DC/WildStorm Cancels Horror Titles

Although they call it “updating their publishing plans”, the fact is, the licensed horror movie comics are ending their ongoing runs. Nightmare on Elm Street‘s last issue is #8; the other two end with #6. Press release follows.

Starting in June, WildStorm’s titles based on popular horror movies from New Line Cinema – A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, FRIDAY THE 13TH, and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE – will change from monthly comics to a series of specials and miniseries.

“This new approach to these franchises should provide retailers with more opportunities to introduce them to new readers,” says Hank Kanalz, VP – General Manager, WildStorm.

The first of the specials will be TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: CUT!, coming in June. Written by Will Pfeifer, with art by Stefano Raffaele and a cover by Darick Robertson, CUT! takes place thirty years after the gruesome events of the infamous “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” as film school grads come to Travis County to document the Hewitt clan. But has the terror really ended? Has Leatherface really faded into urban myth? TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: CUT! will be solicited in the April Previews.

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE comes to end as an ongoing series with issue #6 (FEB070342), scheduled to arrive in stores on April 18.

Also in June, the eighth and final issue of the ongoing A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series will arrive in stores. WildStorm will continue publishing A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, starting with a six-part mini-series scheduled for later this year.

FRIDAY THE 13TH comes to an end as an ongoing series with issue #6 (MAR070260), scheduled to arrive in stores on May 9. WildStorm will continue publishing FRIDAY THE 13TH, starting with a two-part Special, “Pamela’s Tale” scheduled to begin in July.

I suspect that, contrary to executive opinion, new readers don’t want an introduction. Comics just can’t provide the visceral thrill that movies do — I’ve never jumped out of my seat because something in a comic scared me. Comic horror, I think, works better on the intellectual, creepy, having-to-think-about-it level, and that doesn’t really apply to slasher films. The alternative is going for pure gross-out, and we know DC may not be comfortable with that type of excess.

I also fear that Avatar’s previous comics for these franchises have poisoned the well for these titles. Retailers dislike anything Avatar touches, you see, because of their smaller-than-usual discounts, too many alternate covers, and misleading solicitations. (I don’t like their publications because I still remember the publisher threatening to sue anyone who disagreed publicly with him when he published freelancer work that he hadn’t paid for. He was that generation’s Rick Olney.) Moving to a bigger, more respected publisher should have addressed those concerns, but maybe the audience is glutted.

12 Responses to “DC/WildStorm Cancels Horror Titles”

  1. James Schee Says:

    Yeah I never saw the audience for this in comics, as comics can’t convey the same things as the movies. Unless they wanted to up the exploitation element more, show more naked chicks before they die.

    Especially these franchises were the story was unimportant most times. Now if they had done say Scream it might work slightly better, but then that franchise had a fairly core cast.

  2. Julio Dvulture Says:

    I think best terror movie to comics adaptation was hellraiser, both the hellraiser comic and the pinhead mini-series. But the hellraiser comic was both gross and philosophical and the pinhead mini was an action comic that owed more to back to the future than the Hellraiser series. So I guess adaptations really don’t have chance of succeding without shedding the original genre of movies. But I think I would buy a funny Nightmare on Elm Street, like the TV series.

    The TV series wasn’t scary, but had a excellent sense of dark humour (considering the low budget it had to have something good to reedem it).

  3. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Mar. 15, 2007: Naruto owns us all Says:

    […] Johanna Draper Carlson is reporting that DC Comics’ Wildstorm division has canceled its line of licensed horror-movie titles sum in toto. […]

  4. Paul O'Brien Says:

    “Comics just can’t provide the visceral thrill that movies do — I’ve never jumped out of my seat because something in a comic scared me.”

    I think you’re right about that – the appeal of these franchises is essentially cinematic. It’s not about the IDEA of what’s happening, it’s about SEEING what’s happening. It doesn’t translate to a medium like comics where the flow of time is simulated by panel layout. To make this sort of story work in comic book form, you need to take out all the cinematic tricks and replace them with comic book equivalents – by which point you’ve fundamentally deviated from the formula that you were licensing in the first place.

  5. John Platt Says:

    The sad thing is, all three comics are actually quite good. I didn’t plan to even give them a look, but I did, and they were much better than you would expect.

  6. Johanna Says:

    John, do you mind elaborating on that? I’ve never seen any of them, so I’m curious to know what you liked about them.

