Transmissions from ScareFest X

Ah, ScareFest. Truly the most wonderful weekend of the year.

This was a big one. For the 10th anniversary of the convention, they held a Nightmare on Elm Street reunion. Robert Englund, Amanda Wyss, Ronee Blakely, Brooke Bundy, Tuesday Knight, Lisa Wilcox, Andras Jones, Ricky Dean Logan, Miko Hughes and more, all there to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of this incredible con.

There were a lot of non-Nightmare celebrities in attendance as well. Dee Wallace, Danny Trejo, Kristy Swanson, Barry Bostwick, John Kassir and the normal assortment of ghost hunters that I have passing familiarity with.

I always get excited to see what celebrities are coming to the conventions I’ll be attending. To be honest with you, I don’t know why I do it. With the exception of a couple moments – like, say, the chance to get Joyce Summers to wear Wolverine claws – I never go up and talk to celebrities. It’s a combination of not having money and not knowing what to say. I know I’ll end up talking like I’m hosting The Chris Farley Show. “Hey. Remember when you killed that guy? That was awesome.”

I’ll go to the occasional panel, but I spend the bulk of my time walking the floor talking to people. People running the booths. People dressed up as their favorite horror icons. People eating lunch. Just people, man.

So let’s get to it. Who did I meet this year? What wonders did these eyes uncover? And, more importantly, who will survive and what will be left of them?

I met this gentleclown last year. His name is Calypso and he has been doing this for a very long time. See that black thing he’s carrying? That’s his homemade air cannon. He walks around the floor on stilts, blasting the air cannon at unsuspecting passerbys. But he doesn’t just shoot at anyone: he’s into the psychology of it. He likes to read people. If they seem like they won’t enjoy being messed with by a 7’5″ clown with an air cannon, he moves onto the next person.

If you happen to encounter him when he’s not terrorizing the villagers, I highly recommend starting up a conversation with him. He’s terrific.

Also, it’s worth noting that I have issues walking the floor as a regular person. Putting on stilts and navigating through the horde? No thank you.

Billy the Puppet likes JIGsaws, not CHAINsaws, you halfwit.

As always, Circus Envy and the Deadly Sins were at their normal booth. I feel like I talk about them every year, but I cannot stress this enough: they are some of the friendliest people you could meet. When they’re not putting on their show, you can find them talking to anyone and everyone who comes up to them, whether that’s at their booth or while walking the floor. They seem to love being there and they love interacting with people.

Here is Creepy Ronald “Pennywise” McDonald.  She’s the best. They’re all the best. Best best best.

Speaking of Pennywise, here we have BFFs Pennywise and Georgie. Terrific costumes, but I didn’t care for the way Pennywise was looking at me.

It was odd. I turned around for a minute and when I turned back, it was just a giant spider. Crazy world, man.

Pennywise waiting in line to meet Robert Englund. Just goes to show you that even your heroes have heroes.

This was my favorite moment of the weekend. The man crouching is Andras Jones. You may know him as Rick, the karate-loving high school student in Nightmare on Elm Street 4. This was immediately after the Nightmare on Elm Street panel and he was making his way back to his table. A lot celebrities that go to conventions make a beeline for their table and don’t really interact with fans unless they’re back there.

Andras saw a little girl dressed like Rick on the way back. Not only did he stop to chat, he crouched down to get on her level; to make sure he was eye-to-eye with her. I absolutely loved this. I’m not going to lie: I think a speck of dust got in my eye as I was taking this picture.

Hey. Speaking of the Nightmare on Elm Street panel…

It was a tremendous amount of fun and I learned a lot about the series as a whole, but there was one other thing I learned: when you have a long-running series and one actor is firmly in the center of every one, the vast majority of the questions are going to be answered by that one actor. Granted, when you have a star as well-known and charismatic as Robert Englund, it’s going to be a good panel. But I began to feel bad for those who weren’t as involved.

Amanda Wyss was in maybe 15 minutes of the first movie, but she was the first of Freddy’s on-screen victims, so she got to answer a couple questions. Andras Jones didn’t get any questions directed his way, but he was sitting next to Englund and is an outgoing guy, so he piped in on some questions that weren’t directed his way. Brooke Bundy proved herself to be extremely adept at comically cynical one-liners. But Miko Hughes – the son of Heather Langenkamp in New Nightmare – sat at the end of the table, silent as could be. Not a single question came his way, nor did a single opportunity to jump in on someone else’s question.

