The promise that a childhood favorite “anything” will SMELL the way you remember it when it is recreated in the present age is something of a noble cause. That the importance of 30th Anniversary issue of a gore Horror comic book, in this case Gore Shriek, actually smell like the original says as much about the readership as it does about the creators. They are devoted. They are hungry. They are beautifully nostalgia and thoughtful. They want their gore and they want it to have the effervescing odor of that gore up their noses. And if you were to tell me that this is actually possible I may not have believed you, but after having the chance to discuss the new Gore Shriek with Mike Wasion at Rough House Publishing, I am assured of it. We have a gore fiend in our midst.
Gore Shriek has just completed its fundraising campaign to return from the slab which makes it a perfect time to talk to one of the main movers behind the resurgence of the book as well as get some of you familiar with the original series. To provide full disclosure, I did in contribute to this campaign and ask that you consider doing the same at any price point you can afford. This is one for the crypts. Now we want to find out what goes on behind the scenes a bit; to see what drives Mike to work closely with Tom Skulan of Fantaco to bring us the next generation of degradation.
HorrorSexy: How did the idea to resurrect Gore Shriek come about?
Mike Wasion: Hilariously enough, through the magic of Facebook, at the end of the day. A few years back, I was writing for Fangoria, initially covering obscure horror comics in my column COMIC CASKET (thanks to adventurous then-new EIC Chris Alexander). I got into the practice of tracking down as many of the creatives involved in these old splatter pulps as I could so I could get the word straight from the horse’s mouth, whenever possible. But a lot of these cats are, understandably, very private. You can’t necessarily get these guys’ emails out of the blue. On a lark, I decided to see who was on good ol’ Facebook…and to my shock, a BUNCH of them were. So over the course of digging up these “lost” geniuses, I got to be friendly with quite a few. I can’t remember when or how I stumbled onto the fact, but none other that TOM SKULAN was on FB, and I pretty much just started talking to him, letting him know what his work throughout the years meant to me, etc. At the time, myself and ROUGH HOUSE overlord DEREK ROOK (who I originally tracked down courtesy of DeviantArt, for that matter!) were toiling away on a project that never quite materialized, and I let Tom have a peek. The conversation turned to Gore Shriek, and Tom basically put it like this: if ever a crop of artists and writers as good as his original team emerged, he’d love to see Gore Shriek rise from the grave. As it happened, I thought I just might know who that next generation of Shriekers was. The 30th anniversary of Gore Shriek was, at that point, a couple years off. Talks began. Gears turned. 2016…and here we are.
HorrorSexy: Do you remember how you first got into Gore Shriek?
Mike Wasion: ABSOLUTELY. Like yourself, I remember seeing ads for it in Fango, but I never saw it on the stands (and JESUS was i young at the time, so maybe it was just on a shelf to tall for me to get to!). I was an absolute MARS ATTACKS fiend, and I had been obsessed with the MA mini-comics that Fantaco had put out with Mario Bruni and his Pocket Comics label, that featured a lot of the same talent as Shriek. So when I discovered (through some old price guide), that the infamous fourth issue of Gore Shriek had a legendary full-color insert advertising Mars Attacks, I lusted after it with an insane passion. Gore Shriek became an illusive, ghost-like fever dream until ONE day, I strolled into my local comic shop, and saw, not even yet on the rack, a brand new issue of Gore Shriek, I nearly lost my goddamned mind. My dad took pity on me and bought against he better judgement. As it turns out, that was the last issue produced. So from there, it was a years-long hunt to collect every back issue I could find until my collection was finally complete. And it was the rare comic that not only lived up to, but EXCEEDED my twisted childhood fantasies of what the book had to be like.
HorrorSexy: Who are some of the artists on board for the project?
