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Screamland #1

Posted: Monday, December 31, 2007
By: Bruce Logan



“Andrea Silverman: Agent of Frankenstein’s Monster”

Writer: Harold Sipe
Artist: Hector Casanova

Publisher: Image Comics

EDITOR’s NOTE: The first issue of Screamland is currently available for pre-order on p. 150 of Diamond Previews.

Exclamation: “It wasn’t a porn site!! It was a…a service.”

Explanation: Set in modern/current times, Screamland #1 revolves around the fictional lingering remnants of the horror movie genre. However, instead of just being fictional constructs these remnants here are living, breathing (well, not in case of the Count) people, uh, beings. The main protagonist, the Frankenstein monster, as with many of his pals is, as expected, in the movie business. He is an actor, one who has seen much better days in regards to the amount and quality of work he gets. The scarcity of good meaty roles even led him to try his hand at other business ventures (the aforementioned ‘service’) but without much success.

Things start to look up when Frank’s agent offers him a role in a Buffy-esque comic based television series about a teenaged monster-hunter. Initially averse to yet another story where the monsters get a beat down Frank gives in (after all, he isn’t rolling in the green). The issue ends with him getting into character.

Examination: Depending on how fresh or cynical/jaded the reader is, Screamland will vary (in interpretation) from humorous albeit a bit dark to a melancholy satire. A story about the granddaddies of Freddy, Jason and just about any other horror-genre biggy of recent years, it has very little to do with the actual monster part of this bunch.

It is also not just for horror aficionados.

Even though the story is based on and around these so called monsters, the focus here is on who they are as people rather than the parts they play in their movies, TV shows, etc. For lack of a better word, the monsters here are normal people. They work, eat, drink, pay their taxes, and get chewed out by their superiors. Things that your everyday normal person does. Their being what they are is a part and not the entire definition of who they are. Sure Frank (as in Frankenstein’s monster) might be reanimated living flesh but he is also a drunk. Not only that, he is also a former failed web entrepreneur, a casualty of the bursting of the web/internet bubble from a few years back. How much more normal can one get?

Screamland #1 doesn’t quite would allow for a definitive comment about what exactly this series is about. Going by this issue alone it appears to be a story about the life and struggles of the bunch of (visual minority) actors. However, it could very well take a turn for the mystery, suspense, even espionage genre. Well, maybe not the last one, after all I don’t quite see Franky and the boys as being ideal spy material. Still, the field is open to any number of plot avenues.

As for its visuals, the artwork of Screamland #1 is expressive with a definitive dark/serious streak to it. There is a certain satirical edge to the story which artist Hector Casanova brings out quite well through his art. Slightly brighter colors would have been welcome if only to give equal stress to the comedy in dark comedy. Nevertheless, at the end of the read the artwork complemented rather than deterred the writing, and that is always a good thing.

Proclamation: A good opening. Hoping that the follow-ups are equally entertaining.

You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at http://www.xcave.net



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