It was a fun panel – it was my first time seeing Robert Englund in person and that dude can command a room like few others I’ve seen – but I left feeling slightly bad for those who were less involved in the series.

One final note on this panel: Andras Jones repeatedly referred to Lisa Wilcox as “sis.” I love that.

This is just perfect. I can’t imagine it would be comfortable to walk the hot convention floor in a plastic bag, but I’m glad she did. I sincerely hope Amanda Wyss saw this.

This guy was standing in the entrance, staring like a maniac and moving his fingers in a supremely unnerving fashion. I loved him.

This Killer Klowns costume was…
[Don’t do it, Dusty. Don’t do it.]
KILLER.
I’m not even sorry.

More from Circus Envy. I cannot stress how much I love this group.

Dinosaur trainer and her dinosaur OH MAN LOOK AT THE LITTLE GIRL’S FACE!

The costume is too big for her, so that T-Rex shuffled all around the floor. Maybe the cutest thing I saw all weekend.

(Please take note of the discoloration in the bottom left corner. HAUNTED FLOOR!)

Also in the running for cutest thing I saw, this little girl with her hand on R2-D2. She wants to be Luke Skywalker in Rey’s vision so bad.

Absolutely my favorite costume of the weekend. She’s Beauty and The Beast. It’s so simple and so clever and so perfectly done. Words cannot stress how much I love this outfit.

If you’ve ever talked to me or read anything I’ve written, you know how much I love Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. I know I’m not alone; it’s highly regarded by a lot of horror fans. That’s why it’s so strange that I rarely see anyone dressed as the titular villain/hero/killer. So, when I come across someone dressed as Leslie Vernon, I proceed to get super excited, jump up and down and take pictures.

Such a cool looking costume. I need more Leslie Vernons at my conventions.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Freddy’s eating the pizza filled with meatballs with human faces is one of my least favorite scenes in the series. It makes my skin crawl.

Anyway, here is Freddy serving up some “soul food.” I did not look closely at the pizza, so I cannot confirm if there were faces. For my own peace of mind, I’m going to go ahead and assume that it was just a normal pizza. No faces at all, no sir.

This was at the back of the floor. This man was huge and had arms that didn’t seem capable of doing anything but sticking straight out. I have no idea how he made it through all the aisles and I don’t particularly care. I’m proud of you, Mr. Count Chocula, sir.

I would also like an official Count Chocula meddallion. No rush or anything, but Christmas would be cool.

Like the terrible journalist I am, I neglected to get this artist’s name. Every time I walked by, he was working on this charcoal piece of Nosferatu. It’s incredible.

Jareth, The Goblin King. More approachable than I would have though, given the whole “goblin” thing.

They’re looking at me. They’re both looking at me. My time has come. Tell my family I love them.

/checks calendar

Oh, nevermind. The Purge isn’t for another month or so. GET LOST, HIPPIES.

This was a husband/wife team. I’ve seen them before and I’ve never bought anything. I have no idea why. The paintings are amazing, but it’s the wood burning that really drew me in. All of them are done by hand. They have a perfect recreation of the poster for Freaks – you can see it a little to the left of the man in the picture – that took them over a week to create. It’s perfect. It’s all perfect. Next year I’ll be all moved into my new house and I will be buying at least one thing from this table.

One of my favorite things of going to conventions is seeing characters from different movies interacting with each other. Pinhead and the Ghostbusters? Sure. Why not?

This was the last picture I took before I left the floor. I saw them quite a few times, but it was always on the other side of the floor from where I was. So I stalked them across the convention floor. I was tired and my feet hurt, but I needed a picture of Tucker and Dale so I kept it up. I was relentless. And when I finally got my picture, I was not disappointed. Their facial expressions are absolutely perfect.

I don’t know about you guys, but those legs look pretty heavy for half a guy.

One final story, sadly unaccompanied by a picture.

