If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
Continuing our ZomBCon report, begun here.
On Saturday night at about 3:30 a.m., I shot up suddenly in
bed like they do in the cartoons. I was jolted awake by a lightning bolt idea.
Friday, I noticed a FANGORIA table in the vendor hall, but no
one was aware of it and therefore no one was sitting at it. Thom had his own
table nearby where his family was hocking his book and the only table the rest
of the gang seemed to be interested in were the round polished wooden ones in
the bar. (They’re nice tables – I don’t blame them one bit)
So in the middle of my sleep a light bulb suddenly went on
and I thought: Wow! Elissa can have our table! That way, she has a hope in hell
of meeting fans and selling some autographed photos (which are phenomenal by
the way), we won’t have a sad, lonely table with a little Fango sign on it, and
I’ll have a safe place to stash my gear and rest my dogs when con fatigue sets
in. With the last wisp of that brilliant thought wafting up through the ceiling
to the guy sleeping in the room above me, I fell back into semi-consciousness. That
guy over my head probably had a dream about table dancing zombies.
A couple of hours later, and I’m up way too early so I
wandered down for breakfast and then made my way over to the hall as people
were setting up. I wanted to float my idea with Elissa, but she hadn’t arrived yet.
I put the word out with a couple of the volunteers and Esther Chilcutt
eventually found her and relayed the message.
My friends were in the midst of talking about all the fun everyone
had the night before (these guys are made of stronger stuff than I). Some went
to the awesome Bio Hazard party; others went to the Zombie screening and hung
out with Ian McCulloch. I felt like a lightweight, and resolved to go the
distance Saturday night. So no Caesars! I love them like a delicious liquid
brother, but these days a couple of them will put me to sleep. It wasn’t an
issue; I never made it back to the bar that day until late anyway. I spent my
time shooting as many of the guests, vendors and zombies as I could.
Blysster Press was directly across from the Fango table, so
I checked in with them periodically, chatting with Charity and Born of course,
as well as some of their writers (Melinda and Rick, Clyde and their friend
Lisa). Right beside them was the Crypticon booth run by an incredibly lovely
gargoyle named Erin and her horned boyfriend. They also had help from another
of my Seattle buddies, Matt Faure, the guy who is snarky on Facebook, never
smiles for pictures, but is actually a sweetheart of a fella.
It was just about this time that Elissa Dowling showed up
with her 8X10’s, quite happy to have the Fango table to use. The scoop is that on
Friday she wasn’t able to squeeze into the main guest row so they stowed her in
the artists alley. I stopped in there earlier in the morning to say hi to Nick
Gucker and it was like being in a congested closet, located down the hallway on
the way to the conference rooms, about as easy to find as Harry Potters’ Room
of Requirement. It wasn’t difficult to see why Elissa balked and asked for an
Now I that had a bit of a home base, I could relax and photograph
people as they passed by or I could go walkabout to capture the guests and
zombies in their natural environment. Elissa was able to take advantage of the
fact that she had her own personal photographer for the afternoon and
conscripted me to take a slew of fun shots with several of the other guests, as
well the big plastic duck friend of my pal, sculptor William Bivens (but we can’t
talk about that, we were forced to swear an oath never to speak of it again).
On one of my strolls, I ventured into the lounge to investigate
why a number of people had gathered there only to find a jaw dropping beauty
standing next to a young fellow who was displaying a zombie toy design he
modeled after her. ‘She’ was Linda Le, cosplayer and model; ‘He’ was artist/sculptor
TK Miller who has designed figures for McFarlane, and Sideshow Collectibles. If
someone were to say I could marry either one of them, I would have had a
struggle on my hands. Yes, she’s incredibly beautiful, but he makes horror toys
Both were very personable, and I was able to have a chat
with TK over at his booth a spell later where he was sculpting a little skull
the whole time we talked. It was a very cool opportunity to jaw with a creator
of what at one time was my drug of choice. I love those things, and I’ll be
buying that figure when it comes out.
Back at the table I began to enjoy one of the fringe
benefits of having real estate on the floor: neighbors. To my left, there was a
trio selling Gnombies, wicked little undead garden gnomes. These would be the
only things I would allow on my lawn. If they weren’t so heavy (I was already
over my luggage weight) I would have brought one home with me. I’ll plan for it
The Gnombies booth was manned by Mark McElligott and his
wife Deirdre, along with business partner Errol Englebrecht. Deirdre would pop
her head over the stall and chat from time to time, one of those people that
are justifiably described as delightful. The fellas were extremely friendly as
To my right was Anathema Photography, featuring the
brilliant dark fantasy artwork of photographer Danielle Anathema, a stunning beauty
who would be just as vital on the other side of the camera. Make no mistake
however, she’s quite the talent behind one. Her intricate photos even caught
the eye of Tom Savini who stopped to look. He had to get close to one
particular photo at my insistence to see that it wasn’t actually a painting. Yes,
she’s that good. Danielle had Kat Morris and Christine Lyon with her, (as well
as Christine’s boyfriend Kieron who looked like a young Jack Lemon) who were all
terrific folks to share con space with. I would love to bring all of them back
home to be my neighbors for real, on either side of my Gnombie studded lawn.
The day was drawing to a close and choices had to be made. My
Seattle pals were heading off-site for dinner and I wanted to badly join them
but, we (FANGORIA) were about to host Ian’s panel and I couldn’t possibly miss
that. So I skipped another meal but I was treated to one of the best guest
panels I’ve ever seen. Ian is a commanding speaker, eloquent and entertaining.
