"Screamland: Death of the Party" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Harold Sipe & Christopher Sebela
Illustrated by Lee Leslie
2011, 172 Pages
Trade Paperback published on January 17th, 2012
Everyone knows the classic Universal monsters. Dracula, the Wolfman, the Invisible Man, and more are staples when it comes to horror. They were later joined by aliens, robots, and slashers. What do they do when the monster movies start to dry up? They hit the convention circuit of course. Screamland: Death of the Party shows us that these creatures of yesteryear weren't actors in suits, but genuine monsters. Just like any other actor, they loved their celebrity status and now that their careers are on the decline, they're struggling to recapture their former glory.
In addition to this awesome background, Screamland is also a murder mystery. The book opens up with the death of Devil Fish (sort of a Creature from the Black Lagoon), who has seen a bit of an uptick in his newfound career as a monster porn maven. The Fantasyscapecon starts up the next day and that douchebag the Invisible Man reveals that he has the only copy of Phantasmagorgya, the only film to ever star all of the monsters...and they're totally doing it. That's right. It's a monster sex tape.
What follows is a humorous supernatural detective story as Carl the Wolfman -- star of such direct-to-DVD hits as Dr. Wolfman -- and Izzy, a washed up sci-fi TV star akin to William Shatner, track down the tape at any costs.
Screamland: Death of the Party works on several layers. There's drama in Carl and Izzy's sad state of affairs as they come to the realization that maybe they're too old for this. Carl is still trying to embrace the movie star side of himself but deep down he is a literal monster. The whole book is framed in humor as authors Harold Sipe and Christopher Sebela poke fun at conventions, fanboys, monsters, politicians, and more. For example, Henry Newmann is a super strong robot similar to the one from Forbidden Planet, but with a brain on top. He's left his movie career behind him to become a right wing newscaster like Bill O'Reilly.
Artist Lee Leslie brings the story to life and matches the authors with each joke. Whereas the dialogue and plot itself is funny, Leslie adds a ton of fun little cameos in the background of the entire book. Any comic or horror fan will want to go back through Screamland in an effort to spot them all. Leslie's style is light and looks a bit like a comic strip at times. This isn't a bad thing as it works tonally with the story. The character design is spot on too. Newmann is all business in his suit despite the fact that his head consists of a clear jar with a brain floating in it. Izzy practically screams "has-been" with his Hawaiian shirt and socks with sandals.
At its heart, Screamland: Death of the Party is a fun comic book. Any genre fan will find something to enjoy here. It's funny but never offensive, even though they're clearly making fun of some of the attendees of comic conventions. Plus, there's a very satisfying comeuppance for a star of a Twilight-esque movie which is worth the price of admission alone.
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