As was announced last month, The Scream Factory is open for business. They started things off making lots of noise, with announcements about new BUMP movie cast members and their taking WOWIO by storm, as well as getting forums of their own. With this horror comic company rising from its grave, we talked with Editor-in-Chief Scott Licina to see what the hubbub’s all about.
Newsarama: Scott, what's your current deal between The Scream Factory and Wowio.com? Does this mean you're giving up on print comics?
Scott Licina: Not at all, though the business of printed media seems to be giving up on itself. At this point in time, I'm extremely busy with the BUMP feature film and a few other media projects, so working with Wowio grants me more freedom to concentrate on those endeavors while simultaneously keeping the properties in the public eye so they can continue to build their followings. There are plans in place to expand the line, and to collect the current and future series into trade editions and get back into the direct and mass market bookstores. But that end of the business is incredibly time consuming and really deserves our full attention, and even more importantly, in this economical climate, it's a financial commitment that bears much scrutiny, thought and careful planning, especially for those of us working in the independent market. We have a very small piece of the pie as it is, and it's getting smaller every day. Digital delivery media doesn't demand print, shipping or warehousing expenses, and can get your properties out to a huge portion of the populace that normally wouldn't look at comics, much less try to locate and travel to a comic shop. In my opinion, it's an incredible tool for marketing concepts and properties, and the next logical step in the evolution of traditional comic books.
Print media, especially the floppy comic book side of things, has been dying a slow and painful death, as evidenced by the continual decline of the marketplace over the past decade. Part of this is due to the previously stated economic downslide we've been in for the past few years, but much more is due to the fact that the readership is and has been dying off for quite some time. Some say it's the advent of video games and the massive leaps in technology-based entertainment, while others note the simple fact that people just don't read that much anymore, and don't encourage their children to do so either.
Some will complain about the high cost of comics versus the cost of other entertainment media, and how you just don't get the same bang for your buck with comics that you get with DVDs or video games. All of these reasons (and many more) have validity, and they all point towards the industry having to find and exploit new means of creation, exposure and delivery. And right now, outlets like Wowio are affording us the means to experiment and still stay in the game, albeit in a new venue, with fewer risks.
NRAMA: What exactly is your company structure now?
SL: We are a consortium of like-minded entertainment industry individuals that love comic books and want to see the medium stay alive and prosper in whatever form they can. Everyone involved has a different area of expertise, usually more than one, and each brings their unique talents to the table to expand and elevate the level and variety of what we can accomplish with the various properties in a plethora of mediums.
NRAMA:How has your experience with Wowio been so far?
SL: Fantastic! The response to the books has been great, and they are without a doubt the best and biggest outlet for downloadable material, which gives us maximum exposure for the titles and the consortium. I'll be able to give you a better idea in a few months, but for now I can say that the launch has been a great success and we are very happy with the way things are turning out.
NRAMA: Astute readers will notice that The Scream Factory books are listed on Wowio under the publisher name "Smashout Comics" alongside many other comics. What's the deal there?
SL: Again, this was a conscious decision to "farm out" some of the duties that publishers have to deal with on a day to day basis so that we can concentrate on concept development, and on our other endeavors. It's really as simple as that.
Steve Horton and Smashout are a fantastic, trustworthy and reliable group, and have been extremely helpful in taking care of us at Wowio and watching out for our best interests there.
NRAMA: The Fourth Horseman was a very different title you had been developing before, and now I don't see that on the list of books available. Also, Shifter and Recluse, two other books that had been previously announced (with Shifter featuring Michael Madsen to much fanfare) are conspicuously absent. Are these still on the way?
SL: The main reason the initial titles were released first is simple- they were completed series and are concepts we feel have potential in the marketplace. Our next two releases, the complete Dee Snider's Strangeland: Seven Sins mini-series and the Death Walks The Streets one-shot are in the final stages of coloring as we speak, and will be available on Wowio within the next month or so. Horseman was an interesting title, but unfortunately not one which we decided to pursue at the moment. We're still working on Shifter, and there is a media deal in the works, but I can't say much more until the ink is dry. I can say you will get the Shifter comic series at some point, but when is currently the issue being decided. Recluse is another property that may find it's way into the world through another medium first, so any definitive comic news on that is forthcoming as well.
NRAMA:A couple of other titles made their way into the press releases last month, one of which you just mentioned. Can you tell us anything about Demolition Zombies? Death Walks the Streets?
SL: Demolition Zombies is a short by a friend of mine named Brian Matus, who is also a comic journalist responsible (along with the equally talented Damian Smith) for the extremely entertaining podcast Kryptographik. Several months ago I helped art direct and letter the DZ piece, and thought it would make a great added entertainment value to the comic titles we had coming out and placed them into the books as a back-up feature.
