Screamland #1-2

The burned-out monsters of Screamland return in this series. This time, instead of satirizing the celebrity culture of Hollywood, the target is a bit more direct: convention culture and fan behavior.

Screamland #1

In issue one, the former horror movie actors can’t get jobs any more. Technology has made real monsters obsolete. Why hire some grumpy, freaky-looking guy when you can just CGI up a costume? So they’re stuck working the con circuit, having to duck fans crazed to get a glimpse of the hot young vampire movie stars. They’re contemptuous of the losers who come to see them, just to feel better about their own failures and the way they’ve been shunted aside.

Meanwhile, the bloated gill-man creature is working out his addiction by swimming in a drug-laden pool. He’s rumored to have created a famous sex tape, with everyone caught showing off their sins and scandals. When the “Devil Fish” passes away, the Invisible Man decides to show this orgy footage, while the other monsters figure out how to stop him.

Lee Leslie has a wonderfully attractive/repulsive style for all this. His creatures are monstrous, but also woeful and a bit sympathetic in their decline. Our viewpoint character is the Wolf-Man, but he’s hanging out with a human, an old science fiction star who’s been put out to pasture while his TV show is relaunched as a movie with a younger cast. They resemble each other in their attitudes, even though they’re different species.

Screamland #2

Writers Harold Sipe and Christopher Sebela have an eye for the detail. Early on, the sea creature observes that he’s always felt inferior because he’s from a small Florida town, and all the other big-name monsters were European, thus more sophisticated. Yeah, that’s right, but it’s the kind of detail I’ve never noticed before, until it’s pointed out to me as part of the story background.

I kept being pleasantly surprised by the different creature archetypes that were introduced. Every time I thought they’d covered all the biggies, another one would wander in. Each is reminiscent of several famous movies or stories while being reworked as distinct “star” personalities, whether the burnout blob or the ideologically disturbing robot brain.

In issue #2, someone’s decided to take drastic action to prevent the showing of the true-life sex film, and the book becomes a murder mystery. One key suspect is the Slasher, from another generation of scary movies, one that sets off the Wolf-Man on ranting about turning art into porn, cheapening their craft.

It’s a shame the cover is so murky, because I fear it might make people overlook an entertaining read. Each issue also has a short story focusing on one of the monsters and what made them who they are. While the main story focuses on suspense and snarky humor, these backups provide some personality and character insight. You can read a teaser preview online.


3 Responses to “Screamland #1-2”

  1. October 2011 Previews: Slim Pickings » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] mention this because, when I saw that Image had a collection of Screamland offered — Screamland: Death of the Party (OCT11 0478, $16.99, December 14) collects the first five issues — I looked it up there. [...]

  2. Good Comics Out January 4: Screamland and Sandman » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Lee Leslie, Image Comics, $16.99). I enjoyed the previous collection, and I liked reading the first couple of issues reprinted here, but when I knew I wanted to follow the story, I switched to waiting for the book [...]

  3. Rigby the Barbarian » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Leslie, artist of Screamland, wrote to let me know about his webcomic, Rigby the Barbarian. It’s about an archaeology [...]

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