FantaCo Enterprises

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FantaCo Enterprises LLC
Type Comic publisher, Book publisher, Comic book retailer
Industry Comics
Founded 1978
Founder(s) Thomas Skulan
Headquarters Albany, New York

FantaCo Enterprises was an American comic book store and publishing company founded and created by Thomas Skulan and based in Albany, New York. As a publisher, FantaCo was 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 "The Chronicles Series", created by Thomas Skulan, edited by Mitch Cohn and Roger Green, which catalogued top-selling Marvel Comics titles. In its later years, FantaCo published mostly horror comics and a small number of "good girl art" .

FantaCo began as a mail order company and comic book store before branching out into publishing books, magazines, and comics. From 1979 through 1990, it also hosted FantaCon, a popular Albany-area comics and horror convention. After a 23-yr hiatus, the company founder, Thomas Skulan, launched FantaCon's revival, which took place on September 14 and 15, 2013, at the Marriott Hotel, 189 Wolf road, Albany, NY 12205. Due to Mr. Skulan's established reputation, the City of Albany, including Mayor "Jerry" Jennings, wholeheartedly embraced and promoted the event with two additional days of events on September 12 and 13. Mayor Jennings graciously offered to kick-off the event at The Palace Theatre, followed by the official 45th Anniversary showing of the original 1968 cult classic film "Night of the Living Dead". Following the film, some of the original cast members were on stage for an intimate Q&A session. The cast members present were: Russ Streiner, Judith O'Dea, George Kosana, Judith Ridley, John Russo and Kyra Schon

Publishing history[edit]

FantaCo Enterprises began in 1978 as a mail order company and comic book store. They were located at 21 Central Avenue in Albany, NY. Many of the store's employees, including publisher/owner/editor Tom Skulan, Mitch Cohn, Roger Green, and Raoul Vezina, worked on FantaCo titles in many creative capacities. (Vezina drew Smilin’ Ed from 1980 until his death in 1983.)[1]

Comics[edit]

The company made its mark in the early 1980's 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 such as the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Avengers, and Spider-Man. A two-issue series was published during this period, Gates of Eden, which featured comics about the 1960's 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, initially edited by Thomas Skulan, and later issues by Stephen R. Bissette, who also contributed stories to each issue. Besides Skulan and Bissette, other Gore Shriek creators of note included Greg Capullo, Bruce Spaulding Fuller, Eric Stanway and Gurchain Singh. Gore Shriek Volume 1 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.

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 and Jim Whiting (King of the Dead, Kill Me Slowly, Scab, and Uptown Zombies), Steve Niles ("Night of the Living Dead: London)

FantaCo/Tundra[edit]

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 War". These projects petered out once Tundra folded in 1993. However, as of October 2013, Eastman and Skulan have revived "Zombie War" in full color under the IDW imprint, with a graphic novel to be released in the summer of 2014.

Books and magazines[edit]

FantaCo published books and magazines in addition to comics. Their first book being Mug Shots in 1980, 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, "Ninth and Hell Street". 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 in the 1990's, right on the eve of their storefront closure in 1998. Mr. Skulan went into semi-retirement and FantaCo Enterprises remained dormant 2013.

FantaCon[edit]

Publisher, creator, writer and editor, Thomas 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 commanded the comic and horror genres from 1979 to 1990. Plans, including a guest lineup, have been announced for a revived FantaCon to take place Sept. 14 and 15, 2013 at the Marriott Hotel, 189 Wolf Road, Albany, NY, 12205.[2]

Storefront closure[edit]

With the mid-90s bursting of the speculation bubble, combined with the decline in demand for comic books, in general, in conjunction with an untenable situation with a large corporate distributor, Skulan decided to close the storefront. 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.

Comic book titles (chronologically)[edit]

The cover from Fred Hembeck's Bah, Hembeck (1980)

1980[edit]

  • 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)

1981[edit]

  • 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)

1982[edit]

  • Déjà Vu
  • Gates of Eden

1986[edit]

  • Gore Shriek vol. I (1986–1989)
  • (This is) Sold Out (1986–1987)[3]

1989[edit]

  • Gore Shriek Delectus
  • Shriek

1990[edit]

  • Gore Shriek vol. II (1990–1991, including an Annual)

1991[edit]

1992[edit]

  • Danger Brain
  • Night's Children: Vampyr
  • Scab
  • Shriek Special
  • Tales of Screaming Horror
  • Uptown Zombies

1993[edit]

  • Blood & Kisses (1993–1994)
  • Girl Squad X
  • Kill Me Slowly
  • Night of the Living Dead: London
  • Official Comics Enquirer Swimsuit Price Guide Annual

1994[edit]

  • 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

1995[edit]

  • Amazon Tales
  • Babes & Biomechanics
  • Bloodletting (1995–1996)
  • Heatseaker
  • Lady Dracula

1996[edit]

  • Badderdude
  • Dead Chicks in Lace: Bloodletting Lingerie Special

1997[edit]

  • Amazing Colossal Amazon Woman
  • Amazon Woman Beach Party
  • Amazon Woman Christmas Special

1998[edit]

Fantaco/Tundra publications[edit]

  • No Guts or Glory (1991)
  • Zombie War (1992)
  • Zombie War: Earth Must Be Destroyed! (1993–1994)
  • Infectious (1994)

Books published[edit]

Cartoonists associated with FantaCo Enterprises[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Green, Roger. "Working on the Raoul Vezina Recollection," Information Without the Bun, TimesUnion.com (June 29, 2008).
  2. ^ Fantacom 2013, online
  3. ^ Hass, Nancy. "Comic-Book Sleaze Albany Publisher Vexed About Quick-Buck Artists," Albany Times Union (Dec. 14, 1986): Business News: pE1.