Stephen Romano’s Biography (The Short Version)
STEPHEN ROMANO is a best-selling book author, screenwriter, illustrator and independent publisher, whose unique jack-of-all-trades approach to the genres of horror, crime fiction, sci-fi and exploitation film has produced innovative, award-winning work. His short stories, novels, comic books and film projects have garnered critical acclaim from some of the most respected authors and media sources in the world.
He is the author of RESURRECTION EXPRESS, a high octane thriller novel from Gallery Books and Pocket Books at Simon and Schuster, now in development as a major motion picture from the producer of the billion dollar RUSH HOUR franchise. Stephen is also the co-author of BLACK LIGHT, a supernatural suspense novel from Mulholland Books at Little Brown and Company, on which he collaborated with top Hollywood screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan of the billion dollar SAW franchise. Stephen was also the writer of INCIDENT ON AND OFF A MOUNTAIN ROAD for Showtime’s Emmy Award-winning MASTERS OF HORROR cable series. His professionally-commisioned e-book for the Amazon Kindle Worlds series, WAYWARD PINES: BEFORE THE FALL, has been a popular success, enjoying many months on the best-seller list.
Romano’s well-documented passion for sleaze cinema and exploitation film culminated in the ground-breaking illustrated novel SHOCK FESTIVAL in 2008, and placed Romano highly in demand as an accomplished visual stylist in the mode of exploitation film art. Since the book’s release, Romano has designed film campaigns for theatrical releases, DVD covers and promotional artwork.
In 2016, Stephen founded EIBON PRESS as an independent publishing platform for his comic book projects and edgier fiction. There, he publishes prestige special edition collector’s comic books with top-of-the-line printing and innovative packaging never before seen in the industry. Eibon is the home of his celebrated FULCI COMICS line, a series of lavish collector’s editions based on the legendary films of horror “maestro” Lucio Fulci. The flagship titles are ZOMBIE and GATES OF HELL. Romano’s hard-hitting original series BOTTOMFEEDER is also published through Eibon.
Stephen lives in Austin, Texas.
Biography (The Long Version)
Romano was born in 1969, amidst the flurry of a wild rock, blues and folk music scene in Houston, Texas. He rubbed shoulders with wild personalities such as Jack Nicholson (on the set of TERMS OF ENDEARMENT) and even worked a brief internship alongside Oscar-nominated filmmaker and screenwriter Al Rinert (FOR ALL MANKIND, APOLLO 13). In 1984, at the age of 13, he won a second-place award for filmscoring in a national contest sponsored by producer Dino De Laurentiis. He started his first band a year later, eventually playing shows alongside such established roadshow rhythm and blues acts as Otis Day and the Knights (ANIMAL HOUSE).
An accomplished musician and studio producer by the time he was 23, Romano made his first significant mark on the world in 1993 when he adapted the million-selling comic series THE MAXX into an innovative “comic book soundtrack” album for Image Comics. A full audiobook dramatization designed meticulously to correspond with the comics as a post-modern “read-along” experience, MAXXIMUM SOUND deployed a full cast of voice actors, original music and sound effects, with Romano as composer, producer, director and even the voice of the psychedelic superhero The Maxx. This project was followed up later that year by the equally-successful adaptation of SHADOWHAWK: THE SECRET REVEALED, also based on a million-selling comics series from Image.
In 1997, Romano’s experimental “student project” novel, INVASION OF THE MUTANOIDS, was published in a limited boutique edition of just three hundred copies. That same year also saw the worldwide release of Romano’s ambitious concept album/soundtrack companion to the films ZOMBIE and CANNIBAL FEROX, released in conjunction with the FEROX laserdisc from Grindhouse Releasing. Romano also produced a nifty (and now extremely RARE) vinyl 45 record single of his work from the concept album, which was included in the laserdisc packaging as a special bonus item.
In 1998, Romano wrote, designed and edited the ambitious graphic novel/soundtrack album based on Lucio Fulci’s most celebrated horror film THE BEYOND. The book/soundtrack was the only official novelization/companion to THE BEYOND, when it was released uncut for the first time in America in 1998 by Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures. In 1999, Romano also created and promoted the FIRST ANNUAL LUCIO FULCI MEMORIAL FILM FESTIVAL, which ran for several years at the world-famous Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas.
