Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Con photos!
Vernon Wells…classic screen heavy
Gunnar Hansen… the original Leatherface and a very talented writer
Rudy Ray Moore… Dolomite himself
Zacherle…the cool ghoul from 1950s and 60s television
Michelle Bauer…sigh…the prettiest and most talented “scream queen of them all.

I spend a good chunk of the 1990s writing, editing and publishing two animation magazines, Animato and Animation Planet.

I just finished scanning the illustrations for my animation book (more on that in a post later this week) when I came across a number of photos taken at the time in which I would promote the magazine at Chiller Con in New Jersey.

Initially, my business partner and I would man a booth, but eventually it would be Steve Bissette and I splitting a table.

I found that I could get far more attention for the magazine from the Chiller horror crowd than from a comic book audience.

One appearance at a local comic shop proved to be quite frustrating with comic fans wanting to know what the investment potential was for their purchase of our magazine! Go to eBay and you’ll see that in some cases, there has been a return!

This was at the height of the insane “comics are like bonds” period with the various publishers fueling this crazy concept with multiple covers and other gimmicks.

Anyway, manning a booth meant frequently rubbing shoulders with the various celebs that were there at their own booths selling their wares. Many of them I encountered were just decent working class folks who understood the nature of their fame.

The beauty of a show such as Chiller was the ability of fans to actually meet someone whose work they admired. Some celebs were so driven to get that $20 for an autographed photo that they drove fans away.

I saw Fred Williamson at one show and started to ask him about working with director Larry Cohen on “Original Gangstas.” At first Williamson seem interested, but when he realized that I wasn’t reaching into my wallet he shot me a look that clearly told me the conversation was over.

I didn’t take any of it to heart, as these folks have to put up with as many wing nuts as sensible fans. It’s not the easiest way to earn some side money. Often times, I would walk through a dealer’s room and seen bored and slightly frustrated celebrities sitting at their tables. It’s tough to put yourself out there and find out the fans aren’t clamoring to see you.

One thing I did learn is to always try to get a table near a good looking actress as it really didn’t matter if she was a star or not – her looks always attracted interest and that interest could trickle down to what I was selling.

Crass? Perhaps, but working a convention is a crash course in real world marketing.

© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs


dogboy443 said...

Oh yes, Michelle Bauer. A true beauty. Damn Mike I remember most these people and I was with you when you got Rudi (Dolemite) to sign for you. What a great show Chiller used to be. Now it's over-crowded and the price of a signature has gotten ridiculous. Fanta-Con in Albany was a nother amazing show of past years. Where else can you ask Dario Argento about the special effect privacy peep-hole/bullet scene in Opera and have time for him to explain the entire set-up. SNIFF. The good old days. Somewhere I have pix of Spider Bissette showing off his NOTLD artwork on the big stage along with the Tundra guys.

Thanks for Michelle Bauer and the memories.
The Other Mark M.

Marky Mark said...

Michelle Bauer's titties are practically NAKED!

The OTHER other Mark M

dogboy443 said...

...and that's how we like our titties.

The Other Other Other Mark M from Western Massachusetts

SRBissette said...

Part of what made it easy to simply stop attending cons (as guest or fan) was the process that you describe putting up the $$ barrier between guest and attendees. The few cons I have attended (with you, Mike, and that's pretty much it) since our last Chiller are chilly affairs, and few of us do have $500 in $20 bills to indulge just talking, briefly, to someone we would dearly like to meet or just thank for the hours of entertainment and more they've provided. I know I felt that way last Worcester show: I would have loved to have met Howard Sherman (Bub in Day of the Dead) or Michael Anderson (Twin Peaks, Carnivale), but didn't have $40-$50 to drop to do so, and didn't want to approach them without intent to spend, given the new show dynamic/economy.

For me, the video trade shows were the last hurrah -- and those simply don't exist any more, either.

Ah, the old Chiller Cons were sweet. Met many great folks, and had some good times.