Writers: Harold Sipe & Christopher Sebela
Artist: Lee Leslie
Image, along with Vertigo, is one of the publishers that manage to consistently produce comics (oftentimes with ‘unknown’ writers) that are worth the purchase based on premise alone (Chew, Proof, Morning Glories) ; the first issue of the new Vol.2 series Screamland definitely falls in that category... but it fails to fully showcase the way it should. And though that is a downside, it’s not necessarily a complete downfall.
I didn’t read any of the volume 1 Screamland, but a quick google search tells me it revolved around similar themes and characters. What you need to know is that the cast is made up of down-on-their-luck Hollywood horror actors that actually happen to be actual horror creatures: Carl the Werewolf, Izzy the Invisible man, Tempest the Vampire are just a few.
No longer content to just prowl the Horror conventions, which have since turned into havens for Twilight-esque fans, Carl is trying to get himself back into the business in a big way. There are actually a few panels and some dialogue taking jabs at Twilight and modern sort of ‘tween’ horror, which was definitely a highlight. As he tries to climb back up to the top, Carl enlists his buddy Travis, seemingly just a human sci-fi actor, for moral support but their self-loathing takes over and directs them to the bar circuit (Bar-con, they call it) during these conventions. Carl ends up with a chance to potentially re-enter the limelight, but there’s a catch--it’s not quite going to be via his ‘best work’. Carl attempts to stop this ‘secret’ from coming to light, and as he does we are given the cliffhanger ending.
Screamland has a great cast of characters, an extremely cool premise worthy of purchase alone, and a pretty decent plot. Though the writing is a bit bland, there are definitely a few laughs. Not quite “ha-ha” worthy, but good jabs at Hollywood and modern movie making.
This is all good, but I feel there could be a bit more. With such a great concept, the execution falls just short of ‘engrossing’. The cliffhanger ending is typical, but I feel that Sipe and Sebela are going to put a comical twist on it. This series is definitely worth checking out if you’ve got an aching nostalgia for the old horror flicks or just want a light-hearted, unique concept.
-Unique concept, great cast of characters
-Light-hearted read with good accompanying cartoonish art
-Pokes fun at Hollywood
-Falls just short of greatness