In 2000, Romano wrote, designed and edited a limited edition graphic novelization of Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE, and continued to create and promote film festivals at the Alamo Drafthouse, including PHANTASMANIA, which was a three-day retrospective of all four PHANTASM movies, hosted by director/creator Don Coscarelli. This brought Romano’s many talents to the attention of the legendary genre film director, who quickly tapped him as a valuable partner in crime. Throughout the decade to follow, Romano would work closely with Coscarelli as a screenwriter, and even designed the early promotional ad campaigns for BUBBA HO-TEP. During this time, Romano wrote, designed and edited the critically-acclaimed PHANTASM comic series. The first issue was published in 2002 to rave reviews, though subsequent legal problems prevented further editions.
In 2004, Coscarelli was signed to direct an episode of the Showtime original series MASTERS OF HORROR, and turned to Romano as his right-hand man to script the project and provide valuable insight and collaboration during the making of the film. INCIDENT ON AND OFF A MOUNTAIN ROAD was based on a hard-hitting short story by internationally best-selling author Joe R. Lansdale and was daring in its approach. Though produced originally as “Episode 3” in the series, Coscarelli’s movie was deemed the most powerful of the thirteen commissioned from such legendary directors as John Carpenter, Joe Dante and Dario Argento . . . and was chosen to become the first to air on Showtime, in October of 2005. The film was met with across-the-board critical acclaim, becoming the best-reviewed effort of the director’s entire career. It remains the most beloved MASTERS OF HORROR short film, along with Carpenter’s CIGARETTE BURNS.
In 2006, Romano returned to the literary world with a limited print run of his shocking book THE RIOT ACT, a “collection” of previously unpublished short stories. It was here that he began to gain traction amongst horror’s most respected inner circle, with unanimous rave reviews from such legendary best-selling authors as John Skipp and Brian Keene. That same year, Romano also scripted Don Coscarelli’s sequel to BUBBA HO-TEP, designed as a starring vehicle for Ron Pearlman and Paul Giamatti, who served as the film’s co-producer. The project has undergone many ups and downs, yet currently still remains in development.
2007 saw the start of Romano’s most celebrated, innovative work to date: SHOCK FESTIVAL. The book would become a career-defining milestone for Romano, the culmination of a lifelong dream and his obsession with exploitation cinema, combined with a sure hand for multi-tasking as an implacable creative force. Conceived as an epic “illustrated novel” chronicling the lives and careers of an extended family of B-movie actors, directors, producers and distributors, the book would be presented as an authentic, oversized full-color “coffee table edition,” written in the style of film journalism and illustrated with over 600 pieces of “rare movie memorabilia,” all to be created expressly for the book. It was an epic “mockumentary,” challenging in concept and designed to dazzle and entertain on every page.
In 2009, Stephen continued to work with Don Coscarelli on a number of as-yet-unrealized projects, while working on many of his own, including the DVD companion to SHOCK FESTIVAL. Romano also became highly in-demand as an illustrator, based on his success as an artist and graphic designer, and worked on many film and DVD campaigns, including 42nd STREET FOREVER VOLUME 5: ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE. For this project, Romano also produced and directed the special features, including a 30 minute documentary about the Alamo, which met with critical acclaim. Romano also found time to pen the hilarious, crude and altogether politically-incorrect novelization of the controversial low budget horror comedy BLACK DEVIL DOLL.
In 2010, Romano was invited to co-produce the official DVD/Blu Ray release of his favorite exploitation film, the Italian sci-fi-fantasy STARCRASH. In his typical style, Romano pushed for greatness, and the project quickly became massive in scope, a two disc set featuring rare footage, interviews, behind-the-scenes extras, deleted scenes and scores of goodies from Romano’s personal collection of STARCRASH memorabilia. The disc met with rave reviews and Romano’s commentary tracks were nominated for a prestigious RONDO HATTON award.
