As soon as I arrived for Day Two of the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), I made a mad dash to the autograph section while dodging hundreds of attendees. National MeTV horror host, Svengoolie, was signing at Table #25 and, per his producer/assistant Jim Roche, I was to meet the crew just prior to his 11 am appearance. Seconds after reaching the spot, I got swept up by the host’s television crew who’d been right behind me. For the last five years, I’ve been one of the luckiest Svengoolie fans around. Despite his growing popularity and adding a bevy of celebrity admirers to his fan base each year, he and his talented team have always been very gracious to us Daves and allowing close access to many of his key appearances. I get to play Jimmy Olsen to his Superman while offering some assistance whenever needed. C2E2 is one of those “all hands on deck” type of events where this often comes into play. Svengoolie always commands a huge line of fans but, at this convention, it would continuously grow the entire weekend if given the chance. While his Director, Chris Faulkner, and assistant director, Kevin Reisberg, are out gathering footage for the show, Jim has the arduous task of maintaining the crowd without being distracted. So it’s the perfect trade-off, I offer an extra set of hands and, in turn, get front row coverage of the host. It probably also helps that I’m built like a bar bouncer and can offer an air of “protection” should things get rowdy though, thankfully, that’s never happened at any of the Svengoolie appearances I’ve ever attended (and, for the record, this one was #76).
We all settled in at a table before Sven and Jim were back up on their feet to say hello to one of those celebrity fans I mentioned. It was actor, Wil Wheaton (whom I remember best as the lead in Stand by Me), who was all smiles getting a chance to finally meet the commercial horror host.
This led to a rather amusing moment as they were so deep in conversation none of them noticed an older man in a cart passing right by them. It was good old Stan Lee, himself, making another one of his famous cameos only this time in the Svengoolie-verse! Kevin and I just sat there watching with our mouths open and I later kicked myself for not getting a shot of it. A fine Jimmy Olsen I turned out to be!
As 11 am drew near, Jim went outside to fire up the crowd while Svengoolie awaited his cue.
The crowd cheered when Svengoolie entered the scene. He quickly took his seat while I staged myself in my usual C2E2 spot; in front of his signing booth and out of Jim’s way (or at least as much as I could). While surveying the long line, I immediately noticed a familiar face, none other than the great Nicholas Mastramico!
In fact, one of the highlights of this weekend was getting to finally meet Nicholas and his beautiful wife Kimberly. Aside from being one of the most genuinely nice guys you could ever meet, Nicholas is a brilliant & multi-talented Svengoolie fan who’s written “The Grey Ghost: The Shadow that Walks” (which the other Dave reviewed HERE), works for NASA, and has even designed his own LEGO sets. I wanted to whisper in his son’s ear, “Do you have any idea how cool your old man, is!?”
Having driven all the way up from Alabama, Nicholas brought along a few things for Sven to sign including another one of his LEGO masterpieces – a perfect bust of Kerwyn! I could tell Sven loved it and it made its national TV debut during this past show.
He also had Sven sign the Scary Monsters Magazine #87 Svengoolie Tribute issue as well as the recent Svengoolie celebrity team up with Dick Tracy! Sven had been approached by strip writer, Mike Curtis, asking if he’d mind being a character in a story arc involving a crime committed at a cosplay convention. His role in the story would be hosting a costume contest; a perfect fit as I’ve seen him do that lots of times during those aforementioned 76 appearances. Naturally, the host readily agreed.
“Being a lifelong Dick Tracy fan, I was more than happy to allow it, ” said Sven. “Joining the ranks of my fellow horror host Dr. Gangrene and my WWE Hall of Fame pal Jerry “the King” Lawler. We’ve gotten a great reaction to my appearance and it was a real honor for me.”
Nicholas printed out the strips and had Svengoolie sign one of the pages. In that regard, he was one step ahead of me as I’m still in the process of trying to figure out how best to frame the whole story/series for my own Sven-shrine.
Shortly after Sven started greeting his admirers, wrestler C.M. Punk arrived at the booth next door. I was just about to snap a photo of Svengoolie with one of his fans when Punk interrupted to say “hello.” Already mad at myself for missing Stan Lee’s flyby I quickly took shot after shot of the encounter. There was just one problem…it wasn’t my camera! I didn’t realize until right afterward that I was still holding the fan-whom-Sven-was-meeting-with’s phone. Fortunately, the true owner, Bryan Smith, was kind enough to send me copies after he got home. Thanks Bryan!
Later on, I was able to get my own photos of Svengoolie with the wrestling superstar, who even took a selfie with him!
The line to see Sven never seemed to shrink and fans kept showing up even after it was cut. If Jim got distracted for more than a second he’d look up and see six more people had jumped in. Svengoolie’s popularity at this event shows no signs of waning even after all these years. Some were familiar faces like fellow Sven fan, Pete Blatchford, whom I hadn’t seen since Svengoolie’s appearance at the Museum of Broadcast Communications.
Others were in costume which made sense since, as mentioned, C2E2 is the Mecca of cosplay!
When the scheduled signing was over we returned backstage (in other words, behind the curtain) and he signed a few items for me as well as a stone rhino to be auctioned at Lincoln Park Zoo AAZK’s “Bowling for Rhinos” event this August. In addition to his signature, the rhino was given a special Svengoolie makeover!
The crew was gearing up to go out into the hall and gather footage of the host for an upcoming “Svengoolie on the Road” segment. Since the two people I drove in with were texting me nonstop about how tired they were I had no choice but to leave before that happened. I thanked them and rejoined my fellow mortals.
I plowed through as best I could while getting shots of as many costumes that passed me by. Some were really amazing…as you’ll see for yourself in my next, and final, 2017 C2E2 post!
Coming Up…the Cosplay of 2017’s C2E2!