I have a system at conventions these days. It’s relatively dead on Friday, so I hit the floor on Friday and scout everything. If I see something I can’t live without, I buy it. I stop and talk to a lot of vendors. I’m relatively free to roam and look around. I take a few pictures, but not many, mainly because there aren’t a ton of people around.

But Saturday? Oh, Saturday. My only agenda is to roam the floor and take pictures of everyone in costume. I stop and talk to people if they’re up for it. But, mainly, I just walk the floor a dozen times looking for good costumes.

So there I am, walking the floor aimlessly. I feel a little pressure on my back, but I think nothing of it. I feel a little more pressure and it’s clear that someone is pushing me to the side. I turn around, ready to give a disapproving look, and find myself looking directly at Danny Trejo. He could have killed me with his mind if he wanted to, but he spared me. Danny, I thank you and my family thanks you.

It was another tremendous year at ScareFest. If you ever get a chance to go, I can’t recommend it highly enough. The floor is huge, the panels are great and everyone is amazing. And if you happen to see a guy with a camera around his neck, grinning like an idiot the whole time? That’s just me. Stop me and say hey.

I’m already counting down the days until next year.

Twin Peaks Thoughts

I am 36 years old and had never seen a second of Twin Peaks until a few years ago.

Twin Peaks was one of those shows I had heard about long before I had actually seen it. I was 10 years old when it premiered, far too young to watch and certainly far too young to understand. As I got older, it was one of those shows I heard about a lot, but never watched. I’d be lying if I said the bulk of my “knowledge” didn’t come from The Simpsons.

Going off of those clips – along with the overall reputation – all I knew was that it was weird. No real point; just weird.

When I finally got around to watching it, I was shocked at how coherent it was. Yes, there was some weirdness, but it was a show driven by a cast of likable characters and a fairly simple plot: a girl was murdered in a quiet town and it was likely that someone in town killed her.

There is an oddness to the town itself, and some of the characters are strange – having a character simply known as “The Log Lady” speaks to that – but I didn’t find it hard to follow. The first season certainly had its share of odd moments, but it all had a purpose. There was a vision behind it. Looking at individual scenes on their own, it would be easy to dismiss the show as artsy-fartsy garbage. But, within the context of the show, I was amazed that all the pieces seemed to fit together. Trying to explain to someone else never ends well for me, but the show itself works.

It works for the first season, at least. I was immediately pulled into the world and fell in love with Agent Cooper and his wide-eyed love of everything he saw. Cooper lovingly saying”Douglas Firs,” with a huge smile on his face told me that this was a man I would absolutely love. Cooper drew me into the show, and the friendship he formed with Sheriff Truman cemented my love. Cooper had some odd ideas, but the two of them grounded me. There may have been weirdness with some of the residents of Twin Peaks – and Cooper certainly contributed to that weirdness at times – but Cooper and Truman gave me an anchor.

The show went off the rails a bit in the second season, and completely came unglued after Laura Palmer’s killer was revealed 7 episodes in. According to David Lynch, they never intended to reveal the killer, instead using the crime as a way to look at the darkness in this small town. The killer was not important; what the murder revealed was. After the killer was revealed, Lynch dropped out of the show and everything started falling apart.

My breaking point came when James – moping biker, love interest of many and my least favorite character – set off on his motorcycle and got entangled with a murder plot that served no purpose. I still enjoyed Cooper and Truman, but even their story got stranger. Lynch had a vision for the show and Mark Frost helped keep him grounded and put his nightmares into a coherent story. After Lynch left, people were left trying replicate his dark mind and the results were not good.

To Lynch, not every story needed an ending; not every question needed an answer. When we found out who Laura’s killer was, Lynch essentially posed a question: was this the work of a man possessed by a demon from another dimension, or was it simply the work of someone with a mental illness? When Lynch left, the story said that it was absolutely a man from another dimension so let’s go there and see everything and make sure none of it makes a ton of sense. They took Lynch’s warped vision and tried to make sense of it.

I still haven’t watched every episode. I lost interest when James took off on a solo mission. I watched the last episode to have some context for the new series, but there are episodes I will likely never watch. And I’m okay with that.

The first season is 8 episodes, and they are all incredible. More than that, they’re oddly accessible. If you’ve never watched Twin Peaks because you assume it’ll be too weird, I urge you to give it a shot. It certainly earns its reputation as a strange show, but it’s much easier to watch than I had assumed it would be. It is also beautifully shot and has a tremendous soundtrack.

