Sunday, May 22, 2016


Eibon Press is the all-new publishing brainchild of Masters of Horror/Shock Festival writer Stephen Romano, and horror’s own memorabilia legend and creator of Black Devil Doll Shawn Lewis. Their mission is to “Make owning and collecting horror comics cool again,” by releasing single issue comic books in super limited “Prestige Editions,” which will feature premium printing and innovative packaging never before seen in the history of comics. “Our books are like limited edition record albums,” says Romano. “You know all that awesome stuff they’re doing with posters and vinyl soundtracks at places like Mondo? Well that what we’re bringing to comics. Each and every issue of each and every title will come encased in a specially-designed album jacket-style sleeve which we’ve invented ourselves. We call it the “Eibon Sleeve.” Plus you’ll get some fun extra stuff inside the sleeve with your comic. For example, the first 250 of each 1,000 copy run will contain a signed and numbered bookplate. And we’ll be inserting random awesome stuff in a few of the sleeves like autographed bookmarks and such. What we’re doing has never been done before, and we really hope people will dig all the blood and sweat we’re putting into each issue.” (All text in italics above and below from the press release)

Are you excited??? I am! All the images Eibon have released so far shows that they are serious about living up to the expectations they’re giving us. The artwork for ZOMBIE, GATES OF HELL, and BOTTOMFEEDER is really top notch and alluring. Scrolling through the preview pages, I’m thinking that the launch of Fulci Comics will be one of the most significant events in horror this year. That’s not hyperbole, fiends, I’m legitimately excited.

In past posts I’ve talked about my love for indie horror comics and obsessively collecting Deadworld, Zombie War, Faust, etc. Somehow I missed 1998’s THE BEYOND and 2000’s original release of ZOMBIE, so this is quite the treat!

As for being a fan of Lucio Fulcio, I remember being a teenage horror fan working my way through the horror sections at my local video shops. Only two shops had any Fulci films, THE PSYCHIC and GATES OF HELL (aka CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD). I didn’t know Fulci from Leone at the time. THE PSYCHIC had a great cover, but the description didn’t grab me so I never rented it. GATES OF HELL though had this really lurid cover
from Paragon video and came with a warning about extreme violence. Even after I had seen and fallen in love with DAWN and DAY OF THE DEAD I was still too chicken to rent GATES. Besides, I grew up a Southern Baptist and if I tried to bring anything called GATES OF HELL into my house I’d have my rental privileges revoked!

It was 1998 after I had moved to Boston that I got a proper introduction to Fulci from hanging out and working part time at Garage Video and from my horror obsessed roommate who had a really stellar collection of Fulci on VHS. That was a good time for getting schooled in Italian horror in general, an invaluable time that still influences my work today.

Fulci Comics are giving us more than just straight adaptations of the films though, ZOMBIE will shamble ever forward as an ongoing series after the original 4-issue film adaptation is complete. “You’ll see all your favorite characters of course,” says Lewis. “But you’ll also see some new faces. And some faces you thought were dead and buried, too. Stephen’s bringing back Doctor Menard, for example, as a crazy mutated zombie mad scientist monster, working under the insane magic of BIACANDO—the voodoo priest sort of responsible for the zombie apocalypse. But there’s a post modern twist to everything, involving a toxic waste dump and a crazy Army general. It’s just insane stuff. The fans are gonna eat it the fuck up. I mean . . . I’m a fan and I’m already eating it the fuck up!” Likewise, GATES will be an ongoing as well! Might we get the last four of the Seven Doors Of Death?

On top of these two books, we’ll also be getting Lewis and Romano’s original book BOTTOMFEEDER! BOTTOMFEEDER is an all-new original horror series, slated for release in
2017, which plays like HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP meets BAD LIEUTENANT. It was created by Lewis and Romano in a psychotic collaboration that not only features the most audacious, bloodthirsty, politically incorrect horror scenario envisioned since the gory glory days of the grindhouse 1980s . . . but it also contains a stellar “dream cast” of horror movie legends.
“We originally wanted to make BOTTOMFEEDER as a movie,” Romano says. “So when we decided to make it as a comic series, we “cast it” just like we might have cast a dream version of the film. This means we can have some heavyweight horror stars in there, like Bill Mosley and Clu Gulager, who have both given us permission to use their likenesses . . . plus we get to resurrect Joe (MANIAC) Spinell and Zoe (MS.45) Tamerlis from the dead. Just wait’ll you see them in our comic. Our artist did an amazing job of bringing them back to life!”

