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Deadbeats Soulsearchers and Company Phantom of Fear City

The final effort in the "Fear City" triad was "Deadbeats," an epic soap opera chronicling the war between two bands of the undead played out in the small-town setting of Mystic Grove, Connecticut. Originally a grudge match between the title group of vampires and their opposite number, King Hermano, the philosopher-king of the eternals. Over time, loyalties shift, turns twist, and fatalities rock both sides of the conflict, as well as--naturally--the mortals caught in the middle. The "Deadbeats" series boasts some of the most singular, most colorful, most distinctive characters in comics: Hermano; his kind-hearted, brainy young squire Mason Collier; Mason's righteous big brother Kirby and his brave girlfriend Jo; deteminedly sequipedalian Dr. V. V. Ralston; and flamboyant monster hunter Dakota Kane.

The story and art for all eighty-two issues of "Deadbeats" (with the exception of a few short-story modules along the way) have all been the work of the writer/penciller and inker team of Richard Howell and Ricardo Villagran . Between them, they've produced hundreds upon hundreds of pages of dense, decorative, moody, character-rich moments in the sweeping, interlocking storylines that "Deadbeats" incorporates. Richard's active, personable touch with character interaction and differentiation of facial and body types is ideal for a series with such a large cast, and Ricardo's illustrative approach brings a classical beauty to each panel.

The "Deadbeats" story begins with the arrival of teenage Kirby Collier and his younger brother Mason to Mystic Grove, the town in which the boys' grandparents still run the town diner. The same night, the Deadbeats slaughter four beach-partying teenagers and begin the town's long nightmare. Soon, the town's self-declared defenders (Drs. Ralston and Powell, and schoolteacher Christine Robbins) team up with the Collier brothers and Jo and mobilize to combat the undead marauders and extend their efforts so far as to enlist freelance monster hunter Dakota Kane--who travels with his mother, the psychic Madame Melina. Kirby and Jo encounter the mysterious King Hermano in the caverns under the city, which leads to Kirby's being present at the ultimate combat between Hermano and the Deadbeats' champion, Southie.

After that initial stage of the war, the stakes escalated, eventually encompassing not only Kirby's and Mason's returned-to-town adventurer father Adam, but also various time periods and bands of alternative time. In a particularly compelling story arc, Kirby travelled to the other-dimensional "World of Vampires" and fought his evil, undead counterpart. Then Kirby was swept into the Mystic Grove of the near future, after a horrible devastation had been visited about the town and the present-day children had grown into the town's defenders. After that, the path back to the present led Kirby to the somewhat-recent past, during which Kirby met his parents during their wild teenage years. Finally, Kirby returned to the present in time to see King Hermano slay the Chronovore, the beast who threatened every moment of a billion, billion bands of time.

With a scope that's both dimension-spanning and amazingly intimate, with moments of shocking violence and stirring sensuality, "Deadbeats" has garnered a militantly loyal readership, and the title of "Comics' Premier VAMPIRE EPIC."

The "Deadbeats" series ran from 1993-2007, with a total of 82 issues, 1/2 of a Free Comic Book Day flip book, and three trade paperback compilations with new covers, one by Richard Howell and Ricardo Villagran , one a painting, and one by Richard Howell and Louis Lachance.

The "Deadbeats" series continues as an Internet comic, with new episodes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, beginning on April 30, 2007. All are invited to follow the ongoing saga here.

Although Claypool Comics earned an enthusiastic and loyal following, we continually struggled to find placement on the shelves among the prodigious amount of other comics-related product being churned out in the present market. Ultimately, Claypool never made a large enough impact on the market to be considered a strong-selling line, and eventually the three series were dropped by Diamond Comics Distribution , the only extant distributor to the comics specialty store circuit. This effectively removed Claypool's only route to reach any readership (other than our subscription base) and made our continuing to publish our comics an impossibility. Diamond was good enough to allow Claypool to continue publishing for an additional six months after the decision was made, enabling us to alert our freelancers, publish a good deal of editiorial material that was already purchased, and bring the ongoing continuities (in "Soulsearchers and Company" and "Deadbeats" ) each to conclusions.

All of the printed issues (with the exception of the licensed "Elvira" ) continue to be available through the Claypool website, and "Deadbeats" continues via its Internet webcomic. Although the company is clearly "in transition," Richard and Ed remain hugely proud of the achievement of Claypool's 14-year output, over 350 issues of "Comics for People Who Love to READ COMICS!"