SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't seen Sleepaway Camp, stop reading now! Revisit this post after you've popped in the Blu-ray for a movie night.
Have you ever wondered how our original Scream Factory artwork is made? We asked artist Nathan Thomas Milliner to walk us through the process of creating new art for the Collector's Edition of Sleepaway Camp. "This one was probably the hardest one to nail down," he told us.
"Usually, Scream Factory gives me notes on what they would like to see on the cover. With this title, they wanted to see what I came up with. I re-watched the film so I could get it fresh in my head and try to find visuals that stood out. The original poster was simple and effective — a knife emerging from the water impaling a tennis shoe. I felt like trying something simple as well."
Milliner found his first challenge in how to represent the killer of a slasher film whose identity is a secret until the end (unlike, say, Jason or Freddy Krueger). He also needed to find a way to convey the right horror mood with the art. "Essentially, Sleepaway Camp is a quirky, dark comedy/slasher with young kids at camp," he explains. "Scream sells horror films, and I needed to find a way to make it look like a horror film."
This is the first sketch Milliner submitted, featuring a headless (to hide the identity) image of the killer looming over a cabin in flames and gushing blood toward a camp victim laying on a dock.
In the notes he received for this first draft, the folks at Scream Factory said that the cast should be featured on the cover (since the characters in Sleepaway Camp were so memorable). He added five characters to the design, but wasn't pleased with the results: "I immediately felt it lost the scary look and just looked like a teen comedy or something. Too many innocent-looking characters jumbled together. They asked me to move them around more."
After several attempts to move and resize the characters, both parties agreed it wasn't quite working. It took a call to the film's director, Robert Hiltzik, to make the necessary adjustments to perfect the cover art. "Robert said to get rid of everyone but Angela and put her in the middle. Make her more intense looking, withbigger eyes, and change the arrows in the guy's back to something else. I made it an ax and made the other changes. Scream's art director also suggested moving the guy on the dock to the right to make it less symmetrical, which really did help."
Finally, they had their final cover design. Now it was just a matter of Milliner creating the final drawings. He explains his artistic process:
"I work mostly like a comic book artist, as that is how I cut my teeth. I do everything in pen and ink on several different sheets of paper so that I can move things if needed. The areas for DVDs and Blu-rays are different, and things sometimes need to be moved out or in to fit correctly. I then color them digitally under my original ink drawings as they do in modern comics."
And here is the final result. To see more sketches from the process and read more from Nathan Thomas Milliner, see the post on Scream Factory's Facebook page. (SPOILERS are contained in that post!) Sleepaway Camp is available to pre-order on Collector's Edition Blu-ray!