In the fall of 2011, Romano published BLACK LIGHT through Mulholand Books at Little Brown and Company, a genre-bending supernatural suspense novel, written in collaboration with PATRICK MELTON and MARCUS DUNSTAN, the box office champs responsible for writing most of the SAW films. BLACK LIGHT was a “high concept” premise mated with an unforgettable lead character in a battle to the death with all forms of ghostly threats aboard a futuristic high-speed rail train.
Romano went on in 2012 to publish his novel RESURRECTION EXPRESS (the first “Elroy Coffin” adventure) at the prestigious Gallery Books imprint at Simon and Schuster, home of such luminaries as Stephen King and Don Winslow. EXPRESS bowed to extraordinary rave reviews, making it one of the most acclaimed thrillers of the year. In 2013, Pocket Books published the mass paperback edition of RESURRECTION EXPRESS, just as it was announced that major Hollywood operator Arthur Sarkissian, producer of the billion-dollar RUSH HOUR series, had purchased the screen rights. Sarkissan has currently pacted with genre legend Pierre David, producer of David Cronenberg’s VIDEODROME, SCANNERS and Oliver Stone’s PLATOON, to bring Elroy Coffin’s first big adventure to the big screen. Romano himself has penned the screenplay adaptation. Meanwhile, Elroy Coffin will battle on in a literary sequel entitled THE SUICIDE CONTEST, to be released soon on Amazon Kindle as a serial novel.
Also in 2013, Romano was contracted by Amazon Kindle to write an all-new prequel thriller to the popular series of WAYWARD PINES novels. His fast-action mystery BEFORE THE FALL instantly shot to the top ten of the best-seller list. It remains one of the most popular selections on Amazon Kindle Worlds and Romano’s first official best selling book.
Nearly killed in a terrible automobile accident in early 2014, Romano spent most of that year learning how to walk again. Romano wrote extensively about his accident and his recovery, and shared it for free at this website. (He also retired from “nerd blogging” at the end of 2014.) We hope you’ll read what he had to say about recovery, life and rebirth. It’s important.
In 2015, Romano’s new thriller novel METRO was released by Simon and Schuster to rave reviews from hard hitters such as Joe Lansdale and Taylor Stevens. Romano also shared his RETRO 13 series for free at the popular horror blog Dread Central, where he continues to be a regular columnist. RETRO 13 celebrates classic horror and science fiction films such as BLOOD BEACH and WAVELENGTH with retrospective articles and all-new poster illustrations by Romano. You can see those posters and read more about it right here at The Express.
In 2016, Stephen co-founded the independent publishing company EIBON PRESS, and its first release was the ten-year anniversary edition of THE RIOT ACT, which contains revised stories and a new afterword from the author. This was followed immediately by JULIA STARCHILD, a rollicking illustrated serial novel sequel to SHOCK FESTIVAL, posted for free here at The Express. (Check her out! She’s totally hot!) Julia will also appear through Eibon, in a new short story collection, tentatively titled HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT?
But the main business of Eibon Press is comic books. One-of-a-kind collector’s comic books. Romano is the head writer, editor, art director and co-publisher of each and every title. He has resurrected his ZOMBIE graphic novel, based on the classic Lucio Fulci film, and expanded it into an ongoing series. In addition a series based on Fulci’s CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD is slated for release in 2017, along with the hard-hitting original BOTTMFEEDER, which Stephen describes as “HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP meet the BAD LIEUTENANT.”
The mission of Eibon is to provide “progressive art” through the genius of ages past in horror exploitation film, and unparalleled excellence in single issue comic books, utilizing innovative, never-before-seen “prestige packaging” in extremely limited collector’s editions. Romano hopes to make “owning and collecting horror comics great again.”
Romano loves meeting his fans and manages almost every element of his website personally. (The only thing not created by Stephen at The Express is this biography, written and updated semi-annually by one of his bitter ex girlfriends; In fact, he’s been bugging her for weeks to update this with all the new Eibon stuff, so HERE already, Stephen!) Drop him a line or harass him at Twitter. He almost always writes back.
(The bitter ex took this picture, too!)