Ever been to a horror convention and seen the selection of horror shirts there are? There’s a lot. From obscure gems to cult favorites, horror culture has taken to fashion and t-shirts are the front runner. Like the band shirts that came before them, fans love to rep their genre, and horror is no exception. While Rotten Cotton and Fright Rags have your favorite movies covered, where do you turn to for original horror inspired threads? A little place called City of Horror, that’s where.
We sat down with owner, Jaysin Horror, to pick his brain about his brand.
LEGLESS CORPSE: So Jaysin, give us some back story on City of Horror. What inspired you start a horror based t-shirt line and how did you decide on City of Horror for a name?
JAYSIN HORROR: I initially started a clothing company years and years ago because I wasn’t in a band anymore, but I still wanted to be associated with the music scene somehow. A clothing company seemed to be the next best option to starting a label, which is where the name ironically comes from. A few years back I was in a noisy hardcore band and we had just finished recording a two song sampler and my brother and I were discussing the idea of starting a vanity label to release music from our various musical endeavors. City of Horror was the name we ended up agreeing on for the label but I had gotten an email threatening me with a lawsuit if I didn’t change the name of my clothing company at the time (which was called Horror Business), so I called my brother and asked him if I could use it for my clothing company. Luckily he was okay with it and it’s been that ever since.
LC: How do you decide on a design? Do you tend to draw from horror films or do you start from an abstract idea and go from there?
JH: A little of both, really. I was going to say I don’t have any set criteria for a new design outside of it being horror themed or influenced, but that’s also fairly subjective. Something horrifying to me would be forced to endure a nonstop chick flick marathon, so by those standards I guess I should be releasing shirts inspired by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and whatever Sandra Bullock is doing next.
LC: What’s your favorite scary movie?
JH: I really liked You’re Next and the remake of We Are What We Are. I still need to see All Cheerleaders Die. And I recently found a company from Canada called Black Fawn Distribution that’s putting out pretty solid independent flicks. I like a lot of the stuff Ti West has done. And I think my all time favorite underrated horror movie would probably be Ravenous.
LC: Ravenous is great. It sounds like you’re digging on cannibal flicks. Are you in favor of remakes?
JH: I don’t know that I’d say I’m ‘in favor’ of them, but I’m not so quick to want to torch Hollywood to the ground like a number of horror fans are. If you can either update, or offer a fresh spin on an older movie, I’ll give you a chance and go into it with a fairly open mind. Point in case, Friday the 13th is my favorite horror franchise, and I wasn’t too thrilled that they were remaking the movie. After I watched it I was livid. ‘How could they do that?!’ I said aloud while mumbling obscenities. But not too long ago I had read an article that kind of came to the defense of not just the Friday the 13th remake, but remakes in general, and the writer offered up a very valid point in that is it really THE STORY that we love, or is it really the NOSTALGIA that we cling so fondly to? Let’s face it, as the Friday movies have progressed, they’ve gotten pretty cheesy, so for me it’s more nostalgia that I hold on to. And I think if horror fans are being honest with themselves, it’s probably the same thing for them too.
LC: Do you have any intentions of doing a Jason Vorhees themed COH shirt?
JH: Every September I offer up a pre-order on a horror movie homage shirt and I limit the shirts to JUST the number pre-ordered, which lasts all September. A Friday the 13th one WILL happen, just not this year.
LC: What homage shirts have you done so far?
JH: 2013 was my first year offering one, and I did the movie that I felt shared the spirit that I want to have with my company, so I went with Return of the Living Dead.
LC: How do you choose the artists you work with?
JH: I’ve been fortunate so far in that I’ve only used two artists for the vast majority of my work. I’ve also used Mintees to find artwork for sale that struck my eye.
LC: What would you say the biggest challenges are in terms of getting the company off the ground? Do you find that because it’s horror based it opens or closes more doors for you?
JH: The biggest challenge has, and probably always will be, either money or exposure, and they both very much feed into each other. Without money I can’t buy or print new shirts, but I can’t sell that many shirts if there’s no exposure beyond my friends list on Facebook and my family. As for it being a horror based company, I say it’s done neither for me, but if I had to pick one, I guess I’d say it’s closed some. Some kids that dig horror are only into the movies they know, so there’s no shortage of companies from them to choose from. They’re also generally not interested in wearing the latest original horror inspired shirt I release. So that’s the trade off. And because it’s horror oriented, I have a much smaller market to try and appeal to. Chances are if you’re listening to 100 radio, you won’t be wearing the ‘Still Grinning’ shirt I released.
LC: What’s in store for the future of COH? JH: Well, I have an appearance at TriState Comic Con in Huntington, WV May 31st. After that, I’m launching pre-orders on the new shirt COH016: ‘666 DB’. From there it’s planning out our Halloween stuff.
LC: When you refer to Halloween, are you talking about Ghoul’s Night Out?
JH: No, Ghouls Night Out is a summertime show put on by my buddy Matt. It’s pretty much the ‘who’s who’ of horrorpunk. This year it’s gonna be Saturday Aug 9th in Fayetteville, NC
LC: Does COH play a role in GNO? JH: I was a vendor at Ghouls Night Out last year and helped champion the crowd funded DVD that Matt wanted to do. We’re buds, and I’ll do what I can to help promote the show, but there’s nothing more than a vendor/event affiliation between City of Horror and Ghouls Night Out
LC: In closing, what advice would you give to anyone who wanted to start a horror clothing line?
JH: You mean other than don’t? Haha I kid. All jokes aside, make sure you’re doing it for the love of it. Surround yourself with people that share your passion, and definitely make sure you find one or two great graphic artists. Outside of that, the sky is the limit for you! Head on over to www.cityofhorror.com to see more.
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