Mike Wasion: Well, that’s where things get fun. Original signature artist Bruce Spaulding Fuller has contributed an INSANE cover to go along with the first new volume, and we have a variant cover by the fiendishly perfect Matt “PUTRID” Carr, who also looks to be contributing some interior work as well. The legendary GURCH is coming off the bench also, with some simply astonishing work. The afore-mentioned Derek Rook is hacking away on some truly demented stories, as is DEADWORLD alum Mark Bloodworth. It’s looking like Jeff Zornow is going to be involved, along with PUTRID MEAT’s Deidre Crouch. Lil’ ol’ me is handling some pin-ups too, and that’s not even the whole gang!
HorrorSexy: Will you be writing each story or will the task be split up?
Mike Wasion: I’m writing a bunch. For lack of any better term, I suppose I’m basically “Head Writer” on the thing, which is awesome because it literally gives me a chance to take ideas that I dreamed up as a little kid obsessed with Gore Shriek, and turn them into honest-to-Gore content for the new book…that’s some Grade A Back to the Future type shit right there. But there’s definitely going to be others behind the keyboard…there are hushed whispers that a certain writer of a legendary – and untimely cancelled – comic based on Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN will be handling some stories for us. I mean hey, SOMEBODY’S gotta make me look bad!
HorrorSexy: Is there an option to go beyond two issues if the 30th Anniversary campaign is successful?
Mike Wasion: In a word? YES. If you build it, we will come! 6. The perks are terrific. Who came up with the idea of doing the beautifully sculpted corpse head? – That was all Tom. And yes, that zombie bust is friggin’ AMAZING! Hell, I don’t even have one…YOU LISTENING, TOM?! *sobs* At least I have a few random corpse heads laying around my place as it is. This IS Wisconsin, after all.
HorrorSexy: If you had the chance to do the Gore Shriek version of Creepshow, which stories would you include?
Mike Wasion: Now THERE’S a tasty question! Undoubtedly “ZOMBIE TOOL SHED”. That’s like the best movie Stuart Gordon never made. Then I gotta say “THE SINK”, which is one of mine..you’ll see how that one goes soon enough (wink). Then it’s GOTTA be whatever the hell is going on on the cover of Gore Shriek #4. I mean seriously, what the HELL is going on there?!?!? As for actors I’d love to see on that, Tom Atkins, NO question. Bruce Campbell, Bill Moseley, and the Star Wars Force-ghost version of Gunnar Hansen. As for SFX artists, Savini, KNB, De Rossi…hell, if they slang guts in an issue of Deep Red or GoreZone at some point, bring ’em aboard! Same goes for directors!
HorrorSexy: Which Horror comics inspired? Any other books that you’d like to see brought back from the grave?
Mike Wasion: As for what inspired me aside from Gore Shriek, again, DEADWORLD, absolutely. And even moreso, its spinoff/reboot title THE DEAD, which Rough House actually released a super-limited collection of this past fall. And without question, Mort Todd’s immortal MONSTERS ATTACK magazine is simply one of the greatest things, ever. It should have been the CREEPY of the 80s/90s, but just never had the chance. I’d resurrect that book in a heartbeat.
HorrorSexy: In terms of the Horror films, which are your favorite gory releases?
Mike Wasion: PHENOMENAL question, though a hard one to answer…I’m a man who loves the classics. TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, EVIL DEAD, DAWN OF THE DEAD, ZOMBIE…the 70s/80s splatter zeitgest is, perhaps unsurprisingly, my bread and butter. But I really love it ALL, man…from THE TINGLER to CHUD, I’ll take it. But if we’re getting into the modern stuff, I LOVE Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES…I know Zombie gets a lot of shit, and that flick is far from perfect, but there’s something about it that’s pure, for lack of a better word. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is amazing, and HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN taught me how to love again. There’s some TRULY hard stuff coming out of the underground now too, like the resurrected GUINEA PIG, and then super-fun stuff like KRAMPUS. There’s ALWAYS something wet and wild, if you know where to look. Bon Apeptit!