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Review: ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK ‘GHOST ISLAND’ offers an intelligently mature look at death and ghosts

Nickelodeon’s Are you Afraid of the Dark revival has been a surprisingly refreshing take on YA horror that is unafraid to conjure up a fair bit of darkness to get its story across modern audiences. The first season, for instance, centers on a carnival that kidnaps children and turns them into zombie-like carnies, leaving a trail of broken communities and the threat of real harm in its path. It’s chockfull of horror references that fans of the genre can point to and say ‘that’s from [insert classic horror film or director],’ but it never strayed from its intentions of honoring the original 90’s show celebration of sitting around a campfire and telling scary stories.

Season 3, subtitled “Ghost Island,” aims to further the revival’s American Horror Story-like anthology approach with another self-contained story that’s as welcoming to newcomers as it is to fans of the original series and of horror in general. Having said that, and as far as the first episode of the new season is concerned, “Ghost Island” might be Afraid of the Dark’s most mature entry yet.

A lonely tropical island serves as the setting for the story, a place that carries the name of Ghost Island due to the legend of its haunted hotel. The legend is explored quite a bit in the first episode and it seems to center on room 13 of the building, the place guests never check out from. Whatever haunts this room makes anyone who steps inside disappear, leaving only tortured ghosts and disembodied voices as the only trace they were ever there.

As was the case with the previous two seasons, the driving force behind the series is the group of kids that make up the latest version of the Midnight Society (the club that opened each episode of the original series with a story around a campfire deep in the woods). Kayla (Telci Huynh), Max (Conor Sherry), Leo (Luca Padovan), Summer(Dior Goodjohn), and Ferris(Chance Hurstfield) make up the group, all enthusiasts of supernatural storytelling.

The reason behind their trip to Ghost Island is tied to the death of one of the original members of the club. She wanted her friends to specifically go and stay in the haunted hotel (so it seems) for reasons that will surely be revealed as the story progresses. The loss of this member is felt throughout the first episode with an intensity that gives it a serious tone, funereal in parts even. This Midnight Society is trying to come to terms her absence, with the death of someone they never thought they’d just lose forever. It raises the emotional stakes of the story and signals an interest in exploring the ways death manifests itself among kids, how it lingers.

Ghost Island
Are You Afraid of the Dark: Ghost Island

It succeeds at this thanks to the performances of the main cast, with Telci Huynh leading the pack as Kelly, the member who seems to be taking the loss the hardest. Huynh showcases a very nuanced interpretation of the character with an emotional range that captures how overwhelming someone’s death can be while trying to enjoy the early years of one’s life, where the expectation is fun and carefree-ness.

The rest of the cast stays the course, a mix of youthful energy and melancholy that jumps off the screen to entice its viewers with enough reality to say something meaningful even as ghosts threaten to bring the group into the others side.

The hotel’s manager, played by Julian Curtis, is another standout. He plays his part with a snark that’s all too familiar in these kinds of stories, but there’s a hidden element to the character that always makes itself known to great effect. Curtis doesn’t go for the classically annoying and oblivious authority figure. Instead, he feels like a key component of the mystery and is given the necessary presence to make him an important character.

What glimpses we get of the horrors in room 13 are brief but effective. Great care seems to have been afforded to the makeup effects for the ghosts that bleed through to the side of the living. Some of it is best appreciated in the opening sequence of episode 1, where we get a taste of how the haunted room disappears its guests. It’s among one of the revival’s most intense opening sequences and it features a nod to certain iconic visuals from movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and The Frighteners (1996).

Are You Afraid of the Dark: Ghost Island

JT Billings’ script and Dean Israelite’s direction expertly combine for a story that has elements of The Shining (1980) and another haunted hotel movie called 1408 (released in 2007), both based on the works of Stephen King. It’ll be interesting to see how these influences will inform the remainder of the 8-episode season, but what’ll potentially be most compelling for longtime fans of the original series will be spotting the references to classic AYAOTD episodes scattered throughout. Like the first season, a lot of thought is being put into the things the revival wants to homage and identifying them as they pop up is uniquely gratifying.

