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Screamland #1 – Review

By: Harold Sipe &  Christopher Sebela (writers), Lee Leslie (art), Kevin Mellon (back-up art), Buster Moody (colors) and Sebela (letters)

The Story: A bunch of real-life monster movie stars confront their older age and lack of relevance.

What’s Good: It’s a neat enough idea.  Imagine if the movie monsters from the 60’s and 70’s were real actors…..as if the Creature from the Black Lagoon wasn’t a dude in a plastic suit, but a real life fish-man who worked as an actor because he had nothing else to do (accounting?  law school?).  Now imagine these wolfmen and aliens and whatnot as they hit their 50’s are become overweight has-beens….

Well, that’s the concept for this comic.  The idea of following some aging movie star or musician as they try to regain their mojo for one last shot at the BIG TIME isn’t exactly a new premise, but I’ve never seen it done with movie monsters.  This first issue shows these guys doing all the things that has-beens do: hanging out on the convention circuit, talking about old times, getting drunk and fat, keeping a stiff upper lip when the fans rush for whatever is new and fresh…..but the central event of this first issue is the threat by one of the monsters to release the “sex tape” of some 70’s orgy that they were all involved in.  Will that give them added fame or will it make them a laughing stock?

The art works really well for this type of subject matter.  It is very much a cartoon-y style.  It isn’t what you’d want in a straight horror comic, but for a tongue-in-cheek look at a bunch of has-been movie monsters, it works great.  The coloring is nice and bright as well.

What’s Not So Good: I think this issue could have been a few pages shorter OR moved the action faster.  The action is very straightforward: introduce the characters and reveal the “threat” of the sex tape.  In some ways, I think the creators’ good story telling worked against them because they were so efficient with the introduction of these concepts that they could have moved the story on a little faster.

I have zero insight into how this comic was produced, but it does touch on a common theme I see with creator-owned comics (which I LOVE overall): the need for an editor (i.e. someone who is supposed to be critical of the work).  A good editor might have helped these guys chop a few pages out of this first issue without harming the story and allowed them to get to the next story checkpoint.

To be clear, it isn’t a bad first issue and you aren’t reading it and thinking, “BORING!” It’s more of a missed opportunity that the creators had to advance more rapidly than they did.

Conclusion: A cool, hip and different take on an “After the Glory” tale.  It could have moved a little faster, but I’m definitely interested in the second issue.

Grade: B

-Dean Stell

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