With Chicago suffering yet another heat-wave, I guess I failed to realize that the end of summer is finally upon us. It didn’t actually hit me until I left for work one morning and kept getting held up by stopping school buses. Their sudden reappearance reminds me of big yellow whales invading neighborhood waters during a Fall migration. My kids are all back as well which means when I come home each evening I’m sure to see a stack of permission slips and teacher memos along with the usual barrage of ordering sheets courtesy of the various Scholastic Book Clubs.
Usually when I attend a fan convention, it’s after weeks of planning and preparation leading up to the big weekend itself. MONSTERBASH (summer 2012) was a last minute decision that threw my convention(al) wisdom straight out the window! I’ve always wanted to do one of these but there were two main issues; 1) Its about a 7 hour drive from my native Chicago to Butler, Pennsylvania and certainly not a journey I relish doing alone. 2) Its slated right before July which is always the busiest convention month here in the Midwest. This requires me having to use up vacation days and resources at a time when I need to be stockpiling them in order to get through the next month. So what changed my mind?
It was a beautiful sunny day in Chicago when I arrived at DePaul University to see a Q&A session with national horror host and broadcaster, Rich Koz/Svengoolie! While I’ve seen him at various appearances this would mark the first time I would catch him without his familiar make-up and, rather than greet fans, get to see him discuss his vast career.
One of the highlights of this year’s ROCK & SHOCK convention in Worcester, MA was meeting and getting to know the artist couple Asia and Anders Eriksen. Asia was covered not too long ago with her amazing creations known as WerePups (you can read all about it HERE). Anders, her husband and an amazing artist in his own right, is the creator of NIGHTMARE GLOVES, the VERY BEST Freddy Krueger gloves available on the market today! Being a collector of masks and props it takes a lot to impress me these days and I will say with all honesty that when it comes to these two, impressive is a perfect adjective! Not only are they amazing artists but they are also very friendly and personable and if you get the opportunity to meet them at a convention, please do not hesitate. You will not be disappointed!
Back in 1984, the rural town of Kenosha, Wisconsin became the unlikely venue for a unique type of art show. Local resident, Dale Wamboldt, was determined to create a venue where artists such as himself (who delve in the more ominous side of creativity) could showcase their work for a public audience. A fan of Oscar Wilde’s classic novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” Dale was fascinated by the concept of using art to express his own darker side. Years later, he would adopt his own alter ego as a horror host, Dr. Destruction, while continuing the annual tradition of the “The Dorian Gray Art Show.”
If you are a mask collector then more than likely you have heard the name David Lady at least once (and more than likely you actually know him and have either talked to him on the phone or have e-mailed with him). When I first became aware of David it was in the late 1980’s. At the time the big mask companies were Don Post Studios, Distortions Unlimited and Be Something Studios. Though I bought masks from all 3 companies, a trend was starting to develop where what you got greatly differed from what you were ordering from their catalogs. So, I started to look for other options and found companies like Death Studios and one of my all time favorites, the now defunct House Of Horror Studios. In my quest to find better quality masks I came across a group called The Halloween Society. This society, run by Ron Magid, Dante Renta, Guy Thorpe and yes, David Lady, introduced me to a whole new area of collecting…an area I was unaware of. Apparently there were artists out there creating limited edition masks and busts of all of the great monsters I grew up on and it was through The Halloween Society’s magazine “The Halloween Gazette” that I started to see these pieces being offered.
If you’re a mask collector like me then you have probably been burned on at least one occasion. You ordered a mask or bust out of a catalog or off of a website only to find that when it arrived it looked nothing like the picture you based your mask-buying decision on! The paintjob may be horrible, the hairwork can be falling out or in some cases, the piece was folded up so that it could be put in a smaller box to save on shipping (so that it now has permanent creases across the face). There is nothing worse than spending your hard-earned money, especially in this economy, only to open a box of something you ordered and your only reaction is “What the f**k?” Thankfully most companies, like Morris Costumes, will take a return, but oftentimes, when dealing with an artist directly they get all offended at what your complaint is, making for a very uncomfortable and disasterous situation. Thankfully we have companies like BUMP IN THE NIGHT FX (formerly BUMP IN THE NIGHT PRODUCTIONS).