Happy Fourth of July!

Who says there are no horror tie-ins to America’s birthday? Here are a couple of supernaturally patriotic comic covers to get you into the holiday mood, as America celebrates its 241st today:

ElviraHOM8

Elvira, the Queen of Halloween, does her best impression of the Statue of Liberty for the cover of Elvira’s House of Mystery #8, penciled by Dwight Turner, inked by comic-art legend Dick Giordano (Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Justice League of America), and published by DC Comics in July 1986.

GhostRider-comread132

Holy historical team-ups! The original supernatural version of Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze, helps Paul Revere spread the word about the advancing British forces, in this cover for the American Bicentennial issue of The Comic Reader, by two comic-art legends: penciler Frank Robbins (Batman, The Invaders, The Shadow) and inker P. Craig Russell (American Gods, Doctor Strange, War of the Worlds).

Makes ya feel proud to be a horror fan, doesn’t it?

Forgotten Frights: Leprechaun

There’s a Leprechaun in me head,
and I wish that I were dead
For I don’t think he’ll e’er let me be.
Oh, he tempts me with his gold,
and if I were e’er so bold
I’d strangle him and leave him in the street.
—“The Leprechaun (You’re No Irish Laddie)”
Lyrics by Marc Gunn

leprechaunAh, the Leprechaun movies: that low-budget, R-rated horror series created by writer/director Mark Jones that starred Warwick Davis (Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Willow, the Harry Potter films) as an evil Irish sprite who, over the course of six(!) movies, spouted groan-worthy one-liners as he ruthlessly murdered anyone stupid enough to steal his pot o’ gold—sort of a low-rent Celtic Freddy Krueger. In case you missed any, here’s a quick primer to bring you up to speed in honor of today being Irish-Americans’ favorite holiday: St. Patrick’s Day!

Leprechaun (1993) is better known for being the big-screen acting debut of Jennifer Aniston, who went on to fame in the TV show Friends, but this story of a leprechaun who travels from Ireland to North Dakota to take back what’s his is clever enough to introduce a new type of supernatural baddie who wasn’t a straight-up knockoff of Krueger, or Jason from Friday the 13th. If you think about it, it’s sort of like that Mel Gibson movie, Payback, where he’s a crook just trying to collect the money he’s owed—only in this case, it’s a nasty sprite handing out gruesome punishments to the jerks who ripped him off. And Davis works really hard at selling the evil character he’s playing.

Besides, in spite of getting savaged by critics, the movie did well enough at the box office to get a sequel green-lighted, so that’s saying something, right?

Leprechaun 2 (1994) involves the little terror searching Los Angeles for a potential bride—he just has to find a woman who sneezes three times without anyone saying “God bless you” to her. Of course, that depends on him not killing her first for taking his gold…

Leprechaun 3 (1995), the first straight-to-video release, finds the Leprechaun popping up in Las Vegas, where he hunts new victims in the casinos and adds a new twist to his powers by using his bite to start turning one particular target into a leprechaun—a wereprechaun, maybe?

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996) took the franchise to…well, it’s there in the title, right? Although, really, it should have been Innnn Spaaaaaaace! Sure, it’s a helluva stretch, but when you realize that both two other franchises, Friday the 13th (Jason X in 2001) and Hellraiser (Hellraiser IV: Bloodline in 1996), followed the same formula, with Hellraiser beating Leprechaun 4 to the finish line by a few months, I guess it’s not that much of a stretch.

Leprechaun in the Hood (2000) returned the action to Earth and co-starred rapper/actor Ice-T (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) in a tale of rappers, a magic flute, zombie fly girls, and—to quote the film’s entry at Wikipedia—“the Leprechaun rapping about being an evil Irish leprechaun.” That sounds…terrible.

Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003)—oh God, that title—provided an origin for the gold-obsessed baddie as he hunts down the latest group of unfortunates to steal his gold. This entry brought the Davis-led series to a close, and that was probably for the best—the series was getting progressively worse with every sequel.

There’s one other movie out there, 2014’s Leprechaun: Origins—a reboot of the franchise that was produced by WWE Studios, released by Lionsgate Films, and starred pro wrestler Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl. Critically panned, it apparently crashed and burned on release to theaters, sending the malicious sprite and the franchise to their final resting place. That’s…probably not such a bad thing.

Still, you know that someday some Hollywood producer is going to become aware of the dormant Leprechaun franchise and say, “Hey, why don’t we revive this thing?” Let’s just hope there’s a bit more thought given to the writing that results in a good movie for a change. I mean, even an evil leprechaun deserves a little Luck of the Irish, right?

Well, anyway…Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Got Plans for Christmastime? I Sure Do…

pan-creepmas-promoThe 13 Days of what?!

Hey, don’t look so shocked! Would it surprise you to learn that Christmas can be just as disturbing and terrifying as Halloween? No? Then that must make you a horror fan, which makes The 13 Days of Creepmas—an annual event held at only the most distinguished blogs—the perfect holiday celebration for you.