Since that time, we've talked about adapting the basic concept that Brian created into a full blown mini-series, but only time will tell. The series would differ from the short pretty drastically, but would still retain the black humor elements and of course the racing action, though it would expand the story into a more "realistic" horror/adventure tale.
Death Walks The Streets is based on the upcoming movie by writer/director James Zahn. You may be familiar with the title, as James has had an incredible amount of buzz going on with the feature for the past year or so, and was even nominated for a Spike Scream Award for "Most Anticipated Film". The first book out of the gate for DWTS is an introductory "zero" issue, which prequels the movie and is the first of a series of quarterly specials being produced alongside the film. Additionally, the DWTS "Zero" issue will be the first floppy comic printed by The Scream Factory, and will make it's debut this coming June at the Wizard World Chicago show as a convention exclusive. So as an addendum to question #1, you can see that we aren't abandoning printed comics at all. I still love the concept of a tangible product you can hold in your hands, and also the collectibility of actual comics. I've been an avid collector since the sixties, and always will be. I just wish there were more of us out there to increase the viability of the market, particularly for the indy press.
NRAMA: Are there any other upcoming stories you can mention at this point? Any creators you're going after (or would like to now?)
SL: As to creators I'd like to work with, hell, anyone with the same work ethic, passion, talent and drive that the members of TSF pride themselves on is welcome here. You don't have to be a big name to hang with us, you just have to work your ass off, love what you do and have something to bring to the table. I've actually been approached by a number of very talented people since we launched, and look forward to getting them working soon.
As to upcoming books, there are a bunch of concepts in the pipeline, but we like to keep things close to the vest until they're in the finishing stages of production.
NRAMA: What's the current status on the BUMP film?
SL: The film is in full-tilt boogie mode, and consuming almost every waking moment. We're being extremely cautious with every aspect of the film, because creating a quality product is our upmost concern. We're not here to dash out a quickie horror flick, we're in it to bring something worthwhile to the genre, and to the film community as a whole.
NRAMA: You also recently made a couple announcements about cast members for the film. Lets review those a bit for readers who may not have seen the press releases.
SL: We recently announced the additions of Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints, Young Indiana Jones) and Ashley Laurence (Hellraiser) to our little frightfest. They join the illustrious Tobin Bell (Jigsaw from the SAW franchise), who is also producing.
NRAMA: Your convention presence last year was marked by guest stars, horrific statues, and a bunch of freaky comics. Any plans for repeat performances, or new special guests this year?
SL: Because of the BUMP production schedule, we'll only be appearing at Wizard World Chicago, and just like we did last year with Michael Madsen as our special guest, we’re set to bring two big Hollywood stars to the festivities- the special effects legend and director Robert Kurtzman (co-founder of KNB EFX, creator of From Dusk To Dawn) and the one and only aforementioned Sean Patrick Flanery! It's a BUMP movie extravaganza, and in addition to the director and one of the stars of the film, we'll also have creator/artist Mark Kidwell in tow to sign posters, comics and whatever other BUMP surprises we have for your consumption. We may even have more special surprise BUMP guests in tow, but you'll have to come visit us to find out who!
We'll also have the aforementioned Death Walks The Streets convention exclusive comic, along with appearances by DWTS director James Zahn and DWTS actor Justin Mentell (Boston Legal, the upcoming Disney animated film G-Force).
NRAMA: Finally, Scott, Troy Brownfield is always telling us Best Shots folks that he's "working" on Scream Factory stuff- tell the truth, is he really doing anything?
SL: Troy is one of my closest friends, and my right hand man. And I have to say, one of the hardest working motherf-ers in show business. He's a bit like the Terminator, once he has a mission he won't stop until it's completed, and The Scream Factory is his latest obsession. In addition to being an editor and the Minister of Sinister Information, he's also a creator. Troy has several projects in development with me, both in the comics realm and other media, and we're looking forward to releasing more info on those soon.
NRAMA: Guess he’s been telling the truth after all. Thanks for chatting with us- it's open forum time, plug away!
SL: I'd really like to thank the great people working their asses off at the Factory- Troy, James Zahn, Mark Kidwell, Bob Kurtzman, Jesse Blaze Snider, Jason Moser, Milen Parvanov and Janelle Siegel. It's truly the dedication, passion and love for the comics and the projects from all these amazing and wonderful individuals that make TSF what it is. I'm incredibly lucky to have connected with such talented craftsmen (and craftswoman), and I'm proud to call them all not only co-conspirators, but friends.
And I'd also like to thank all the readers for taking the time to check out the books. We hope you enjoy the line, and look forward to bringing you more titles soon.
Full Disclosure: Lucas Siegel is an editor and contributor at ShotgunReviews.com, a site run by The Scream Factory Associate Editor Troy Brownfield. Siegel is also married to TSF Assistant Editor Janelle Siegel.