Check out my interview with Stephen Romano below and start saving your lunch money, fiends, because you don’t want to be the only monster kid on the block without these books!

STRANGER WITH FRICTION; So lets start with this, what is it that makes the work of Lucio Fulci so special to you?

SR: Well a lot of it starts with an appreciation of just plain weird art.  Because even in Lucio's earlier non-horror days, he was pretty out there, you know? Then you get into a lot of specific obsessions that tie into your childhood or whatever.  But the thing is a LOT of people share the same obsessions.  So there has to be SOMETHING to it, right?  From a strictly modern point of view, the films of Fulci are truly rarified artifacts, because no one makes movies like that anymore, and they probably never will.  And they are very specific to a certain era in film production, you know with the low budgets and the bad American dubbing and the lines that sound like they were written by someone who's second language is english.  There's a kind of campy surreality to that that I really dig.  But I also honestly believe that at the heart of films like THE BEYOND you have really great, progressive art.  Some of it is pretty much sleaze, but there's a sort of genius there too.  I mean, who puts a shark fighting a zombie in their movie?  That's just insane. Total rock and roll, man.  That's the final level for me.  The super-intense audacious nature of these films.  It's beyond.  You know?

SWF; For starters we’re getting a reprint of your 2000 adaptation of Fulci’s Zombie. What made this
a project worthy of your time? Where would you rank Zombie in the pantheon of zombie cinema?

SR: I think of it as more of a restoration leading into a new journey than a reprint, actually.  Like a "director's cut" queuing up a cool new series.  The graphic novel that came out in 2000 was very badly printed and I didn't know anything about editing comics back then either.  It really sucked ass.  We always wanted another shot at making it look better . . . but it took a really long time to get around to doing it because we've all been off making our real careers happen.  Shawn started Rotten Cotten.  I went off and did stuff like MASTERS OF HORROR and SHOCK FESTIVAL.  It took 16 years and I had to get run over by a truck first...but finally the time was right to come back and really get it right, and also extend the series and keep it going.  That was another thing that excited me.  The idea of going beyond the film adaptation, using that as a springboard for a really epic ZOMBIE sequel.  As far as the reasons why we did it originally... well, we're big fans, obviously!  We'd already done THE BEYOND and decided ZOMBIE was be the next logical step.  And that movie would easily make my Zombie Movie Top 5, just on the Zombie Shark scene alone!  DAWN OF THE DEAD would be first, obviously.  Then NIGHT.  Probably RETURN after that.  Then ZOMBIE and  THE BEYOND.  I'm sure my partner Shawn would take issue.  THE BEYOND is literally his favorite horror film of all time. It was his idea to name the company Eibon Press.

SWF; Fulci Comics is also taking on Gates Of Hell aka City Of The Living Dead, which was part of the 7 Doors Of Death trilogy. How deep into the trilogy do you plan to go? Will we see the last four doors?

SR:  Maaaaaaaaybe.  You'll just have to wait and see.  We've got MANY things in the works for our Fulci Comics line.  Patience.

SWF; All the images I’ve seen so far are amazing, can we go through the creative teams?

SR: They're some really demented motherfuckers, aren't they?  The A-team of ZOMBIE is anchored by Michael Broom, who has since gone on to be a top creature designer in Hollywood films. Mike designed the storyboards and practical effects rigs and even the werewolves on THE CABIN IN THE WOODS, so he's a total badass.  He pencilled ZOMBIE top to bottom.  Half the inks were done by a fellow name Gerry Coffey, and the second half was done by Derek Rook. Derek also did some art restoration on some of the panels and he even completely re-drew a few things.  I, myself, did and complete and TOTAL re-editing and restoration job on each and every page and lettered everything myself to make sure it all looked very modern . . . and then we brought in two incredibly talented artists to do our coloring.  That was Australian ace Austen Mengler and the incredible "Fatboy," who are hands down the best digital colorists I know about.  Austen is an actual painter and he brings really creative style to the work.  "Fatboy" is a bit more traditional, but his instincts are beyond impeachment.  These guys were easy to work with and professional as hell.  Derek goes solo with pencils and inks of GATES OF HELL, with Ander Zarate providing the colors.  That book has a really bizarre flavor, very different from the more traditional comic book approach on ZOMBIE.  We wanted a crazier, freer hand with GATES because it's a supernatural story.  The work is just stunning.  And of course, I took several liberties with the adaptation, both with ZOMBIE and GATES, both to make it work as a comic and seed the ground for sequel stories.  Also, it's really fun to do a new version of something you love.  That's the  beauty of movie tie-ins and why I dig them so much.  One entire wall of my house is devoted to paperback novelizations of films!  I have like two or three thousand up there.

