Scream Factory is issue #0 of Death Walks the Streets, a lead-in to the film of the same name. According to writer/director James Zahn, the film should be shooting “very, very soon”, and the book, written by him and Ben Brezinski, should be a real treat for fans that have been following the progress of the proposed trilogy and its star Christian Kane (Angel). Zahn and Brezinski, native Chicagoans premiering their first film and comic at Wizard World Chicago this year, have already seen a lot of buzz surrounding the movie, including t-shirts, national news coverage, and a fan-base that spans the globe. You can tell how proud they are to be releasing their work to a home crowd first when you speak with them about comic, and they are just as supportive of the company’s other projects as they are of their own.

            New titles and old, much of this new publisher’s content is set to be offered, for free, at just as that site begins distributing internationally. The folks at Scream Factory see themselves as a multi-media company, not just as a publisher. They have already taken innovative approaches to marketing utilizing social networks like Myspace and Facebook, and all of their titles so far seem to have ties to the world of cinema. BUMP is set to be directed by horror-effects legend Robert Kurtzman, Dee Snider has signed his approval to Strangeland, a book written by his son Jesse, and Death Walks the Streets has sounded promising since plans for the film were announced a couple years ago. The company, as any of their employees will tell you, is about innovation in a changing market place. It is no longer enough to print a pretty book with a fun story and hope it sells, they must explore all possible mediums for their work.

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            Visiting the Scream Factory booth at Wizard World Chicago is like hanging out with the cool kids in the lunch room back in high school. Half of the guys look like they belong in rock bands (James Zahn actually does), and they’re willing to talk to anyone with an interest in their work. What comes across most, however, is their passion. You can tell that these creators aren’t blowing smoke up anyone’s ass; their sincerity is visceral. Not a one in the bunch has any doubt about whether or not their work will succeed, and with good reason. The books are well written and the art is as good as any from Image or Dark Horse, and certainly better than the latest offerings from what is likely their chief rival, IDW. If you make it out to Wizard World Chicago this weekend, stop by their booth (933), check out their titles, and say hello to what is likely the new home for horror in the comics world.