With the first episode of “Ghost Island” already up in YouTube for eager fans to see ahead of the premiere (July 30th), there’s no reason why you shouldn’t dive into this impressive and deep exploration of horror at a young age. Are You Afraid of the Dark: Ghost Island starts off with a genuinely creepy and unsettling haunting that means to contemplate serious themes and age-specific fears. Thus far, it stands to be further confirmation that Are You Afraid of the Dark isn’t just one of the best YA horror shows currently on air but one of the best straight up horror productions on television, period.

SDCC 2022: The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Return for Brand New Comic Book Series

BOOM! Studios with IDW Publishing and Nickelodeon, have announced the return of the acclaimed writer Ryan Parrott and artist Dan Mora to the morphinominal world of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Dive into the highly-anticipated comic book sequel series in December 2022.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II is a brand new adventure with two of the most iconic teen crime-fighting teams coming together once again to save the world from a rising danger that threatens to bring both teams to the brink!

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II #1 features wraparound main cover art from fan-favorite illustrator Dan Mora and more.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II #1

SDCC 2022: Nickelodeon Reveals its Exclusives

Nickelodeon has some hot new items exclusive to Comic-Con International: San Diego 2022 that are available at the Nick booth #4113 on the convention center floor!

Nickelodeon is celebrating fan-favorite characters and shows–SpongeBob Universe, Rugrats, Transformers: EarthSpark, Monster High: The Movie, Avatar: The Last Airbender and more–at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2022 with one-of-a-kind panels, talent signings, activations, interactive booth design elements and exclusive products. Fans can load up on both nostalgic and new retail items, including a ‘90s Nickelodeon Backpack, a Rugrats Chuckie Finster Fanny Pack, an Avatar: The Last Airbender Youtooz Aang Vinyl Figure, and enamel pins, among other exclusive items.

‘90s Nickelodeon Backpack

The ‘90s are back! The SDCC 2022 exclusive‘90s Nickelodeon Backpack features fan-favorite Nickelodeon shows – Hey Arnold!Rocket PowerThe Ren & Stimpy ShowAll That and so many more! Relive the nostalgia of childhood with this collector’s item backpack.

SRP: $60.00

‘90s Nickelodeon Backpack

Rugrats Chuckie Finster Fanny Pack

Hold onto your diapers – because we have the cutest fanny pack around. The SDCC 2022 exclusive Rugrats Chuckie Finster Fanny Packfeatures everyone’s favorite bespectacled baby. Store all your belongings hands free so you can go off on an epic adventure – all before snack time!

SPR: $50.00

Rugrats Chuckie Finster Fanny Pack

SpongeBob SquarePants Bikini Bottom Bus Pencil Case

All aboard the Bikini Bottom Express! The exclusive SpongeBob SquarePants Bikini Bottom Bus Pencil Caseis the perfect accessory to hold school supplies or other small items and is chock full of fan-favorite SpongeBob Universe characters, plus a surprise meme on the bottom.

SPR: $13.00

SpongeBob SquarePants Bikini Bottom Bus Pencil Case

Avatar: The Last Airbender Youtooz Aang Vinyl Figure

Does he look like a 112-year-old man to you? See for yourself and check out this meme-tastic figurine made by our partners at Youtooz. This exclusive Avatar: The Last Airbender Youtooz Aang vinyl figurinefeatures this specific expression and catchphrase from beloved airbender – Aang.

SPR: $25.00

Avatar: The Last Airbender Youtooz Aang Vinyl Figure

Avatar: The Last Airbender Disliz Aang Watch

We believe Aang can save the world – and that’s why we partnered with our friends at Disliz to bring you Aang in the form of a #DislizWatch. The SDCC 2022 exclusive Avatar: The Last Airbender Disliz Aang Watchis the ultimate Avatar collector’s item. Just like the Avatar, they are super rare – only 250 were made – so grab one while you can!

SPR: $50.00

Avatar: The Last Airbender Disliz Aang Watch

Nickelodeon x San Diego Comic-Con 2022 Tote Bag

Get your slime AND your shopping on with this collector’s reusable tote bag. The SDCC 2022 exclusive Nickelodeon x San Diego Comic-Con 2022 Tote Bagis great for carrying home purchases from the convention, plus it’s the perfect way to display your favorite pins. Fans who buy ALL (4) Nickelodeon x SDCC Pins will get the tote bag for FREE!

