A Nightmare on Central Avenue
Freddy Krueger gave Tom Skulan and his FantaCo-workers nightmares too
By Tom Skulan
Published in Fangoria #100.
“We’ve got to get rid of these Fango #9s! They’re taking over. They’re breeding. I’m not kidding—there’s 142 now and there were only 78 yesterday. I’m telling you, they’re buying them somewhere else and leaving them here. Take out an ad, do something!”
That was the desperate lament of the late Raoul Vezina in 1981 as he surveyed the inventory of the FantaCo store. Yes, collectors, investors and speculators, it’s true; the worst-selling issue of FANGORIA was #9—now the rarest and most expensive of all issues.
Customers at the time were really offended by the cover (Motel Hell), or else didn’t really understand or weren’t about to shell out $1.95 to see what the magazine was about. There wasn’t any more interest when we lowered the price in the store to 50 cents.
Finally, we offered all of our back issues, including those pesky #9s, in an ad in FANGORIA #20. The ad did well and started a relationship between FantaCo and Fango which continues to this day. By the way, the worst-selling item in that first back issue ad was Fango #9!
Over the years, FantaCo has become probably the single best source for horror film books and magazines. We started business a year before the first issue of FANGORIA, and in those 12 years we’ve seen fads come and go. Magazines, publishers, distributors and entire companies have sprung up and folded. Many of our customers started with us as kids and now have their own kids.
From our vantage point, it’s interesting to look at crazes. Crazes are different from fads in that fads usually die out completely. Crazes seem to peak times of an already existing phenomenon. And the numero uno craze we’ve ever experienced in this marketplace is Freddy Krueger.
Let the psychologists figure out why a burned child molester and murderer became so popular—all we know is that every kid, brother, sister, mother, father, grandparent and stepparent called us in 1988, demanding a glove, a mask, a hat and anything else we had. And they wanted it yesterday.
Several days before Halloween 1988, we received two separate phone orders at about 10 a.m. Both callers wanted Freddy gloves for Halloween. We informed them that it was not possible, due to the fact we still had over 1,000 orders to ship out. Both reluctantly agreed to receive the gloves after Halloween. Or so they said.
At 1 p.m. the first customer from the morning called back, screaming about how his shipment hadn’t come yet! We informed him that there was no way we could deliver his order in three hours (we still believe that is a reasonable statement). He fumed and swore and cancelled his order. Minutes later, the second person from the morning telephoned. He regaled us with an amazing story about how we had promised him delivery by noon the same day! After telling us how slow our service was, he hung up. Both of these people were older, professional men.
Another call was from a bank president. It seems she had watched all the Nightmare films in slow motion. She was concerned that the “blade motion” of the glove we shipped her was not exactly like that in the movie. She demanded that we send her Freddy’s actual glove immediately. Obviously, we could not oblige.
One of the first people we ever shipped a Freddy model kit to was a young woman on the West Coast. Our description stated that this was an 18-inch-tall vinyl model kit which needed to be assembled and painted. She had called to ask numerous questions before ordering the kit. She was one customer who seemed to know exactly what she had ordered.
We couldn’t have been more wrong. The woman phoned our answering service at night and left a 30-minute message (which we still have on tape) that defies description or logic. Among other things, she couldn’t believe that the Freddy model wasn’t ceramic and lifesize! She was also “appalled” that we didn’t supply a full wardrobe to dress it up. Yikes!
Fortunately, customers like that are one in a thousand. We have great relationships with many of our regulars and receive lots of nice letters and cards.
And we’ve developed a great relationship with our friends at FANGORIA over all these years. Congratulations on this milestone issue! Who knows what kinds of stories we’ll have for issue #200?