Horror Hosts in Putrid Print: Norma

Spotlight On: Norma

Comic Book Creeps

1655893_716261401756367_6698777531856122716_nWhenever I get into a conversation with someone about female villains, especially female horror villains, they’re always surprised when I say that one of my all time favorites is Norma, The Trailer Park Queen.

 

Sadly, that’s because a lot of people, even hardcore fans of the genre, have never heard of the indie comic book, Trailer Park of Terror, published by Imperium Comics, or the low budget movie of the same name that it inspired back in 2008.

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So it’s no wonder that almost nobody has heard about the sassy, chain-smoking, white trash horror hostess that is at the center of both iterations.

Allow me to remedy that.

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I could go on and on about the movie, which, to spite it’s low budget (or maybe because of it) has some awesome looking practical monster makeup and gore effects in an age when stuff like that has more or less become a thing of the past, but I’m not the movie guy here, I’m the comic book guy, and so I will try to stick to mostly talking about the character that the comic and movie both have in common: Norma.

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Norma (no last name ever given) in the comics is something of a mystery, as is the titular trailer park she lives in. She appears to be a woman in her mid to late forties who looks like Peggy Bundy’s older sister only a little rougher around the edges.

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tumblr_o9wdearB2y1rfnp17o1_540I say “appears to be a woman”, because, much like the other residents of the trailer park, Norma isn’t quite human. She has a unique quirk that she shares with the likes of Dr. Phibes and the Djinn from Wishmaster in that she can put on and remove her face like a Halloween mask. Most women hate being caught without their face on, and Norma is no exception, so you don’t get a look at her more monstrous form very often.

Beyond that, though, she’s perfectly normal. She does the kind of stuff we all do: hang out with aliens, zombies, and serial killers, duck stalkers, baby sit the anti-Christ, etc. She also tells tales of terror and misfortune the likes of which would make the GhouLunatics sit up and take notice.

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As a matter of fact, one of them did. The Crypt-Keeper (looking like his HBO incarnation) actually appeared in the trailer park more than once obsessed with destroying/becoming/dating Norma. Much to her annoyance.

The creators of the comic clearly have a love of EC Comics and the MAD sense of maniacal humor they brought to horror, because Trailer Park of Terror has the exact same self aware, self referential  attitude that Bill Gaines pioneered way back when. Norma and her cronies at the park reference horror movies new and old, current (at the time) pop culture icons like Anna Nicole Smith and Dr. Phil, as well as their own creators and real world limitations related to the comic they’re in, like the fact that the first three issues were printed in black and white and then went to color, starting the numbering system back at one.

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tumblr_nsb52s7XC81tg4pv6o1_540In the movie, directed by Steven Goldmann, who sadly passed away of cancer recently, Norma is played by Nicole Hiltz, although you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s Jamie Presley the first time you see her performance, because Mrs. Hiltz is totally channeling Joy Turner from My Name Is Earl in her portrayal of the trailer park queen. And it’s absolutely perfect for the character, who is a much younger (looking), but equally brassy Norma than her comic book counterpart.

 

Unfortunately, Imperium Comics seems to be defunct these days as its website only lists Trailer Park and one other title, Pierce, as having been published by them and the last issue of either comic was back around the time the TPoT movie came out. The only contact info on the website is an outdated yahoo email address. Back issues of the comic are not necessarily hard to find. Ebay and Amazon always seem to have a few issues available that go for anything from five bucks to twenty in some cases, so if you’d like to read an issue, I’m sure you can one way or another. Just don’t try ordering the comics from the website. I did and I waited about a month before I realized I wouldn’t be getting any kind of reply or what I ordered and so had to cancel the payment which was never even processed.

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The movie is much easier to find as you can pick up a copy of the DVD pretty much anywhere you buy movies relatively cheap. It gives Norma and the trailer park an origin that the comic lacks and I really dig it a lot. I won’t spoil it here. You just have to go watch the movie, which keeps the EC-esque tone of blending blood, guts, and laughs with a lot of self aware references to it’s funny book origins.

