FantaCo Enterprises was an American comic book publishing company known for its idiosyncratic line-up of mostly black-and-white titles, including the humorous Hembeck Series and the horror title Gore Shriek. FantaCo also published a "Chronicles Series," which catalogued top-selling Marvel Comics titles. In its later years, FantaCo published mostly horror and "good girl art" comics.
FantaCo began as a comic book store before branching out into publishing books, magazines, and comics. They also hosted FantaCon, a popular Albany-area comics and horror convention. FantaCo was founded by Thomas Skulan and was based in Albany, New York.
FantaCo began in 1978 as a comic book store and mail-order business, before branching out into publishing in 1980. They were located on the first block of Central Avenue in Albany. Many of the store's employees, including owner Tom Skulan, Mitch Cohn, Roger Green, and Raoul Vezina, worked on FantaCo titles in creative capacities. (Vezina drew Smilin’ Ed from 1980 until his death in 1983.)
The company made its mark in the early 1980s with The Hembeck Series, seven volumes of comics by Fred Hembeck. These magazine-sized black-and-white books poked loving fun at the mainstream comics industry, with Hembeck himself appearing as a cartoon interlocutor with the superheroes he interviewed. During this period, FantaCo also published the Fantaco Chronicles Series, edited by Mitch Cohn and Roger Green, which exhaustively documented popular Marvel Comics titles like the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Avengers, and Spider-Man. A one-shot title published during this period was Gates of Eden, which featured comics about the 1960s by an impressive array of talent, including John Byrne, Steve Leialoha, Michael T. Gilbert, Trina Robbins, Hembeck, Foolbert Sturgeon, P. Craig Russell, Rick Geary and Spain Rodriguez.
1986 saw the debut of the horror anthology Gore Shriek, edited by Stephen R. Bissette, who also contributed stories to each issue. Besides Bissette, other Gore Shriek creators of note included Greg Capullo, Bruce Spaulding Fuller, Eric Stanway and Gurchain Singh. Gore Shriek volume I ran for three years, and is still fondly remembered by horror fans as one of the top comics in that genre. Gore Shriek Delectus (1989) collects much of the best material from the first volume. Bissette left FantaCo in 1990, over a dispute about a new FantaCo series based on George Romero's Night of the Living Dead.
FantaCo revived Gore Shriek in 1990 and started a new line of horror and zombie-related titles and one-shots. This period was noteworthy for the career jump-starts it gave to young creators like Chynna Clugston (Bloodletting) and Steve Niles (King of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead: London, Kill Me Slowly, Scab, and Uptown Zombies).
From 1991-1994, the company co-published a number of Kevin Eastman projects with Eastman's company Tundra Press. Books under the FantaCo/Tundra imprint included Infectious, No Guts or Glory, and Zombie Wars. These projects petered out once Tundra folded in 1993.
Books and magazines
FantaCo published book and magazine in addition to comics; their first book being 1980's Mug Shots, a book of cartoons by John Caldwell. Later on, FantaCo published more trade books on the subjects of horror films; splatter films; exploitation films; an early guide to horror, science fiction, and fantasy films on videocassette; and even a straight-ahead horror novel. John McCarty authored three books published by FantaCo, and Chas Balun wrote four.
In a similar horror vein, they put out the FantaCo Horror Yearbook and Price Guide every year from 1978 until 1996; magazines like Barbara Steele: An Angel for Satan, Demonique 4, and the Comics Enquirer; twelve issues of Dread: The Official Clive Barker Newsletter in 1992–1993; and Clive Barker and Zombie War commemorative card sets.
The book Amazon Women: The Art of Tom Simonton, edited by Tim D'Allaird, was FantaCo's final publication, right on the eve of their closure in 1998.
Publisher Skulan also hosted FantaCon, a popular Albany-area horror convention and comic book convention that was preferred by many to the "over-crowded Fangoria events." FantaCon lasted from 1979 to 1990.
Decline and closure
With the mid-90s bursting of the speculation bubble, combined with the decline in demand for horror comics, FantaCo started losing money. From about 1995, their titles shifted to the good girl art of Tom Simonton's Amazon Woman comics, and titillating titles like Babes & Biomechanics, Lady Dracula, and Dead Chicks in Lace: Bloodletting Lingerie Special. As a publisher, their last couple of years were exclusively limited to Simonton projects, and in 1998 FantaCo — publisher and retailer — closed its doors for good.
