Category Archives: Dennis Dread

FantaCo redux

How do you leave the past behind
When it keeps finding ways to get to your heart
.
– From the musical Rent.

As some of you know, I worked at FantaCo Enterprises, a comic book store that was involved with conventions, mail order and publishing from May 1980 to November 1988. After I left, I figured, “OK, that was THAT chapter in my life,” and I would just move on.

Well, no.

In part because of the nudging of a certain party, I wrote a piece or two about the place I spent 8.5 years working, with another piece coming later this month. Then I discovered that some people had warm recollections of FantaCo, the store, the conventions and the various, and eclectic, line of publications.

What brought this to mind were TWO e-mails I got in the past week. One wanted to get hold of FantaCo owner Tom Skulan concerning a publication about magazines such as EERIE and CREEPY, and he wanted to include the FantaCo publications of the genre.

(Truth is, I have a three-year-old e-mail of Tom’s and don’t know if it’s any good.)

The other e-mail was from a guy who wrote:
One question I have is about the Fantaco/Tundra imprint. According to many sources, right around 1990, FantaCo proper disappeared, and instead comics with a Fantaco/Tundra imprint appeared. Kevin Eastman, publisher of the short-lived Tundra Publishing, seems to have been involved (as a book of his, “No Guts No Glory” was published by Fantaco/Tundra). In my Wikipedia entry, I deduced that Eastman bought out or absorbed Fantaco around this time. Am I correct in assuming that? If not, do you know the real history? (I know you left the company around 1988, but I thought you might have kept up with their story.)

I have no idea. The idea of Tom allowing anyone to “absorb” FantaCo seems out of character, but as the writer notes, I wasn’t there. (Hey, anyone out there know?)

This latter writer, not so incidentally, has put together the FantaCo Wikipedia post. It is incomplete, as it does not even mention the book publications, such as Splatter Movies, Video Screams, The Amazing Herschell Gordon Lewis, a couple HGL screenplays, Midnight Marquee #33 (I think), and two books about Famous Monsters. I was tickled, though, to see the list of references, including Steve Bissette, who I knew in the day, and have been reacquainted with as a result of the Internet; and, well, me. I’m also cited, BTW, in the Fred Hembeck Wikipedia post.

Somehow, I have, much to my surprise, started to feel some responsibility towards the history of the FantaCo flame, even the stuff that happened after I left. It must be the librarian in me. Steve Bissette has already tackled some of this in his four-part series on Gore Shriek Steve’s contributions to Henderson State University also addresses the topic. Others who have noted it include Fred Hembeck, of course, and Dennis Dread.

So, at SOME point, I’ll have to deal with the incomplete legacy of FantaCo. I’ll probably start with the Mile High listing. But, for all sorts of reasons, which will be revealed sooner or later, not for a few weeks. Meanwhile, if you all have some solid information re: FantaCo, especially FantaCo publications, and the FantaCo/Tundra relationship, please let me know. My thanks. The information gods will truly thank you.

ROG