If the show doesn’t grab you by episode 3, you’re probably fine to part ways. However, if you fall in love by that point, I urge you to at least watch through episode 7 of season 2. If you’re looking for one of the most harrowing scenes I’ve ever seen on TV, you’ll find it in that episode. After that, if it all gets to be a bit much, I give you my permission to cut and run.

Transmissions from Lexington Comic & Toy Convention 2017

Another year, another trek into the hallowed halls of Rupp Arena to aimlessly wander the floor of the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention. What wonders would I encounter this year? Would I see any familiar faces? Would I finally ask every former Power Ranger to the big dance? THE ANSWERS ARE INSIDE.

I got a couple press passes this year, so me and my wife – a great photographer and the best person in the world – decided to act super professional.

These are our professional faces.

We were greeted by the two-story-tall Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. He was still smiling, which meant those darn Ghostbusters hadn’t tried to turn him into marshmallow goo just yet. He was still living his best life. And now he was here, frozen in time and greeting all who entered the doors. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

As we descended to the main floor, we came across a set-up from Star Wars. Okay, so it may have been less a “set-up” and more a “thieving ring.” Any unsuspecting soul who found themselves lingering in the area were swarmed by a pack of Jawas. Within minutes, anything electronic on their person had been removed from their pockets while the Jawas fought among each other for possession of the object. Anyone who decided to try to reclaim what they felt was rightfully theirs was treated to the barrel of an AT-ST’s gun pointed in their direction.

Look man. If you’ve seen A New Hope, you know what the Jawas are about. You only have yourselves to blame.

Did we encounter any other Star Wars folks? We may have seen a few.

General Leia Organa and Rey were travelling around together and they happened to run into an Imperial Officer. Instead of fighting right there in the middle of the isle, they decided to put aside their differences and pose for a picture.

Shortly after this picture was taken, Leia and Rey escorted the officer to a dark corner and disposed of him. Imperial scum.

I’ve often said that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Xena: Warrior Princess would make a good couple. Now I have proof.

I originally thought that this was Old Man Luke Skywalker, but the robes indicated that he was Obi-Wan. THE ROBES NEVER LIE.

As you can see in this picture, we encountered the fearsome Kylo Ren with very few people around. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. He lit up his lightsaber and we briefly froze. We decided our best defense was to laugh at him, talk loudly about how he’s just a wannabe Vader and repeatedly referred to him as “Poor Lil’ Bennie.” He began sobbing and ran to the nearest restroom. Ain’t so bad.

Sure, Solo blindly took out one Boba Fett. But two? I don’t think so, bucko. Into the Sarlacc Pit with you while Boba Fett and the missus live a long, happy life together.

You know what I love about Deadpool in terms of cons? Versatility. Sure, you may occasionally get a Captain America or Batman with some variation (usually depending on what era they’re repping), but there’s not a huge difference in the look. But Deadpool? Anyone can be Deadpool and it would fit in with the character and the comics.

Take this little tyke. He’s just a tiny little Deadpool and he’s wearing Batman shoes. They’re not even in the same comic universe, but I believe that, somewhere, Deadpool owns a pair of Batman shoes.

Cowboy Deadpool. I have absolutely seen Deadpool in this outfit. Throw this version of Marshal Will Kane in High Noon and that movie would have been over in 10 minutes.

I love this one. Deadpool Dixon and Carl Grimes. Deadpool is rocking Daryl’s vest – down to the angel wings on the back – and crossbow, but is still very much Deadpool.

Spider-Man would look out of place in something like this, but Deadpool can pull it off.

It has been a while since I’ve watched an episode of The Walking Dead, so it’s quite possible Daryl Dixon is actually just Deadpool now. If that’s the case, I need someone to tell me so I can start watching that show again.

I don’t love the idea of Alice teaming up with the Umbrella Corporation, but I assume there’s a good reason behind it. Maybe they’re infiltrating Umbrella so a couple of her friends are wearing stolen outfits? They would pick out Alice in a hurry in that dress, but she’s got superpowers so I guess that doesn’t matter too much.

