An Interview with Ben Scrivens of Fright Rags
By: J.R. McNamara on October 8, 2013 | Comments

As long as I can remember, I have been a 'horror collector'. When I was a kid in the 70s, every Sunday, my dad would take me to the local newsagency and I'd get a comic, but once a month it was really special: I'd get a copy of Forrestt J. Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland. In the back of this mag there was adverts for the most amazing things my 7 year old mind could comprehend. Masks, model kits, all sorts of stuff that would make my beloved glow in the dark cardboard skeleton bought from the Thirroul Record Barn look like absolute rubbish. As I grew up, that love of owning horror 'stuff' has never faded. Throughout the years I have acquired all sorts of collectables, or junk as my wife and mother would refer to them: statues, money boxes, action figures, original movie posters, books… I could go on.

What I do love though is to wear my horror fandom on my sleeve - well, chest and back actually -  and horror related T-shirts have become a new obsession. Over the past few years I have been acquiring a selection of T shirts from an online company called Fright Rags (www.fright-rags.com).

These guys celebrated the multiple Friday the 13th's last year with a series of cool Jason T-shirts, and delivered an homage to the American Ben Cooper Halloween costumes with an amazing box set featuring Return of the Living Dead Tarman T-shirt and mask. More recently they released an excellent combo of T-shirt, poster, magnet, sticker and memopad in a collectors box celebrating the original Halloween film. All their artwork on these T-shirts are original art and are always printed on high quality T-shirts.

Recently, I was lucky enough to have a chat with Ben, the CEO of Fright Rags.

J.R.: Thanks for talking to me, Ben.

Ben: My pleasure.

J.R.: Firstly, where did the idea of starting a dedicated horror film T-shirt Company come from?

Ben: Back in 2003, I was working full time as a graphic designer for a laptop bag company. It was a great job as I had my hand in lots of things; web design, product photography, packaging, etc. but I was getting a bit bored. So, I wanted a way to let off some creative steam and since horror has been a love of mine since I was a kid, I started coming up with designs that were influenced by the genre. My first was "WWJasonDo?" and I thought that would look good on a shirt. The rest, they say, is history...

J.R.: Do you think you'd still be doing that if not for Fright Rags?

Ben: I'd probably still be in design, perhaps working for a dedicated design firm as opposed to being an in-house designer.

J.R.: And that "WWJasonDo" was the first T-shirt?

Ben: Yes.

J.R.: How do you decide what is going to be in the next T-shirt?

Ben: There are many factors involved, many of which pertain to what licenses we have, but also ideas that we've gathered and go over to see what might work, and even input from our designers.

J.R.: What is the process you go through to get the rights to a film for a T shirt?

Ben: It's different for every film, but generally includes tracking down who owns it, and then drafting a proposal based on what we want to do with the property. Then it all comes down to negotiating terms and advances, and then, hopefully, signing it.

J.R.: Do you have to get likeness permission from actors involved?

Ben: Again, it depends on the property. Some actors have it in their contract that they need to approve their likeness, others don't. Basically, every license comes with its share of "dos and don'ts" which can limit what we're legally allowed to do.

J.R.: How do you choose the artists to do the t shirts?

Ben: It's very subjective. We work with a myriad of artists so there is no shortage of style. In general, I like to envision what the shirt will be, and pick one of our artists that fits that type of style.

J.R.: Can any artist submit art for a T shirt, or do you have your favourites?

Ben: While we allow people to submit work, we don't actively look for new people. However, there are times when an artist will catch our eye and we contact him/her to do work for us.

J.R.: Which T-shirts have been big winners for Fright Rags?

Ben: There have been many throughout the years, but overall a few that stick out are; WWJD?, Obey, Zombie VS Shark, Silver Shamrock, KILL Destroyers.

J.R.: The Zombie VS Shark and the Kill Destroyers are two of my personal favourites!! Actually I recently had to throw my Zombie Vs Shark T away as I had completely worn it threadbare!! Didn't Jay Baruchel also wear one in This Is The End?

Ben: Yes, he did.

J.R.: At the risk of opening wounds, and for the sake of complete disclosure, which haven't been so successful?

Ben: There was a Lost Boys parody we put out a few years ago that showed some cartoony boys that were, well, lost. I though the idea was funny, but ultimately it flopped.

The Lost Boys

J.R.: What is your favourite T shirt?

Ben: That's a tough one... I look at them all like my children, and after producing 200+ designs in the past decade, it's something that always changes. Possibly my favourite at the moment is the Silver Shamrock design.

J.R.: 200 odd designs is pretty impressive!!! What is your favourite movie that you haven't made a T-shirt for?

Ben: The Terminator... but that could change.

J.R.: Uh-oh: I can hear my wallet begging for mercy…again!! Lately you have done some really cool items, like the Tarman 'Halloween costume' box and the special Halloween set with the poster and gravestone magnet. How do you come up with the ideas for those items?

Ben: It's probably the most fun and most stressful part of the job. There are some ideas that just hit you like a ton o' bricks - like the Tarman box - in which I say "damn, why hasn't anyone thought of that before?". Then there is Halloween... With it being my favourite movie, I wanted it to be absolutely perfect, and that's a lot of pressure especially since it's been one of the most asked about films for us to do. So that took lots of thinking and tossing about of ideas... but I think we came up with something that fit well.

J.R: So Halloween's your favourite movie? So I guess that is why so much attention has been paid to those recent excellent releases!! Just to clarify, do you mean Rob Zombie's or John Carpenter's Halloween?

Ben: John Carpenter's Halloween. No question. I saw it when it first aired on TV back in 1981, Halloween night. I was four years old. That moment is what started my life long for horror and I would not be doing this today without having had that experience.

Halloween

J.R.: I know you have a busy schedule, especially with the current Pieces T-shirt on the horizon (one of my favourite movies, by the way), so thank you so much for taking the time.

In addition to a quality product, Fright Rags have a fantastic pre-order system and I have always found their postage both reasonable and expedient. You can join their email list and get a heads up on incoming designs at www.fright-rags.com or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/frightrags.

The Lost Boys

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