Saturday, October 26, 2013

Scare Bears offer new twist to old stuffed animals

One of the Scare Bears designed
by Langley.
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky ... no not “The Addams Family,” but the locally created Scare Bears.
Dearborn Heights native Jay Langley invented the twisted teddy bears that have quickly went from unknown commodity to popular craze after celebrities such as Danny Trejo and Michael Rooker have purchased the unique works of art.
The bears are taken from stuffed animals that are picked up from various places, and then turned into horrendous creations straight out of a nightmare. The designs cross traditional stuffed animals with a zombie twist to make a creation fit for the truly macabre.
Many of the bears and other animals have blood and guts oozing out of them, some are holding their eyeballs in their hands or tugging along a pile of their own entrails.

The idea for the creations came not from a nightmare though, but from Langley’s daughter.
“She asked me to do something funny with her brother’s teddy bear,” he said. “The first thing I did was stick a plastic hatchet in its head.”
His son was just over a year old at the time.
Standing with one of his Scare Bears
 is Jay Langley. The bears are 
available at WonderWorld Comics
 in Taylor or online at
“From that it went to a little bunny I made,” he said. “She started taking pictures of them and sending them to her friends. They all loved them, so I decided to start making them and see what happens.”
Ideas of what to do with each bear or rabbit come from a variety of sources, but mainly straight out of Langley’s head.
“I’ll go to the store and see a bear or a rabbit that I can use and just stare at it,” he said. “I look at it and what to do with it just comes to me.”
Bears and rabbits aren’t the only stuffed animals he is redesigning. He said he’ll do “anything that he can find that fits what he wants to design.”

Making Art
Each bear or other animal is handmade by Langley and includes a name and short biography of the creature.
The creations take anywhere from one to four hours, sometimes longer, to build.
Reaching for the last Scare Bear
on the shelf is WonderWorld
 Comics owner Dennis Barger.
According to Barger,
the bears sell as fast as
 he can get them in stock.
While he has been an artist for a long time, Langley said that making the graphic stuffed animals is the first time he’s done anything of that sort.
“I’ve always been into art,” he said. “I used to do a comic book that I stepped away from.”
He said the comic, “Mean Kid and Fish Head,” had a cult following but that he had to quit as his family grew and demanded more of his time.
“It was just silly cartoon humor,” he said. “But it was a lot of work.”
The first Scare Bear sold for profit was about two years ago at Trenton’s Scarecrow Festival.
“Surprisingly the people that were buying them the most were older women,” Langley said. “That was the crowd; significantly older woman.”
Langley said the main customers he had were at the festival for arts and crafts, then stopped by his table and left with one of his outlandish creations.
The bears have been sold at horror and pop culture conventions across the Midwest for the past two years.

Hardcore Pawn
Langley got national exposure for the bears when he sold some at American Jewelry and Loan, the store featured on the TruTV network show “Hardcore Pawn.” The bears were featured on an episode last season.
Actor Danny Trejo can be
 counted among  the fans of
the Scare Bears. The unique
 creations are made by
Dearborn Heights native Jay Langley.
Being on the show also brought Langley and the bears a local retail outlet to sell through. WonderWorld Comics owner Dennis Barger Jr. was also featured on an episode of the show when he sold a life-sized Silver Surfer model. While in the store he saw the bears, from there he reached out to Langley and they worked out a deal to sell the bears in the store.
The Taylor-based comic shop is the only retail outlet currently with the rights to sell the bears.
“It’s a neat new idea,” Barger said. “I love it. I think it’s going to be a big deal. We’re selling them as fast as
he can bring them in.”

A new line of bears called “TruGore,” debuted at the Detroit FanFare comic convention held in Dearborn last weekend.
The bears are designed by Patrick Hart and have a more “realistic gore,” factor to them than the original creations.
“Patrick Hart is an amazing artist whose work is renowned in the horror community,” Langley posted on his Facebook page. “I am honored to be working with him.”
Actor Butch Patrick stands
with a Scare Bear that he
Dearborn Heights native Jay Langley
 shows off his creations,
 the Scare Bears during the
 Free Comic Book day celebration in May.

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