No matter how you choose to expose yourself to Norma (and believe me she’s down for whatever) you are bound to have a good time and will soon be joining me in lauding this funny and frightening female who belongs in the annals of horror hostery alongside the likes of Vampirella and The Old Witch.

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Horror Hosts in Putrid Print: Sabrina Spellman

Spotlight On: Sabrina SpellmanComic Book Creeps

I know what you’re thinking after seeing the title:

Sabrina Spellman? Of Sabrina The Teenage Witch fame? I thought this was a column about comic book HORROR HOSTS!?”

…You are correct.Untitled-2 Untitled-1But believe me, she has every right to be here, and I’ll prove it. Let’s just start at the beginning…

In October of 1962, a new character made an appearance in issue number twenty-two of an anthology humor comic book called Archie’s Madhouse, published by Archie Comics. She was a spunky, freckled; teenage girl with platinum blonde hair in a bob hairdo, who was not too dissimilar to many of the titular redhead’s other teenage friends, except for in the fact that this girl had a spooky secret: she was a witch! Her name was Sabrina, and she was initially supposed to be no more than a one-off character according to her creator, George Gladir. She proved to be so popular with readers, however, that she soon made further appearances in the pages of Archie’s Madhouse and was shortly thereafter given her own self titled comic book, Sabrina The Teenage Witch.

704925The plot of this comic was that Sabrina lived in the town of Greendale (bordering Archie’s hometown of Riverdale) with her aunt’s Hilda and Zelda, who were also witches themselves, as well as her pet cat familiar, Salem.

10720890_10203740040479104_1841813116_n10486452_10203740039399077_148046946_nMost of the humor in the book came from the fact that Sabrina‘s aunts were very old school, traditional type witches (Hilda being a long nosed, scraggly haired crone, and Zelda being a plump, green haired, fairy godmother type) while Sabrina just wanted to do the same things any groovy teen girl in the sixties would want to do, like go to sock hops, or malt shops, or… whatever with her mortal boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle. She wasn’t ashamed of being a witch or anything, she used her powers all the time to do things like help her friends and do her homework (things her aunts very much frowned upon, since they thought a witch should be causing mischief and mayhem with their powers), she just wanted to bring witchcraft into the twentieth century, whereas her aunts, who were her mentors, wanted to keep it firmly in the dark ages with their pointy hats and cauldrons. They saw Sabrina’s cheerful attitude and beautiful appearance as being completely antithetical to what a witch should be like, so Sabrina was the weirdo of the family. Even though her aunts 10723185_10203740039839088_486546158_nsaw her behavior as disgustingly normal, Sabrina actually was a monster at heart, and she loved hanging out around her family’s freaky friends. Vampires, Frankensteins, mummies, etc, were regular guests at the house and almost all the jokes came from Sabrina trying to keep the scary side of her life separate from her life with her normal, mortal friends.

10719406_10203740038239048_1526642162_nKeep in mind; this was two years before The Munsters would be doing the same shtick with their oddly normal family member, Marilyn. And also two years before the show Bewitched brought witchcraft to the suburbs and into the homes of middle class America via their television sets. Sabrina was a pioneer of creepy weirdness at a time that demanded conformity from everyone, especially teenage girls.
Of course the counter culture kids of the time ate it up, and soon Sabrina‘s popularity had her starring in her very own animated series produced by the Filmation company in 1971. This was after she had already made several guest appearances on their Archie show, which aired first.