Basically, it’s the horror community’s response/pushback to the over-commercialization of Christmas, whose retail season has steadily crept backward along the calendar to the current point where stores have their Xmas displays up well before Halloween. (Don’t believe me? Did you take a look at the Hallmark cable channel last year? Their Christmas movie marathons started on October 29!)

For the first thirteen days of December I’ll be blogging about Xmas comics, movies, and cartoons—all with a horrific twist, of course. Honestly, I was surprised at how much macabre Christmas-y stuff I could find to post about for almost two weeks straight!

Mark it on your calendar, and be sure to wear your best/ugliest Christmas sweater!

Got Plans This October? I Sure Do…

pan-countdown-vampirabanner

Believe it! In a major undertaking for this blog, I’ll be writing thirty-one straight days of posts about horror movies, horror comics, and other horror stuff for you to enjoy as we wait for the arrival of Pan’s favorite holiday (mine, too)—as well as the publication of Blood & Iron: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 3, which will occur right in time for Halloween!

The annual Countdown to Halloween is a blogathon event started in 2009 by comic writer John Rozum and blogger Shawn Robare, and every year the list of participating sites gets longer as more folks join in—and this year, Pan’s online home is getting involved!

The fun starts October 1st. Be sue to mark it on your calendar!

The Spooky Season’s Not Quite Over Yet…

book-of-lifeHalloween might have come and gone yesterday, but for folks in Mexico, it was just the beginning of their three-day festival known around the world as Dia de los Muertos: the Day of the Dead!

Beyond the costumes and the skeletons and the candy, it’s a time for families to remember loved ones lost over the years. Let me just borrow this quote posted on Wikipedia, taken from Frances A. Day’s Latina and Latino Voices in Literature, to explain the holiday:

“On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children’s altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives. The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations.”

If you’re in the mood for a fun, spooky movie that celebrates the…er, spirit (sorry) of this holiday, check out The Book of Life, a 2014 animated film produced by director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pacific Rim) that features the voices of Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, and Ron Perlman. It’s sort of like a Mexican take on The Nightmare Before Christmas—at least animation-wise—about a bullfighter’s adventures and romances in the afterlife.

And if you’re looking for some StarWarp Concepts treats, how about some free digital comics? Check out this Halloween post from yesterday and see how you can download your own copies of The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0, the horror adventure Heartstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa #1–3, and the superheroine-themed Heroines and Heroes.

Have a safe and happy Day of the Dead!

Comic Book Treats for Online Trick-or-Treaters

Pandora0_CoverHappy Halloween! If you’re a horror fan like me (and Pan, of course), then All Hallows’ Eve is probably your favorite time of year, so in keeping with the fine tradition of handing out free treats to boils and ghouls everywhere, the folks at Pan’s publisher, StarWarp Concepts, and I have some digital-comic offerings for you!

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0: A full-color introduction to the young adult novel series of the same name, hosted by Pan herself. Pan is a girl with the ability to see the monsters that regular humans can’t, and with the help of a 400-year-old monster hunter named Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, she’s going to protect the world from danger—and maybe even have some fun while doing it.

This 16-page comic features a seven-page story written by me, with art and color by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, Lorelei: Sects and the City), and includes two sample chapters from Blood Feud, the first Pan novel.

Heartstopper_CoverHeartstopper: The Legend of La Bella Tenebrosa #1–3: Before she became Pan’s monster-hunting mentor, Sebastienne Mazarin made her debut in this short-lived, 1990s Mature Readers series from Millennium Publications. A nefarious heavy metal band has arrived in New York City, and its lead singer is more than just a sex magnet for his female fans—he’s an incubus! Will Annie put an end to his plans for worldwide chaos, or fall prey to his supernatural charms?

Written by me (of course), issue 1 is drawn by Pan and Annie co-creator Uriel Caton (JSA Annual) and inker Alan Larsen (Femforce); issue 2 is penciled by Uriel, Holly Golightly (School Bites), and David C. Matthews (Satin Steele) and inked by Larsen; and issue 3 is penciled by Holly, with four pages of inks by “Chainsaw” Chuck Majewski (Harvey Kurtzman’s New Two-Fisted Tales).

heroinesandheroes-1Heroines and Heroes is our latest free digital comic. It’s a collection of comic stories I’ve drawn over the years, starring indie characters the Blonde Avenger, the anthropomorphic Motorbike Puppies, and the humanoid-rabbit spy Snowbuni. The feature story is “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N (in the Summertime),” a short adventure that I wrote and drew in the late 1990s as an audition for DC Comics’ Batman: The Animated Series comic (spoiler: I didn’t get the job), and pits the Harley Quinn—Clown Princess of Crime and star of this past summer’s blockbuster film Suicide Squad—against none other than Wonder Woman!

All these comics are available for download right now, so visit their respective product pages at StarWarp Concepts and add them to your digital trick-or-treat bags today!