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.
The good people at Scary Monsters Magazine have just dropped their latest masterpiece – Monster Memories #26! Aside from sporting yet another frame-worthy cover, this 145-page opus is loaded with so many great articles it’ll warrant multiple readings. My favorite comes straight of the gate with Jason Strangis’ “Fantastic ’50s” and I also loved “Monster Robots and Donuts” (best title ever) by Mark Glassy. If you’re a fan of War of the Worlds than you are gonna love this issue. Don Smeraldi’s “All is Wells in the World” is Rondo-worthy good and I just loved it! Monster Memories #26 even has a wonderful tribute to Rick Koz Svengoolie who will probably be so relieved to see a story about him in SM/MM that wasn’t written by me. Although….if you skip over to page 90 you can check out my article/tribute to Harou Nakajima. I was fortunate to have seen the legendary man in the Godzilla suit just (1954-1972) just weeks before his death at the Indianapolis Days of the Dead convention. Assisting me with this piece was the great J.D. Lees – publisher of G-FAN and the man behind G-FEST as well as Tim Bean who worked with Nakajima on several occasions including Indy. Tim and J.D – if you’re reading this, a Godzilla-sized THANK YOU and complimentary copies of MM #26 are headed your way. As for the rest of you, what are you waiting for? Go out and get yourself a copy!
Flying in with his red-nosed, rubber chicken, Sventa Claus dropped in on Fantasy Costumes last weekend to greet fans. I’d seen him there last October in his less festive, Svengoolie, persona and it was notable for attracting a large turnout despite inclement weather. In contrast, this December day was sunny and in the 60’s proving once again that, so far as the weather goes, Chicago’s always riding the Bi-Polar Express. This would mark the horror host’s final 2017 appearance and third as Sventa. Unable to attend the previous two, I made it a point to rearrange my schedule for this one. And so, with a camera strap around my neck and a poster tube under each arm, I made my way to Fantasy Costumes a.k.a. my 82nd Svengoolie appearance!
Walking into Hofbrauhaus Chicago (actually in Rosemont) is like teleporting to Europe. The German restaurant/microbrewery is highlighted by giant kettles of beer, Bavarian décor, an alphorn (those long horns from the ricolo commercials), and folks dressed in traditional Oktoberfest clothes. Here the alcohol flows freely with shots served on a wooden paddle they’ll smack your butt with upon request. Having already gotten whupped by the $15 parking fee, I decided to skip the additional beating an opt for a glass of water instead. I do love a good novelty restaurant though this wasn’t the sort of place I’d have ever visited if not for the annual Roe Conn Halloween show. This was my third year attending the occasion with the last two having taken place in the south suburbs where I live. After an hour’s drive I brushed past their gift shop (loaded with collectible steins) and took a seat as close to the stage as I could get. The room was huge with rows of long tables and I tried taking in as much as I could while the waitress handed me a menu.
Last Saturday I was sitting at my work desk while gazing at the tempest outside. Since it was the weekend, I had the whole office to myself and decided to turn off the main lights in favor of a small one hanging over my computer. With the dark clouds and rain pounding on my window, it seemed to make the otherwise chaotic place cozier; something you could never accomplish during normal business hours. With Halloween only a couple weeks away, we Chicagoans can be sure of two things; the weather will be erratic and our local/national TV horror host, Svengoolie, will be amidst a busy schedule of appearances. In fact, it almost seemed like this year’s list of events rivaled that of his ultra-busy 2012. I’d covered almost all of those and remember being thoroughly exhausted by the time it was over. This year, however, my “Svengoolie-stalking” activities were clearly lacking as my schedule never seemed to be in sync with his. On this rainy day, however, he was slated to make two appearances with one starting just when my shift ended. I decided it was high time I broke out of my Svenertia. and braved the elements to see him at Fantasy Costumes – the largest costume shop in the windy city!
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).
Last October, national MeTV horror host, Svengoolie, unveiled a fan-made work of art during his mail segment that really got my attention! While I’m constantly amazed at the creative items talented viewers are always sending him, this one brought along a wave of nostalgia regarding another one of my childhood loves, Wacky Packages! Best of all, it was just created by a random fan but one of the artists responsible for creating the real ones, Sam Gambino.