SPR: $9.00

Nickelodeon x San Diego Comic-Con 2022 Tote Bag

Nickelodeon x San Diego Comic-Con 2022 Pins

This year, we have not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Nickelodeon x San Diego Comic-Con 2022 Pinsto collect. These one-of-a-kind pins feature some fan-favorite characters: Cynthia Doll from Rugrats, Appa from Avatar: The Last Airbender,Danny from Danny Phantom, and Gary from Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years. Fans who buy ALL (4) Nickelodeon x SDCC Pins will get the tote bag for FREE!

SPR: $6.00 each

Nickelodeon x San Diego Comic-Con 2022 Pins

Dark Horse Direct and Nickelodeon reveal The Legend of Korra – Korra Statue

Dark Horse Direct and Nickelodeon have unveiled The Legend of Korra – Korra Statue, a limited-edition collectable statue inspired by Avatar Korra in the hit animated series The Legend of Korra.

The Legend of Korra – Korra Statue stands 10-inches tall on a 4-inch base, inspired by the protagonist’s Book 4 appearance sporting the traditional Southern Water Tribe garb. Deftly bending all four elements – water, earth, fire, and air – this dynamic statue collectible was sculpted by Bigshot Toyworks with prototyping and paint by J.W. Productions

With a limited-edition size of 2,000 units, each Korra Statue collectible comes complete with a hand-numbered certificate of authenticity and detailed elemental base. This collector’s item retails for $199.99 USD with payment plan options available. Pre-orders are scheduled to start shipping to customers between November 2022 and January 2023. 

Add Korra to your team today and restore balance to the world! Pre-order exclusively on Direct.DarkHorse.com!

The Legend of Korra - Korra Statue

Avatar: The Last Airbender gets new figures from Dark Horse, Nickelodeon, and Paramount

Dark Horse Deluxe, in partnership with Nickelodeon and Paramount Consumer Products, is proud to announce a new, high-end line of figures based on the hit animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender. These deluxe hand-painted plastic figures feature fan-favorite characters showcasing their ability to manipulate one of four elements, also known as bending. The base of each figure features the symbol of their respective bending style. The first two figures of the line are the Katara Figure and the Zuko Figure.

As the last known Waterbender in her war-ravaged Southern Water Tribe, Katara held onto hope in a hopeless world until she discovered the long-lost Avatar. Now, she’s a waterbending master who helped end the Hundred Year War and will always jump into harm’s way to fight injustice.

As a young prince of the Fire Nation, Zuko was originally the bitter enemy of Avatar Aang and his friends. After much internal struggle, he realized it was his responsibility to end the Fire Nation’s reign of terror. Now, as a lifelong friend to the Avatar and reigning Fire Lord, he strives to lead his people into a new era of peace.

The Katara Figure stands approximately 6” tall and the Zuko Figure stands at approximately 6.5” tall. They will retail for $59.99 each and are available October 26, 2022.

They are available for pre-order at your local comic shop or at Sideshow Collectibles here and here, and at Entertainment Earth here and here.

Sam Davies and BOOM! Studios’ HexVet Gets animated at Nickelodeon

HexVet

Nickelodeon is bringing the magical world of Willows Whisper to life with the greenlight of HexVet, a brand-new animated preschool series based on the eponymous BOOM! Studios graphic novels by Sam Davies. The CG and 2D-hybrid adventure-comedy series (20 episodes) follows unlikely best friends Nan and Clarion as they navigate life’s weird and wacky challenges, while apprenticing to be magical veterinarians for fantastical creatures. Paramount Consumer Products will lead consumer products cross-category licensing worldwide for the HexVet property. HexVet will launch 2023 in the U.S. and continue to roll out internationally.

As HexVets in training, Nan and Clarion are ready to tackle medical maladies in beasts magical or mundane, find their familiars, and earn their wands and pointy hats–all while dodging covens of animal smugglers and dragons with heartburn. Under the tutelage of the talented Dr. Talon, these young HexVets in training will learn how to cure any animal, from a pygmy phoenix with bird flu to a unicorn with a broken horn. 