SWF; What’s the story here? How did Fulci Comics come together?

SR: I was working with Shawn Lewis on a totally different original book called BOTTOMFEEDER and he saw I was doing good with writing and editing the thing, working with the artists and all that...and he basically said, "What about all the Fulci Comics we have in the vault?"  He asked me what it would take to get them going.  We'd already started Eibon Press at that point, but we hadn't done anything with actual publishing yet . . . and we kind of saw the Fulci stuff as a means of reaching a wider readership right out the gate.  I hate to make it sound like some crass commercial decision, but we DID know there was a built-in audience there.  So then it was a matter of clearing all the huddles we needed to clear, legally and
otherwise, to make it happen.  Fulci Comics is just a sort of fun brand name for our officially licensed Lucio stuff.  ZOMBIE will continue as an ongoing regular series as long as we can hang on to that license.  Then there's SEVEN GATES. Plus, we have other insane "VHS era" movies adaptations in the works, some non-Fuli stuff that will bear its own unique sub-imprint.  We're going to be doing some amazing things very soon!

SWF; The comics will be limited run in prestige format and will only be available through the website (coming June 6th) and not in stores. What lead to these decisions?

SR:  Well first off, the comics aren't actually "Prestige Format," not technical sense of the industry term.  What we've developed is an innovative "prestige packaging" that makes our books absolutely unique unto themselves.  You see all this really limited edition stuff over at Mondo and other places, with all the posters they do.  The reason nobody has done that with comic books yet is that comic books are traditionally very expensive to produce and manufacture.  I put in a lot of "sweat equity," doing all the editing and lettering and graphic design, which saves tons of money.  I taught myself to be a one man art department when I was
doing SHOCK FESTIVAL.  That's also what makes our books special.  They aren't corporate product, it's a very intimate machine we have here.  Just a few people, making very personal books.  And yet they look just as good, if not better, than most any comic out there.  That's also why our print runs are so tiny and the books are only available through our website.  It's totally exclusive to us, absolutely outside traditional publishing channels.  These things don't even have ISBN numbers for retail store sale. They are carefully-crafted collector's items and you can only get them from US.

SWF; Any other announcements or teasers you want to let fly?

SR: I think we've covered it pretty well, man.  Except to say thank you for helping us promote this, man!  The success or failure of Eibon Press and Fulci Comics relies entirely on the fans.  We really hope you guys dig it.

SWF; Finally, what’s your favorite of all of Fulci’s films and why?

SR:  GATES OF HELL is my personal favorite, and I have to tell you it's for a really strange reason.  It's those monkeys Fulci has screaming in the cemetery towards the end of the picture.  It just makes no sense at all, but suddenly you hear all these fucking MONKEYS howling in the trees!  But it creates this super unique creepy atmosphere that is absolutely  unlike any other movie.  I remember when I first realized what that sound actually was on my 15th viewing or so, and just said to myself, "Well this has to be some kind of high fucking art right here."  No bullshit.  I was already in love with the movie for it's obvious scumbag horror assets, but then I just realized Fulci was a fucking mad genius on all these other, almost hidden levels.  Also, I love the score in that film.  It's one Fabio Frizzi's finest.  He re-utilizes the theme fromZOMBIE in the third act in a different way that is at once really arc and overdramatic but also sincere and musically inventive.  I like composers who reference their own work like that. I was a big fan of James Horner too, who was the king of recycles.  He scored HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, which is still my absolute favorite horror film soundtrack.  Our BOTTOMFEEDER series is partially inspired by HUMANOIDS.  Like the films of Fulci, it represents an age long gone.


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