10717610_10203740036919015_283347564_nThen in October of 1973 came the moment that took Sabrina from mere magic girl prototype into the glamorous spotlight of horror hostess. Chilling Adventures In Sorcery As Told By Sabrina was Archie Comics’ way of jumping on the horror anthology comics bandwagon, and who better to host the tales of terror within it than their very own spooky sorceress? Many of you may be thinking, how scary could an Archie comic actually be? And it is true that the stories that filled this tome were tame compared to, say, anything by EC Comics or Warren Publishing, but for Archie it was actually some pretty dark stuff. Demonic jewelry, freaks, and standard fare like vampires and giant bugs actually killed people and many stories had unhappy endings. This was in sharp contrast to the cartoony style of its artwork by famous Archie artist, Dan DeCarlo. Unfortunately, Sabrina only lasted as hostess of the book for a mere two issues. After that the title was shortened to just, Chilling Adventures In Sorcery, and then it was changed again later after issue six to simply, Red Circle Sorcery. This was due to it being published by Red Circle Comics (Archie’s edgier imprint) by that point.

Sabrina still had her own title to star in, though, and her book ran for many decades as one of the company’s most popular comics. It was only natural, then, that in 1996 the ABC TV network decided to create a live action sitcom about the character and her bewitching family, starring Melissa 10717617_10203740038799062_1371616854_nJoan Hart in the title role. All of Sabrina‘s supporting cast was there: her clueless boyfriend, Harvey, her two aunts (who now looked like average, contemporary women instead of Halloween decorations), and her cat, Salem. Unfortunately the series did not have the rights to any other Archie characters, so all connections to those guys were gone. They even changed Sabrina‘s hometown from Greendale to Westbridge, no doubt so they wouldn’t have to explain why she never ran into fellow Greendale residents like Josie and The Pussycats. The show was a huge hit that ran for many seasons, first on ABC and then later on the WB, and it did a good job of capturing the character’s struggle to reconcile her magical world with her normal teenage world, although much of the Munster style humor regarding her aunts wasn’t present, since they also looked as normal as Sabrina did now. This series added a lot of things to the Sabrina mythos that were later incorporated into the comics, like giving her the last name of Spellman, and explaining where her parents were (Father was a busy warlock, Mother was a mtumblr_mbcg7rD7jl1qfdofto2_250ortal and not allowed to see her daughter while she learned to use her magic from the aunts), but the biggest and most popular addition was giving her cat, Salem, the ability to speak, which he never had had in the comics before. They also gave him the back-story that he was a power hungry warlock who tried to take over the world once and was punished for it by being turned into a cat and forced to live with Hilda (one of his supporters) for a thousand years. I think Harry Potter would have been a very different series if they had done the same to Voldemort and forced Lucius Malfoy to take care of him.

Anyway, this live action series led to an animated spinoff in the year 2000, chronicling the character’s younger days before she was in high school. During this period in time there 10717963_10203740040239098_1754652830_nwas also a new Sabrina The Teenage Witch comic book being published by Archie, but, no doubt trying to appeal to the predominantly tween girls who watched the show, it was much more heavy on romance, drama, and outfits than the original comic ever was. It also featured a very “manga” style of artwork, which was big at the time, and personally, I just never felt that that gelled good with the Archie brand.

Eventually, the live action show, the animated series, and the comic book all fizzled away, as people started to sabrinabecome Sabrina‘d out. Occasionally she would make an appearance in other Archie comics, but those guest spots were few and far between. Then last year in 2013 it was announced that a new animated series would be premiering on the HUB network. It was called, Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch, and it was done in the 3D animation style that’s all the rage with the kids these days. It stunk. Sorry, but it did. Does, actually, it’s still airing. Maybe it’s the cheap looking, cheesy animation, maybe it’s just geared to a very young audience, I don’t know, but it’s not Sabrina as I’ve come to know her over the years. So it seemed like all was lost if that was the only Teenage Witch we’d be getting any time soon.

