When I reached the booth where Svengoolie was scheduled to sign, it felt like deja vu. Just like the day before at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) he had a long line of fans camped out early to meet him. The key difference was that today’s would precede a special Q&A “Svengoolie Spotlight” panel which I was excited about since it was a C2E2 first and on a rather special occasion. Saturday, April 7, 2018, marked seven year’s since the Chicago-based icon has been on national TV – an unbelievable accomplishment in horror host history. His autograph line seemed to bear the fruit of this event as some of the fans waiting were from Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, and Arizona. It was a not so subtle reminder that though he may still physically reside in Chicago, he’s no longer exclusively ours.
Once Svengoolie’s producer, Jim Roche, shot me a text announcing their arrival, I sprung to action. Also returning was Director, Chris Faulkner, accompanied by the cameraman, Chas Alling (“Hit the theme for us, Chas”). This time around I wasn’t the only civilian helping out as MeTV’s Kevin Reisberg came in on his day off to assist as well. By the time his signing began (promptly at noon) the line stretched so far, C2E2 organizers told Jim they’d need to start a second.
Just like Friday, the signing went smoothly and I even spotted a couple fans who returned to see him a second time this weekend.
Once again, his autograph line needed to be cut – and with skilled precision as he had that panel to get to. To give you an idea of how small a window that was, he was scheduled to sign from 12-1:30 pm and the panel started at 1:45. Needless to say, when it was over we packed up pretty quickly.
Unfortunately, there were no golf carts on hand and poor Sven had to hoof it across the hall (and, trust me, at the McCormick Place, that’s a LOT farther than it sounds) to the elevator.
We arrived just in time and to a room loaded with eager fans which I know was a relief to Sven. I’d heard him mention in a recent interview, “There’ll probably be four people sitting there and two will be the janitors” – FAR from the case. I quickly scoped out a seat and it felt good to finally sit down. Chas and Chris did some filming (Chas with a TV camera and Chris using a GoPro) while Jim scoped out the crowd. In another life, Roche could have been a Secret Service Agent with his innate ability to know everything going on around with the host at all times.
Svengoolie greeted the moderator, John Siuntres, from the podcast, Word Balloon. Most of the hour, however, was devoted to the fans, themselves, who were able to approach a microphone at the center of the room and ask questions. It would remain steady the entire session.
Though I was already versed in most of the Q&A, I thought Svengoolie did a great job and was often hilarious. I particularly enjoyed a part where he imitated his old Italian Aunt and Uncle arguing about watching The Three Stooges when he was growing up. His Italian accent was pretty darn funny and for those of us of Italian lineage (my mother’s maiden name is Francesconi and heralds from Lucca) you couldn’t help but nod with understanding.
The warmest moment of the hour was when a young fan got up and told the host how much he loved his show and asked if he could give him a hug him. I have to admit, I got teary-eyed.
After the panel ended we went back down the escalator and headed towards the Green Room. This gave me an opportunity to make a long overdue trip to the washroom while the crew got refreshments. The event was sponsored by Mutant energy drinks and Chris was kind enough to grab me one.
We returned to the main convention hall via Cosplay Central – an amazing place I mentioned in my last post. It’s a costume-lovers Utopia where everyone’s allowed to hang out – whether a cosplayer or not. With the team looking to add even more great footage for upcoming “Svengoolie on the Road” segments, this was the ideal place for re-entry.
Before we entered, I wondered if anyone would mistake the real Svengoolie for a costumed fan but these folks knew the real deal when they saw it. The funniest reaction was from one of the cosplay photographers who couldn’t hide his shock..
Prior to his shock, he’d been photographing a lady dressed as Wonder Woman. She didn’t mind the interruption so long as he’d take a picture with her – even deflecting his rubber chicken with her bracelets.
Fans can look forward to seeing interviews from Sven’s cosplay invasion in future shows.
We left Cosplay Central and headed into the main hall, stopping every once in awhile so a fan could take a selfie with him. It was then that Svengoolie spotted someone dressed as him and I quickly ran over to catch him.
It wasn’t long before we arrived at our intended destination; the booth for DC Comics. I mentioned last Saturday about one of the publishers, Dan Didio, coming to see him and today Svengoolie would make good on his promise to return the favor. The first thing they did was snap a few “green screen” photos the company was offering at their section.
While this was going on, Svengoolie was spotted by comic writer/artist, Brian Michael Bendis, who was signing nearby. This five-time Eisner Award winner (that’s the Oscars of the comic book industry) was a strong presence at Marvel (New Avengers, Daredevil, House of M) until he announced late last year he’d be exclusively working with DC and on their most famous hero, Superman.
The last Svengoolie stop was back at the autograph section for an interview with Thomas Kenny a.k.a. Spongebob Squarepants. The two exchanged a handshake the day before but this was their first formal meeting. “I don’t watch a lot of modern movies and when I looked at the guest list, you were the only celebrity I recognized!” he said. It made sense as Kenny is known for being a big fan of classic monsters.
The interview was taped for a future Svengoolie show and, dare I say, Kenny was quite “animated!”
With two big signings, one successful Spotlight panel, and a treasure trove of great material for the show, Svengoolie’s 2018 C2E2 appearance was a wrap! I thanked the crew for letting me tag along and returned to the convention hall alone.
I spent the remainder of the day shopping (see my last post) before leaving C2E2 myself. The next day I’d have the honor of meeting another special guest of the event who was only able to show up on Sunday.
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