Comic artist Robin Thompson doubles as the in-house painter at Cougar Creek’s House of Horrors, the Halloween-month haunts in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Comic artist Robin Thompson doubles as the in-house painter at Cougar Creek’s House of Horrors, the Halloween-month haunts in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

ENTERTAINMENT

Creepy clowns haunt new ‘Zycho Zerkus’ house and comic at Surrey Halloween attraction

‘Every year we repaint the entire place, almost starting from scratch,’ says the in-house artist

For a few years now, Robin Thompson’s drawings and paintings have helped draw crowds to Cougar Creek’s House of Horrors, the converted garden centre that thrills Halloween fans every October.

The in-house artist, Thompson this year created a comic book loosely based on a new Zycho Zerkus haunt that features creepy clowns in a maze located at the back of the ticketed attraction in Newton.

The limited-edition book, sold for $9.99 along with other branded merchandise, details the adventures of “The Cougar Creek Five” known to stroll the site, including Midnight Creeper, Sgt. Chimpowski, Hack the Moderately Funny Comedian, Mr. Weeps and true-to-life character/employee Heather Bluehair.

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“We wanted something exclusively Cougar Creek, a story based on the experience here featuring characters who roam around scaring people,” Thompson explained.

“The story is only eight pages,” he added. “I said I couldn’t do an epic graphic novel, so with this short story I was able to do it over the summer.”

Creating comic books has been a 20-year passion for Thompson, a New Westminster resident who exhibits at events and conventions including Vancouver Comic & Toy Show, which on Oct. 23 returns to the PNE Forum in Vancouver.

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Thompson’s Fun Men Press page on Facebook showcases his Champions of Hell series and “Zombie Jesus” work in the horror/satire and horror/action comic genres.

“Doing this (Zycho Zerkus comic) wasn’t too much of a departure for me,” he explained, “but I will say this is the first book I penciled, inked, coloured and lettered all on my own. I used to teach graphic novels at Emily Carr University and other places as well, so it was nice to put some of that back into practice again, for Cougar Creek.”

After a COVID-caused cancellation in 2020, the House of Horrors returned to Newton last year with a new name and ownership, after longtime Potter’s employees Chris Pershick and Scott Pasternak bought the garden centre and re-branded.

• VIDEO/STORY from 2021: ‘House of Horrors’ reopens in Surrey with new name and ownership, after a year off.

The year off in 2020 marked the first time since 2003 that the haunted houses didn’t operate.

“This year we’ve again teamed up with Surrey Food Bank and are proud to have a long-running association with such an important Surrey institution,” said Pershick, the horror-loving managing director at Cougar Creek, 12530 72nd Ave.

“We also have some great new foods at the concession such as Vampire Blood slushies — regular people call it cherry. We also have Devil Dogs and 7 Deadly Sin-ammon Buns.”

This year Thompson helped paint an ’80s horror theme, with references to TV shows, movies, Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and more.

“All this is new,” Thompson insisted. “Every year we repaint the entire place, almost starting from scratch. I started painting right before Labour Day, so that’s three or four weeks of quick work. It’s my second home. I come here, paint, go home, return here, paint, rinse and repeat.”

Also look for Thompson dressed as “The Ghost of Cougar Creek” on a stage near the entrance.

“Last year we were lucky to be open, and my old job was admitting people into line,” he explained. “Because of COVID we had to space it out the best we could, and now, not so much, and we try to find a more efficient way of bringing people through every year.

“One of the struggles of an attraction like this is getting people into line, getting them through safely as quickly as possible and still giving them a top-tier experience. I think we do that very well. It’s a half-hour to walk through the whole thing, which is madness.”

Those who freak out and exit early are statistics for a “Chicken Counter” at the front. “That’s real,” he elaborated. “People think it’s fake, and we take pride every time that goes off.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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