Thankfully, in the fall of 2013, there came a game changer that set in motion events that would change the face of Sabrina completely; the first issue of Afterlife With Archie was published. Having finally been the last company to drop the stale, old comics code, Archie Comics decided to take a shot at something a little bit different from their norm. Based on a variant “what if” cover that artist Francesco Francavilla did for one of their ongoing titles, Life With Archie, Afterlife With Archie was a full on, teen rated, horror comic about the residents of Riverdale being slowly turned into zombies ala Night of The Living Dead. Archie02

It was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacassa, a man who clearly knows his horror genre stuff, because Afterlife features numerous tropes and references to everything from H.P Lovecraft to A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Naturally Sabrina, the Archieverses resident monster expert is involved in the plot, and the people behind the book must have loved seeing her return to her horror roots so much that they decided (in a case of history repeating itself) to spin off Sabrina once again from an Archie book and give her her own title again.

a83d0696-a795-4608-98c0-1cfe9293f265-610x937The book was released this month (seeing a pattern here with October?), and it’s called Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, no doubt as a nod to the old anthology title she hosted, and it is said to be a dark, supernatural book like Afterlife With Archie, but with shades of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. Cool. So things have finally come full circle (Red circle, ya might say); Sabrina has finally returned to her creepy roots at long last, and I have a very good feeling about this upcoming title since it is also being written by Afterlife’s Aguirre-Sarcassa with art by Robert Hack. Plus, checkout some of these variant covers…

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This is definitely in good hands.

As Winifred Sanderson once so famously said,

“The witch is back, and there’s Hell to pay.”

Which is why I was the first in line for the premiere issue when Chilling Adventures came out, and I suggest you all give it a chance as well.

So you see, Sabrina is a great character with a long and interesting history related to horror, hosting, and being a monster kid and that is why she deserves a write up here at Horror Hosts & Creature Features and also why Sabrina Spellman is an important part of our horror comic scareitage.

Stay weird, my friends.

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Unconventional conventionists: Haunters Recap and Looking Forward to Bizarre AC

IMG_4599Dixie Dellamorto and Mr. Lobo had a great time at the National Haunters Convention this past weekend. You could tell they worked hard to make it even better this year. They made it smaller and tightened it up quite a bit. They had some very decent performers on stage and the crowd was great. It seemed like there was more of a focus on artists, and above all, we had a boatload of fun seeing our friends and fans! We were very excited to spend some time with Gravely MacCabre from Castle Blood.

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Join us at the Halloween Show!

Halloween ShowA Show Floor Pass is good for the entire event of the Show. The All New LOWER Show floor price is only $15. In addition, a Family Friendly expanded policy of FREE entrance for kids 12 and under! This Includes entrance to the show, access to all vendors (Including Horror Hosts and Creature Features own Mr. Lobo and Dixie Dellamorto), access to our public stage classes, as well as all the professional entertainment stage show events produced by John Bundy (Wacky Dracky) of Six Flags Great Adventure, Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and Ocean’s Park of Hong Kong.

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Even more crazy stuff in our shop!

Creepy Crafters bannerABow Killer AAnd much More to come!
Dixie Dellamorto
has been a busy killer bee! She’s listed over 50 new items in the Horror Hosts and Creature Features Creepy Crafter Shop! New items include an entire line of necklaces and hair accessories for the ladies… or gentlemen if you’re into that. Everything is Horror inspired from the Psycho Killer Hair Bows to the Necklaces made from recycled monster magazines. We’ve got exclusive button sets and pocket mirrors! Also listed are 7 original acrylic paintings By Dixie Dellamorto and Mister Lobo. Some of them have never been seen before!
Stash Box Edward AStash Box Edward BDon’t forget to check out our selection of boxes to see our ultra cool Prototype VHS Stash Boxes where you can hide all of your small valuables!Painting Bat B

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Horror Hosts in Putrid Print: Haunted Horror

Spotlight on: Forelock the Warlock & Mr. Karswell from Haunted HorrorComic Book Creeps

by Ryan B

For those of you who have not been haunting your local comic book crypt for, like, the last six months and therefore are not in the know about the gloriously gruesome new horror comic title, Haunted Horror, that is currently available, allow your old pal, Ryan B, to clue you in on just what you’re missing out on, and tell you all about the two grooviest new comic book horror hosts to hit the scene.