  7. Lyle Says:

    I’d guess that the biggest hurdle these comics faced was that people couldn’t imagine these licenses turning out good horror comics. As it has been noted above, when horror comics work they’re presenting stories that are chilling after you give them some thought, something that wasn’t key to most of those movies. At that point it doesn’t matter if you can make a good comic or not because the audience has tuned out in advance.

    OTOH, I could see a license for a movie like Ring or Pulse working since both films had a similar effect of being more chilling after you’ve finished the movie and think a little bit more about the premise. In those cases, though, you’re facing the same challenges as a sequel, building on the idea and finding ways to make it scary past the “this is the source of their terrible power” chill without making any of the major developments that would be reserved for a theatrical sequel.

  8. Ray Cornwall Says:

    Here’s a question- how long will it be until we see manga horror books of these franchises from some unsuspecting publisher?

  9. Dan Coyle Says:

    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Wes Craig is one of the few DC books I really like these days; the script is appropriately demented, considering the characters, and the action is first rate. I dislike the remake it’s based on, but Abnett and Lanning are doing a fine job.

    Friday the 13th is too slow moving for my tastes but it’s got nice art.

    Nightmare on Elm Street I haven’t read, but since it’s Chuck Dixon, I wonder if getting your guns taken away is the ULTIMATE nightmare.

  10. EDDIE WRETCH Says:

    I just, last week to be exact, became aware of the fact that these titles exist (I remeber the “Nightmare On Elm Street” title from 1989) and have a bit of interest in them. I flipped through a couple of “Friday The 13Th” issues and noticed a lack of the presence of Jason. It just seems to me that perhaps the rug was pulled out from under these titles before it should have been, but then again, how long can and does a title get to run before they decide that its audience will not grow?

  11. Chainsaw Says:

    Why are we circling around the same stories? Are we that dry on new stories that we keep going with the same one. Just, there are ones that are timeless evils such as Freddy and Jason, but the more we add to the story, the less we remember the horror that they brought to us, and start looking at it as a joke. When we get to such movies such as Nightmare of Elm Street Pt 24, don’t you think that we have gone to far? Comics about a movie can be fine as long as they don’t keep going and going and going. We can go into some back story, or add to a existing one. But we don’t need to continually add new characters, new evils, and new plot twists. Some evils do need to be put to rest sometime. Can we not allow them to do so?

  12. Tom Says:

    Interesting points you all make here, and i agree with some of you but disagree with others. Ive been a huge fan of all 3 of the above mentioned horror film series and agree that all 3 main characters have become a bit of joke as each series has gone on (with maybe the exception of leatherface). I think the reason for this was when the films started, the killers were hidden in the shadowns more and we didn’t see too much of them, this worked well because of the whole what we can’t see scares us thing. As the movies went on, the characters were portrayed in brighter lights, we could see more of them and this took a huge amount of the care factor away for me. By the time Nightmare OEL 4 and 5 came along, freddy was just a joke, more of a comic character than scary killer and think this has unfortunately transalted into the comics too. Ive read ALL the Avatar comics of all 3 series and most of the wildstorm and am not ashamed to admit i enjoyed them all, the art was great and the stories were (although not vastly original) compelling enough to make me carry on reading them. However, freddy for example is still drawn in very bright colours and has big pages just to himself which is a mistake becasue its just not creepy/scary! Why not only show part of him (e.g. the claw) in darker tones and smudges, change the whole mood of the environments to make them darker and gloomier? Then at least you’re capturing some of the essence of the first few films which were great. I agree that a comic can’t scare you but thats not why i read all these comics. I just love the IDEA of the whole thing. I love the idea of this killer being on the loose, i love the environments envolved and i love the endless slughter (trying not to sound like too much of a psycho here…). At the same time i do agree that they can’t go on like this forever and thats where i think the wildstorm releases are perfect becasue at least they’re trying to put some new ideas into the comics- friday the 13th having a history of kids dying in the lake, Jason befriending a child with a head deformation (like he has as a child), the pamelas tale taking at look at mrs vorhees, the texas chainsaw taking a look from the future etc. etc. So i guess this is a good direction to go in. Avatar did their thing with the thin stories and heavy gore (which definitely had its place), but now its DCs turn to bring out stories of a different kind e.g. less gore but more original stories.
    Anyway i thought i’d give my 2 cents from someone in the UK who still loves these characters and will read everything thats published by them!




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