Screamland #1


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Screamland #1


  • Words: Harold Sipe and Christopher Sebela
  • Art: Lee Leslie and Kevin Mellon
  • Colors: Buster Moody
  • Story Title: Part 1: Death of the Party
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jun 8, 2011

The monsters of yore have been replaced. 3D CGI beasts rule the cinemas, coupled with the latest heart throbs that the screaming teenage fangirls love to sink their teeth into. There's no room for the monsters that used to have universal appeal. What role do a merman, a werewolf, an invisible man, an amorphous blob, a Nazi robot, a vampire woman, and a captain of a spaceship have in 2011? They get to have their moment of glory at Fantasyscapecon. With a sex tape from 1977 about to be released, some will do anything in their power to save whatever shreds of dignity they have. 

Screamland features a world where the Universal-era movie monsters (without using their names) were real actors being filmed. With their glory days of cinema behind them, they've been reduced to convention appearances. The same thing goes for the story's loose William Shatner-esque character: a captain of a starship on television doesn't have much going on when he's replaced by the next generation. An intriguing concept that's rife for both parody and action, the combo-writing crew of Sipe and Sebela decidedly play it for laughs. It's true, there is a murder mystery inherent in the book, but it's saddled between 1970s mustaches and the concept of an invisible man going off to do lame sitcoms post his horror career. 

Creators Harold Sipe and Christopher Sebela write the story with a few good laughs, but make sure to get character notes down rather quickly. Within panels, you understand what everyone's motivations are, what their personalities are like, and so forth. While Sipe and Sebela definitely get the dialogue and concepts of this world down, it's Leslie's art that really seals the deal. It may be goofy at times, it may be reminiscent of the Sunday morning comic strips at others. Most of the panels don't do much to break out of the normal shot of two characters side-by-side delivering dialogue. In this facet, it's not too divisive from the mainstream, nor experimental. Leslie's art is just straight-out fun. He can give anger to a faceless brain-in-a-jar. He can expertly depict an emotionless television reporter. He even gets to have fun depicting an invisible man smoking. There are real characters here, and he helps depict them the best way possible. Kevin Mellon gets more creative with blocking and panel framing, but loses a little bit of the character facets that Leslie does. Admittedly, he's on a short story with a character who lacks a face, so it's an understandable handicap. 

Screamland is an interesting and fun book that will probably reverberate with convention-goers and those appreciative of the classic style of monster movie (and holding a healthy disdain for the modern Twilight stylings).

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