Friday, October 17, 2008

Halloween Roundup: Trick or Tees!

With Halloween fast approaching, there is a lot on the minds of many Americans. Some are worried about what candy to get, or whether they or their spouse will take the kids out. Others are busy fighting their yearly fight against paganism. Still others are too concerned with the election to notice Halloween, but those dudes are totally no fun. The fun dudes, by comparison, are planning costumes. But what if you have no party to go to? What if you can't afford one, or don't know how to sew? You could always buy a shirt, and I've got quite the lineup for y'all to check out, with time to spare to get one before the big day.

To start, we should really take note of Design By Humans, which is not only just at the end of what they call Halloweek, but is holding a pretty solid sale from now until Sunday at Midnight. All the prints this week are worth checking out, but for my money, the clear winner is Evil Halloween, by Miss Monster (above left), possibly the most appropriately named designer they could option for Halloweek, and her winner came out gorgeously creepy. It's a much brighter print than it looks, plenty of colors, and a conglomerate of all manner of ghoulish things. Seriously, it is a severely ultimate Halloween shirt.

I have to presume the contest is now over, but there's still time before Halloween, and they certainly could print something else with a creepy flair, so definitely keep checking in just in case. Outside of that chance, some others worth checking out: Agent Skully, by Jimiyo (above center), which is a great pun but also a very attractive all-over skull print, and Voodoo by LucaT (above right), which is a rather older print but one I've recently fallen in love with the bold colors of.

If you dig the DBH style but need something a bit more, it's worth checking out Enclothe. A lot of their stock is sold down down down due to their moving sale, but if you need a quick costume idea, you should be able to access a copy of their Cthulhu shirt (right). It's not everything you'd want in absolute evil... looking at the photo does not strike fear into my heart, nor does it even have Medusa-like qualities and make me turn to stone, but the discharge print makes for an interesting effect and a unique design. I've always seen this design as very striking, the way the tentacles "hang" from the collar area (one might say I "Love" the "Craft"smanship) and far be it from me to upset the elder gods by ignoring them at what must be their favorite time of year.

On the other side of the world is Threadless, which is not to be outdone by their more "artistic" competition. They've got some serious spooky threads to toss out as well, and they don't skimp on the artful side either. Starting off is this week's select, By The Moonlight (above left), which is one of the best selects I've seen from Threadless in a while, if not very clear what makes it "selecty". It melds the idea of beauty and macabre in one compelling image. Vampire (above center) is less compelling artistically, but is incredibly compelling as a shirt anyway. It makes stellar use of what I often see as gimmicky techniques: UV ink and glow ink. Threadless uses ink that makes things glow like you would not believe, and their UV inks are equally impressive. This is a shirt that apparently needs to be experienced, and I have many friends that swear that it is beyond a doubt the coolest thing they've bought since ice for their last kegger. And then there's The Last F*ckin' Unicorn (above right), an homage of sorts to everything ridiculously over-indulgently metal. It's completely over-the-top imagery that you cannot help but love, and it's designed by someone known as Dick Firestorm, which is in and of itself plenty reason enough to love it. Completely epic, and perfect for casual fright-fests.

Of course, the heavy hitters aren't the only thing out there. If you're looking for something less popular to sport on your chest, Akumu Ink has got a selection of shirts that may just fit the bill. My top recommendation (left) is Death's Embrace. It's a huge print, a dramatic print, a stark print, even a bit gory. I think that that's why I'm drawn to it, despite it having as much of a post-hardcore/screamo flair as Threadless's "Unicorn" does power-metal majesty. The character is simply evocative, dressed in his black and white garb, with flowing coat and jaunty top hat, classy as can be, yet with a skull head. And clearly a bout of depression. If you can get past the slight gore, though, it's a solid, "edgy" addition to your dark soul's wardrobe.

Now, some of you might be antsy at this point... we've gone straight from the big names to a virtual unknown without mention of shirt.woot? It's intentional... we probably won't be seeing any Halloween content from them until their Costume derby ends next weekend, and I'd hate to stall the Hallowatch further... you guys want your shirts now! However, outside of watching woot for the next few weeks, I might be able to quell some hungers anyway.

If you're hungry for brains, I present Splitreason's Zombie Day at the Mall (above), which I hope will also sate some of the wooters out there. The design is uncredited at Splitreason, but longtime wooters will recognize it as being an old derby entry from former woot designer and zombie aficionado PenSketch. Halloween is simply made for zombie invasion shirts, and this one shouldn't disappoint the legions. Plus, it's always nice to see some old designs find a home.

Zombie fans should also check out Seibei, which has a customizable Intramural Zombie Hunter shirt that might actually make a better option for Christmas than for Halloween, as it's a perfect gift for your favorite Zombie fan (and also probably won't come in in time for Halloween if you ordered now, due to customization). In fact, most of the Seibei storefront is a celebration of monsters, mostly of the surprisingly-adorable sort. I personally recommend going the simpler route, though, with the slogan shirt to your right. I'm more of a water fan, myself, but one cannot deny the otherworldly allure of the taco, even if you are dead. Or undead. If you prefer to be playful with your spooking, Seibei's the place for you.