Whatever your reason, Alice, I trust your judgment completely.

Of everyone I ran into, this was my favorite costume. It’s all the little touches. The jagged horns that look like have been torn off. The cigar she kept with her at all times. The beer in the hand. It’s all wonderful. It’s all perfect.

The dragon in the background is giving some serious side eye in this picture. Hellboy (Hellgirl?) picked up on that and smacked him around a bit after I took this picture. Negan – big, bad Negan – just cowered in the corner as it happened. He may be the big man during a zombie apocalypse, but he’s useless as a dragon caretaker.

“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.”

You don’t say.

I’m a sucker for a good themed costume, and this one is perfect. They have the banner. They have the coconuts. They have the Rabbit of Caerbannog. While walking the floor, I could occasionally hear the tapping of coconuts in the distance. When they exited the building, I heard the familiar call of “Run away! Run away!”

The children didn’t seem too interested in crime-fighting, so I walked by them with my guard down. I found out that was a mistake when they both took billy clubs and smashed them into my knees. While I writhed on the ground, the group calmly walked away, silently laughing to themselves.

Never underestimate the strength of children.

Even without one sock, this child is infinitely more incredible than I will ever be.

We found Lego Batman at the base of the escalator. For the life of me, I don’t know how he was able to actually get on the escalator. For all I know, he’s still standing down there.

There is a whole lot of awesomeness in this picture, but it’s Little Hulk that really kills me. Really going all-out with the flex there, Hulk. I would absolutely watch a movie starring this version of Hulk and Black Widow. She looks like she is absolutely ready to brawl.

We’ve got the Spider trio of Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen and Silk. We also have Ant Man and Wasp. And there, in the middle of it all, is Squirrel Girl. I honestly thought I would see a handful of Squirrel Girls, but we only ran into this one, and she was terrific. Always happy. She seemed genuinely thrilled to be there and to have people excited to take pictures of her. She may have actually been the real Squirrel Girl, stepped directly out of the pages of a comic and into our world.

Of course, I found it a little irresponsible for all these heroes to pose for a picture while Kylo Ren casually strolled behind them. Way to keep humanity safe, you guys. You’ve been through superhero training and this is the best you can do? Shame on you. Shame on you.

I can’t imagine that Ice Man outfit is comfortable, but it looks amazing. Fashion over function, my dear boy.

Let’s talk about the act of going to a comic convention for a second. This is a ridiculously cool costume. We took this picture in the main opening, so there’s a little bit of space of maneuver, but the main floor is packed. I have a hard enough time getting through some of the aisles as a regular human being. How does one make their way through the swarm of bodies when you are a god who has arms sticking out on either side of you? Do you just not go to the main floor? Or do you make peace with the fact that you’ll just smack a lot of people in the face with your extra arms and they’ll have to deal with it?

I’ve often thought about following one of these people around to see what they do, but I have a feeling I would just get really frustrated. That life isn’t for me. But for her? Man, she looks so cool she can do whatever she wants.

Even Blade has to take a break to check his messages every now and then. That’s probably how he finds out where all the vampires are. He just searches for #vampirerave and goes from there. Vampires never learn, man. Not everything has to go on social media, you know.

Bunch of suckheads.

I’ll grant you that I haven’t been to a ton of conventions, but I’ve been attending them for a few years now and this is the first time I’ve seen Green Goblin and Cyclops. Those are fairly well-known characters, so I was a bit shocked this was the first time I had seen either of them.

Kudos to Batman for repping the gun. It may be an unpopular opinion, but I’m perfectly fine with Batman shooting some supervillains from time-to-time. Call me crazy, but I don’t think The Joker is going to suddenly become reformed after his 1,000,000th trip to Arkham Asylum.

I’d watch a team-up of these two.

Okay, I’ll be honest. I would only watch it if Punisher killed the Power Ranger 5 minutes into the movie. The Power Rangers were a bit after my time so I have no love for them. I’m old. I can’t help it.

“I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you / For all my liiiiiiiiiife…”

The moment Michael realizes he left Jason chained at the bottom of the lake.

Where else can you see Doctor Strange riding an escalator behind a T. Rex? I mean, besides my dreams every night.