HexVet is an all-ages original graphic novels series written by beloved cartoonist Sam Davies and published by BOOM! Studios through their award-winning KaBOOM! imprint, home to R.L. Stine’s Just Beyond and more. The graphic novel series debuted in 2018 with HexVet: Witches-in-Training to much critical acclaim, then released the second book, HexVet: The Flying Surgery, in 2019. HexVet was a Scholastic Book Fair selection in 2019, and has since sold over 60,000 copies and is distributed internationally in over 132 countries. BOOM! Studios is slated to release additional volumes in the series.

HexVet is developed for television by Nicole Dubuc (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, The Rocketeer), who also serves as showrunner and executive producer. Frank Molieri (Transformers: Rescue Bots, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie) serves as co-executive producer and Kendall Michele Haney as story editor. The series is also executive produced by Stephen Christy (Just Beyond) and Ross Richie (2 Guns), with Mette Norkjaer serving as co-producer, for BOOM! Studios. Production of HexVet for Nickelodeon Animation is overseen by Eryk Casemiro, Executive Vice President, Nickelodeon Animation, Global Series Content. Kate Crownover serves as Nickelodeon’s Executive in Charge of Production for the series.

Star Trek: Prodigy Debuts at Comic-Con@Home

Paramount+ debuted the official teaser trailer for the all-new animated kids’ series Star Trek: Prodigy. The teaser trailer was introduced by executive producers Kevin and Dan Hageman during the series’ Comic-Con@Home virtual panel and featured a first look at the Star Trek: Prodigy starship. 

Produced by the Nickelodeon Animation Studio and CBS Studios’ Eye Animation Productions, Star Trek: Prodigy will premiere on Paramount+ in the U.S. this Fall.

The Star Trek: Prodigy virtual panel was part of the overall “Star Trek” Universe panel, which kicked off Paramount+’s Comic-Con@Home “Peak” Animation programming block, showcasing the service’s upcoming animated series. The “Star Trek” Universe panel also included season two of Star Trek: Lower Decks

Moderated by Jerry O’Connell (STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS), the Star Trek: Prodigy panel featured a conversation with voice cast members Kate Mulgrew (“Hologram Janeway”), Brett Gray (“Dal”), Ella Purnell (“Gwyn”), Angus Imrie (“Zero”), Rylee Alazraqui (“Rok-Tahk”), Dee Bradley Baker (“Murf”) and Jason Mantzoukas (“Jankom Pog”) alongside executive producers Kevin and Dan Hageman and director/co-executive producer Ben Hibon.

Invader Zim Sees Its Final Original Single Issue Comic in Summer 2021

Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group and Nickelodeon bring the final installment of the Invader ZIM original single-issue comics in time for the 20th anniversary of Invader ZIM — Invader ZIM: The Dookie Loop Horror, written by Jhonen Vasquez and Eric Trueheart, with illustrations by Aaron Alexovich, colors by Fred C. Stresing, and lettering by Warren Wucinich. The oversized single issue will be out in August 2021. 

In Invader ZIM: Dookie Loop Horror, up in the sky, something…BLUE approaches. And it smells HORRIBLE. It turns out that interdimensional creatures called Chrono-Dumpers eat time and use our dimension as a toilet, creating an infinite time loop. There is no escape from the time poop loop, forcing Dib and ZIM to live the same TERRIBLE day forEVER. They wake, the tuxedoed pig farts, the world ends. And the key to fixing the loop is GIR. We are all DOOMED. 

Variant covers of the oversize 32-page final issue will feature art by Jhonen Vasquez, Cole Ott, J.R. Goldberg, and Aaron AlexovichInvader Zim: The Dookie Loop Horror will be available on August 4, 2021, in stores and online via comiXology.

Invader Zim: The Dookie Loop Horror

Nickelodeon and Hasbro’s eOne Team for a New Transformers Animated Series

Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon and Hasbro’s Entertainment One (eOne) have partnered to co-produce an original animated Transformers series (26 half-hour episodes), based on the iconic global property. In the action-comedy series, a new species of Transformers must find their place and purpose among Autobots, Decepticons, and the human family that adopts them. The series will premiere exclusively on Nickelodeon in the U.S. before rolling out internationally.

