Living in an era where digital transformation is king, it’s refreshing to see that small businesses are able to survive—and in many cases thrive—by resurrecting and re-inventing products that were once deemed obsolete.
Waxwork Records certainly fills this void. I spoke to Waxwork Records co-founder Kevin Bergeron last year about the rising popularity of vinyl records and how his company has quickly made a name for itself by re-mastering and re-packaging highly collectible horror movie soundtracks.
Today, Waxwork Records is officially expanding its product portfolio with the launch of Waxwork Comics. In this exclusive Q&A, Bergeron provides the scoop on how he merged the audio and visual worlds into a spooky, new concept.
Before we dive into Waxwork Comics, how do you explain the rising popularity of collecting vinyl records?
Vinyl is probably the most intimate way of listening to recorded music. You’re involved with the whole experience—whereas with digital, you can sort of just click a button and “check out.” And that gives vinyl a significant upper-leg as a medium of experiencing recorded music. There’s a level of importance that’s inherent to vinyl. Not to mention the fact that vinyl is way cooler than an MP3 or other digital formats. It sounds better. You can actually hold it! You can even smell the printed jacket. The artwork is big and bold, and even the vinyl itself can be colored, or swirled, or have splatter effects. You don’t get any of that with digital media. Vinyl can be compared to a piece of artwork, and just like other forms of art, people tend to collect and display their records.
Describe how the idea for Waxwork Comics came about. Is it a deliberate product extension for Waxwork? Or did it happen by accident?
It was a two-year journey to make it all happen. Expanding into publishing had been discussed between myself and Waxwork Records co-owner, Suzy, since we launched the record label. We wanted a publishing division that would be part of the Waxwork universe.
But really, the idea to release comics and other books bundled with vinyl popped up very quickly, and out of the blue. In 2015, we were on a business trip in Seattle, and from left field, I mentioned that we should release comics and pair them up with 7-inch vinyl. We love comics, and we know soundtracks on vinyl, so lets marry the two. The music on the 7-inch would be a deluxe companion piece serving as a “soundtrack” to the stories in each book. We both thought it could be something very original and exciting, and when we got back to New Orleans, where we are headquartered, we immediately began developing Waxwork Comics.
What’s the vibe you’re going for? Chills and thrills? Over-the-top gore? A little of both?
We’re big fans of the classic horror comics like Tales From The Crypt and Creepy Magazine. However, not once did we use past comics or publications as reference, ever.
From the start, it has been really important for us to make Waxwork Comics a new company with brutally original content—something that can’t be compared to anything else because historically, there’s no point of reference. That’s why it’s so exciting. And how many times can anyone say they have experienced something totally new in 2017?
I was the very first person to read House of Waxwork Issue #1 and listen to the companion 7-inch vinyl. I was overwhelmed with a feeling that was both unfamiliar and electrifying.
We held a test reading and listening with a diverse group of people. Some of these people don’t even read comics or listen to vinyl. Others were well-versed in both comics and collecting vinyl. Across the board, everyone mentioned that they were overcome with a feeling that they couldn’t quite describe, but it was overwhelmingly exciting and positive. And I found that to be remarkable. Everyone shared a very new experience that was “totally original” and “extremely exciting.”
Comics and vinyl have been around for so long, and even coupled together in the past, but not like Waxwork is doing it. The style of stories featured in Waxwork Comics’ first series, House of Waxwork, range from cerebral, to gory, to the occult, tales of revenge, and more. Many of them with horrific twists.
What are the challenges of publishing comics vs. vinyl—and having to deliver a product that contains both?
Publishing comics is much more challenging than releasing vinyl. Lots of crucial moving parts, and so many creatives involved, like illustrators, colorists, and writers, and we’re fusing that with original music on vinyl, which only adds to the level of work involved. It can become a pretty arduous process, especially if you’re trying to do it effectively and in a deluxe manner. So not only have we had to keep a watchful eye over every aspect of the new publishing wing of Waxwork, but actually hire talent to manage the entire process. It’s gotta be perfect.
What can we expect in future Waxwork Comics installments? Will these continue to be original efforts or will you tap into known horror/thriller franchises?
When we started developing our comics, we tossed around the idea of licensed properties. We’re already so experienced in licensing soundtracks from major studios, so it seemed like a no-brainer to do the same with comics. Other comic book publishers do it, and it’s successful because rather than turning people on to new material, you’re tapping into well-known franchises that have millions of followers the world over. At some point early on, we made a firm decision to only pursue original content. To create our own universe. It’s probably the tougher road to take, but we want to keep it original.
House Of Waxwork features all new, original stories and music on deluxe, colored 7-inch vinyl. More original comics are coming soon from Waxwork Comics including the series POSER, which can be described as Friday the 13th meets The Decline Of Western Civilization.
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