________Lost Souls_______
Michael Myers - Comic Book Hero?

New from Xmachina, the multi-media company specialising in comic books based on popular horror films is Halloween Returns to Haddonfield: The Official Souvenir Magazine, a publication which celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Michael Myers films.

"This is a great project because we've never done anything quite like it before," says Derek Rook, who is responsible for the graphic art in the mag. "It's a comic book, but it's also a magazine. It's a magazine, but it's also a souvenir guidebook to the upcoming convention in Pasadena. It's a guidebook but it's also a soundtrack tribute CD! It's just insane!"

Last year, the company debuted at the San Diego Comicon with their innovative four-colour sequel to Don Coscarelli's Phantasm films "We had The Tall Man and Reggie and even Don there to sign copies of the first print run and it was amazing," says Stephen Romano, Rook's partner in crime (author and writer) on the collaborations. "The comics flew off the table, and later we started getting all these great write ups. We knew we had a good thing going, and we followed it up quickly with a series based on Lucio Fulci's The Gates of Hell." Romano was also the author/producer of two graphic novel adaptations of Zombie and The Beyond, which also included elaborate full-length soundtrack albums of each films memorable score.

"I'm the guy on Gates of Hell," says Rook. "That's my book and basically I don't get to do anything else until it's done . . . but, seriously, this company has become our whole reason for living, and I'm happy with the collaboration I have with Stephen. He writes these great scripts and I run with them. I think the best thing about Xmachina is that we can take the time to see what people want and what we want to give them, and we have time to work everything out and be smart about things."

With the new Halloween magazine Romano says of it: "I wanted to do something really special, the Halloween films are a touchstone for all of us. That was the first scary movie besides Alien that really knocked me on my ass, and we wanted the mag to go above-and beyond the norm for this sort of thing. We were contacted by Anthony Masi a few months ago, the guy who is organizing this year's Halloween Returns to Haddonfield event, which is going to be major. They've put this massive convention together which encompasses the whole Halloween spectrum. They're doing special events, they have all the actors and filmmakers coming, tons of vendors . . . and because the event is happening in Pasadena, California, where the first two movies were filmed, they even have a bus tour of the locations. It's going to be really a good time for the fans. "

To begin with, Derek Rook proposed the concept for a thirteen-page silver anniversary story that would depict the true events that the Halloween films might actually be based on. "It's really a situation where the reader can choose for themselves where my idea fits in," says Rook. "There's a mysterious undertow to a lot of what we came up with, so it could go either way."

The story picks up on Halloween 2003, when a young district attorney investigating the mystery of the Michael Myers phenomenon visits Doctor Sam Loomis in a rest home to disprove his prediction that the evil will rise again to wreak a terrible vengeance upon those who fear the dark. Loomis is physically worn and sickly, on the verge of death and hiding from the world, but his mind remains sharp and ever-weary of the imminent escape of Michael Myers from Ridgemont Maximum Security Mental Hospital, where, according to the story, the killer has been incarcerated for the last sixteen years.

But this graphic story is not the only thing you get with this mag. In addition it includes some special extras for the fans. "I wanted to do an over-the-top production number with this thing, so we spared no expense and didn't sleep for a month-and-a-half getting it ready. I wanted to do something like we'd done before with the soundtracks in Zombie and The Beyond to really make the book unique, and not just a high-priced souvenir item for a horror con."

The magazine features a special letter to the fans from the creators of the convention which details the making of the event. The article, written and edited by Anthony Masi himself, is accompanied by bizarre and hilarious cartoon captions which mix the mythology of the films with a tongue-in-cheek caricature approach. "We thought that would be cool, because sometimes people take this stuff a little too seriously," says Rook. "You gotta have fun sometimes!"

There's also a double-page spread map of Haddonfield showing each and every location and "kill" site.

The centrepiece to the magazine is a ten-page Haddonfield Alumni Yearbook, featuring humorous mini-bios and photographs of nearly every attending celebrity guest slated for the show. The yearbook is lovingly designed and written in the same humorous fashion as a high-school yearbook (but - apparently - with a real horrific edge!)

The magazine also contains a two-page memorial to Donald Pleasence, which is written by those who knew him and worked with him on the Halloween films.

Finally, the mag features a lavishly-produced Official Soundtrack Album on compact disc, which is designed to be listened to while reading Rooks comic story! The haunting seven-minute score was composed and performed by Romano himself, in the style of John Carpenter and Alan Howarth's innovative soundtracks of the eighties.

The magazine will be available exclusively at the convention which will be held on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1, 2003. Also at the show there will be several collectors items related to the book, and a trivia contest will be held, the prize being original art from the comic story, signed by Derek Rook himself, and selected Halloween alumni!

Following this, Xmachina intends to release the next issues of Gates of Hell and Phantasm, as well as Bubba Ho-Tep, Zombie and Satans Cheerleaders.

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