A History of Iliad’s Halloween Shirts

Iliad's 2020 Halloween shirt

Have you ever looked at our yearly Halloween shirts and wondered why we do them? How did this tradition start?

First off, this tradition didn’t start with the Iliad, but another area bookstore: the late, great Valley Book City. Once located on Lankershim in North Hollywood, Valley Book City employed both Iliad’s owner Dan (before he opened his own store) and longtime Iliad employee Bob. At Valley Book City they did one Halloween shirt (featuring artwork by Valley Book City employee Ron Tweedy), which became nearly legendary.

Flash-forward to 2013. At that point Bob had mentioned doing a Halloween shirt for many years previous, but we’d never been sure about how to proceed. In 2013, the Iliad’s staff included the author Cody Goodfellow, who was connected to both artists and a remarkable shirt printer, Skurvy Ink. Cody essentially set up the deal with both the artist Sebastian Bloodcastle and the printer, and the Iliad Halloween t-shirt was born.

Cody set us up with artist Mike Dubisch for our 2014 shirt. In 2015, Lisa reached out to Australian artist and author Greg Chapman, while the 2016 shirt featured a retro design from existing public domain art and was printed in glow-in-the-dark ink.

For 2017, Lisa – who is something of a Halloween expert – approached one of her favorite Halloween artists, Sam Heimer; in 2018, she turned to another favorite artist, Matthew Kirscht.

For the 2019 shirt, Iliad employee Sean Patrick Traver immediately suggested Amanda Candler, a regular Iliad customer and gifted artist who had supplied artwork for one of Sean’s books (Sean is also a writer). Amanda worked to capture the feel of the late Bernie Wrightson in her depiction of a shrieking banshee.

Iliad 2019 Halloween Shirt

Amanda also provided the beautiful art for our 2020 lockdown shirt, which we did as a fundraiser.

Iliads Stay at Home Shirt

This year, Lisa went to another artist whose work she admires: Lynne Hansen.

Iliad's 2020 Halloween shirt

Lynne has provided covers for several books by Lisa (see below), but this was her first t-shirt design and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!

We usually work with our artist to make sure we get an image we’re all happy with. Since 2017, we’ve tried to make sure cats – since they’re such a beloved part of the store – were included in the design. We also work carefully with Sam, the man behind Skurvy Ink, to make sure the shirts will receive the best possible printing (Sam has also occasionally made fantastic suggestions about the colors on the shirts).

In 2013, we ordered a relatively small number of the shirts, since we weren’t sure how they’d sell. They sold well, so we ordered a few more every year…and this year, our initial 2020 order sold out in four days! We reordered a small quantity of the shirts, so check here if you didn’t get one yet.

Happy Halloween!