We only got a chance to attend one panel, but it was a fun one. We’re pretty big fans of iZombie, so we had to make sure we caught this one. Sadly, Rose McIver had to pull out of the convention, but we got to hear some great stories from Aly Michalka and Malcolm Goodwin.

Every year I say I’m going to go to more panels, and every year I forget. I’ve never been to a bad one, though. If you go to a convention, always make sure to do some research ahead of time and try to get to at least a couple panels.

 

Last but certainly not least, there is always a lot of great art. If I had unlimited funds and wall space, I would walk out of every convention with a truck full of art. Some of it is mass manufactured, but there is always a ton of unique, handmade art.

This Peach/Mario take on Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s Monster is one of my favorite things I’ve seen. I’m still kicking myself for not buying it.

I did walk out with this piece of art, though. We have a daughter who is getting ready to turn two and we’re looking for art for her room. I’ve been looking for Batgirl and Spider-Gwen stuff, because I’d love to get her started on some strong, female superheroes. As it so happened, Rico Renzi – colorist for the Spider-Gwen series – was at the convention this year. I stopped by his table and this immediately grabbed my eye. Rico was incredibly nice and gracious, and now I have this nice piece of art of start my daughter’s collection.


Conventions are always exhausting but we always have a blast. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Creating characters: The Dungeons and Dragons method

One thing we like to ask people is how they go about the arduous process of creating characters for their stories. While we’ve never had the same answer twice there have been a few standout answers and I’d like to discuss one of them today.
It comes from our friend Charity Langley and it’s called The Dungeons and Dragons method. I’ll explain this the best that I can, but it helps if you have some knowledge of DnD beforehand.

Basically, you roll stats for your character and include any strengths and deficiencies into them. For the purpose of this exercise I’ll use The Pathology Guy and their standard 5e character generator.

So, here’s the first step. Roll a character. What this means is grab anything from three to six regular six sided dice. You’ll see this written down as 3d6 (Three dice with six sides), 4d6 (four dice with six sides), 5d6 (five dice with six sides) and very rarely, 6d6 (six dice with six sides).

Whatever method you choose, you roll the dice and add them together to get your number. Whatever number of dice you choose to roll, you keep your three highest numbers and add them together. If you pick 5d6 for instance and roll a 6,5,5,4,3, you would keep the 6, 5, 5 for a total of 16. You could then assign that 16 to a specific stat which I’ll get in to later.
Now, there are a lot of numbers coming up so I’ll give a brief explanation on how they work. Basically, 10 is average. The average human will have a score of 10 in most of these categories. The higher you go, the more exceptional that person gets. Normally this caps at 20.

These are the stats I got using the standard 3d6 method (Rolling three six sided dice.)

12, 11, 11, 8, 9, 3

I normally assign the values in the order that they appear so I don’t make things complicated.  The default order for these is this:
Strength (How strong you are, how much you can carry.)
Dexterity (How Dexterous/Agile your character is)
Constitution (In Dungeons and Dragons, this represents Health and Stamina.)
Intelligence  ( How smart your character is)
Wisdom  (How wise they are)
Charisma (How good they are at dealing with other people).

Since I just put the numbers I rolled in order, that would give me the following:
Strength: 12
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 11
Intelligence: 8
Wisdom: 9
Charisma: 3

Before continuing, I will say that these are the lowest scores I’ve ever rolled because…of course they are.

You’ve now got a brief portrait of your character and what defines them. Our lowest score is 3 which we assigned to Charisma and that will work wonders for our character building because it’s an instant ‘flaw’ that we can add.

One thing I enjoy about this method is (with the exception of now) that right off the bat you are able to have strengths and weaknesses when writing a comprehensive backstory.

For this person, I’d write somebody that is very strong and agile but doesn’t do interaction very well. He or She could be a lone-wolf type character, possibly some type of assassin or a crotchety librarian.
This method is absolutely not for everybody, but if you’re familiar with the Dungeons and Dragons mechanics, it’s a cool system that instantly creates some quirks for you.

I’d like to see you guys come up with something for this character based on these stats. Write a backstory in our comments section or hit us up on twitter.

You can grab character sheets from the official Dungeons and Dragons website here

 

*UPDATE: Shawn expanded on the dice method and several other things.