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Haunted Horror #1

From the depraved minds of Craig Yoe – publisher of the Ghastly Award winning horror comic archive book, Zombies – and Steve Banes – horror comic blogger, and front man for the Missouri based rock band, Sons of Black Mass – comes the bi-monthly horror comic, Haunted Horror, which lovingly reprints stories from such forgotten golden age titles as Weird Chills, Adventures into Darkness, Chamber of Chills, and Worlds of Fear.

“So what?” You may be asking. “Why should I care about musty old horror stories from books I’ve never even heard of?”

You’ve got a lot of attitude, ya know that?

Well, what makes Haunted Horror so great is that all the stories it reprints are from pre-code horror comics. That’s right, before Dr. Wertham came along and ruined everything, these stories were what all the best juvenile delinquents on the block were reading and now you can read them too!

But what’s a story without a storyteller? Ah ha, that’s where Haunted Horror gets original.

Forelock the Warlock

Forelock the Warlock and Mr. Karswell are the masters of scaremonies in this book. Two brand new creepy characters created specifically for Haunted Horror, and in what I’m sure can only be an amazing coincidence they happen to look just like editors Yoe and Banes themselves. *cough, cough, wink, wink*

Speaking of Steve Banes, I recently got a chance to throw some questions his way via Facebook and here’s what he threw back:

RB: How did you and Mr. Yoe meet and decide to collaborate on Haunted Horror?

SB: We met through my blogs, primarily THE HORRORS OF IT ALL, I had been assisting with promotion of his books along with a handful of other great bloggers like Pappy and Mykal Banta… when he went into development of the Bob Powell Terrors collection I actually began donating stories, which led to Craig making me co-editor of the Chilling Horror ZOMBIES book and HAUNTED HORRORS series, with lots more horror projects on the way.

RB: How do you select the stories that appear in Haunted Horror?

SB: We have a huge pile of scans from my collection, Craig’s, and a handful of other contributors… we just try to keep each issue on the varied side with contrasting story plots and an interesting range of art styles, although issue #5 coming later this summer has a fun “sports horror” theme running through half the stories.

RB: What horror comics did you read growing up and were you inspired by them?

SB: My introduction to horror comics was the cool 70’s stuff that Marvel published featuring mostly reprints of their pre-code horror Atlas stories. I was more drawn to the style of the 50’s stuff illustrated by guys like Bill Everett and Joe Maneely… this forever sealed my obsession with Golden Age horror comics. And though I had been reading MAD ever since I was in 2nd grade, I didn’t discover the EC horror stuff until later.

RB: Who is your favorite comic book horror host?

SB: Mr. Karswell of course! haha

Mr. Karswell

Mr. Karswell

RB: Could you tell me a little about Mr. Karswell’s artist, Art Fuentes, and also how you guys got the legendary Angelo Torres to draw Forelock?

SB: I met Art Fuentes at San Diego Comic Con last summer (2012), he was a friend of Craig’s and already helping out with various artistic elements for the Yoe Books on titles and other stuff. He’s a great guy and incredible freelance artist with a huge range of styles. I know he worked at Spumco for a while– he makes these totally rad paper toys you have to see to believe: http://www.uncleghastly.blogspot.com
Craig knows everyone in the comic/entertainment industry, though I believe Angelo Torres‘ involvement with Haunted Horror first came up last year at SDCC too. His illustration of Forelock is mind blowing.

 

There ya have it, folks. Straight from the horrors mouth, as it were.

Now I encourage each and every one of you creeps reading this to drag yourself out of your coffin every other month and pick up this awesome book. Let Forelock the Warlock and Mr. Karswell be the friends you know you don’t have and never really wanted. They‘ll introduce you to all the best horror that the golden age had to offer. And remember, there’s no sghoul like the old sghoul!

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