Thank god we had it taped because only a few people saw it. Not only was it
right at dinner time, we were also competing with the hard drinkin’ rootin’
tootin’ BOONDOCK SAINTS panel which was packed to the gills. I heard it was a
great time, but I was at ZomBcon and wanted to enjoy Ian McCulloch reminiscing
about ZOMBIE and ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST. As if the panel wasn’t good enough, Ian joined
us down at the comfy hotel bar after it was over where we sunk into the soft chairs
and jawed over a beverage. The hooligans involved were Mars and his buddy Stephen
Romano, Heather and Nicole Valentine (yet another photographer that puts me to
shame!) Chris and Ian, as well as a couple of folks Ian had met on the
airplane. Thom and Sean were still moderating the BOONDOCK panel where they
were having a blast, but I wouldn’t have changed places with them for the
Eventually Ian called it a night so some of us decided to
check out ‘The Prom Night of the Living Dead’, the dance that was under way
back in the convention hall.
History wound itself back that night, as I found myself
standing at the back of the room in a semi circle of black clad cool kids
watching half of the room dance while the other half slumped against the walls.
I had taken a time machine back to high school hell, with zombies. Only back
then I wasn’t standing in the back—I was one of the wallflowers—and there were
no walking dead shaking it on the dance floor, just drunk and randy football
Don’t get me wrong, people were having a great time, it’s
just that I was uncomfortable back then, and after all these years, apparently
nothing has changed.
I decided that it was fully within my power to end the
madness, so I said my goodnights and retired back to my room where I slept
soundly, this time unfettered by any life altering brainstorms.
Sunday morning: last day of the con and it’s always the
same. You’re half sad the fantasy is over, you’re half glad to be going home. I
think it must be much harder on the people who really enjoy the zombie cosplay;
they put so much work into it. It’s not like this is the kind of thing you can
do every weekend no matter how much you love it. As for me, it meant packing up
for the trip home, one more breakfast and one more day of shooting pictures and
talking to folks.
Traditionally, Sundays are the quietest days of any con.
Guests often leave early to catch their flights, out-of-towners want an early
start for the trek home, and a lot of folks simply run out of money after spending
it on zombie goodies and Saturday night escapades. Some of the partiers might
even be spending the rest of the weekend in the cooler depending on how
successful they were.
ZomBcon appeared to be an exception. I was surprised at how many
people showed up on Sunday. It seemed like it may have been the busiest day of
the three. David Emge wasn’t back after Saturday, but I don’t recall any of the
guests leaving early. It was full right to the dying minutes of the con.
I spent my last few hours wandering the aisles, shooting the
attendees and vendor tables. I noticed that the denizens of the artist alley
had been relocated to whatever little corner they could in the main hall.
Hopefully, they still had time to make a little cash. And here’s something;
there were a lot of vendors that seemed to be promoting nothing other than
zombie apocalypse survival…stuff. I know I should have talked to a few of them
but to be honest, I was a little afraid of what I’d hear. I get more of a kick
out of zombie movies than the average person, but my line is clearly drawn
between reality and fantasy, and I could see a lot of blurring from where I
stood. The level of commitment (Con tables aren’t cheap!) and the sheer number
of these vendors was a little unnerving. What on earth were they selling, and
to who? Ah well, maybe I’ll find the cojones to talk to one of them next time.
You get the distinct impression that telling these guys that zombies don’t
actually exist would have the exact same effect as telling a five year old that
there was no Santa Claus.
A couple of people I did speak with were Damon Vanhee and
Shawn Shelton of Bandersnatch studios. All weekend long there was one
particular zombette shambling around the con garnering a lot of attention. She
was nasty. This wasn’t your mail order makeup job, this was the real deal. The girl
inside the ghoul was Jessica Butler, ordinarily an extremely attractive young
woman, but at ZomBcon she was a rotting disaster, thanks to the handiwork of
the Bandersnatch lads. Their work was so good that Tom Savini complimented them
on it, and everyone at the con (who could stomach it) had at least one picture
taken with Jessica.
By the time my little adventure was over, the con was coming
to an end. People were tearing down their booths and saying their goodbyes. I had
made some awesome new friends, met some of my cinematic idols and was a bit sad
that it was all over. I was invited to Troy and Mickie’s for an excellent dinner
before the flight home along with Charity and Born, so I was able to squeeze a
couple extra hours out of the weekend before Chris and I began our nightmare
journey back to Toronto.
After a fun visit, Troy dropped me at the airport where I
was astonished to find that Chris was already there. I just had to make sure he
didn’t go for a coffee.
We made the flight, missed our connection to New York while
in Chicago (a mixed blessing), were booked on a direct flight instead, and
finally hit Toronto about 3:00pm the next day, exhausted and punch drunk. Chris
was good company and I hope we get to do another road trip again sometime soon.
As for the overall ZomBcon experience, I had a lot of fun. A
gold star for the guest lineup; it would be hard to top. The venue is great,
but there were some logistical wrinkles that need to be smoothed out (guest
placement and schedule conflicts, although the latter seems to be a problem
that every convention shares). The attendees appeared to enjoy themselves
thoroughly, so not only can I recommend this convention,
I’d go as far as to deem it essential for any serious fan of the zombie sub
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment