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Vampires to invade Illinois

Scott Massino unveils his comic book

OHIO — Vampire Alert! Varney the Vampire is hitting the area this weekend.

Scott Massino of Ohio, Ill., has written the “Varney the Vampire” comic book which will be showcased at a launch party from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday at the Princeton Arts Academy, located at 230 Backbone Road East in Princeton. Admission is $10 person. Due to the book’s subject matter and R rating, children under the age of 17 must be accompanied by an adult. A portion of profits will go to the Princeton Arts Academy. is launching the original, free-to-read, online comic, which will also be available in print copy. Thrillbent Publisher Mark Waid said he’s had his eyes on Massino’s “Varney the Vampire” for quite some time.

“It’s clever; it’s really well done, and Thrillbent is happy to promote it,” Waid said. “Writer
Scott Massino and seasoned comics artist Scott Kolins have cooked up a tale about the most terrifying blood-suckers known to man: Vampires, family and Hollywood.”

On Thursday, Massino described “Varney the Vampire” as a dramedy about the world’s first vampire, who reawakens with a vengeance in the 21st century after having been forgotten, with his exploits stolen and usurped by Bram Stoker in “Dracula” and later made into a legend by Hollywood. Now, Varney is hungry to re-establish his reputation.

From the very beginning he had his eye on a Hollywood movie for his story, Massino said. The movie is a big part of the comic book’s storyline, and to that end, 18 comic book artists have each created a Varney movie poster, with those posters to be shown at Sunday’s launch party at the Princeton Arts Academy, he said.

Creating and marketing “Varney the Vampire” has been a surreal experience for him, Massino said. A graduate from LaSalle-Peru Christian School in 1995 and then Rockford College, Massino was working as an English teacher when he became ill several years ago with a severe obstructed sleep apnea problem and was no longer able to keep teaching. But he believes he has now found his niche in writing and will work hard to make it happen, he said.

He knew if he was to create something in this vampire/comic book genre, it would have to be “something completely new and something that would blow people away,” Massino said.

The original Varney was the star of a series of books written in London in 1845 by James Malcolm Rymer. Rymer’s vampire was so popular that Bram Stoker borrowed almost all of Varney’s traits when he wrote his classic “Dracula” in 1897.

Sunday’s launch of Varney the Vampire, Scott Massino-style, has been about four years in the making. His Varney is a unique vampire, into playing heavy metal guitar and hip with the modern lingo, unlike a lot of the other vampires out there. There’s a lot of horror in the story, but it’s also very “South Park” comedy, Massino said.

The Kickstarter “Varney the Vampire” launch party tour begins today, Saturday, at G-Mart Comics in Chicago and will continue at several Illinois comic book shops and art galleries, including the Princeton Arts Academy, until April 15. A portion of all funds raised above company’s funding goal will go to the Salvation Army to aid the Philippines.

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