Hasbro launched Transformers in 1984 as a toy line and animated series. Its success led to an animated movie in 1986, many future toy lines, and a series of live-action movies.

The all-new animated Transformers seriesis executive produced by Ant Ward (Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and Nicole Dubuc (Transformers: Rescue Bots) and developed and co-executive produced by Dale Malinowski (Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio, the series is developed for television by SVP of Animation Development Claudia Spinelli and Dana Vasquez-Eberhardt, Senior Director, Current Series and Development, Animation. Production will be overseen for Nickelodeon by Conrad Montgomery, Vice President, Current Series, Animation, and for eOne by Mikiel Houser, Director of TV Development.

The forthcoming Transformers co-production is part of Nickelodeon’s strategy to be the home of the biggest franchises kids and families love, and it expands Nickelodeon’s growing portfolio of influential properties that already includes SpongeBob SquarePantsPAW PatrolTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBlue’s Clues & You!, the first-ever SpongeBob spinoff, Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, the all-new animated Star Trek: Prodigy series and the recently announced The Smurfs partnership.

Christian Cooper Joins the Diversity Comic-Con Panelists to Address Racial Injustice

With the recent deaths of African Americans at the hands of Police, the country has been forced to face its issues with racism like never before. This was the case when comics writer Christian Cooper was harassed in New York’s Central Park by a woman who threatened to call the police claiming “there’s an African American man threatening my life.” All Cooper had done was ask her to leash her dog as was the rules of the park. Luckily no one was injured in the confrontation but the incident was captured on video and has since gone viral.  

October marks the beginning of Civility Week for the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), part of the State University of New York system. Over several days, the college offers up programming that addresses the issues of diversity and inclusion. This year’s theme is “Social Justice” to shed more light on current events in our community. For the past two years, the week has been capped off by Diversity Comic-Con. A celebration of multiculturalism in the sequential arts.

This year’s Diversity Comic-Con is even more significant as it hosts a special Q & A session sponsored by DC Comics. Cooper along with artist Alitha Martinez, through DC, have produced a comic anthology called “Represent: It’s a Bird” partly inspired by his experience in Central Park but focusing more on the broader subject of racism. “I hope young people read it, and that they’re inspired to keep the focus where it needs to be, which is on those we have lost and how we keep from losing more.” Said Cooper in an interview. “This moment is about the ones we’ve lost, and how we’re going to keep from losing any more.” The live Diversity Comic-Con interview will be conducted by Alitha’s son on Saturday, at 2:30 pm.

Also appearing will be Shawn Martinbrough, renowned artist of such characters as Batman and Black Panther. “As a New York native and artist, I have always been inspired to create by diverse populations and their environments. Variety and different voices are the lifeblood of creativity.” Martinbrough will be delivering the keynote address and answering questions as well. Other diverse creators appearing include Kiku Hughes, Alex Sanchez, LL McKinney, Mika Song, Vivek Tiwary, Alex Segura, Amy Chu, Regine Sawyer, Jonah Newman, and Robert Scull.

Aspiring artists and writers are also encouraged to submit their own comic stories and art to the anthologyBlack Stories Matter” which is the theme of the comic con itself. “The book will be released a few weeks after the event and creators can submit 1-5 pages of comic stories by October 30th,” says organizer Ramon Gil. “We wanted something tangible that remains after the event is over. All the details are on the website.”

Scholastic Graphix, Archie Comics, First Second, Random House Graphic, and Nickelodeon are also supporting the event by contributing prizes and having their creators at the various panels throughout the weekend. “I’m excited to return to Diversity Comic-Con this year – a year that has shown more than ever that discussion, education, and change in diversity is essential for everyone in the publishing industry.” offers Gina Gagliano, publishing director at Random House Graphic. 

Diversity Comic Con 2020 is completely online and accessible by anyone anywhere with internet access. It happens Friday, October 16, and Saturday, October 17. The event is free and live online where people can also find all the details on how to participate as a creator

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