No less playful is Squidfire, which doesn't boast a lot of shirts perfect for the holiday, but has recently put out a charming shirt on Cryptozoology (left). It's a bit of a classic style, almost a flash-card on a shirt of many popular critters that likely don't exist. It's the sort of thing Threadless does a lot of, really (shirts like "Things That Glow" come to mind) , but while I dislike many of these sorts of shirts, Crypto does well by actually using a theme that isn't pulled out of nowhere, and avoiding the inevitable cheesy joke listing... the intent is to make a shirt, not make a funny (for the record, I hate myself for using the phrase "make a funny," and I blame shirts like this). It's a simple two-color print that sits well on the shirt, but the thing that really sets it apart is the style. Each cryptid, monster and creature of folklore has a very sparse illustration, almost like stick figures who have been beefing up a little, yet contains its distinctive traits. It helps characterize the things by not really making them very characteristic... each piece holds back just enough detail and precision, which works perfectly because who is ever precise about the creatures they insist they've sighted? It leads to some of the most whimsical creepsters ever.

Some people, however, need more detail. They need clothing that could be art. As that goes, Oddica has a vampire shirt that could indeed be art. The Bite captures the romance of vampirism, if there's much romance in being killed without fully dying. Count Crazy-ears is embracing his prey in what could almost be seen as a kiss. That correlation is what makes the shirt... it's an attractive, modern looking art piece, making it perfect for people who appreciate both fine art and fine horror. Its familiarity allows for a subtle joke, one that goes quite a bit deeper for some than just vampire romance. Of course, if you're still unsure why this is worth your attention, it should also perfect for your weird aunt who buys Laurell K Hamilton books by the truckload.

All this talk of art, though, and no mention of film? No art style truly has embraced horror quite like the silver screen has, and what Halloween season would be complete without at least one good B-movie night? Of course, with today's busy schedules, who can guarantee your friends can all make the time to pop over for The Wasp Woman? Best to have a way to show the world that you know how much dynamite it takes to destroy huge lizards by sporting a shirt that glorifies the atomic age! One of my favorites is above: a one-color homage to the Attack of the Giant Cicada. It holds that classic nostalgic feel in the one color print and the abject '50s terror. It's sold by Headstone City, which has a number of other cool shirts that should fit the bill for the holiday as well, such as the simple Cigarette Jones, or Oculus Ciliaris, a presumably Residents inspired design currently on sale and ready for your consumption.

In the spirit of such epics comes Fantastic Bonanza's Conezor Attacks! (left), which is a movie I truly wish existed... an evil milkman, sick of the modern supermarket, unleashes a terror that leaves the city truly chilled. With ideas like this, it's about characterization, and Conezor looks big, bad, and, er, blue-ish? I suppose the most evil ice cream is one you wouldn't want to eat, eh? This tribute is probably one of the most classic of the FB designs, but there's always more fun stuff to check out, especially their own blog, which is much fancier than mine. No envy. Honestly.

But if you're seriously in love with your horror, you would do very well to check Fright Rags, a site that seems to deal near-exclusively in horrorflick chic. They get pretty bad-ass about "crappy horror shirts," and they have every right to... it's a topic they seem to live and breathe. They have some great horror-based content, such as Zombie vs. Shark (below, right), a concept likely culled not only from Italian horror film "Zombie", but from the depths of total awesomeness. It's big, it's in your face, its a little cheesy, and that is what B-horror is all about.

Not only does Fright Rags have original shirt content, but they also have a vast array of Print-on-Demand options, showcasing actual posters from classic films. There are heavy hitters like the infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space, Mystery Science Theater stand-bys such as The Brain That Wouldn't Die, and plenty of more obscure content as well, including the evocatively titled Eyeball. They run a bit pricier, as Direct to Garment is wont to do, but they're also custom printed, which comes with a longer shipping time, but also allows you to grab your design in a variety of shirt styles, design options, and color options, meaning your shirt is tailored right to you... be sure to play around with their custom shirt designer on any DTG product page to get a real-time mock up of what your shirt will look like. All this and sizes up to 5X makes Fright-Rags a pretty much one stop shop for ANY horror fan.

Direct to garment printing, as Fright Rags employs, is sure to make many of you a little uneasy with thoughts of CafePress, but with proper care, a good DTG print should last as long as any other shirt. So in closing, to drive home that point, we'll look at a piece from Amorphia Apparel, a Spreadshirt based clothing operation, and easily one of the biggest Print-on-Demand lines out there. They're great for a quick jab of a joke with a dab of bizarre topping it off, and That's Ghostist is no different. The topicality makes it perfect for the season, and since Amorphia implements Spreadshirt's "flock printing" capabilities, you won't be lacking on quality.

And if you still find election season just as scary as Halloween itself, I've got something for you to round the season out with, as well. But seriously, take a night to have fun. Obama and McCain aren't going to have their campaigns unravel because you went out drinking dressed as a vampire.

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