Comic book titles (chronologically)
- The Hembeck Series (1980–1983)
- #1 — Hembeck: The Best of Dateline: @!!?# (1980)
- #2 — Hembeck 1980 (1980)
- #3 — Abbott and Costello Meet the Bride of Hembeck (1980)
- #4 — Bah, Hembeck! (1980)
- #5 — The Hembeck File (1981)
- #6 — Jimmy Olsen's Pal, Fred Hembeck (1981)
- #7 — Dial H for Hembeck (1983)
- Smilin' Ed Comics (1980–1983)
- Alien Encounters
- FantaCo's Chronicles Series (1981–1983)
- #1 — The X-Men Chronicles (Dec. 1981)
- #2 — The Fantastic Four Chronicles (Feb. 1982)
- #3 — The Daredevil Chronicles (Apr. 1982)
- #4 — The Avengers Chronicles (June 1982)
- #5 — The Spider-Man Chronicles (Aug. 1982)
- Chronicles Annual (1983)
- Déjà Vu
- Gates of Eden
- Gore Shriek vol. I (1986–1989)
- (This is) Sold Out (1986–1987)
- Gore Shriek Delectus
- Gore Shriek vol. II (1990–1991, including an Annual)
- Night of the Living Dead (1991–1992); collected in Night of the Living Dead (1991) ISBN 978-0938782209, Night of the Living Dead/Two (1992) ISBN 978-0938782209, and Night of the Living Dead/Three (1992) ISBN 978-0938782223
- Night's Children
- Vault of Screaming Horror
- Danger Brain
- Night's Children: Vampyr
- Shriek Special
- Tales of Screaming Horror
- Uptown Zombies
- Blood & Kisses (1993–1994)
- Girl Squad X
- Kill Me Slowly
- Night of the Living Dead: London
- Official Comics Enquirer Swimsuit Price Guide Annual
- Air Warriors
- Amazon Woman (1994–1996, including some Specials)
- Attack of the Amazon Girls
- Blood Gothic
- King of the Dead
- Night of the Living Dead: Zombie Genesis
- Sand Demon
- Weird West
- Amazon Tales
- Babes & Biomechanics
- Bloodletting (1995–1996)
- Lady Dracula
- Dead Chicks in Lace: Bloodletting Lingerie Special
- Amazing Colossal Amazon Woman
- Amazon Woman Beach Party
- Amazon Woman Christmas Special
- Amazon Woman: Jungle Album trade paperback ISBN 978-0938782438
- Clash of the Amazing Colossal Women
- No Guts or Glory (1991)
- Zombie War (1992)
- Zombie War: Earth Must Be Destroyed! (1993–1994)
- Infectious (1994)
- Mug Shots: A Splendid Collection of Cartoons, by John Caldwell (1980)
- Splatter Movies: Breaking the Last Taboo: a Critical Survey of the Wildly Demented Sub-Genre of the Horror Film That is Changing the Face of Film Realism Forever, by John McCarty (1981) ISBN 978-0938782018
- Video Screams: The Official Source Book to Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Related Films on Videocassette and Disk, by John McCarty (1982) ISBN 0-938782-02-9
- The Amazing Herschell Gordon Lewis and His World of Exploitation Films, by Daniel Krogh with John McCarty (1983) ISBN 978-0938782032
- Horror Holocaust, by Chas Balun (1986) ISBN 978-0938782056
- The Gore Score, by Chas Balun (1987) ISBN 978-0938782063
- Midnight Marquee #37, edited by Gary J. Svehla (1988) ISBN 093878210X
- Herschell Gordon Lewis' Blood Feast (1988) ISBN 0-938782-07-X
- The Deep Red Horror Handbook, by Chas Balun (1989) ISBN 978-0938782124
- Ninth and Hell Street, by Chas Balun (1990) ISBN 978-0938782131
- Famous Monsters Chronicles, edited by Dennis Daniel (1992) ISBN 978-0938782186
- Connoisseur's Guide to Contemporary Horror Film: The Best of the Beasts and Blood (1993) ISBN 978-0938782278
- Freaks of the Heartland, by Steve Niles (1995) ISBN 0-938782-37-1
- Amazon Women: The Art of Tom Simonton, edited by Tim D'Allaird (1998) ISBN 0-938782-38-X
Cartoonists associated with FantaCo Enterprises
- Stephen R. Bissette
- Greg Capullo
- Chynna Clugston
- Bruce Spaulding Fuller
- Fred Hembeck
- Wendy Lang-Snow
- Steve Niles
- Tom Simonton
- Gurchain Singh
- Raoul Vezina
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Green, Roger. "Working on the Raoul Vezina Recollection," Information Without the Bun, TimesUnion.com (June 29, 2008).
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dread, Dennis. "Gore Shriek Memories," The Battle for Art (Mar. 25, 2006). Retrieved August 11, 2008.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Bissette, Stephen R. "Gore Shriek Memories, Part 4," SRBissette.com (June 14, 2008). Retrieved August 11, 2008.
- ↑ "FantaCo vs Bissette," The Comics Journal #138 (Oct. 1990), p. 18.
- ↑ Bissette, Stephen R. "FantaCo In Mind..." SRBissette.com (Aug.15, 2008). Retrieved August 20, 2008.
- FantaCo/Tundra at the Comic Book DB
- FantaCo Enterprises at the Grand Comics Database
- Bails, Jerry. Who's Who of American Comics Books, 1928–1999 online.
- Bissette, Stephen R. "Recap on the Gore Shriek Memories: What Came Before," SRBissette.com (Aug. 17, 2008).
- "FantaCo vs Bissette," The Comics Journal #138 (Oct. 1990), p. 18.